Government & Politics
Zurik: Are utilities the real power behind the PSC? | FOX 8 WVUE – Investigative reporter Lee Zurik finds that utility companies regulated by the Public Service Commission “play a huge role in getting the commissioners elected,” donating two-thirds of their overall contributions. NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune has a companion story.
Why Mary Landrieu’s Obamacare bill is a political winner | Daily Kos – Liberal blogger and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says Landrieu’s legislation to fix problems with Obamacare is a political home run because it transfers blame from Obama and the Democrats and puts “the pressure exactly where it belongs: on insurance companies and obstructionist Republicans.”
Immigration protest shuts down afternoon traffic, results in 22 arrests | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – Protestors claim Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are making arrests based on quotas and are ignoring the Obama administration’s directive to focus on undocumented immigrants with criminal histories.
How can President Obama recover from his Katrina? | @GStephanopoulos – ABC’s George Stephanopoulos sets the local Twittersphere aflame by comparing the troubled Obamacare website with a disaster that killed nearly 2,000 people. Presumably he is using “Katrina” as shorthand for “political low point.” However, in 2010 Stephanopoulos resisted comparing the response to the BP oil spill to Katrina.
Audio: For some students at New Orleans’ best schools, just getting there is a challenge | The Lens – Of the seven A schools in the city, just one buses its students. That means some students fortunate enough to get into one of the best schools must take hours-long rides on public transportation, making them and their parents uneasy.
NOCP’s vote to stay under RSD skirted Open Meetings Law | The Lens – The board that governs New Orleans College Preparatory Academies may have violated the law when it failed to provide advance notice about a vote on remaining in the Recovery School District. The board voted to stay in the RSD.
Feds struggle to get smaller oil companies, contractors to follow new offshore safety rules | WWL-TV
A federal accident report released this month blamed Black Elk and its contractors for the deaths of three Filipino workers. The report said the contractors communicated poorly about when it was safe to perform “hot work,” and failed to follow their own safety procedures.
In one particularly damning section of the report, investigators said gas detectors were not functioning, and when employees complained, their supervisor told them not to worry and to hang the broken devices as “decoration.”
Domed refuge now cauldron of misery for survivors | Associated Press –Thousands of Filipinos rode out Super-Typhoon Haiyan in a domed stadium. Six days later, relief has yet to arrive.
Assessor: Assumption salt dome companies owe millions | The Advocate
Operators and owners of the massive underground salt caverns carved from the Napoleonville Dome in Assumption Parish have under-reported their facilities’ assessed values by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the parish assessor said Thursday.
National foundation awards Louisiana first $68 million from BP, Transocean criminal fines for coastal restoration | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – Gov. Bobby Jindal hailed the money as a “historic down payment” on future restoration efforts. “The money comes from the first payment of $2.5 billion directed to the foundation by BP and Transocean as part of criminal guilty pleas by both companies for their roles in the April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Neighbors air questions about upcoming Magnolia Marketplace and sales-tax increase | Uptown Messenger – Live-blog coverage of a community meeting about a $25 million development of a strip mall at South Claiborne Avenue and Toledano Street. An unusual one-cent sales tax on future retail sales at the strip mall will help fund the development, which is expected to be completed by March 2015.
Napoleon Ave drainage work could disrupt parades | The Advocate – Construction on Napoleon may require new routes for parades in 2015 and 2016.
Criminal justice: American oubliette | The Economist – New Orleanian Timothy Jackson shoplifted a jacket in 1996 and is now spending the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Economist argues such draconian punishments, which disproportionately affect poor minorities, are unjustifiable.
Criminal justice (2): The new debtors’ prisons | The Economist
Monthly charges to private-probation companies are just one of a growing array of fees levied by America’s criminal-justice system. Such fees are distinct from fines, imposed to punish or deter. Their aim is to make wrongdoers cover some of the costs of the system that punishes them. …
For example, a 2010 report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that fees and fines covered two-thirds of the operating budget of the Orleans Parish criminal court in Louisiana.