Government & Politics
Justices halt affirmative action at University of Texas – The New York Times | Breaking:
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that lower courts did not apply a sufficiently high level of scrutiny to the University of Texas’ use of race in admissions decisions, sending the case back to one of those lower courts to be reconsidered. The decision will most likely have few immediate implications for affirmative action programs around the country, including in Texas. But it may represent the start of a new wave of challenges to the use of race in admissions decisions.
Planned Parenthood resolutions demand little not already done — The Advocate | The Louisiana Legislature passed resolutions this year urging state scrutiny of Planned Parenthood, in response to a $4 million, privately funded health clinic that will provide abortions, now under construction in New Orleans. But the group is already closely scrutinized and already in compliance, say state officials, who aren’t sure what the resolutions were meant to do. Of the resolution he sponsored, Metairie Sen. Danny Martiny tells The Advocate, “Do I believe that it was absolutely necessary? No.”
Too few dollars for too many projects —The Advocate | $23 million for the Audubon Nature Institute; $2.2 million for a Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame in Baton Rouge; $1.4 million for repairs at the Cabildo. State legislators submitted a construction budget requesting for $677 million in state funds to secure lines of credit for major construction projects. The state can only afford $350 million. “The overcommitment means [Gov. Bobby] Jindal will decide what moves forward,” The Advocate reports.
Campaign finance ethics fines mount up; collections? not so much since Gov. Jindal’s ethics ‘reform’ hyperbole of 2008 — Louisiana Voice
More than 300 candidates for local, state and national offices, many of them attorneys (and more than a few disbarred attorneys) owe more than $891,500 in fines for filing campaign finance reports late or not at all. Moreover, 25 political action committees (PACs) owe an additional $90,000, according to figures provided by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
LouisianaVoice.com’s Tom Aswell says Jindal’s 2008 ethics reform law made this possible.
Live blog Monday: Sheriff’s budget under review at consent decree hearing — The Lens | The hearing, focusing on Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s budget, is a step toward figuring out who should pay to improve jail conditions under a recently approved federal consent decree.
Honoring the UpStairs Lounge fire victims: Editorial — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Today is the 40th anniversary of the arson that claimed the lives of 32 men in a French Quarter gay bar. The case has never been solved. “The sad truth is that there didn’t seem to be great interest in solving the case 40 years ago because the UpStairs Lounge was a gay bar.” Also read Frank Perez’s column on the city’s reaction to the fire. In Gambit, Clancy DuBos remembers covering the tragedy as a cub reporter.
Hurricane Isaac spawns contractor fraud complaints in St. John Parish — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Since Hurricane Isaac damaged roughly 7,000 homes in St. John the Baptist Parish, contractor fraud has been rampant in LaPlace, according to Det. Michael Shard, who heads up the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office’s fraud investigations unit. Shard said that since August 2012, there have been more than 60 cases of contractor fraud in the parish, resulting in several arrests.
Unoccupied homes primed for art project, for now — WWNO | WWNO-FM, 89.9, takes a ride with The Lens’ Karen Gadbois to look at a group of houses — moved out of the LSU/VA hospital footprint years ago and still vacant — that a group has turned into an art installation.
‘Save the WTC’ campaign anything but grassroots — The Advocate | The Advocate reports that the “Save the WTC” yard sign campaign is not the work of a concerned preservationist group, but rather Gatehouse Capital Corp., a national real estate development firm that has submitted a proposal to turn the iconic building into a W Hotel. The campaign, reports the Advocate, is “intended as a direct assault” on a competing plan put forth by the unified powers of tourism’s mightiest stakeholders, the feared Tricentennial Consortium. The Consortium plans to tear down the building and erect a large iconic structure, or at the very least a large structure, on the site.
Tax dodgers’ report — Baltimore City Paper | Many American cities — even, say, medium-sized ones with chronic tax revenue shortfalls — are falling all over themselves handing out colossal tax breaks to any developer with a mixed use plan and a dubious “jobs created” number. See, for example, Baltimore, where the local alternative newsweekly has mapped out all the projects the public is currently subsidizing, complete with details on promised made and — where applicable — kept.
Lead contamination at former home of Crocker elementary raises questions about school buildings citywide — Uptown Messenger | Robert Morris asks how Crocker could have been allowed to use the lead contaminated McDonogh No. 7 building for more than two years. Here’s what he finds: “Maintenance … is one of the many blind spots in the fractured two-authorizer, many-operator charter system.”
Orleans Parish School Board unable to schedule Monday special meeting — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The school board had attempted to schedule a special meeting today — assumed to be related to Interim Superintendent Stan Smith’s contract, which board President Ira Thomas claims is invalid. Board members were unable to gather a quorum to vote to convene the meeting.
Scientists examine oil spill’s impact on oysters — The Houma Courier | Jerome La Peyre, a scientist who specializes in oyster diseases in the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, is studying the effect of oil by evaluating biomarkers that are used to assess oyster health. La Peyre’s research is part of a multi-national research initiative studying the impact of the oil spill. The work is being paid for by research money set aside by BP and administered independently through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.
Obama is announcing major new climate plans Tuesday. This chart explains why. — Washington Post Wonkblog | I’m not a big fan of “this chart explains why” stories, either. Either the chart doesn’t explain everything or the chart explains something that no one needed explaining. This chart kind of has both of those problems. But this is an interesting factoid in the run-up to a major climate policy speech: “Over the past few years, U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have been falling rapidly, thanks to the recession, improved energy-efficiency, and a shift from coal to natural gas. But those trends have bottomed out recently…”