Bills to tighten rules on salt domes after Assumption Parish sinkhole are headed to Jindal – Associated Press | The bills aim to “prevent similar disasters by requiring stricter guidelines for monitoring and assessing areas around salt domes. That includes surveying salt dome formations every five years, and stiffer penalties for violations.”
The Toxic Risk When Hurricanes Hit the Texas Chemical Coast — NPR | An environmental researcher dreads that hurricane storm surge would dislodge contaminants in the dozen Superfund sites along the Texas coast. Interestingly, though, the article notes that chemical concentrations in post-Katrina floodwaters in New Orleans were “generally below levels of concern” for skin contact and incidental ingestion, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A related story in the Houston Chronicle is titled “Terrorism fears have led government to cloak the danger of hazardous chemical plants.”
Offshore drilling proponents launch new push on Capitol Hill — Fuel Fix | The article indicates that a push by Big Oil lobbyists to open more areas to offshore drilling may capitalize on the momentum of current legislation sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu to increase state royalty rates for offshore oil drilling.
Some oil industry lobbyists suspect lawmakers may eventually have to find a way to replace the lost federal revenue from the royalty sharing bill’s plan to divert more of those dollars to states, providing an opening for proposals to sell more offshore drilling leases that could bring in more cash.
Government & Politics
NOLA for Life grantee fails to live up to promises of building publicly-financed community center — The Lens | The Family Center of Hope received more than $2 million to build a community center at the intersection of Washington and Broad. But the project is still not complete, and is mired in cost overruns and legal disputes. Nonetheless, the city has decided to give the group $40,000 to provide counseling services as part of its NOLA for Life anti-violence campaign.”
Dennis Persica: New Orleans shows future of New Jersey — The Advocate | Persica opinion column draws parallels between the stages of New Jersey’s recovery after Superstorm Sandy, and New Orleans’ experience post-Katrina.
Jindal “snake” sighted — forgotston.com | According to blogger C.B. Forgotston, who has tracked this story like no one else, Team Jindal has attempted to “secretly double the salary of the Secretary of Revenue and to secretly secure Senate confirmation of Tim Barfield” in that post. Barfield already makes $250,000 as “executive counsel” for the Department of Revenue — a job that Forgotston says carries “zero responsibilities.” Barfield’s real role, says Forgotston, was to serve as Jindal’s lobbyist for the “ill-fated tax swap” that died the first day of the session.
State must reveal details of death-penalty practices, federal magistrate rules — The Lens | Corrections officials argued unsuccessfully that public safety requires keeping the public uninformed about exactly how it plans to kill two death row inmates.
Former NOPD officer accused of rape was out on appeal that never got filed — The Advocate | Apparently a legal paperwork snafu allowed a former police officer to remain out on bond, after he was convicted of illegal discharge of a firearm in March 2012. Now he is accused of rape.
Leaders say testing gains will qualify F-rated McDonogh 32 and Fischer for charter renewals — The Lens
Both schools needed to see at least a 10 point increase to their school performance score, but William J. Fischer managed to improve by 24 points. That makes it the most improved fully enrolled school in New Orleans, chief executive officer Adrian Morgan said.
Early childhood education bill killed in Louisiana Legislature — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
The reason it went down was for political reasons independent of the actual nature of the legislation,” state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said Wednesday afternoon, referring to Senate Bill 130, which would have consolidated the state’s pre-K and day-care programs and assigned them letter grades based on performance.
Project manager gets new 3-year contract to oversee New Orleans school rebuilding plan — The Advocate | Jacobs/CSRS who has managed the $2 billion effort to rebuild New Orleans public schools since 2007, received its third contract renewal. The firm bid $23.5 million for the three-year contract.
BR, N.O. region gets housing settlement funds — The Advocate
The Baton Rouge-New Orleans region is one of 19 areas included in a $27 million settlement Wells Fargo N.A. will pay to the National Fair Housing Alliance to settle a federal housing discrimination complaint. Wells Fargo did not admit any wrongdoing under the settlement. The National Fair Housing Alliance, which described the deal as a collaboration with Wells Fargo, said the money will be used to help rebuild minority neighborhoods damaged by the foreclosure crisis and to promote diverse, inclusive communities.
Turning part of Colonial Country Club into shopping center has Harahan residents more than skeptical — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “Skeptical Harahan residents” worry that a new shopping center at the old golf course will have deleterious effects on drainage and traffic. Aesthetics are an additional consideration: “‘I don’t care how many shrubs you put around it, you can’t compare a concrete slab with green space,’ said Terri Valenti, whose home on Colonial Club Drive is across the street from the site of the proposed shopping center.”