Landry, Walker merger discussion ignites passions at rare New Orleans BESE meeting — The Lens | Education reporter Jessica Williams’ live-tweet is compiled in Storify form. The highlight of the meeting: “Several members of the audience wanted [BESE member] Kira Orange Jones to speak her opinion on the merger. When she did, some audience members (and Twitter!) seemed surprised by her answer.” Indeed, Jones’ indication that she would favor a delay of the ongoing school merger became a NOLA.com/Times-Picayune story of its own: “State school board may stop Landry/Walker merger 2 months before new school year.”
‘Fair’ no longer boosts performance scores; Common Core topics creep into state tests — The Lens | The Friends of King charter school board discussed student evaluation issues that numerous schools are also grappling with. According to board CEO Doris Hicks, students receiving a “fair” grade on end-of-course tests will no longer boost a school’s overall performance score, yet schools will not be paid to remediate or re-test those students.
DOE gadfly Kopplin seeks voucher records – The Independent Media Group | Zack Kopplin is back. The youthful crusader against religious skewing of Louisiana’s science curriculum explains what information he is seeking about the state’s private school voucher program.
Government & Politics
Hotels would be able to tax themselves under bill approved by House Wednesday — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune |
A bill allowing hotels to vote to add an extra charge to their customers’ bills to pay for better marketing through the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau passed the Louisiana House on Wednesday, the last significant step before becoming law. The measure would also direct some funds from any fee that is assessed to the city of New Orleans; city officials have said the money would be spent on public safety and infrastructure in the French Quarter.
Troy Hebert resurfaces as Jindal bag man in successful effort to defeat Rep. John Schroder’s whistleblower protection bill — Louisiana Voice | The deferral of a bill that would protect whistleblowers who work for the state has incensed blogger Tom Aswell. The Jindal administration opposed the bill as “too broad” and warned it would have “unintended consequences.” Aswell counters that the administration is allowing “the continued intimidation of state employees who know of illegal or unethical activity …” The upshot: ” … continued abuse of power by supervisory personnel even as the state treasury is looted.”
State-by-State Economic Report Shows a Lackluster Louisiana — The Pelican Post | Louisiana’s ranking in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s latest “Rich States, Poor States” index has dropped from 19 to 28. “Louisiana received low marks for its sales tax burden and its state liability system survey, a measurement of the state legal system.” This is the first time in five years that Louisiana has not been in the top half of the rankings. I’ve criticized this ranking system in a recent opinion column, and am a little surprised by the findings. Big investments have come to the state in recent years, especially in the energy and petrochemical sector, and business publications tout Louisiana’s growing digital and info-tech sectors.
Louisiana one of 12 states where more people die from guns than traffic accidents, study says — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | This is a sobering statistic, but it does appear that a decline in traffic deaths is mostly responsible for the crossover, rather than a sharp escalation in shootings.
River Birch prosecutors want 2-year sentence for Hendrikus Ton, who wants probation — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Lawyer Kenneth Polite is the defense attorney for Ton, accused of payroll fraud in connection with Jefferson Parish’s River Birch landfill. Polite is also Sen. Mary Landrieu’s pick to be the next U.S. Attorney for the New Orleans office. That puts him in an interesting predicament now that the government, without explanation, has dropped charges against River Birch executive Dominick Fazzio, who was accused of abetting the payroll fraud. To defend Ton, Polite will have to take pokes at the performance of the office he aspires to run.
City Council says duck boat tours approval requires further research – HumidCity | Blogger lunanola summarizes the debate before the City Council over a proposed “duck tour” bus line, which is apparently a fixture in several other tourist destinations. One duck tour gimmick is giving novelty noisemakers to riders. Lunanola does the math:
“The significance of the plastic novelty quacker devices deserves careful scrutiny. If there are twelve tours operating daily with an average of 25 passengers, that would mean that 300 quackers would be distributed daily, or as many as 2,100 each week. As the tour’s operators anticipate an estimated 50,000 touring participants annually, anyone who remembers the noisy Krewe of Muses vuvuzela throw in 2011 should realize that this could become a significant and daily annoyance throughout New Orleans.”
RV in gated subdivision splits Gretna area family from neighbors, government — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | A recreational vehicle that is specially equipped to serve a boy with muscular dystrophy extends two inches beyond neighborhood zoning requirements. Should it be granted a variance?
Gulf Coast States Get Creative With BP Oil Spill Money — NPR | Alabama officials defend their decision to use coastal restoration money from the BP oil spill to build a hotel and lodge. They argue that ecosystem restoration projects take more time to evaluate than human-use projects, and the hotel and lodge will attract people back to the coast (Via Restore the Mississippi River Delta)
Fish kill costs paper mill owner $3.3 million in fines — The Advocate |
“Temple Inland, which caused a major fish kill on the Pearl River in 2011 when it released pollutants from its Bogalusa paper mill, was ordered Wednesday to pay $3.3 million in criminal penalties, according to U.S. Attorney Dana Boente. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle also sentenced the Austin, Texas, company, a subsidiary of International Paper, to two years probation.”