Congressmen call for halt to demolition of oil rigs – Mississippi Business Journal | Congressmen from Mississippi and Alabama “want the Department of Interior to stop demolishing inactive offshore oil rigs until more study details the dangers to Gulf of Mexico fish species.” Reps. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., and Jo Bonner, R-Ala., believe the demolitions are killing “tens of thousands of pounds of fish” and are harming the surprisingly vital ecosystems surrounding drilling platforms. Such habitats are regarded as a boon to both commercial and charter fishermen.
Louisiana sugarcane industry set a new record — KATC.com | Sugar production is up, though prices remain low. Jack Roney, the director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, predicted prices would increase because of requirements from the 2008 Farm Bill that force the USDA to remove raw sugar from the food market and sell it to the ethanol market.
What’s the biggest threat to the Gulf of Mexico? — SciGuy blog | According to Larry McKinney, the executive director of the Harte Research Institute, “Environmentally speaking, ethanol is bad for the Gulf of Mexico because it ensures large amounts of fertilizer will be used to farm large amounts of corn, which push larger amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen into the Gulf. This, in turn, creates larger dead zones.”
Court denies city request to delay NOPD consent decree implementation — Gambit | In case you missed it, on Friday a “U.S. District Court Judge denied … a request by the City of New Orleans to delay implementation of the New Orleans Police Department consent decree.” The mayor’s office contends that it is still “moving full speed ahead” to reform the NOPD but that compliance with the consent decree will drastically reduce other vital city services.
Oakland’s Other Crime Problem: Unsolved Homicides — KQED News Fix | UC-Berkeley criminal justice scholar Barry Krisberg claims that homicide investigators in Oakland’s police department must forge better relationships with residents before they can solve Oakland’s numerous open murder cases: “Most violent crimes are solved when citizens come forward and tell the police what they know. And that’s why the relationship between the police and the community is so critical. The community has to trust the police; they have to feel like they and the police are on the same side.”
Tab for wrongful convictions in Texas: $65 million and counting — www.statesman.com | Texas, the state that leads the nation in executions, is also the most generous in compensating those who were wrongly imprisoned. Statistics compiled by the Innocence Project show that costs for payments to exonerees in Texas have jumped from around $1 million per year throughout most of the 2000’s to nearly $20 million per year since 2010.
“The justice system in Texas had fundamental flaws, and this is the result,” said Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis.
Last August I noted that Louisiana ranks near the bottom of states in compensating exonerees.
Government & Politics
Obama’s State of the Union proposals could impact Louisiana in a big way — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Reporter Bruce Alpert recaps President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last night and notes that proposals such as increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour could have a substantial effect on many in Louisiana. Similarly, Obama’s “Fix-it-First” infrastructure and job-creation initiatives is also applicable, since Louisiana has more than its share of decrepit bridges.
As stated in a transcript of Obama’s speech:
Those states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make that happen. America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire, a country with deteriorating roads and bridges or one with high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, self- healing power grids.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., praised “the president’s commitment to continued natural gas development, but [questioned] his call to target the oil and gas producers for higher taxes.”
Cedric Richmond praised the president’s commitment to ports and to early childhood education.
And Gov. Bobby Jindal said the president “doubled down” on failed policies of the past and “confirmed that we have gone from the greed of Wall Street to the greed of government.”
La. has second-lowest graduation rate for public special education students — The Advocate | “Louisiana’s dismal rate is one of the key drivers behind state Superintendent of Education John White’s push to revamp the way the state finances special education. Under current rules the state allocates special-education dollars to local school districts based on the number of students classified that way regardless of disability. Under White’s plan, state aid would be allocated based on three factors — the type of disability, what setting is used to educate the student and how the student fares in the classroom. Backers say the overhaul would move the state away from a cookie-cutter approach and target aid in a way that improves the special-education graduation rate.”
Hattiesburg schools, USM set to reopen in tornado’s aftermath — The Sun Herald | On Sunday tornadoes damaged over 800 homes in southern Mississippi. Eighty people were injured and 13,000 were without power. Miraculously, no one was killed, and all but 350 had power by Tuesday. Impressively, “schools and [the University of Southern Mississippi] are cleaning up and expect to resume tomorrow.”
Vieux Carre Commission’s move to City Hall concerns French Quarter civic leaders — The Advocate | French Quarter leaders worry City Hall’s permit streamlining will hurt oversight. The article quotes a Feb. 4 letter from Carol Allen, president of the neighborhood group Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates:
Everybody knows that violators of land use codes and permitting requirements seek every possible opportunity to exploit these regulations for their own personal good. … It is incomprehensible to me, and to others, that the savings the administration hopes to gain by implementing this move will outweigh the importance of maintaining a fully-funded VCC inside the Vieux Carre.
30,000 trees being planted along Sacramento River levees | News – KCRA Home – In the first decision of its kind, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will “exempt itself from its own policy” in order to plant trees on a levee. The corps doesn’t believe the willow trees will affect the integrity of the levee, though its own policy states that trees “can prove to be a safety risk.” The trees are being planted to improve the river’s fish habitat.
10 principles for making high-density cities better | Kaid Benfield’s Blog — One of several good ideas:
Forge “3P” (people, public, private) partnerships: “With land parcels in close proximity to one another, the effects of development in one area are likely to be felt quickly and acutely in neighboring sites. The city government and all stakeholders need to work together to ensure they are not taking actions that would reduce the quality of life for others.”