Live blog: Levee board votes to reaffirm lawsuit against oil and gas companies | The Lens – A similar motion was tabled in November at the urging of new board members who oppose the lawsuit.
Holiday & Mardi Gras Beads Contain 1,000s of Pounds of Hazardous Chemicals | HealthyStuff.org – Will future Carnivals have less plastic? “Researchers found most [Mardi Gras] beads have one or more hazardous chemicals that have been linked to serious health threats.”
BP pushes technical limits to tap extreme fields | Associated Press
BP’s strategy after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy: Go deeper. BP is leading an industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions.
Civil rights museum joins bidders for failed ArtWorks complex off Lee Circle | The Lens – A runaway $25 million public investment is now valued at $4.5 million, and federal loans must be repaid.
The U.S. Cities Leading the Decline in Driving | The Atlantic Cities – According to a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, in recent years New Orleans has experienced a large decline in vehicle miles traveled per capita, a large increase in households without a car, and a large increase in per capita miles traveled on public transit. (Anecdotally, I have not seen much evidence of these trends, least of all in congested road construction zones.)
BESE adds extra Common Core protection for schools | NOLA.com/Times-Picayune – The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education passed measures to limit negative consequences from the new Common Core tests.
Members expressed concern that the curve would force lower grades onto schools with steady numerical scores if other schools improved dramatically. So members added a “hold-harmless” provision, guaranteeing that a school’s letter grade will not drop if its performance score improves or remains steady.
Education Superintendent John White called it a “kinder curve.”
Dennis Persica: Jindal victory not clear in voucher ruling | The New Orleans Advocate – In his column, Persica takes a closer at premature celebrations by proponents of school vouchers, who thought that the U.S. Justice Department had abandoned its lawsuit against Louisiana’s program. He notes that “far from quashing the feds’ complaint, [U.S. District Judge Ivan] Lemelle held that the federal government should have some oversight when vouchers are used in those parishes where there still are longstanding desegregation cases.”
Louisiana higher ed funding cuts highest in nation, report says | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – According to a recent survey, Louisiana has cut higher ed funding by 17.6 percent, more than any other state. That’s nearly double the percentage of West Virginia, which had the second highest percentage of cuts. Louisiana was one of only two states to cut the state general fund to higher education two years in a row.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite urges business community to work with ex-offenders | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – “U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite on Wednesday challenged New Orleans business leaders to hire ex-offenders returning from prison and to play a part in tackling Louisiana’s recidivism problem.” As reported by The Lens yesterday, even minor convictions can make life difficult for citizens returning to the workforce.
The Wisner Trust – Are there missing funds from the Ceasefire New Orleans program? | American Zombie – Blogger Jason Berry points to video of a Wisner Advisory Committee meeting that raises questions about whether the city’s Ceasefire violent crime-fighting initiative may be missing funds. Berry says he has “found some accounting issues regarding the [Ceasefire] program’s two fiscal agents, the St. Thomas Health Center and the Urban League of New Orleans that I think need some answers.”
Government & Politics
Local fast-food employees join National strike for better pay | WWL-TV – “An adult with one child needs to make $19.72 an hour working full-time in the New Orleans area just to afford the basics, according to a model developed by a professor at MIT. Right now, the average wage locally for fast-food workers is $8.54 an hour, which is why employees are demanding wages be raised to a more livable income of $15 dollars an hour.”
Zurik: Gold standard for ethics, lead standard for enforcement – FOX 8 WVUE – The state ethics board appears to be underfunded and unable to fully enforce its own laws. Lee Zurik reports that the board “won’t confirm if they’ll open any investigations into the nine elected officials who may have received more campaign contributions from political action committee’s than the law allows.”