Louisiana news briefs
Wed, 2013-10-09 14:46 Harlan Kirgan
From The Associated Press.
Parish border dispute, once settled, rises again
LAFAYETTE — A border war is brewing between Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a measure that would revive a dormant dispute over where the boundary line should be drawn between Vermilion and Lafayette parishes, an issue settled 10 years ago by agreement between both parishes.
The proposal before the council would undo that agreement, which Lafayette Councilman Don Bertrand argues gave too much land to Vermilion Parish.
Bertrand says research has turned up sound evidence that the line should be moved.
Still uncertain are the repercussions if council voids the 10-year-old border agreement, because Vermilion Parish officials plan to enforce it.
Vermilion Parish was carved out of Lafayette Parish in 1844.
Opelousas officials may cut pay
OPELOUSAS — The Opelousas Board of Aldermen has introduced an ordinance to amend, and possibly lower, the salaries of the aldermen and mayor.
The proposed ordinance, which alderman voted 4-2 Tuesday to introduce, goes to a Finance Committee, which will have a month to discuss the compensation of board members and the mayor.
The committee is to come back with suggestions before a board vote in November.
Mayor Donald Cravins, Sr. said he and the aldermen have been asked lately by residents and city workers to re-examine their monthly salaries in light of cuts that have been made to the operating budgets of many city departments.
Cravins told the council he is suggesting the mayor’s salary which he collects, should be reduced from $72,000 to $52,000.
in plant accident
BAKER — Authorities say an accident at a factory near Baker has left one worker dead.
East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies said the accident happened at the Stupp Corp. plant around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The plant makes steel pipe for the oil and gas industry.
The worker’s name has not been released.
Details about the accident have not been released.
Former movie producer charged for wire fraud
BATON ROUGE — Former Baton Rouge movie producer Gregory M. Walker has been charged in federal court with one count of wire fraud for his alleged sale of $1.4 million in state film tax credits he did not own.
Federal authorities say Walker sold those credits to Baton Rouge accountant and investment broker Peggy Persac’s Strategies for Investment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene Salomon says the 46-year-old Walker received over $970,000 for the bogus tax credits.
Voice mail and text messages seeking comment from Walker were not returned.
Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green said a wire fraud conviction carries a possible 20-year prison term and a fine of as much as $250,000.
State has more than $2M budget gap for elections
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s election expenses are running over-budget.
According to an update from the Legislature’s fiscal analysts, the Secretary of State’s Office received a $2.7 million budget to pay for elections this year. But the Legislative Fiscal Office says the secretary of state’s expenses are estimated to double that, reaching $5.4 million.
The increase is tied to more local elections than previously expected, along with a special election for the 5th District congressional seat representing northeast and central Louisiana. Rodney Alexander resigned from Congress to work in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
The elections budget each year often is underestimated, with lawmakers and the governor’s office having to add dollars midyear, as new elections are added to the calendar.
No word yet on a funding plan to fill this year’s shortfall.
N.O. businessman seeks early
end to sentence
NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans businessman who served a prison term for his role in a plot to skim money from a City Hall contract is seeking an early end to his court-supervised release.
A court filing Monday by Stanford “Pampy” Barre’s attorney says he was a “model inmate” in prison and has completed half of a three-year period of supervised release. Barre’s lawyer also says his client has paid more than $430,000 in restitution and will pay more.
In July 2008, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier sentenced Barre to five years in prison for conspiring to skim more than $1 million from an energy management contract awarded during the administration of former Mayor Marc Morial, who was never accused of wrongdoing.
Judge declines tossing out Katrina flooding suit
GRETNA — A state judge has declined to dismiss elements of a class-action lawsuit against former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, the parish and its Consolidated Drainage District, for the decision to evacuate drainage pump operators hours before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.
Thousands of properties flooded, because the drainage pumps were shut off on the evening before Katrina’s Aug. 29, 2005 landfall, and remained off until pump operators could return more than 12 hours after the storm passed. Property owners sued as a result.
Judge John Peytavin’s ruling leaves it to a Jefferson Parish jury to consider claims as to whether the decision to send the pump operators to Washington Parish amounted to willful misconduct.
The trial is scheduled to begin in January.
New law exempts existing St. Helena strip clubs
GREENSBURG — The St. Helena Parish Police Jury voted 4-2 to exempt existing sexually oriented businesses from new ordinances regulating such establishments in the parish.
The Police Jury enacted ordinances June 11 to control and regulate sexually oriented businesses in St. Helena and passed a resolution June 25 exempting existing businesses from the ordinances.
Police Jury attorney Clifton Speed told the jurors that the resolution had no actual legal power, so jurors had to formally introduce an ordinance at its Sept. 24 meeting before voting on it Tuesday.
The strip club furor in St. Helena Parish came after residents complained about the two clubs — the Oak Ridge Lounge in Pine Grove and The Mansion near Montpelier — and have lobbied to have them shut down.
From The Associated Press.
Community college president taking job in Dallas
BATON ROUGE — The president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System is leaving the state for a job leading the largest community college system in Texas.
Joe May was nominated to be the next chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, the district announced Tuesday. His hiring must be approved in a vote of the district’s board of trustees Nov. 5, but that’s procedural since May was the board’s only finalist.
At LCTCS since 2007, May oversees 13 colleges and more than 101,000 students.
He’ll be moving to a job managing 103,000 students and seven colleges.
May is a native of Texas. He cited the opportunity to move closer to his daughter, grandchildren and parents as a driving force for the job change, along with the strength of the community college system in Dallas.
He was recruited by a search firm and said he hadn’t been actively searching for an exit from his current position.
“I haven’t applied for a position since I’ve been here. Certainly, folks did nominate me. Once I became aware of the opportunity, with the family ties to the area, it certainly was of interest,” May said.
He said the state’s continued budget cuts to public colleges didn’t factor into his decision, and he described his time in Louisiana as challenging and rewarding.
As head of the Louisiana community college system, May was known as politically skilled, with strong support from many of the state’s lawmakers and with an ability to avoid some of the political squabbles that caused problems for the state’s university systems.
For example, he won legislative backing earlier this year for a $252 million construction borrowing plan that sidesteps the traditional budget process — and the other university systems, despite criticism from other higher education leaders and the state treasurer.
The Dallas job was open because Wright Lassiter Jr. has announced he is retiring at the end of December. May said he would start as chancellor sometime after the start of the new year.