St. Bernard Parish considers suit against oil and gas companies for coastal damage | The Lens – Add another parish to the list of prospective plaintiffs that includes Jefferson and Plaquemines.
Coastal Authority authorizes two lawsuits against Army Corps of Engineers | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – One lawsuit intends to remove the state’s approximately $1 billion cost-share for repairing wetlands damage caused by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. The other suit would force the corps, rather than the state or local governments, to pay for levee maintenance along the Algiers Canal on the West Bank. In the video that accompanies the article, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves estimates that those levee maintenance costs would easily run into the millions over time.
The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — What’s Next? | WWNO – Lens environmental reporter Bob Marshall discusses the long-term outlook for the state’s coastal Master Plan with Mark Schleifstein of NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and Jeff Adelson of The New Orleans Advocate.
More New Orleans Students Eat All Three Meals At School | WWNO – “More than 45 New Orleans area schools and after-school programs have started offering dinner” to students in addition to breakfast and lunch.
Former employee charged with stealing $31,000 from military academy | The Lens – “A former New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy business manager has been charged with theft stemming from $31,000 in fraudulent checks written more than a year ago. The school still hasn’t recovered the money.”
N.O. struggles to provide adequate education for special-needs students | The Louisiana Weekly – A profile of parent Kelly Fisher, who is a named plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against special-needs students in New Orleans. Fisher says she has received little help and encountered numerous roadblocks in her quest to find a good local high school that will accommodate her son.
Punished for life: Unexpected repercussions dog defendants who agree to cop even minor pleas | The Investigative Reporting Workshop – Facing minor criminal charges, some defendants decide to take a plea deal. But they find that the stigma can prevent them from getting jobs and housing. And getting their record expunged later turns out to be almost a difficult as avoiding conviction in the first place.
“Fifty years after Gideon, the fact of the matter is that people wind up with convictions all across the country without ever talking to a lawyer,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, president of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, which advocates for access to justice in the civil and criminal courts.
Lawyers tend to see the criminal and civil courts as two separate entities, but for people caught up in the legal system, the problems often bleed from one arena into the other. Having a bad lawyer or one who is simply overwhelmed can result in a felony conviction rather than a misdemeanor, or a plea deal rather than a trial. Those missed opportunities can have economic and social effects that ripple far beyond a prison sentence.
“We are talking about employment licenses, employment consequences, immigration consequences, housing,” Wallace said. “Life-changing impacts that don’t only impact the person, the individual, but families and children.” “
Orleans Parish jail size debate begins in City Council committee | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – The City Council is working on a proposal to cap the number of inmates at the city jail at 1,938 once the new housing facility opens in 2014. That’s about 300 less than the number currently imprisoned.
Government & Politics
Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Replace outdated Taxi Cab Bureau with modern taxi/limo commission | Uptown Messenger – In their weekly column, Katz and Columbus say the city’s Taxi Cab Bureau should be revamped along the lines of New York City’s taxi commission. In a rebuttal, opinion writer Owen Courreges says that despite the apparent corruption at the New Orleans taxi bureau, the Big Apple’s model is not the right approach.
‘A sense of brokenness and abuse’: Crumbling LSU buildings & Jindal’s misplaced priorities | Something Like the Truth | – On his blog, Bob Mann claims that “nothing symbolizes the deplorable state of Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana more than the decay that’s occurred on the state’s college campuses.”
Sen. David Vitter considers run for La. governor | FOX 8 WVUE – My reading of the tea leaves is that Vitter will run. On the face of it, it might seem like an odd decision because he could likely remain a senator for as long as he wants. However, Vitter has been a staunch supporter of term limits throughout his career; perhaps he believes that remaining in the same office past two terms would go against this principle.
Tulane: New riverfront laboratory will not displace Mardi Gras World | Uptown Messenger – “Contrary to a report published earlier this week by The Advocate, Tulane officials say their riverfront lab will be downriver from the Mardi Gras World site, and that plans for any further facilities are “speculative and exploratory.”
The Old Department Stores of Canal Street in New Orleans | GoNOLA.com – Edward Branley traces the history of the now-departed retail bastions on Canal Street, where New Orleanians used to do their holiday shopping.