Options floated in proposals to revitalize Claiborne Avenue corridor — WWLtv.com | Should the overpass that gutted Treme stay, now that it’s here? Will demolishing it resurrect the once-vibrant neighborhood? This summary of the debate mentions a couple of options for compromise: “Some ideas include keeping the overpass, but removing some of the off and on ramps. Other proposals envision retail in the currently empty space under the overpass.”
Rampart/St. Claude streetcar plans meet City Council — Gambit | More reaction and analysis about the plans for a new streetcar to serve the Marigny and Bywater. Will a dedicated lane for a streetcar lead to traffic congestion? Is it odd to install a bike lane heading into the CBD, but not coming out?
Iberville redevelopment threatens St. Louis cemeteries, preservationists contend — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “The cemeteries now face what could be their greatest threat, [University of Pennsylvania professor Frank] Matero said, as the Housing Authority of New Orleans moves closer toward the redevelopment of the Iberville housing complex, which flanks both graveyards.” In December, The Lens reported that the discovery of human remains below a portion of the Iberville had delayed the project.
$43,056 bonus to charter teacher at ‘D’-rated school — The Answer Sheet — The Washington Post | Blogger Valerie Strauss picks up The Lens’ story on large bonuses awarded to charter school teachers for their students’ improved test performance. Strauss adds: “Merit pay programs have been implemented in school systems periodically for many decades, and none have been shown to be effective as an incentive for better performance by educators. … Still, value-added assessment and merit pay are favored by school reformers who believe that using a business model to run public schools will improve teacher performance and student achievement.”
More teachers are grouping kids by ability — USA Today | “Elementary school teachers now feel fine placing students into ‘ability groups.'”
College funding in question — The Advocate | Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposals to fund higher education with nonrecurring revenue streams are troubling university presidents and education officials.
State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said the uncertainty complicates making the decisions that go into running a campus, such as hiring staff and negotiating teaching contracts.
The budget proposal “fundamentally changes the manner in which higher education has been historically funded,” he said, referring to the large emphasis on one-time money and the contingencies. …
Kristy Nichols, the governor’s budget aide, said the administration prepared the budget in a way that actually “protects” higher education. “Obviously we are committed to higher ed,” Nichols said. “So committed we made sure to find any money we could.”
SU professor’s book gains interest — The Advocate | “There is no achievement gap at birth,” writes Southern University professor Lisa Delpit in her book “‘Multiplication is for White People’: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children.” The book contends that unconscious prejudice infects education policy and teaching strategies.
Balancing America’s (Sediment) Budget— Design Observer | Tulane professor Richard Campanella confronts the profound, yet overlooked, hydrologic dilemma that threatens south Louisiana’s future: “Many of our major river systems find themselves with too much sediment where we don’t want it, and too little where we desperately need it.” Is it possible to rebalance the sediment budget?
Commission to study return for Bayou Corne residents — The Advocate | A blue ribbon commission will be appointed to determine when (or if?) Bayou Corne residents can return to their homes after being displaced by a sinkhole six months ago.
BP asks federal judge to halt approval of billions in payments for fictitious ‘losses’ — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “At issue is the timing used by companies to determine when losses occurred during a period after the spill, compared with the businesses’ profits during a similar period before the spill.” BP is especially suspicious of inflated claims in industries such as construction, whose revenues show wide variance year to year.
Government & Politics
Efforts aim to secure money for hurricane-protection levees — DailyComet.com | As ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Metairie will have a big say in whether funds for the Morganza-to-the -Gulf flood protection project are included in the next big federal Water Resources Development bill. South Louisiana views the $13 billion project, 20 years in the making, as so important that $100 million in bonds will be issued to jumpstart local projects, which can be expanded later once federal monies are approved.
Lawmakers add relatives to campaign payrolls — USA Today | Unwelcome front-page attention for U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.:
Thirty-two members of Congress dispensed more than $2 million in campaign funds to pay relatives’ salaries during the 2012 election cycle, a USA TODAY analysis of the most recent campaign records shows. … In some cases, multiple members of the family joined the payroll. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., for instance, paid his daughter, Lisa Lowe, more than $73,000 between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2012. Another daughter, Ginger Robinson, also works for the campaign and collected $57,000 in salary during the 2012 election cycle. The campaign also underwrote 17 auto payments, totaling $32,700, Federal Election Commission records show. …
“It’s a modest income for what they do,” [Alexander] said. “What’s funny to me is that it would be OK for me to pay a complete stranger $100,000 to do what they do.”
SADOW: It’s Going To Be Difficult For Jindal To Pass His Tax Reform Plan — The Hayride | Louisiana State University-Shreveport professor Jeffrey Sadow makes a key point:
Even though over the long haul as a result of increased growth they may do better, human psychology makes people prone to fixate on the short run, overestimating those costs and benefits while underestimating those in the long run. This will be the greatest challenge the Jindal Administration faces, the multitude of different rank-orderings of preferences people have in their economic lives, which threatens to stop this kind of [tax] change that requires supermajority support. Some businessman might be perfectly happy that 199 exemptions are going away, but he benefits from one in particular also on the chopping block that he feels he can’t operate without.
Editorial: A message to SGA – Editorial and Opinions – The Maroon | In case you missed it, here is the first first front-page editorial in the Loyola Maroon’s 30-year history, written in protest of an “illegitimate” Student Government Association election held on Friday. The memorable headline: “Burn the Ballots.”
New Orleans’ curfew enforcement is racially biased, ineffective, critics say; but NOPD Chief disagrees — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The police chief says keeping juveniles off the streets reduces crime. Others say it’s a biased tactic against African-Americans and the poor.
South’s Cold Cases, Reopened but Still Unresolved – NYTimes.com | The FBI is closing the books on numerous civil rights-era cold cases in the deep south. The article names several examples of killings in Louisiana and Mississippi.