Live video Thursday: John Barry discusses coastal loss at Newsmakers event | The Lens – Barry will talk about the suit against oil and gas companies and his new advocacy group, Restore Louisiana Now.
St. Bernard Council message to state Legislature: no river diversions allowed | The Lens – It’s a move to catch the attention of state lawmakers, but they have limited oversight of the coastal Master Plan.
Conflicts galore | Gambit – Opinion writer Clancy DuBos points out conflicts of interest that could (and should, in his view) be recognized by Flood Protection Authority board members before they vote on suspending the board’s historic lawsuit against oil and gas companies for coastal damages. DuBos says that if the board’s Jindal loyalists “succeed in scuttling the lawsuit, it will be the biggest sellout since Huey Long gave his pals the mineral rights to Louisiana’s water bottoms.”
LaPolitics Newsmaker: Garret Graves | LaPolitics – LaPolitics interviewed Graves, the chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. When asked about the lawsuits against oil and gas firms, Graves stressed the prudence of cooperating with the oil and gas industry to solve problems, but said: “If it’s determined ultimately that folks didn’t comply with permit conditions, then those permits need to be enforced.”
Future of BioDistrict New Orleans could be in doubt, leader says | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
For all of the beauty of its big vision, [the BioDistrict] hasn’t secured a reliable source of annual funding. It hasn’t successfully lured a biomedical business to New Orleans with its offer to help secure financing using its bonding authority and tax-free status. And it hasn’t yet garnered much visible political backing — including that of the mayor.
French Market signs on to manage new riverfront park | The Advocate – “It was originally supposed to open last year, but an unusually high river delayed the project in 2011. More recently, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration blamed delays on the need to redesign one of the pedestrian walkways, an unspecified “landscaping issue” and ongoing negotiations with the French Market over how the park will be managed.”
Justice Department lawsuit against Louisiana vouchers is pure politics: James Varney | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – Columnist Varney calls the Justice Department’s lawsuit a “political charade” and perhaps a fishing expedition at the expense of Louisiana students. Varney writes:
“The United States lacks the appropriate information necessary to determine whether Louisiana’s voucher program discriminates or impedes desegregation,” according to court papers.
Wait. Wasn’t that what the lawsuit claimed in the first place?
Orleans Parish School Board must clean up its act to find a good leader, consultant says | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Given its micromanagement, bickering, focus on matters that don’t involve the classroom and lack of a cohesive strategic plan, the School Board needs to fix its problems before it interviews a single candidate, [consultant Bill] Attea said.
Fewer NOPD officers on the streets leads to fewer arrests, MCC report says | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – A Metropolitan Crime Commission study notes fewer arrests and prosecutions during the first half of 2013, despite little change in the crime rate, according to NOPD data. The MCC blames a manpower shortage.
Tower of Trouble: Main cop in housing complex has troubling history | WWL-TV – The NOPD’s “most visible and constant presence” at the Guste public housing development had previously admitted to several counts of payroll fraud when he worked an off-duty detail at a Walgreens in 2007.
Government & Politics
After ally loses key race, political elders say Jindal must focus on Louisiana | The Lens – Key state lawmakers say they haven’t talked policy with Gov. Bobby Jindal since June. Critics urge Jindal to do more work on Louisiana and spend less time traveling around the country in preparation for an expected run for national office.
City Council to vote on law shutting off water for customers late on trash fee | The Lens – Thursday’s meeting will be the first time the ordinance, requested by Mayor Landrieu, will be debated in public.*
CAPITOL CASH, Part Two | LaPolitics – Last year the state spent over $6 million on compensation for members of the Legislature.
When cobbled together, the average taxable income of a Louisiana legislator in 2012 was $41,755, based on all payments made by the House and Senate, which includes small paychecks to outgoing lawmakers who served only a few days last calendar year.
Many, however, earned well above the average taxable compensation level. Nine sitting lawmakers had incomes between $50,000 and $59,000; two made greater than $60,000; one received more than $70,000; and another more than $80,000.
Zurik: Big campaign donors get big contracts in JP | Fox 8 WVUE – The Jefferson Parish Council has tremendous discretion when awarding no-bid contracts. The companies competing for the non-bid work are often big campaign donors.
A companion story by NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports that government watchdog groups believe campaign finance transparency may not be enough to fix Jefferson Parish’s contracting problems, and urge reforms that would “curb politicians’ ability to award some professional contracts without regard to technical rankings.”
Proponent of oil and gas lawsuit forms nonprofit, has poll showing broad support | The Lens – Nearly two-thirds of 1,000 people polled had little to no confidence that the oil industry will voluntarily repair damage to the coast.
*Correction: This post originally said the City Council would vote on the trash fee on Wednesday, but the meeting is Thursday. (Nov. 20, 2013)