Friday, October 13, 2006
McKeithen cleared to take board post
By MARSHA SHULER
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
State ethics officials cleared the way Thursday for Baton Rouge lawyer Marjorie McKeithen to take a top-appointed job at the state Department of Natural Resources.
With the all-clear, Gov. Kathleen Blanco appointed McKeithen to the post of assistant secretary for the Office of Mineral Resources, the Governor’s Office confirmed late Thursday night.
State law bans a former member of a board or commission from being employed or appointed by that board. Because McKeithen’s appointment is made by the governor — and not the board — no conflict exists, the ethics panel stated in an advisory opinion. McKeithen did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Blanco blasts health chief
Federal official should have plan, governor says
By MARSHA SHULER
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
Blanco said the Louisiana Health Care Redesign Collaborative is “struggling” because of “mixed signals” coming from Leavitt. He ultimately signs off on changes in the way the poor and uninsured receive health care. A proposal must be submitted to federal officials by Oct. 20.
The Louisiana Collaborative has been working for months under a federal-state agreement crafted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The state agreed to develop a more effective and efficient health care delivery system for the storm-destroyed area.
Cravins wins Senate election
No opponent means he will replace father
By KEVIN BLANCHARD
Advocate Acadiana bureau
OPELOUSAS — Not quite two weeks after Opelousas Mayor-elect Don Cravins Sr. resigned from his long-held state Senate seat, his son, Donald Cravins Jr., has taken over that seat, walking into office with no opposition.
The younger Cravins was the only candidate to sign up in the three days of open qualifying for what would have been a Dec. 9 election to fill the last year of his father’s term in District 24.
Our Views: Fans should get rid of Rebel flags
Advocate Opinion page staff
A few decades ago, LSU’s student body and athletes were lily-white. Although we’ve come a long way since then, the Confederate flag issue suggests we have not yet put the problems of racism behind us in the 21st century.
Entergy to receive $200 million from LRA
Grant money will help cushion rate increases in New Orleans
By Pam Radtke Russell
In a move that a state consultant said will eliminate all but a 9 percent increase in electric and gas rates for Entergy New Orleans customers, the Louisiana Recovery Authority's board of directors overwhelmingly approved giving the utility $200 million in Community Development Block Grant money on Thursday.
Utilities have the legal right to pass their costs on to customers, said Blanco, who spent seven years as a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, which regulates most utilities across the state.
Still, not all LRA board members were convinced. Tom Henning of Cameron Parish and Mike Woods, also of southwest Louisiana, voted against the measure. Henning wanted the board to consider giving the money directly to the parish, along with other infrastructure money requested by Orleans, and allow parish officials to decide whether Entergy New Orleans should get the money.
Elloie suspended by La. high court
Bail practices face official scrutiny
By Laura Maggi
Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Charles Elloie, who has been widely criticized for granting thousands of free or reduced bail bonds -- including to felons accused of violent crimes -- was suspended from his job Wednesday by the Louisiana Supreme Court pending the outcome of an investigation.
The order of the high court, released Thursday, came on the recommendation of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, a nine-member panel of judges, lawyers and laymen that investigates alleged judicial misconduct and recommends disciplinary action to the court.
The commission conducted its own review of paroles by Elloie between Jan. 1, 2000, and Aug. 14, 2004, finding that he illegally released 450 people from jail who had been arrested for municipal domestic violence offenses and 315 who faced municipal battery and assault charges.
N.O. judge ousted in 2003 gets ethics fine
$25,000 rip-off found in 2002 campaign
By Robert Travis Scott
BATON ROUGE -- Former New Orleans Judge C. Hunter King was fined $5,000 Thursday by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for an "intentional and egregious" violation of campaign finance law in which he steered campaign money to himself, his wife and mother.
King was an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge until 2003, when the Louisiana Supreme Court in a unanimous decision kicked him off the bench for coercing his employees to work on his re-election campaign during the workweek and then lying about it under oath.
Poll in 3rd
By Jenny Hurwitz
The Hill newspaper in Washington on Wednesday published results of the poll, which was commissioned by the Romero campaign and showed Melancon snagging 48 percent of the vote to Romero's 24 percent. That's closer than Melancon's August poll showing him winning the primary 55 percent to 23 percent.
Commentary: A choice between content of character and color of skin
David Prejean Guest columnist
Martin Luther King's "content" remarks came at a time of struggle for basic rights for blacks. We are now 40 years past that point, and the struggle is reduced to the outrageous injustice of the majority of whites refusing to rename a street after King.
Is it now time for the blacks to give the perpetual-victim act a rest (see Chris Williams), and for government entities to start treating people as individuals rather than as a member of this or that racial group?
Sure, there is still racism. So what? There are people who discriminate against fat people, ugly people, short people. There are even some who discriminate against snooty, rich people. And, yes, there will always be people who discriminate against blacks.
The question is, will absurd affirmative action quotas based on skin color solve this residual racism, or should we judge people by the "content of their character"?
Poverty linked to state education
The Council for a Better Louisiana has updated its series "Fighting Poverty, Building Community." The picture the report paints is not a pretty one. Our poverty rate is still the second highest in the nation at 18.3 percent.
One of the most disturbing elements of the update is the Louisiana Children in Poverty report. Again, we claim the ranking of second highest in the nation, but the percentage reported in the study is higher than the overall poverty rate. According to CABL, 24.7 percent of the state's children were living in poverty at the time of the last census.
CABL also cites the Kids Count report on children in single-parent families. As of the last report, we ranked No. 1 in the nation with 44 percent of our children living in single-parent homes. We also had the highest ranking in the nation for the percentage of children born to single mothers, according to the National Vital Statistics Report of 2005.
There are no bright spots of any significance in the report.
Our view: Friday the 13th: Superstitious may stay home today
Did you pull the covers up over your head when the alarm rang this morning and you realized it was Friday the 13th?
It's OK, you're not alone. It is estimated that as many as 21 million Americans, about 8 percent, may be afflicted with paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th), according to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias and who coined the term "paraskevidekatriaphobia."