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State News

News For Thursday 06/07/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 060712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

SHREVEPORT POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SUSPICIOUS HOMICIDE CASE WHERE A 3-YEAR-OLD WAS FOUND ALONE PLAYING IN A YARD, WHILE HIS MOTHER WAS DEAD INSIDE. POLICE SAY A WITNESS SAW THE TODDLER OUTDOORS AND CALLED THE COPS. THEY FOUND 30-YEAR-OLD LATONYA JONES INSIDE THE HOME--DEAD UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. THE CHILD IS UNHARMED AND HAS BEEN PLACED WITH RELATIVES.

SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE GATHERED AT THE WORLD WAR II MUSEUM IN NEW ORLEANS TO OBSERVE THE 68TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE D-DAY INVASION OF NORMANDY YESTERDAY. HISTORIANS AND VETERANS ALIKE TOOK TIME TO RECALL IN THE BIG PUSH THAT LED TO THE DEFEAT OF NAZI GERMANY LESS THAN A YEAR LATER. SADLY, THE NUMBER OF D-DAY VETERANS IN ATTENDANCE GETS SMALLER EACH YEAR.

WITH THE STATE'S BUDGET PROBLEMS PILING UP, STATE LAWMAKERS WILL REVIEW THE STATE'S MANY BUSINESS TAX BREAKS, CREDITS AND INCENTIVES, TO SEE IF ANY SHOULD BE ABOLISHED. IN 2008 CORPORATE TAX COLLECTIONS WERE AT $940-MILLION. FOR 2012 THEY'RE EXPECTED TO BE LESS THAN $200-MILLION. BUSINESS INCOME TAX BREAKS AND CREDITS ARE ESTIMATED TO COST THE STATE OVER A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

CBS AND THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE MADE IT OFFICIAL YESTERDAY, THE HEATED RIVALRY BETWEEN THE LSU AND ALABAMA FOOTBALL TEAMS WILL BE ANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT IN TIGER STADIUM. THE GAME ON NOVEMBER 3RD THIS YEAR WILL KICK OFF AT 7PM.

TWO REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN ARE DENOUNCING A SAME-SEX CEREMONY HELD LAST MONTH AT FORT POLK. U.S. REP. JOHN FLEMING SAID IN A STATEMENT WEDNESDAY THE "MARRIAGE-LIKE" CEREMONY SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ALLOWED BECAUSE LOUISIANA LAW DOESN'T RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES OR CIVIL UNIONS. U.S. REP. TODD AKIN, R-MO., CLAIMS THE CEREMONY VIOLATED DEFENSE DEPARTMENT POLICY. FOLLOWING LAST YEAR'S REPEAL OF ITS "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" POLICY, THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SAID CHAPLAINS AT MILITARY INSTALLATIONS CAN OFFICIATE ANY PRIVATE CEREMONY THAT ISN'T PROHIBITED BY STATE AND LOCAL LAWS. FORT POLK SPOKESMAN SCOTT STEARNS SAID THE COUPLE TOOK PART IN A COMMITMENT CEREMONY. HE SAYS EVERYONE AT THE BASE CHAPEL UNDERSTOOD IT WAS NOT A MARRIAGE CEREMONY.

A LAST-MINUTE PROVISION ADDED TO LEGISLATION HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WILL DELIVER A PRICE CUT TO SOUTH LOUISIANA PROPERTY OWNERS WHO GET INSURANCE THROUGH THE STATE-RUN INSURER OF LAST RESORT. THE COMPROMISE WAS DEVISED BY LAWMAKERS SEEKING TO LESSEN THE BLOW OF HEFTY RATE INCREASES ON WIND AND HAIL POLICIES FOR CUSTOMERS OF THE LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP., WHICH PROVIDES INSURANCE TO PROPERTY OWNERS WHO HAVE TROUBLE GETTING COVERAGE IN THE PRIVATE MARKET. AS SENT TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, THE BILL WOULD LESSEN INSURANCE COSTS BY 10 PERCENT FOR CITIZENS CUSTOMERS IN 12 PARISHES ACROSS SOUTH LOUISIANA.

THE DIVVYING UP OF THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S DELEGATES TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION HAS MELTED DOWN INTO A DISPUTE BETWEEN PARTY LEADERS LINING UP BEHIND PRESUMED NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY AND SUPPORTERS OF LIBERTARIAN RON PAUL. IF THE TWO SIDES CAN'T WORK OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES, NATIONAL PARTY OFFICIALS MIGHT BE CALLED ON TO DECIDE WHICH DELEGATES FROM LOUISIANA CAN GO TO FLORIDA IN AUGUST. A REPUBLICAN MEETING IN SHREVEPORT OVER THE WEEKEND LED TO DUELING CONVENTIONS, DELEGATES CARTED OUT BY THE POLICE AND PAUL SUPPORTERS DESCRIBING INJURIES FROM THE MELEE. SIMILAR ARGUMENTS HAVE BROKEN OUT IN OTHER STATES. LOUISIANA'S GOP LEADERS CHOSE DELEGATES TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, BUT SO DID PAUL SUPPORTERS. THE PAUL FACTION CLAIMS LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE VIOLATED PARTY RULES GOVERNING THE SELECTION OF DELEGATES.

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT WILL REVIEW A NEW TEXAS RULE THAT PROHIBITS PLANNED PARENTHOOD GROUPS FROM PARTICIPATING IN A TAXPAYER-FUNDED PROGRAM PROVIDING HEALTH CARE AND FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES TO LOW-INCOME WOMEN. THE STATE IS ASKING THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IN NEW ORLEANS TO LIFT AN INJUNCTION THAT BARS THE TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION FROM ENFORCING THE RULE. A THREE-JUDGE PANEL IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR ARGUMENTS THURSDAY ON THAT REQUEST. TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL GREG ABBOTT ARGUES THE STATE IS ENTITLED TO EXCLUDE GROUPS AFFILIATED WITH ABORTION PROVIDERS FROM ITS FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED WOMEN'S HEALTH PROGRAM. PLANNED PARENTHOOD ATTORNEYS SAY THE RULE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND WOULD DEAL A PUNISHING FINANCIAL BLOW TO DOZENS OF CLINICS SERVING ROUGHLY HALF OF THE MORE THAN 100,000 WOMEN ENROLLED IN THE PROGRAM.

LOUISIANA'S UNIQUE CULTURE IS ONCE AGAIN GOING TO BE SHOWN OFF TO A NATIONAL AUDIENCE AS A NEW SHOW DEBUT'S TONIGHT AT 9PM ON A&E CALLED "CAJUN JUSTICE." THE COP SHOW WILL FOLLOW TERREBONNE PARISH SHERIFF VERNON BOURGEOIS AND HIS DEPUTIES AS THEY PATROL THE ONE-OF-A –KIND REGION. BOURGEOIS SAYS THIS IS NO ORDINARY COP SHOW. BOURGEOIS SAYS THERE WERE 21, 30 MINUTE EPISODES FILMED AND EACH ONE WILL FOLLOW A DIFFERENT CRIMINAL STORY LINE. ACCORDING TO A DESCRIPTION OF THE SHOW ON A&E'S WEBSITE, "AS THE HEAT AND HUMIDITY RISES, SO DOES THE CRIME RATE AND BIZARRE BEHAVIOR." BOURGEOIS SAYS THE FILM WILL ALSO SHOW MORE OF LOUISIANA'S BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.

THE STATE BOARD OF FUNERAL DIRECTORS IS IN COURT TODAY; AGAIN SEEKING TO BLOCK A GROUP OF ST. TAMMANY PARISH MONKS FROM MAKING AND SELLING CASKETS. LOYOLA LAW PROFESSOR DANE CIOLINO SAYS TODAY'S ARGUMENTS ARE AN APPEAL OF A FEDERAL COURT DECISION LAST YEAR...IN THE MONKS' FAVOR. TODAY, LAWYERS FOR THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF EMBALMERS & FUNERAL DIRECTORS WILL ARGUE FOR REVERSAL OF JUDGE DUVAL'S RULING BEFORE A PANEL OF FEDERAL APPELLATE JUDGES IN NEW ORLEANS. CIOLINO FEELS THEY'LL HAVE A DIFFICULT TASK CONVINCING THE PANEL TO RULE AGAINST THE MONKS' CASKET- MAKING VENTURE.

AN ILLINOIS-BASED COMPANY CALLED WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR EDUCATING SOME OF CADDO PARISH SCHOOLS' MOST AT-RISK STUDENTS. THE CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD VOTED 8-4 TUESDAY TO HAVE THE COMPANY RUN ITS ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS.
THE MOVE IS ESTIMATED TO SAVE THE DISTRICT APPROXIMATELY $5 MILLION, WITH THE COMPANY GETTING JUST OVER $3 MILLION ANNUALLY. SUPERINTENDENT GERALD DAWKINS SAID THE DISTRICT WAS SPENDING TWICE WHAT IT SPENDS AT REGULAR HIGH SCHOOLS AT THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS AND GETTING NO RESULTS. THE COMPANY HAS A SUCCESS RATE OF BETTER THAN 70%.

THE ANNUAL DROPOUT RATE IN ST. LANDRY PARISH HIGH SCHOOLS DIPPED MORE THAN 50 PERCENT FROM THE 2009-10 SCHOOL YEAR TO THE 2010-11 SCHOOL YEAR. ONLY 3 PERCENT OF NINTH- TO 12TH-GRADE STUDENTS DROPPED OUT OF ST. LANDRY SCHOOLS IN 2010-11, COMPARED TO 6.7 PERCENT THE YEAR BEFORE. THE DRASTIC IMPROVEMENT MADE ST. LANDRY PARISH'S 2010-11 HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATE THE FIFTH MOST IMPROVED IN THE STATE. STATEWIDE, 4.9 PERCENT OF HIGH-SCHOOLERS DROPPED OUT IN THE 2010-11 SCHOOL YEAR.

HERE’S A CASE OF TOUGH LOVE. FIFTEEN PRINCIPALS OF JEFFERSON PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE BEING DISMISSED FROM THEIR JOBS UNDER A POLICY THAT REMOVES LEADERS WHEN THEIR CAMPUSES FAIL TO REACH ACADEMIC GOALS FOR THREE YEARS. BUT, IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. ACTING SUPERINTENDENT JAMES MEZA SAYS 33 PRINCIPALS WERE ON THE CUSP OF REMOVAL THIS YEAR BUT ABOUT HALF OF THOSE SCHOOLS SHOWED PERFORMANCE UPTICKS THAT SAVED THEIR JOBS


FOLKS IN THE LAFAYETTE PARISH TOWN OF SCOTT ARE STILL REELING OVER A CANNIBAL-LIKE ATTACK ON A LOCAL MAN. POLICE SAY 43-YEAR-OLD CARL JACQUNEAUX GOT IN A SCUFFLE WITH HIS EX-WIFE'S BOYFRIEND--REPORTEDLY OVER A CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTE. JACQUNEAUX BIT THE MAN'S FACE; TAKING OFF A PIECE THE SIZE OF A HALF-DOLLAR. IT'S BELIEVED JACQUNEAUX MAY HAVE BEEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE SYNTHETIC DRUG KNOWN AS "BATH SALTS", WHICH CAN CAUSE ERRATIC BEHAVIOR. THE FLORIDA MAN RECENTLY SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE WHILE EATING ANOTHER MAN'S FACE, WAS HIGH ON BATH SALTS AT THE TIME.

A STUDY COMMISSIONED BY TWO NONPROFIT GROUPS SAYS THOUSANDS OF JOBS WOULD BE CREATED ALONG THE GULF COAST IF MONEY FROM BP OIL SPILL PENALTIES AND OTHER SOURCES IS DEDICATED TO COASTAL RESTORATION. THE REPORT BY THE RESEARCH FIRM MATHER ECONOMICS COMES AS GULF INTERESTS PRESS CONGRESS FOR PASSAGE OF THE RESTORE ACT, WHICH WOULD TAKE 80 PERCENT OF CLEAN WATER ACT PENALTIES CHARGED TO PARTIES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL AND DEDICATE IT TO COASTAL WETLANDS RESTORATION AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN THE STATES AFFECTED BY THE SPILL. THE FINES COULD RUN ANYWHERE FROM $5.4 BILLION TO $21.1 BILLION.



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