In Case You Missed It: New Orleans Celebrates Major Wins — Office of the Mayor | A press release from the City of New Orleans highlights several recent progress markers. The recently opened GE Capital technology center shows the city is “a major competitor in a knowledge-based economy.” Other markers: the new Walmart in New Orleans East and reopening of a newly renovated $5.6 million Treme Center. The article also mentions a recent Bloomberg article that calls New Orleans one of the nation’s biggest “boomtowns.” The FOX 8 write-up of the boomtown story quotes GNO Inc. leader Michael Hecht: “These are numbers about population and growth and we know that we are the fastest improving city in the country.”
A New Orleans Magazine article says local retail is “Hot as a Pistol” and quotes veteran retail analyst Don Schwarcz, who says: “I haven’t seen the New Orleans economy this vibrant since the late ’70s and early ’80s when the oil business was booming here.”
Catholics upset over new Planned Parenthood facility Uptown – FOX 8 WVUE | Pro-life advocates are against the new health clinic to be built on South Claiborne near Napoleon, which will perform abortions and be significantly larger than the Planned Parenthood facility on Magazine Street.
A Smart Approach to Fixing Cities’ Problems – Harvard Business Review | If there are low-cost solutions to South Bend Indiana’s “easily overwhelmed” sewerage and water system, perhaps New Orleans can take some notes. “The city was faced with the prospect of a major infrastructure overhaul that could have cost $120 million. Instead, the city teamed up with Notre Dame University, local technology company Emnet, and IBM to seek a low-cost but effective solution … .” (Via @RobWAnderson ) Related: “Hurricane Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into East Coast waterways” (Via skydancingblog.com)
Government & Politics
House committee rejects governor records bill — The Advocate | Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the legislation to provide more transparency to records in the executive branch would have a chilling effect on brainstorming sessions. “The legislation would have kept certain records of the executive office of the governor relating to intraoffice communications off-limits to the public. ‘It’s the people’s right to know what is going on in the Governor’s Office,’ said bill sponsor state Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux.” This Lens story has more background on the issue.
Zurik: House passes bill to curb Galvan’s powers – FOX 8 WVUE | “Louisiana’s House of Representatives has approved a bill that would give the St. Tammany Parish Council control over salaries and spending in the parish Coroner’s Office. Representative Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, authored HB 561, and he told the House chamber about many of the findings from our series of FOX 8 investigations.”
Does Louisiana’s ‘Hollywood South’ nickname cost more than we can afford? — NOLAFemmes | Blogger Lunanola crunches the numbers on the large tax credits the state offers to movie-makers.
New Orleans Firefighter Pension Woes and the Legislative Session ￼— BGR | The Bureau of Governmental Research releases a study on firefighters’ pension costs which “are gobbling up an alarming share of the City of New Orleans’ general fund budget. … These expenses are a serious problem. Unfortunately for the city and local taxpayers, there is no quick fix, and large costs loom for the foreseeable future.”
Have Louisiana’s lethal injection drugs expired? Records unavailable — The Lens | The Lens and attorneys for death row inmates want to find out if the state will administer capital punishment with an expired drug.
Orleans coroner cutting bargain rates for autopsies? — WDSU |
The WDSU I-Team went price-shopping at the coroner’s office, where some say that the Orleans Parish coroner is charging cut rates while doing three and four times the amount of work as similar agencies in the state. Some experts in the field of forensic medicine say the price Dr. Frank Minyard is charging for “out of parish” autopsies is suspect — not even enough to cover expenses. And the extra work means pathologists are exceeding recommended standards.
Lawmakers are OK with guns everywhere but the Capitol — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | No one encapsulates political irony better than columnist James Gill: “If you want to hear legislators deliver impassioned speeches denouncing gun control in all its forms, don’t show up armed. It is against the law to take a gun into the state Capitol.” Indeed, why don’t the legislators who want guns on campus and in restaurants want the same protection in their place of work? There’s an unfortunate precedent where Sen. Huey Long’s bodyguards weren’t able to protect him from an assassin, but that was a long time ago.
The Supreme Court Rules on a State’s Duty to Indigent Defendants – NYTimes.com | The editorial board writes:
On Monday, the Supreme Court should have said that every state has the duty to pay for counsel for indigent criminal defendants and ensure them a speedy trial. The court should also have ordered an appeals court in Louisiana to reconsider its decision to uphold a conviction for murder and armed robbery. The court did neither. Its five conservative justices simply refused to decide the case, leaving the conviction and a life sentence in place.
Three of four Capital One-New Beginnings principals resign mid-year — The Lens | Tracy Guillory “is the third principal in the Capital One New-Beginnings Charter School Network of schools to resign mid-year since December.”
A Conservative Defense of Common Core – The Hayride | A Baton Rouge teacher, and former GOP politico, says opposition to Common Core state standards ignores the large education gains that have been made in recent decades.
LSU study: Damaged minnow shows BP oil seeping into coastal food chain — The Lens | Toxins from the 2010 BP oil disaster “remain in marsh sediments and continue to cause biological impairments that were precursors for species-wide collapses in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill.”
BP’s $340 million will restore 4 barrier islands, build 2 fisheries labs | NOLA.com – The money comes from the billion dollars BP already promised to pay to jump start coastal reclamation. $320 million will go to restore Whiskey Island in Terrebonne Parish and the Cheniere Ronquille headland, Shell Island and North Breton Island in Plaquemines Parish. Importantly, the article quotes Gov. Bobby Jindal saying that BP should be found grossly negligent for its role in the 2010 Macondo oil disaster. “A ruling of gross negligence would result in a four-fold increase in [Clean Water Act] fines. ‘I believe they’re liable to the tune of tens of billions of dollars to restore the entire coast, and secondly that it needs to be done quickly,’ Jindal said. ‘They need to put their dollars into this community now, not years from now. Otherwise, some of the very habitat, some of the very communities, some of the very coast we’re trying to restore, it may be too late.’ “
BP’s $4.2 Billion Profit Beats Forecasts – NYTimes.com | Despite better than expected revenues “the main disappointment in the quarter was an 18 percent year-on-year fall in production in the United States, in part reflecting the company’s continued struggles to bring back its core deepwater production in the Gulf of Mexico after the blowout disaster there in 2010. BP is a much smaller company than it was before the disaster, which killed 11 people and spilled millions of barrels of oil. Since the start of 2010, BP has sold about $65 billion in assets to pay spill costs and reshape the company.”