Cost of busing students in New Orleans rises as parents exercise school choice | The Lens – It will cost $30 million to bring students to and from public schools this year, compared to $18 million the year before Katrina. The increase appears to be a consequence of citywide enrollment and the shift from a centrally-run school system. A few schools are working together to negotiate busing.
Is TOPS doomed? No, but sharp course correction needed to avoid Titanic’s fate | The Lens – Inflated college costs mean that the popular state scholarship program will run out of money unless changes are made.
State budget cuts gut public education funding | Louisiana Budget Project – A new report shows that Louisiana spends $212 less per student than it did prior to the Great Recession.
After children’s deaths, city and state lawmakers push for more oversight of NOPD, other law enforcement agencies | Uptown Messenger
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell had only been in elected office nine months when [one-year old Londyn] Samuels was killed in her district. Within days, she convened a summit of other City Council members, state lawmakers, judges and law-enforcement officials to discuss what more can be done on the violence issue. A common theme emerged, that more oversight is needed everywhere — of the New Orleans Police Department and its leadership, of the anti-crime programs in place, of the budgets for those entities and of the state law-enforcement agencies that also play crucial roles.
River Birch landfill probe ends with a whimper | The New Orleans Advocate – Harsh words, but a light sentence for Henry Mouton, the former Wildlife and Fisheries commissioner who admitted to taking bribes. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman sentenced Mouton to only six months of home confinement, saying he was “deeply troubled by what to any reasonable person might be potential unyielding government abuse” in the River Birch case.
Government & Politics
‘Stop insisting they’re free,’ state economist says of development projects | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – Do incentives that lure large industrial projects to the state pay for themselves? A state economist says no. Economic development chief Stephen Moret says it’s silly to think that millions in incentives for multibillion-dollar projects don’t increase state revenues.
Vitter: Sure, Raise the Gas Tax — Just as Long as You Don’t Raise More Money | Streetsblog Capitol Hill
Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he understands that the current limitations on the Highway Trust Fund are just “an accident of history” and need to be revisited — presumably by raising the gas tax.
“Somehow it’s a core conservative principle that whatever is there now as the current federal gas tax, that’s it and that’s written in stone that Moses brought down from the mountain,” Vitter said. He added that he’s “open to updating that financing system” but here’s the catch — it can’t be a “net tax increase for middle-class taxpayers.”
Vitter’s remarks about safeguarding “middle-class taxpayers” are notable because they seem to leave room for (as yet unspecified) measures to increase revenues to fund roads and other infrastructure projects.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says hospital deals have expanded services | Associated Press – Jindal cites specific health care improvements, such as shortened emergency room wait times, to argue that the privatization of Louisiana’s public hospital system was the right move.
Two injured after house collapses in Lakeview | WWL-TV
Charles Brimmer with Brimmer Enterprises, the elevation subcontractor, explained that five men were working on the house at the time of the collapse and that they were removing steel and cribbing when they felt something shift, and the back and side of the house collapsed.
Putting The Pedal To The Metal: New Orleans’ Bicycling Infrastructure Is Expanding | WWNO – The construction is inconvenient and seemingly ubiquitous in some neighborhoods, but residents are beginning to see results. “Repaved roads, and the bike lanes that go along with them, are popping up all over the city.”
Levee board suit supporters are likely to lose seats | The Advocate – The Jindal administration is intent on removing levee board members who spearheaded a lawsuit against oil and gas companies for contributing to coastal erosion.
“To be very clear, the governor has said that the lawsuit is a litmus test. Period,” said Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves, who has been the administration’s chief spokesman in criticizing the lawsuit.
St. Bernard water system tests positive for rare brain-eating amoeba, CDC confirms | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – “Life is hard in St. Bernard,” goes the saying. The upshot: officials say it’s safe to drink water containing brain-eating amoebas; just don’t let it get into your nose. Presumably, that means you should refrain from telling jokes while someone is drinking tap water.
In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley,’ huge sinkhole creates more concerns | Al Jazeera America — An overview of some of the environmental tradeoffs the state has made in the name of oil and gas development.
“Louisiana is the heart of the petrochemical beast,” said Anne Rofles, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental health and justice organization. She added that state regulators are too close to industry, that industry lobbyists have too much power and that state politicians are afraid to question the status quo.