City’s new system for paying officers for off-duty security may run afoul of tax law | The Lens – The city’s new system for centralized assignments and payment of off-duty police officers complies with the Department of Justice’s mandates, but the IRS may be another story. A local tax lawyer says the city is required to withhold Social Security taxes for detail hours, which the city disputes. In 2011, the IRS flagged a Florida city, which also handles its officers’ off-duty work, for not withholding taxes.
Terminally ill Angola 3 member shouldn’t be released from prison, magistrate judge says | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – A federal judge has denied terminally ill Angola Three member Herman Wallace a chance at a new trial on his 1972 murder conviction. Wallace says prosecutors withheld key evidence and unfairly offered a witness concessions in exchange for his testimony. Before he was diagnosed with liver cancer and transferred to the prison’s hospital wing, Wallace spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement.
US judge accepts guilty plea from Halliburton | The Associated Press – The company will pay $200,000, the statutory maximum, for destroying results of computer simulations after the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in 2010. Halliburton will also donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Louisiana could begin building Mid-Barataria sediment diversion by late 2015 | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority learned on Wednesday that money from a criminal settlement with BP and Transocean for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be made available for the diversion, a major part of the state’s plan to rebuild the coast. Congress authorized the $250 million project in 2007 but, until now, no money was available for it.
Black Elk improving but still has work to do, feds say | WWL-TV
The federal agency in charge of offshore safety isn’t quite willing to give a clean bill of health to Black Elk Energy 10 months after a fatal explosion on one of the oil company’s platforms.
Landrieu administration reports major progress in reducing blight | The Advocate
Of the 8,536 properties the city counts as having been abated since October 2010, nearly 4,000 were demolished. Demolition, however, has been a controversial issue. At a meeting on Monday, Head said major errors in code enforcement procedures sometimes have allowed homes to be demolished even as their owners were securing permits or actually making renovations to them.
The Lens has reported on such demolitions, most recently the case of a house in the Upper 9th Ward that was undergoing renovations.
Landrieu administration questions whether a new courthouse is within BioDistrict mission | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – The New Orleans BioDistrict’s board is weighing whether to partner with a plan by Orleans Parish Civil District Court judges to build a new, freestanding courthouse in Duncan Plaza. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants the courthouse and City Hall, in a new “Civic Center” in the abandoned Charity Hospital building. Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin says the BioDistrict should stay out of the fight.
Government & Politics
Former state Sen. Ann Duplessis to head pro-voucher group | The Associated Press – Duplessis has been named president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, the state arm of a national group that supports private school tuition vouchers. As a state senator, the Democrat sponsored a voucher program for New Orleans that later was expanded statewide.
Knight Foundation awards $50,000 to The Lens to create local government contract database | The Lens
The Lens will use the money to collect and upload as many local government contracts as possible and present them in a way that enables searching and cross-referencing with public officials and agencies. When possible, we’ll get our our information online. Otherwise, we’ll copy or scan the documents in person.
LSU loses money on Edwards interview | The Advocate – LSU paid talk show host Larry King $66,000, plus two nights in a $300-a-night hotel suite, to interview former Gov. Edwin Edwards onstage earlier this month. Edwards was paid $6,000. The university only sold 532 tickets for the event, losing $45,000.