Government & Politics
Judge refuses to dismiss toll vote lawsuit — The Advocate | “Jefferson Parish’s deputy registrar of voters testified Monday that more than 90 registered voters showed up at their correct voting precincts Nov. 6 but were given provisional ballots that did not allow them to vote on the Crescent City Connection toll renewal referendum that passed by just 36 votes.” As reported on NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, Mike Teachworth director of Stop the Tolls, the citizens group that filed the lawsuit, says those votes could have changed the outcome of the election. The Lens was first to raise public awareness of the implications of the provisional ballot issue, a week after the election in November.
KENNEDY: The Proposed State Budget Is A Fond Illusion — The Hayride | State Treasurer John Kennedy is unimpressed with the Jindal administration’s budgetary gimmickry:
Call this budget what you like: a fond illusion or smart accounting. The result will be the same: mid-year budget cuts for the sixth year in a row, because the budget is not balanced. Why should we care? Because making a college cut $10 million with six months left in the fiscal year is like a $20 million cut from day one. That shreds muscle, not fat.
Political Horizons: Officials are looking at tax swap legal issues — The Advocate | Mark Ballard describes legislative obstacles that will complicate Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax overhaul idea:
The legislation has not been filed, but administration officials say they are looking at two bills. The first bill would repeal taxes on individual income, corporate income, and corporate franchise taxes, while increasing taxes on the sale of most goods, including cigarettes, eliminating tax exemptions on many services, and modifying other tax credit programs.
The problem is that if the repeals and tax increases are placed in different bills, the Legislature might only pass the repeal. Jindal would be forced to veto a tax cut, because it wouldn’t be revenue neutral and would necessitate draconian cuts in the budget.
But, combining the two issues means Bill 1 would need a two-thirds vote, or 70 in the House and 26 in the Senate. “It’s tough to get to 70 on anything in the Legislature. And it’ll be tougher this year, because you are, by definition, raising taxes on some people, while cutting them for others,” [Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project] said.
Second week of BP oil spill trial to feature testimony from those aboard exploded rig — Louisiana Record | “This week the court is expected to hear testimony from those who were aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded, killing 11 rig workers and injuring many others and beginning the spill that eventually leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil in the largest oil spill ever recorded.” Like Coastal Czar Garret Graves, I can’t imagine that BP wants to have this tragic testimony rehashed; yet, curiously, recent rumors of a settlement have seemed to die down.
The Cost of Catastrophe: BPs Oil Drilling Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico — Gulf Restoration Network | Why didn’t BP assess human and environmental impacts when it considered worst-case scenario risks? “Evidence showed that BP identified the possibility of a loss of well control for the Macondo well. When analyzing the risks associated with loss of well control however, BP only considered one thing: cost.”
Direct Quote: Fishing For a Living On the Texas Coast — Texas Observer | A Texas fisherman says: Back then [in 1990], fishing was the best money. A pound of shrimp was $5.25, and now we sell to the public for $2.80. A gallon of fuel was 35 cents. Now we pay $3.65. So you can see why it’s fewer and fewer boats here. You can still make about $50,000 a year, but that’s if nothing goes wrong. The fisherman goes on to describe the red tides, oil spills and pollution which harm his catch and his livelihood.
Freeways Without Futures — Congress for the New Urbanism | The Claiborne Expressway (I-10 overpass) makes a national list of top freeway tear down possibilities. “The UNOP [Unified New Orleans Plan] predicts that with the full removal of two miles of the elevated I-10, the city will gain 35 to 40 city blocks that will no longer be blighted by the freeway and 20 to 25 blocks of open space along Claiborne Avenue.”
The Wisner Trust – Battle for the Bayou – Committee Meeting, Feb 18, 2013 — American Zombie | The Zombie’s Jason Berry shot video of a Wisner Trust committee meeting.
[Executive Director of Port Fourchon, Chett Chiasson] stated that the only reason the Wisner land has any real value to it is because of the Port itself. He then went on to say that if it went up for sale the Port would most likely be forced to act but — and this is a really big but — they would not expect to purchase the land at market value because the Port is the only real catalyst that drives the value of the land in the first place. What does that mean? I think he was suggesting the State of Louisiana may be forced to exercise eminent domain over the property if the City of New Orleans is intent on carving it up and selling it.
Southern Education Desk – Does An Ideal Classroom Or School Exist? | Do “ideal” schools share common traits? Educator Robert Ryshke thinks so and compiles a list. Here’s a sample: “An ideal school environment recognizes that student success is a complex idea and measuring it must be accomplished with many tools. An ideal school environment is led by people who value others, their voice and need for choice.” The bottom line, in Ryshke’s view, is that the school culture must put children first, and educational programs must be balanced and address needs of the “whole child.”
Jefferson Parish teacher salary raises, school security plan outlined — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “Included in these changes are proposals to base teacher salaries on evaluation performance and a district-wide salary raise for all teachers, the funding of a $7 million school security plan and a proposal to spend $40 million to get schools ready for a new state standardized exam.”
Groups respond to comments that consent decree is unnecessary — The Louisiana Weekly |
Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, said Thursday that he was “disturbed, highly concerned and alarmed” by the mayor’s comments about the consent decree being unnecessary. … “The citizens recognize there is a need for the consent decree and up until recently, the administration realized that there was a need for the consent decree. … The consent decree addresses issues such as excessive use of force by the department. That’s directly related to public safety.”
King pointed to the Feb. 12 incident during which two Black teenagers were assaulted by nine plainclothes state police and a plainclothes NOPD officer in the French Quarter, an incident recorded by a crime camera. “The consent decree recognizes the problem of reporting in the NOPD,” King said. “We’ve had a problem with falsification of reports in the department. We see that still occurring with this most recent incident. There was physical force that was used on those young men, there was an NOPD officer that was present — there should have been a report.”
At OPP, size matters — Gambit | In the Gambit commentary section, the editors write: “Simply put, New Orleans doesn’t need a bigger jail; it needs a better jail. … Until [Sheriff Marlin] Gusman proves he can run a jail that passes muster, he should not be allowed to expand his empire.”