Government & Politics
Court says state owed feds $239.5 million — The Advocate | The state will appeal a federal judge’s order for Louisiana to pay $239.5 million for Medicaid overpayments received between 1996 and 2007. Last month, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson wrote that the state was trying to have it both ways: “Louisiana would have the court believe that the federal government would agree to a plan that allows a state to claim additional funding if it is underpaid, yet pocket excess funds when overpaid.”
Stoplight camera ticket money could be refunded by Jefferson Parish — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts urged the parish to refund $20 million in fines issued to residents by a red-light camera system in use between 2007 to 2010. Roberts “said lingering questions about the fairness of the program, as well as a newly disclosed bribery scandal involving the same contractor in Chicago, prompted him to draft a refund resolution for the council to consider next week.” For more, read the Chicago bribe story involving Redflex, the same company that operated in Jefferson Parish’s system.
UAL grows faster under Jindal — forgotston.com | Forgotston notes that the Unfunded Accrued Liability of the state retirement systems has grown by $800 million over the past year. “When Bobby Jindal became governor in 2008 the UAL stood at $12.1 Billion. As of January, the UAL was $19.3 Billion and growing. That’s a 60% increase in 5 years!”
NOPD detail system reform to debut 2 years after unveiling — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “A new Office of Police Secondary Employment, under the chief administrative office… will coordinate the off-duty police work — and charge cops and businesses to keep it afloat.
Despite mayor’s flipflop on decree, city winnows list of would-be police monitors — The Lens | Despite City Hall’s opposition to the federal consent decree because of entailed costs, officials touted their selection proces of an NOPD monitor, which is one of the mandates of the decree. A skeptical citizen in attendance wondered “How can you talk about transparency when you’re trying to opt out of this whole process?”
Louisiana No. 3 in nation for higher education cuts, report says — Greater Baton Rouge Business Report | “While higher education funding is shrinking nationwide, a new report shows the rate of decrease in Louisiana is the third highest in the country despite a sharp increase in tuition revenue. “
News Corp. Education Tablet: For The Love Of Learning? — NPR | Amplify CEO Joel Klein claims his company has no agenda other than education, despite the political bent of News Corp., Amplify’s corporate parent. Nonetheless: “Some teachers union officials argue Amplify’s efforts are part of a disturbing effort to lure politicians with technology that promises to enable teachers to handle more students per class – and thus reduce how many teachers school districts will need to employ.”
Will John McDonogh’s students regret their exposure on ‘Blackboard Wars?’: Jarvis DeBerry — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The Oprah Winfrey Network provides counseling services to students at John McDonogh High School, which is being filmed for a TV docu-series. Still, DeBerry is concerned that students participating in the show will rethink their involvement after their personal ordeals are broadcast. “It’s gripping television, for sure, but will those students who’ve had their mental health issues and their sexuality broadcast to the world continue thinking their appearance on ‘Blackboard Wars’ was a good idea?”
Climate Change Science Poised to Enter Nation’s Classrooms — InsideClimate News | New Common Core standards in science will emphasize developments in climate change research over the past fifteen years. Louisiana has committed to full implementation of Common Core by next academic year, but also allows teachers to use “supplemental materials” that question textbook instruction on issues such as evolution and climate change. (Considering the latest global warming data, I wonder, is the new emphasis just in time, or too late?)
Nature takes a stab at saving a coastal marsh downriver — for free — The Lens | A natural river diversion into wetlands seems like a cost-saving boon for coastal restoration. But, alas, it’s more complicated than that.
State officials criticize $60 million BP donation deal, warn of precedent — The Lens | BP’s donation to promote tourism in the state was funneled through nonprofits, rather than distributed by the Legislature. That enabled the oil giant to write-off the expense for tax purposes. Some legislators are concerned by the precedent set by the direct handoff, since the state will soon receive billions more from BP for oil spill damages. According to State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, the donation circumvented sunshine laws and the state constitution.”We should never do this,” he said. Supporters of the maneuver say funds were distributed quickly and efficiently.
What BP’s Bob Dudley didn’t say — Fuel Fix – Loren Steffy inspects BP’s efforts to control the narrative of the reforms the company has made since the Macondo oil spill, which is heavy on talk and light on specific proof. “[Company] policies don’t mean much if you can decide to exempt yourself from them when they’re needed. If [BP CEO] Dudley wanted to show how he’s changed BP’s safety culture, he could have addressed the lesson learned from this incident and how it’s being applied throughout the organization.”
As New Orleans plans another streetcar line, tug of war emerges over priorities | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | An attempt to find a happy medium between right-of-way, bike lanes, traffic congestion and a host of other concerns about the new plan: “The details offered by the RTA… reflected what has obviously been a closely negotiated set of compromises between a whole array of interested parties: commuters, residents, business owners, bicyclists and City Hall.”
Bloomberg to Offer Own Sandy Buy-Out Plan, with a Twist – WNYC | Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s buy-out program may allow Hurricane Sandy-damaged properties to be redeveloped, rather than turned into green space, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan.
[Peter Spencer, a spokesman for the city’s housing recovery office] added that allowing a resident to buy a property adjacent to his own, and which otherwise would be turned into open space, could alleviate the so-called “jack-o’-lantern effect” that some people worry will result if some, but not all, homeowners on a street otherwise sell their properties to the government. (A similar program in New Orleans allows people to renovate the structure on the adjacent lot and rent it out as long as that is permitted by zoning regulations.)