Isaac: the rest of the story, Part 1 — Fix the pumps | Mechanical engineer Matt McBride’s analysis of email exchanges among U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff during Hurricane Isaac show troubling problems with floodgate closures, canal gauge monitors and electrical systems that powered gate hoists.
Baton Rouge’s Corroded, Overpolluting Neighbor: Exxon Mobil — NPR
The state government gives Exxon permission to pump out millions of pounds of air pollution each year from its Baton Rouge [refinery] complex. But because of accidents and leaks, from 2008 to 2011 the Exxon Mobil Baton Rouge complex put out nearly 4 million pounds of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, without the government’s approval, according to data obtained from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality through a public records request and analyzed by NPR.
Breathing Easier: How Houston Is Working To Clean Up Its Air — NPR | Houston air quality has improved considerably in recent years. This report credits “good science, new technology and a Texas law that prompted companies along the Houston Ship Channel to disclose their emissions.” Considering typical weather and air patterns, I’d expect this improvement to benefit people in south Louisiana.
Federal appeals court orders temporary stay of NOPD consent decree — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “A federal appeals court Thursday … ordered a temporary halt to the consent decree that mandates widespread changes at the New Orleans Police Department.” The city celebrated the legal victory, while critics question why the Landrieu administration is fighting expenses associated with constitutional policing but finds the money for big tourist events like Carnival and the Super Bowl.
Sheriff Gusman: Claims of badly designed new jail ‘flawed and uneducated’ — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Sheriff Marlin Gusman counters recent claims that the design of the $145 million jail, now under construction, will not properly house and treat inmates with medical and mental health issues.
Government & Politics
James Gill: Sugar price controls cost us all — The Advocate | Readers may need a dictionary as they read Gill’s column about the high cost of protecting Big Sugar. (Merriam-Webster defines “dirigisme” as “economic planning and control by the state.”)
This year American sugar prices are down on account of a surplus. But such are the joys of dirigisme that sugar farmers still have it made. When they can’t get top dollar on the open market, they can sell at a profit to the government, which will pass it on at a heavy discount to ethanol producers. So either the government makes us pay grossly inflated prices on a wide variety of food products, or our taxes go to subsidize overreaching agribusiness.
What do current federal funding levels in the wake of sequestration mean for state budgets? — Economic Policy Institute | This study about the impacts of federal funding on state budgets shows that federal spending cuts will have a moderate impact on Louisiana compared to other states. (Via Louisiana Budget Project)
Yup (Part 2) — Slabbed | Doug Handshoe, the author of a blog that has investigated corruption in Jefferson Parish, has sued former Parish President Aaron Broussard and several people linked to Broussard. Handshoe claims they have conspired to shut down his freedom of speech with numerous defamation and copyright infringement suits.
Even a chain restaurant like proposed Habana Outpost creates commerce — The Lens | This opinion piece by Jean-Paul Villere tries to calm fears about a proposed restaurant that would replace a long-blighted gas station on the edge of the French Quarter.
Some New Orleans renters pay a premium for next to nothing: Jarvis DeBerry — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Greg Nichols, who supervises Tulane’s legal assistance program, said, “If you’re a landlord you figure nine times out of 10 (the tenants) won’t bother to file suit against you if you keep their deposit, and the one time they do the horrible draconian penalty that must haunt every landlord’s dream is a fine of $200. Big deal. There are people who have gotten very wealthy keeping people’s deposits.”
Closure of unneeded, failing schools causes disruption for students and teachers — The Lens | Four low-performing New Orleans schools are closing this year. What are the costs and consequences for students and teachers?
[Benjamin Mays Preparatory School] is one of four New Orleans public schools closing this year, along with Abramson Elementary, James Weldon Johnson Elementary School and Murray Henderson Elementary School. A wrenching process for both families and faculties, closing down failed and unneeded schools is the anvil on which a market-driven school system is trying to forge a stronger set of survivors.
Mays is the only charter school that’s closing. The others are run by the Recovery School District; they’re being closed, district officials say, because of demographic shifts and there are seats in higher-performing schools.
Louisiana Education Superintendent John White denies allegations of high school test score cover-up | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Louisiana’s top education official on Thursday denied an accusation that his department intentionally inflated school letter grades and then covered up that inflation, after a high school teacher lobbed accusations during a Senate committee meeting earlier this month.
The toll high-stakes tests take on non-traditional learners (and their teachers) — The Washington Post | A charter school founder in Virginia writes about the consequences of high-stakes tests on non-traditional students.