Louisiana news briefs
Flood board nominating panel eyes Jindal bills
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
Today’s agenda for the panel’s meeting in New Orleans includes a discussion of pending legislation for the session that starts next week.
One bill already filed would give the governor the power to reject the committee’s nominees for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. That’s the board that filed the oil industry lawsuit last year, saying the industry’s coastal work over the decades has contributed to the erosion of wetlands that form a natural hurricane buffer for New Orleans.
Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes the lawsuit.
Couple indicted on hundreds of sex charges
ALEXANDRIA (AP) — A Rapides Parish grand jury has indicted Dorothy Vanasselberg of Elmer and 39-year-old Kyle Hauenstein of Pineville on hundreds of sex charges.
Vanasselberg was charged with 53 counts of aggravated rape, 42 counts of sexual battery, 79 counts of aggravated incest, 48 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and 25 counts of pornography with juveniles.
Hauenstein was charged with 61 counts of aggravated rape, 41 counts of sexual battery, 26 counts of aggravated incest, 65 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and 355 counts of pornography with juveniles.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Vanasselberg in July 2013 after detectives investigated a complaint of possible sexual contact between Vanasselberg and a juvenile.
approves hiring security
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette Parish School Board has voted to allow its board president to hire security to provide order and crowd control at future meetings.
Board President Hunter Beasley said he and the executive committee would meet soon to draft a policy for the board’s consideration.
Prior to the vote, board member Greg Awbrey cited recent meetings where audience members spoke out from the crowd and it was difficult to maintain order in the board room.
Awbrey suggested the board consider giving its president the discretion to hire security on an as-needed basis.
Mark Babineaux, a former board president, said unexpected issues would sometimes prompt emotional responses from some audience members.
Effort to recall Port Allen councilman fails
PORT ALLEN (AP) — An effort to recall Port Allen Councilman-at-Large R.J. Loupe has failed.
Residents seeking to recall Loupe had until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to submit a petition containing 1,285 signatures from the city’s qualified voters to the West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office.
The deadline expired without the recall petition being filed.
The recall effort against Loupe was launched on Sept. 4 by residents who supported former Mayor Demetric Slaughter. The group had 180 days — until March 4 — to collect the 1,285 signatures.
That deadline was extended until Wednesday since government offices were closed Tuesday for Mardi Gras.
Audit: Sorrento lacking
in collecting unpaid bills
SORRENTO (AP) — Sorrento is having trouble collecting from its utility customers and from drivers who receive tickets issued from a now largely idled police department.
A new audit for the 2013 fiscal year says the town had not collected $19,400 in delinquent utility bills and $53,000 in fines from tickets the department issued.
The findings are part of at least a multiyear trend that has been the subject of repeated findings by town auditors at least since fiscal 2010.
First-term Mayor Mike Lambert said Wednesday that he is only now beginning to fully grasp the problems with the town’s utility and police finances.
Rapper Lil’ Boosie released from Louisiana prison
ANGOLA (AP) — Rapper Lil’ Boosie has been released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where he had been serving an eight-year sentence on drug charges.
Warden Burl Cain says the 31-year-old rapper — whose real name is Torrence Hatch — left the prison just after 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Cain said Hatch remains on supervised parole until 2018.
Hatch first arrived at Angola in 2009 after pleading guilty to a third-offense marijuana possession charge. Since then, he’s faced numerous accusations, including a highly publicized murder trial in the 2009 killing of Terry Boyd. Hatch was acquitted of first-degree murder in Boyd’s death in May 2012.
The warden said the time and date of Hatch’s release wasn’t made public “just to keep everything calm.”
Boyce man sentenced
to life in child’s death
ALEXANDRIA (AP) — A 25-year-old Boyce man convicted in the death of an 18-month-old child has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by state District Judge Patricia Koch.
Jaymes L. Harris was found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
At the time of the child’s death, Harris was the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother. An autopsy showed the child suffered from multiple burns matching the metal end of a lighter, bruises and contusions over the child’s body, and damage to internal organs, including a rupture in the stomach.
The obstruction of justice charge arose from Harris smearing the child’s body with Vaseline in an effort to conceal the bruises and injuries.
Former Jindal chief of staff becoming a lobbyist
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, says he’s opening his own lobbying and consulting firm.
Rainwater left the Jindal administration this week after serving most recently as chief of staff. Prior to that job, he had worked for the Republican governor as his commissioner of administration and his hurricane recovery adviser.
He helped manage the daily operations of Jindal’s office and was one of the governor’s closest advisers.
Rainwater said Wednesday that he was in the process of finding clients. In the past, he lobbied on oil and gas issues.
Missing girl’s body pulled from water near bayou
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The body of a missing 19-year-old has been found in her submerged car, ending a four-day, multi-agency search.
Hayley Howard’s car and body were discovered Wednesday in water near Irish Bayou and Interstate 10. WWL-TV reports that’s the area they had focused on because of a ping from a cell phone tower — the last activity from her phone Saturday morning.
Howard last was seen after dropping a friend off at UNO. She got a flat tire in the area and told her boyfriend that “nice people” helped her change it and she would be heading toward her parents’ home in Slidell.
Police believe she veered off the side of the road and into the water. Police Chief Ronal Serpas says the crash is being investigated as a fatal accident