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State News

News For Friday 06/15/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 061512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE GRANT PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORTS THE BODY OF A 69-YEAR-OLD DRY PRONG RESIDENT, JESSIE MERCER JR, WAS RECOVERED FROM THE RED RIVER NEAR THE COLFAX RECREATION AREA YESTERDAY MORNING. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAID MERCER WAS THROWN FROM HIS BOAT DUE TO ROUGH WATER EARLY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

U.S. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU CLAIMS HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE PREVENTING CONGRESS FROM PASSING A TRANSPORTATION BILL THAT SHE SAYS WILL CREATE THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND PROVIDE THE GULF COAST STATES WITH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AS A RESULT OF THE RESTORE ACT. THE RESTORE ACT IS INCLUDED IN THE TRANSPORTATION BILL. THE RESTORE ACT MANDATES THAT 80-PERCENT OF THE FINES FROM THE 2010 OIL SPILL WILL GO TO THE GULF COAST STATES. LANDRIEU THIS LEGISLATION WILL HELP WITH COASTAL RESTORATION AND CREATE JOBS. HOUSE GOP MEMBERS WANT THE DEMOCRATS TO AGREE TO EXPAND OFFSHORE DRILLING AND APPROVE THE KEYSTONE OIL PIPELINE FROM CANADA, IN EXCHANGE FOR PASSING THE TRANSPORTATION BILL.

MONITORING STATIONS AROUND THE STATE HAVE BEGUN TO REPORT FINDING MOSQUITOES WITH WEST NILE VIRUS. KYLE MOPPERT WITH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS, SAYS ITS NORMAL FOR THE BUGS WITH THE VIRUS TO SHOW UP ABOUT THIS TIME OF YEAR. HE RECOMMENDS USING A REPELLENT WITH DEET, CHECK YOUR WINDOW SCREENS FOR HOLES, AND GET RID OF ANY STANDING WATER IN YOUR YARD.

A NATCHITOCHES PARISH DOUBLE MURDER SUSPECT HAS BEEN NABBED IN TACOMA, WASHINGTON. NATCHITOCHES SHERIFF VICTOR JONES OFFICE SAYS RENALDO NARGO WAS CAUGHT AT HIS BROTHER'S HOME. NARGO IS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING TWO MEN, REPORTEDLY OVER A STOLEN ASSAULT RIFLE. HE'LL BE RETURNED TO LOUISIANA TO FACE JUSTICE.

VIC STELLY, THE MAN BEST KNOWN FOR THE STELLY TAX PLAN, HAS STEPPED DOWN FROM THE STATE BOARD OF REGENTS. STELLY SAYS HE IS DISILLUSIONED WITH THE STATE OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN LOUISIANA. HE SAYS WE REACHED A HIGH WATER MARK FOR STATE FUNDING IN 2008, BUT SINCE THAT TIME THE STATE'S COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES HAVE LOST ALMOST HALF THEIR FUNDING. THE GOVERNOR AND HIS ALLIES IN THE LEGISLATURE BLAME CUTS TO HIGHER EDUCATION ON A NEED TO BALANCE THE STATE'S BUDGET. STELLY SAYS MOST OF THE BUDGET GAP CAN BE TRACED BACK TO HUGE TAX GIVE-AWAYS TO BUSINESS AND INDUSTRIES. HE SAYS THE EFFORT TO ATTRACT MORE JOBS INTO THE STATE IS AT A COST TO OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SHOOTING IN ALGIERS THAT HAS LEFT ONE MAN DEAD AND ANOTHER IN CRITICAL CONDITION. IT HAPPENED SHORTLY BEFORE NOON ON THURSDAY. POLICE SAY THE TWO PEOPLE WERE SHOT WHILE INSIDE A CAR. POLICE SAY THE SHOOTER WAS SITTING IN THE BACK OF THE CAR WHEN HE OPENED FIRE.

A NORTHWEST LOUISIANA LAWMAKER WHO WAS A VOCAL CRITIC OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET PROPOSALS HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM HIS LEADERSHIP POSITION IN THE LEGISLATURE. REP. JIM MORRIS, A REPUBLICAN FROM OIL CITY, SAID THURSDAY THAT HE WAS STRIPPED OF HIS POSITION AS VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE AFTER THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDED. HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY CONFIRMED THE CHANGE, BUT HE WOULDN'T SAY WHY MORRIS WAS OUSTED FROM THE JOB.

GRANT PARISH IS CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL DUMPING. BY LAW, ANY PERSON WHO IS NOT A RESIDENT OF GRANT PARISH MAY NOT DUMP GARBAGE IN GRANT PARISH TRASH BINS; SCAVENGING IN TRASH BINS IS NOT ALLOWED AND DUMPING CERTAIN ITEMS IS NOT ALLOWED. VIOLATORS ARE SUBJECT TO A FINE. NON-RESIDENTS WHO ARE CAUGHT VIOLATING THE OUT OF PARISH DUMPING ORDINANCE WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY DOUBLE THE USUAL FINE, BEGINNING WITH $500 UPON THEIR FIRST OFFENSE. IN ADDITION TO THESE FINES, THE POLICE JURY HAS VOTED TO IMPOSE A FINE ON COMMERCIAL HAULERS WHO DEPOSIT GARBAGE INTO GRANT PARISH TRASH BINS.

THE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION SAYS A NEW STUDY SHOWS SPEEDING IS THE CAUSE OF ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF CRASH DEATHS IN LOUISIANA. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR COL JOHN LEBLANC SAYS DRIVERS NEED TO EASE UP ON THE PEDAL. HE SAYS SPEEDING HAS BECOME A MAJOR PROBLEM. HE SAYS ADD TO SPEEDING, DRIVING WHILE DRUNK AND FAILURE TO WEAR A SEAT BELT AND YOU HAVE A DEADLY COMBINATION. 668 PEOPLE DIED ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAYS LAST YEAR.

FALLEN TEXAS BILLIONAIRE, ALLEN STANFORD, WHO DEFRAUDED INVESTORS OF $7 BILLION, INCLUDING $1 BILLION IN LOUISIANA, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 110 YEARS IN JAIL. THE TEXAS TYCOON WAS ALSO ORDERED TO PAY BACK $5.9 BILLION, EVEN THOUGH HE NOW HAS NO MONEY. STANDFORD WAS CONVICTED IN MARCH OF RUNNING THE BILLION DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME,

A FORMER NFL PLAYER AND CURRENT TEACHER AT CROWLEY HIGH SCHOOL IS FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR ALLEGED INAPPROPRIATE CONTACT WITH A STUDENT. ACADIA PARISH SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON, DEPUTY MAXINE TRAHAN, SAYS THEY RECEIVED A COMPLAINED LAST WEEK THAT 48-YEAR-OLD BRYANT KEITH ORTEGO (OAR-TA-GO) MAY HAVE DONE SOMETHING IMPROPER WITH A JUVENILE. SHE SAYS THEY AREN'T RELEASING MANY MORE DETAILS WHILE THE INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY.

LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH COUNCILMAN WILLIAM THERIOT IS PUSHING FORWARD WITH A PROPOSAL TO ALLOW VOTERS TO DECIDE THE FATE OF THE CITY'S TRAFFIC-CAMERA ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM. THE MOVE COMES DESPITE WARNINGS FROM THE CITY-PARISH ATTORNEY THAT A PUBLIC VOTE ON THE ISSUE IS NOT ALLOWED UNDER STATE OR LOCAL LAW. THERIOT SAYS HE WILL INTRODUCE A MEASURE AT NEXT TUESDAY'S COUNCIL MEETING TO CALL FOR A REFERENDUM THIS FALL TO DECIDE IF THE CONTROVERSIAL TRAFFIC-CAMERA PROGRAM SHOULD END.

LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH PRESIDENT JOEY DUREL SAYS HE IS GIVING THE CITY OF BROUSSARD 10 DAYS TO DROP TWO LAWSUITS OR RISK LOSING SERVICES LAFAYETTE PROVIDES, INCLUDING WATER, ANIMAL CONTROL AND FIRE DISPATCH. IN A CERTIFIED LETTER SENT TUESDAY TO BROUSSARD MAYOR CHARLES DUREL WROTE THAT HE IS WILLING TO RENEGOTIATE A WHOLESALE WATER AGREEMENT IN WHICH LAFAYETTE UTILITIES SYSTEM SELLS WATER AT WHOLESALE PRICES TO BROUSSARD, BUT ONLY IF BROUSSARD FIRST CEASES A PAIR OF LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST LAFAYETTE. BROUSSARD SUED LAFAYETTE OVER AN $825,000 WATER BILL THE LAFAYETTE UTILITY SYSTEM SENT FOR WATER THAT BROUSSARD USED BUT DID NOT PAY FOR. BROUSSARD ALSO SUED LAFAYETTE OVER AN ANNEXATION DISPUTE.

LOUISIANA'S STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT WANTS TO ADD A PHARMACY BENEFIT TO PRIVATE INSURANCE NETWORKS THAT ARE PROVIDING HEALTH CARE FOR MUCH OF THE POOR WHO RECEIVE COVERAGE THROUGH MEDICAID. THREE HEALTH INSURANCE ENTITIES WILL BE PAID A PER-MEMBER, PER-MONTH PREMIUM FOR BAYOU HEALTH PARTICIPANTS AND WILL START MANAGING THE DELIVERY OF PHARMACY SERVICES IN THEIR PATIENTS' CARE PLANS BY THE FALL. CURRENTLY, MEDICAID RECIPIENTS' PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE IS HANDLED THROUGH A STATE-RUN PHARMACY PROGRAM. THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS WILL HOLD SIX HEARINGS AROUND LOUISIANA THIS MONTH TO DISCUSS THE PLANNED CHANGES, WHICH WILL AFFECT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THE MANAGED CARE NETWORKS, PRIMARILY PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

KEVIN COSTNER SAID HIS REPUTATION WAS AT STAKE AS HE DEFENDED HIMSELF AGAINST ACCUSATIONS THAT HE CHEATED FELLOW ACTOR STEPHEN BALDWIN OUT OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN A LUCRATIVE BP CONTRACT FOR OIL-CLEANING MACHINES AFTER THE 2010 SPILL. BALDWIN AND A FRIEND WERE SEEKING $17 MILLION IN DAMAGES, SAYING THEY COULD HAVE MADE AT LEAST THAT MUCH IN THE DEAL. A FEDERAL GRAND JURY SIDED WITH COSTNER AND GAVE THEM NOTHING.





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