Severance tax payments | Louisiana Department of Revenue – An analysis by the state Legislative Auditor shows oil and gas companies may owe the state $11.7 million in severance taxes in 2009 and 2010. Story via John Maginnis and Jeremy Alford at LaPolitics, who wrote “Could this be the big tax reform issue of 2015? Expect a thorough response today from Louisiana’s energy lobby.”
Watch Louisiana: The state we’re in online | Louisiana Public Broadcasting – Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, Sandy Rosenthal of Restore Louisiana Now and Levees.Org, and Marylee Orr of LEAN discuss wetlands restoration and environmental justice. Honore listed the top objectives of his “Green Army,” which is the unofficial name of an environmental coalition he has assembled. Honore said the current objectives of his environmental movement include:
Close the canals made by the oil and gas industry
Clean up and close abandoned wells
Protect the aquifers
Stop the oil and gas industry from being self-regulated.
Barbier to announce modifications to BP settlement amid questions on business claims | Louisiana Record – A business law professor says that it is unethical for anyone to make damage claims when they have not suffered harm. BP argued Louisiana businesses were taking advantage of its settlement of Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation, and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed, and ordered that the settlement be revised so that claimants’ payments were based on actual damages. An announcement on settlement modifications is expected today.
Defendants in BP oil spill say Justice Department scapegoating them | The Advocate –
[BP engineer] Kurt Mix did not cause the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. He cannot be blamed for the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon, the corporate recklessness that created it, or the 11 lives lost and 4.2 million barrels of oil poured into the sea.
But on Monday morning, he will become the first man tried in connection with the worst environmental disaster in American history.
Neighbors succeed in bringing temporary halt to plans for a concrete batching plant off Earhart | The Lens — Residents of the Zion City neighborhood have seen a steady encroachment of commercial enterprises in what had been a residential area. The neighborhood is zoned for “light industrial,” but Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell had the zoning maps changed after construction started on the site without a permit.
The BioDistrict fades as efforts to grow the biosciences industry in New Orleans shift focus | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – “The curious path of BioDistrict New Orleans suggests it could be the latest in a long line of short-lived or inactive organizations enthusiastically created with the intent of developing the city’s health and biomedical community — only to flag for lack of funding, lack of political momentum, or both.”
Many N.O. properties got grants but never repaired | The New Orleans Advocate – An estimated 20 percent of blighted properties received Road Home grants that were never used to renovate damaged homes.
How the streetcar shaped post-Katrina New Orleans | The Atlantic Cities – A new study found that the building permits after Katrina often clustered in close proximity to streetcar stops. (Via Curbed Nola)
New Orleans by the Numbers: School Performance Scores | Cowen Institute – The Cowen Institute released an analysis of 2013 School Performance Scores and noted that the formula changes reduced the number of “A” and “F” schools.
New Orleans schools should stick with OneApp: Editorial | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune –
With next year’s registration under way for New Orleans public schools, it is vital for every school participating in the centralized enrollment system developed in 2012 to honor OneApp’s rules.
That didn’t happen this year with schools run by the Orleans Parish School Board. The board allowed its five direct-run schools to bail out of OneApp two-thirds of the way through, which caused dozens of families to scramble over the summer to get children placed in a school.
Now it’s evident that some schools that are supposed to be open to any child wanted to handpick their students rather than take the ones assigned to them through OneApp.
New Orleans schools are improving – New Orleans Magazine | In an opinion piece, education writer Dawn Ruth claims a “stubborn knot of naysayers” are denying patently evident improvements in the New Orleans public school system.
Government & Politics
No plan for shrinking Louisiana’s $12 billion road backlog: Analysis | Associated Press – Funding options for road projects seems to always hit a dead end in the state Legislature.
Ethics enforcement remains elusive | Forgotston.com – State Legislative observer C.B. Forgotston claims a host of problems— not least of which are leadership and funding — must be resolved before the state ethics board can be an effective oversight body.
“After Bobby Jindal and the leges passed the “gold standard” of ethics in 2008, enforcement went from poor to non-existent.
Assuming the Ethics Board was serious about enforcing the law, the mechanism for doing so makes it nearly impossible from a legal standpoint.
Additionally, the Jindal Administration and the leges have refused to change the law to make it enforceable and have refused to provide adequate funding to enforce it.”
Independent committees are way to depoliticize contracts: David Marcello | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – David Marcello, the executive director of The Public Law Center at Tulane Law School, says carefully designed independent nominating committees— modeled after those used to choose members of the local levee board— can be installed to remove the politics from selecting government contractors.
Fed cases crumble against NOPD, but spawn changes | The Advocate – The existence of Henry Glover’s torched corpse was “common knowledge” in the law enforcement community in the Katrina aftermath. Yet proper procedures were completely ignored.
‘Very different trial’ expected in Glover case | The Advocate
In a partial redo of one of the darkest civil-rights cases in the city’s recent memory, federal prosecutors will be weakened significantly in their case against [New Orleans police Officer David] Warren, legal pundits say, by an appeals court ruling last year that overturned his 2010 conviction for the fatal shooting.
James Gill: Sheriff remains clueless on workings of parish jail | The Advocate – The Advocate columnist skewers Sheriff Marlin Gusman: “Gusman, according to expert court testimony, runs the ‘worst large jail in the United States.’ So, if he were the hands-on type, he’d be a fool to admit it.”