Environmental violence drives murder rate in New Orleans, panelists say | Uptown Messenger – U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite and other experts agree that citizens must intervene to disrupt the cycle of violence that plagues too many New Orleans neighborhoods.
Smart on Sentencing, Smart on Crime: An Argument for Reforming Louisiana’s Determinate Sentencing Laws | The Pelican Post – This study “calls for eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession,” in order to reduce recidivism and costs. James Varney previewed the study and the proposed reforms in a recent NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune opinion column.
No Drugs, No Executions: The End of the Death Penalty | National Journal – “Florida is just one of several states scrambling to update or refine its capital-punishment protocol amid a sudden shortfall of its lethal injection drugs, resulting in an unprecedented inconsistency in the way inmates are executed in the United States.” For more on this issue, which occurs as national support for the death penalty drops to its lowest level in four decades, check out The Lens’ coverage on Louisiana’s supply of possibly expired capital punishment drugs.
What are the wetlands worth? | Daily Comet – Assessing the market value of flood-protecting wetlands is tricky, because of the commercial limitations on swampy areas. (Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that the replacement cost of such natural barriers and ecosystems is astronomical, so I’d recommend to those studying these valuations that they “err” on the high side.
Will Barbier do the right thing? | American Zombie – At his blog, Jason Berry speculates about allegations that local law firms manipulated the Deepwater Horizon claims process and received overpayments for their work on behalf of oil-spill claimants.
A Long Overdue Change Could Make Offshore Drilling Safer | Forbes – Energy industry columnist Loren Steffy makes a key point about “near miss” data:
The offshore industry has long bragged about its safety record, but this is mostly hubris. The absence of major accidents isn’t necessarily a synonym for safety. Simply put, we don’t know what we don’t know. To truly assess the industry’s safety — and more importantly, to determine if it’s improving or declining — we need more data points. That’s why the near-miss data that [Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement chief Brian] Salerno is advocating is so important.
Officials promise to minimize pain to businesses during Freret streetwork do-over | Uptown Messenger – The city assures frustrated Freret Street business owners that delays related to a correction of substandard streetscaping will be kept to a minimum.
Move now to turn Charity into City Hall, and work on finding other tenants from there | The Lens – The Lens solicited the views of our readers and city leaders; over the next several days we are publishing edited versions of their ideas. Post your reactions in the comments below each story. This first piece is by journalist Jack Davis.
Government & Politics
Council questions court clerk and worker comp spending plans for coming year | The Lens – “Landrieu administration officials explained why the city is spending dramatically more on employees injured on the job; Criminal Court Clerk Arthur Morrell requested more money for his office, and City Council members offered thanks for construction of new and renovated streets, swimming pools and buildings in their districts.”
Louisiana grapples with assessing alternative charter schools | The New Orleans Advocate – Traditional metrics may not fully gauge successful programs at alternative charters.
In Memphis, city schools are at the epicenter of controversial changes | Hechinger Report
Tennessee’s Achievement District is modeled in part on Louisiana’s state-run Recovery School District, which absorbed most of New Orleans’s schools after Hurricane Katrina. …
The growth of the Achievement District— whose teachers do not have tenure — is only one of several sweeping changes for Memphis teachers. They are also facing the merger of the county and city school districts, a new teacher evaluation system, and reduced tenure protections across the board.