LSU scientists warn: Don’t let nitrogen anxiety undermine fight to save coast — The Lens | A bit of background: River diversions are a crucial component to the state’s Master Plan to stop coastal loss. An article in the Scientific American summarized a study showing problems with diversions, research which served as the basis for a Lens story last month by Bob Marshall. Now, two LSU scientists take issue with those findings, and argue that “research does not support the hypothesis that nitrogen derived from the Mississippi River makes a rejuvenating marsh significantly more susceptible to storm damage.”
Meanwhile, yesterday’s Scientific American noted how well flood protection proposals for Greater New Orleans match up with what scientists were recommending years ago. The magazine applauds New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana for making decisions about flood protection based on science rather than politics. (Scientific American link via @petercook)
Corps of Engineers concludes $10.3 billion, 98-mile-long Morganza to the Gulf levee is ‘economically justified’ — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The Corps says the plan will cost about $700 million a year to maintain, but will provide over $1 billion to southeast Louisiana in annual flood-protection benefits. State coastal czar Garrett Graves is frustrated. He says the long-studied Morganza-to-the-Gulf project is “the poster child for fundamental changes within the Corps of Engineers. It’s like déjà vu all over again, this project has been authorized three times now.”
Government & Politics
Tax credit change favored by film industry could cause $22 million budget hole — The Lens | According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, changes to the tax credit program for the film industry will save the state money in the long-term, but would not raise more revenue next year.
Peeling the onion — American Zombie | Blogger Jason Berry looks at long-awaited information from public records requests to the quasi-public New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), which spends half the proceeds from hotel taxes on CVB salaries. Berry goes on to claim that he has heard, but can’t yet document, that “CVB employees get paid a commission by specific hotels in the city to book rooms on top of their publicly-funded salaries.” We’ll see if that allegation about funneling tourists to favored hotels pans out. Meanwhile, the CVB contends it is a “very transparent” organization.
Medicaid amendments would compromise future — Louisiana Budget Project | LBP’s new analysis shows that “House Bill 532 and House Bill 533 would compromise Louisiana’s ability to fund basic services in the future by insulating select groups of Medicaid providers from budget cuts.”
Texas passes ethics bill, but many proposed reforms are left on the cutting room floor — The Center for Public Integrity
An ethics bill was indeed passed, but it failed to include most provisions that watchdogs had pushed for. During a conference committee between the Senate and the House, lawmakers stripped several amendments that would have required online financial disclosure, exposed “dark money” in state campaigns and required lawmakers to disclose financial interests in businesses that receive state contracts.
State Supreme Court ruling against vouchers means more money for Orleans Parish schools — The Lens | “The Louisiana Supreme Court’s May 7 ruling against Louisiana’s method of funding private-school vouchers will cost the state $29 million, but it will put more money into local schools.”
Bill to establish world-class culinary school heads for final passage – FOX 8 WVUE |
A bill to establish a world-class culinary school in downtown New Orleans is now waiting for final approval by the Louisiana Legislature. The bill is part of a larger measure that would beef up community colleges across the state. The Delgado Culinary School is a workhorse for New Orleans, providing trained cooks and kitchen managers in a city that may have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else. “… They’ve got a great school already. This [bill] would expand it, and other schools would play a part, including UNO and Tulane,” said Sen. Ed Murray, whose bill would fund the $9 million culinary school at the site of the defunct Artists Guild building on Howard Avenue. The school is envisioned to capitalize on New Orleans’ food reputation and draw in students who might otherwise go to world-famous cooking schools like the Culinary Institute of America or Cordon Bleu.
Dayton vetoes Teach For America $1.5M — Star Tribune | Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a $1.5 million earmark for Teach For America in an education funding bill, amid opposition by teachers unions that claim TFA undercuts a well-trained union workforce. “Dayton argued that an open competition for the funds should precede the biennial appropriation he vetoed.”
Houston Is Unstoppable: Why Texas’ Juggernaut Is America’s #1 Job Creator – The Atlantic | The article cites Houston’s “proximity to Latin America and its strength in energy” as reasons for its growth and job creation. One wonders: can’t Louisiana capitalize on similar assets?
The conundrum of commercial district revitalization — Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space | Many ask, “Why can’t there be more neighborhood retailers in my neighborhood. Blogger Richard Layman says that online merchants cut into brick and mortar profits. However, “restaurants and bars can’t be displaced by online commerce. That’s why commercial districts are shifting to a greater mix of food and drink.”
Judges pay raise heads to House floor; sheriffs, parish presidents could benefit — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | A new bill by Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner would bestow five years of pay raises on state judges, setting off “a chain reaction that could also boost the pay of sheriffs and some parish presidents. Martiny argues that the salary escalation is needed so the justice system can have quality judges.”
IMPD seeks help from social service agencies to address roots of crime — Indianapolis Star |
Facing officer shortages, a surge in homicides and unrelenting youth violence, Indianapolis police are turning toward community organizations more than ever to reduce crime by zeroing in on its root causes.
Seeking help with keeping tabs on the mentally ill, learning how to talk to teens and finding meals for poor families, IMPD is recruiting outside help to reduce the burden on its depleted ranks.
The presumption of guilt — The Louisiana Weekly | Opinion piece by civil rights leader U. S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia:
Despite progress, in the last 50 years we have retreated from an honest conversation about racial and economic justice, and have opted instead for mass criminalization and incarceration leaving many poor and minority people marginalized and condemned.