Slabbed does a compare and contrast on Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center change orders: Elton Lagasse has some ‘splaining to do. — Slabbed | Blogger Doug Handshoe closely examines the history of the Jefferson Performing Arts Center “money pit” and the key players who have been responsible for a project noted for runaway costs and murky expenditures.
Freret neighbors debate security district proposal — Uptown Messenger |
“Proponents of a new fee-based security district in the Freret neighborhood faced an hour’s worth of skeptical questions Tuesday night from residents whose opposition ranged from the specific fee itself to much broader issues about gentrification of the neighborhood. “I don’t want to further subsidize these businesses through an increase in property taxes,” said Soniat Street resident George Chaney.”
New Orleans City Council revisits food truck legislation — Gambit | “New Orleans City Council members held another public meeting to discuss legislation that would allow more food trucks in New Orleans and streamline the requirements and protocols for food truck operators.” Lots of interesting quotes from Council members in this story, including an amusing, must-read exchange between Stacy Head and Jackie Clarkson.
IG: Data flaws hamper study of NOPD stops, frisks – Associated Press | The New Orleans Inspector General claims the New Orleans Police Department’s record-keeping of its “stop-and-frisk” tactics is incomplete and cannot assess whether the stops are performed without racial profiling.
Mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession would be eradicated in new bill — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “Possessing marijuana in Louisiana would not be subject to mandatory minimum sentences under the states ‘three strikes’ law if a bill filed in Baton Rouge on Tuesday [by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans] passes during the legislative session that begins April 8.” An unscientific web poll accompanies the story, and shows wildly lopsided results.
Feds’ capitulation on Fred Heebe made perfect sense: James Gill — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Was the River Birch probe and trial dropped because the case was weak, or because the local U.S. Attorney’s Office botched it? Gill contends its the former, while I suspect the latter.
Former jail official, friend of sheriff, pleads guilty to federal bribery charge — The Lens | “John Sens, the former purchasing director at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty in federal court today to a single charge of conspiracy to commit bribery. Sens plea in Judge Kurt Engelhardt’s courtroom was an expected development in a case that has rocked the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department with charges of bid-rigging schemes involving Sens and another former OPSO official, Gerard Hoffman.”
Wildlife & Fisheries Commission head watching for another artificial-reef fund raid — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Officials are concerned a tight state budget might raid a program that builds artificial reefs, which enjoys widespread support from the oil and gas industry and commercial and recreational anglers.
Republican wants answers about feds’ offshore drilling strike team — Fuel Fix | A lawmaker is suspicious of the federal unit that investigates offshore drilling violations.
Is the next Fukushima in your backyard? — Grist | The River Bend Station nuclear reactor in St. Francisville is on a list of reactors where “near miss” events occurred in 2012. However, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently said River Bend had resolved previous inspection issues and its rating was upgraded to the top tier.
Study: Homeschoolers get more sleep, may be better prepared to learn — The Washington Post | A study shows that home-schooled children get an average of one and a half hours more sleep each night versus students who attend public or private schools. The students in traditional schools are often in class before homeschoolers even wake up. (Research like this leads me to wonder if tests scores would rise in Louisiana if we started the school day at a later hour.)
Lycée Francais board vote sets the stage for sweeping leadership change — The Lens | “Members unanimously approved a new system of governance, potentially ushering in a clean slate of board members come July. But as they moved toward opening a new chapter of leadership, a consultant for the school said a search committee could be conducting interviews for Lycée’s next chief executive behind closed doors.”
Louisiana Department of Education, Superintendent John White, and Governor Bobby Jindal Double Down on Creationist Voucher Schools — CenLamar | Blogger Lamar White vents numerous concerns about the state’s approach to voucher schools, and what he sees as a lack of oversight. White writes: “Neither Superintendent White nor anyone in his Department actually thoroughly vets the schools they pre-qualify for taxpayer subsidization.” Included in the post is a list of newly-approved voucher schools that teach a “creationist” science curriculum.
Government & Politics
Jindal’s budget criticized by lawmakers for sweeping away state’s dedicated funds — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “Louisiana lawmakers hammered Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget staff Tuesday over plans to sweep money from dozens of funds dedicated to specific uses to plug $464.5 million into the state budget. Conservative lawmakers decried the move as a “shell game,” and the pre-session skirmish appeared to set the stage for a contentious and hard-fought struggle between that group and Jindal even before the opening of the legislative session.” This Lens story provides more background on the “fiscal hawks” who could pose trouble for Jindal.
New Orleans inspector general dings Coroner Frank Minyard’s bookkeeping — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The city IG finds an absence of proper record keeping at Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard’s office. “The review found that the office didn’t issue required federal tax documents for contractors paid from the coroner account from 2006 through 2011.”