Louisiana at 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
Good morning, Louisiana editors.
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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana lawmakers bristled Monday about getting few details and no ability to decide the $523 million in budget cuts Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has made to health care programs, largely to LSU's safety net health care facilities. Several complained the governor's top leaders weren't explaining the gravity of the slashing and the implications on the LSU network of public hospitals and clinics that care for the poor and uninsured in a state where one in five residents don't have health insurance. By Melinda Deslatte.
RENO, Nev. — Their goodwill moment gone, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney plunged back into their acrimonious political campaign on Monday, Obama doubting Romney's readiness to be commander in chief, Romney accusing the president's team of offering "almost all attack ads." Days after the Colorado movie massacre brought reflection and talk of national unity from both camps, the fight was on again. By Julie Pace and Thomas Beaumont.
AP Photos NVSW105-0723121541, CAJR103-0723121102, NVSW114-0723121613, NVSW106-0723121540, CAJR102-0723121037, NVRP101-0723121242, CAJR109-0723121022, CAJR101-0723121104.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A private company based in Mandeville contracted to run much of the claims processing and management handled by the state's Office of Risk Management has been producing results ahead of schedule, legislative auditors said Monday. Emily Wilson, performance audit manager for the state's legislative auditor office, said F.A. Richard and Associates Inc. saved the state a net amount of $1.4 million in its first year. Those savings are ahead of schedule for the 2011 fiscal year. By Sheila V Kumar.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Among the billions of dollars in tax breaks on Louisiana's books, many have little oversight and some even give checks to people and businesses that owe no taxes in the state, lawmakers were told Monday. A 14-member Revenue Study Commission, packed with legislative leaders, opened its review of the Louisiana's tax breaks with a crash course on how many tax breaks exist, which ones are tracked for performance and how they affect state income estimates. By Melinda Deslatte.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A slice of the private schools in Louisiana's statewide voucher program will face performance scores similar to public schools and could face penalties for low performance, but only if they have a sizable number of taxpayer-subsidized students, under accountability plans outlined Monday. State Superintendent of Education John White estimated about a quarter of the private schools in the voucher program for the upcoming school year would meet the benchmarks for being subject to the scoring and penalties. By Melinda Deslatte.
OIL SPILL STUDIES
HOUMA — Scientists studying long-term effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are looking for 15,000 more people who worked on the cleanup, even for one day. Nearly 25,000 people already have signed up for what the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says is the largest study ever of long-term effects in oil spill workers. Lead researcher Dale Sandler says it's been hard to find people who helped with the cleanup, because many have moved and changed phone numbers. Sandler is chief of the epidemiology branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which began recruiting workers for the study in March 2011, less than a year after the spill.
BATON ROUGE — Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout wants to know if he and other chiefs can be hired to do private security, just like off-duty police officers. The Louisiana Board of Ethics postponed a decision Friday, opting to continue its analysis until next month's meeting. Board staff drafted a proposed advisory opinion that concluded that the private security activity would be prohibited under state ethics laws. Ethics Board administrator Kathleen Allen said the position is consistent with prior opinions as well as a stance the board took in bringing charges against St. Gabriel Chief Kevin Ambeau who owned a private security business. Several board members said police chiefs' jobs are 24-hour so they aren't ever off-duty.
LAFAYETTE — The days of ignoring traffic camera violations in Lafayette may soon be over. The Lafayette City-Parish Council last week approved a new collection policy that calls on the city-parish attorney's office to file lawsuits to recover unpaid fines issued under the city's traffic camera enforcement program. The move comes as the dollar amount of fines past due by at least four months has climbed to $6.6 million since the traffic camera program began in 2007. Traffic and Transportation Department figures show the total number of violations past due by four months or more was 104,070 as of May, and three drivers accumulated more than 90 tickets each. There are 12 intersections in Lafayette monitored by traffic cameras.
POINTE COUPEE TRASH
NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury is considering taking its trash collection service out of the hands of a private company and creating a parish-operated solid waste management program. Parish officials say doing so could result in annual savings of up to $600,000. The parish's trash collection service is contracted through Progressive Waste Solutions. Pointe Coupee's contract with the company includes a 4 percent annual increase. Parish Administrator Jim Bello says the parish's contract with Progressive expires in February 2014.
NEW ORLEANS — When TV personality Joan Rivers thought her New York apartment was haunted 15 years ago, she called on New Orleans voodoo priestess Sallie Ann Glassman to perform a "spiritual cleansing" of the old brownstone. Glassman tells the Associated Press that the unlikely pair became instant friends during that initial meeting, where Glassman wore a flowing white gown as she chased off disturbing spirits in the building. Next month, Rivers is heading to New Orleans to return the favor. The sharp-tongued comedian will be hosting two standup talk shows benefiting Glassman's New Orleans Healing Center — a building housing two dozen businesses and organizations focused on what Glassman describes as the "environmental, spiritual, economic, cultural, emotional and physical healing of New Orleans" following Hurricane Katrina. By Stacey Plaisance.
AP Photos NYET434, NYET435
NEW YORK — Singer Amy Winehouse's father says it's tough dealing with the loss of his daughter, but he's happy she is having a helpful impact on the world through the foundation named after her. "Even after a small space in time — we're talking a year since Amy passed away — we are beginning, well, Amy is beginning, to have a positive effect on a lot of disadvantaged young people's lives," Mitch Winehouse said in an interview. Amy Winehouse died on July 23, 2011 at her London home from accidental alcohol poisoning at age 27. The Amy Winehouse Foundation was launched last year in the United Kingdom and in April in the United States. Mitch Winehouse says he expects Monday — the one-year anniversary of Amy's death — to be difficult, but he will spend the day with family and friends. First they'll go to Amy's house for Jewish prayer and to be with the singer's fans. Then close friends will head to a party at Jazz After Dark, which was "Amy's favorite jazz bar." In the United States, the Winehouse family has worked with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to develop "after school music club houses" and feed hungry children throughout Louisiana. By Mesfin Fekadu.
AP Photos NY109, LST109, LST103, LST110
SWAMP PEOPLE AUDITIONS
HOUMA — The History Channel TV show "Swamp People" is looking for new alligator hunters. They can be individuals, groups or families, but must have a license and at least 50 tags for the September alligator season in Louisiana. The show is going into its fourth season, and has featured different hunters each year.
EPISCOPAL BISHOP ORDAINED
SHREVEPORT — The Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana has ordained its fourth bishop, a man who served in Missouri, Alabama and Florida after attending universities in Atlanta and Tennessee. The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, elevated the Very Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, who had been installed in January 2009 as second dean of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Shreveport. Owensby takes over from the Right Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson, who is retiring.
LOUISIANA IN BRIEF
Editors: The following brief items moved Monday on AP's Louisiana wire and may be of interest for your Tuesday editions.
SUPREME COURT SPAT
NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court is giving its justices an extra month to weigh in on a debate over naming the court's next chief justice. Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball had set a July 31 deadline for the justices to file briefs on which colleague is the "oldest in point of service" under terms of the state constitution. Kimball amended her order on Monday to move the deadline to Aug. 31.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's property insurer of last resort on Monday paid a $104 million judgment that will benefit more than 18,500 policyholders who sued over slow adjustment of claims after hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005. Plaintiffs' attorney Fred Herman said eligible plaintiffs will receive their share of the money from Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in three to six months. A state judge still has to decide how much of the award should pay for attorneys' fees and costs.
BENTON — A 26-year-old Monroe man has pleaded guilty to shooting at a Haughton police officer during a high-speed chase. Thomas Dooly faces up 50 years in prison after admitting Monday to one count each of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and armed robbery.
FORT POLK SCHOOL
LEESVILLE — A new elementary school will be built just outside Fort Polk. The new $20 million South Polk Elementary School will be built with mostly federal funds. Officials say the school will ease crowding and improve conditions at the two elementary schools that serve the children of Fort Polk families.
E FELICIANA SHOOTING
CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish sheriff's deputies say a 41-year-old man died from a shotgun wound to the chest after he barged into the mobile home of his next-door neighbor. Detective Don McKey said James Mark Hardwick died at the scene.
BATON ROUGE — Authorities entered a Baton Rouge club and arrested 29 people, 23 of them underage. Police, along with members of the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and Homeland Security Investigations, raided Club Theory late Friday night.
DENHAM SPRINGS — State police have arrested a Denham Springs city councilman for suspicion of drunken driving. Trooper Russell Graham says Christopher Davis, 36, was booked into Livingston Parish Jail around 5:30 a.m. Sunday on one count each of first-offense DWI, hit and run, careless operation, no driver's license on person, no insurance and flight from an officer.
WALKER — A 66-year-old Walker man died in a single-vehicle wreck when he was partially thrown from his pickup after it veered off the road. State police say Larry E. Dunlap was driving a pickup east on La. Highway 1025 in Livingston Parish when he entered a left hand curve about 6 p.m. Saturday.
GRAND CAILLOU FIRE CHIEF
GRAND CAILLOU — Prosecutors say they are postponing proceedings involving the former Grand Caillou fire chief because of a pending civil suit. Michael Deroche Sr. is on administrative leave after he was indicted by a Terrebonne Parish grand jury in April on a sexual battery charge.
FISHING BOAT ACCIDENT
LAKE CHARLES — The body of 27-year-old Christopher Rollins has been recovered, two days after a boating accident that also claimed the life of his friend. William R. Druilhet, 22, of Lake Charles and Rollins of Westlake were out fishing Friday when their boat apparently overturned.
LAKE FORDOCHE BOAT WRECK
ARNAUDVILLE — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a 66-year-old man from the Baton Rouge area died when the 21-foot boat he was in hit a stump and overturned. The department says Allen Fontenot, of Central, was with another man who was able to swim to the shore of Lake Fordoche, a tributary north of Henderson Bay.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF
SWEET POTATO FIELD DAY
CHASE — The LSU AgCenter will hold a field day Aug. 16 at the Sweet Potato Research Station in Chase, La. AgCenter research and extension faculty members will lead tours highlighting the foundation seed program as well as breeding, production and pest management research. Resident coordinator Tara Smith says the breeding program will highlight two varieties released earlier this year.
NEW ORLEANS — Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith met Monday with NFL lawyers and a federal magistrate, but the closed-door settlement conference didn't resolve lawsuits spawned by the players' suspensions following the league's bounty investigation. Vilma and his attorneys emerged from the three-hour-long conference with U.S. Magistrate Daniel Knowles III without commenting on whether progress was made toward resolution of the case. The meeting was closed to the public. By Michael Kunzelman.
AP Photos LAORS102-0723120000, LAORS101-0723120000, IDPS132-0712121024, LAORS103-0723120000, NY174-1016111643, NY151-1226112238.
Even with coach Sean Payton banished from the NFL for the season, along with linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the New Orleans Saints expect to make a run at playing in a Super Bowl on their home field next February. There are two main reasons for their optimism. One is that most key players from a team that went 13-3 in 2011 are back. The other is that when Payton broke his leg in a sideline collision early last season, the club had a chance to see how it would fare with assistants taking on more responsibility. By Brett Martel.
AP Photos NY153-1227112236.
SPORTS IN BRIEF
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southwestern Athletic Conference now boasts college football's winningest coach but says the focus should remain on the sex abuse victims and their families in the Penn State scandal. The league sent out a statement Monday after the NCAA vacated 111 of Joe Paterno's 409 wins at Penn State. That leaves Bobby Bowden's 377 wins as tops in major college football and the late Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson as the leader at all levels.
AP LOUISIANA OUTDOOR WRITERS EXCHANGE
BATON ROUGE — The guys and gals lining up to get to Grand Isle for the country's oldest competitive fishing event thought the red snapper season ended July 17. Not the case for the 90th annual International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. And not the case for the 14th annual Faux Pas Rodeo at Venice. Both events run Thursday through Saturday. In late June, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries received notice that the IGITR and the Faux Pas were among seven offshore fishing events granted a limited number of permits in the National Marine Fisheries Service's Exempted Fishing Permits program. By Joe Macaluso, The Advocate.
— The Associated Press, New Orleans