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African American supporters back Mary Landrieu’s comments

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu

As Republicans piled on Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu for racially tinged comments they claimed insulted the people of Louisiana, black elected officials and others Friday said Landrieu simply stated the obvious. At issue was Landrieu’s response Thursday to an NBC News interviewer who asked her why the Louisiana electorate is so hostile to Barack… Continue reading →

La. Supreme Court dismisses suit over 7,000-plus post-Katrina school firings

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana Supreme Court building, New Orleans.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has dismissed a class-action lawsuit challenging the firing of more than 7,000 public school employees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — a blow to the many teachers who still seethe over the way they were treated in the storm’s wake. The court’s 5-2 decision came as a surprise, reversing both the… Continue reading →

‘Pill mill’ operators to testify against ex-cop charged with taking cash, sex bribes

Donald Nides

Federal prosecutors have set their sights on a former New Orleans police officer charged with accepting envelopes of cash and sexual bribes to conceal the free-wheeling drug distribution of two local pain clinics that authorities have described as “pill mills.” Donald Nides, a 34-year Police Department veteran who had been assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement… Continue reading →

City’s 2015 budget includes $7.3 million for NOPD consent decree

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposed 2015 budget includes a $1.5 million increase in funds to help the New Orleans Police Department comply with the terms of a federal consent decree. The extra money will go toward an advertising campaign to attract new recruits, replacement Tasers for officers and a software program to help identify bad cops. In all,… Continue reading →

6th Congressional District candidates discuss economic issues

Discussions at most 6th Congressional District forums are about immigration and ISIS, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. But rarely are the candidates discussing jobs and the economy. On economic issues, all the remaining seven Republicans, three Democrats and one Libertarian pretty much agree on giving the energy industry lots of latitude and on allowing businesses… Continue reading →

Boustany faces smoother re-election bid than 2012

Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany is running for a sixth congressional term in a low-key election that’s a marked departure from two years ago. In 2012, Boustany was fighting for his political future — thrown into a district with fellow U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry because of redistricting. The Lafayette cardiovascular surgeon survived with a strong… Continue reading →

Orleans voters to decide on amendments involving city contracts, inauguration dates

New Orleans voters will be asked Tuesday to approve two amendments to the City Charter. One deals with procedures for awarding professional services contracts that are not covered by public bid laws. The same amendment also would require the city to maintain a disadvantaged business enterprise program, though it says nothing about how that program should… Continue reading →

Memorial service set for NOFD official

NOFD Capt. Troy Magee

A memorial service will be held Monday for a New Orleans Fire Department captain who died this week after falling ill during a training course in New Mexico. The service for Capt. Troy Magee will begin at 2 p.m. at Celebration Church, 2001 Airline Drive, Metairie. Visitation will begin at noon, the Fire Department said. A… Continue reading →

Fatal Lakeview stabbing wasn’t random, but motive unknown, police say

Asfhar Kashanifar

In a city where most killings are carried out by guns and often in public, this one was different. Asfhar Kashanifar’s life ended behind closed doors, inside his home in Lakeview, one of the city’s quieter neighborhoods. He died not from a bullet but from knife wounds. Detectives have theories about why he… Continue reading →

Feds charge 4 in scheme to rig N.O. bail bonds

A long-running federal probe into an allegedly illegal bail-bonding scheme that funneled kickbacks to clerks at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court yielded a federal indictment Friday against the ex-bondsman who has stood at the center of the investigation, along with his son and two others. In a 53-page indictment, a federal grand jury accused perennial political… Continue reading →

Entergy seeks permission to merge all Orleans Parish operations

In a joint request filed Thursday, Entergy New Orleans Inc. and Entergy Louisiana LLC asked the New Orleans City Council to approve the transfer of Entergy Louisiana’s Algiers customers to the utility’s New Orleans subsidiary. The companies have asked the council to allow Entergy Louisiana to sell its operations and certain assets serving Algiers for a… Continue reading →

Ebola fears hit another N.O. health convention

A major U.S. public health organization has become the second group impacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Ebola response policy as it prepares to bring 14,000 people to New Orleans. State health officials advised the American Public Health Association that registrants recently returned from Ebola-stricken countries and those who have treated patients stateside should stay home.… Continue reading →

Voodoo Fest kicks off with costumes, rides and contemporary music

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Members of St. Cecilia's Asylum Chorus threw Halloween candy to the audience at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience at City Park in New Orleans, on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.

On a cloudless Friday afternoon, retro-country singer Sturgill Simpson apologized to the crowd gathered for his early afternoon set at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience at City Park. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s really hard to stay focused. There’s a roller coaster in front of me.” Voodoo features classic county-fair rides and public art… Continue reading →

Medicaid spending over budget

The pace of Louisiana Medicaid program spending is running $170.7 million more than what’s budgeted, state health officials said Friday. The projection is based on a financial report as of October, and it includes both state and federal funds. Of the total, $61.1 million is the state share. State Department of Health and Hospitals Undersecretary… Continue reading →

Medicare paid for meds after patients were dead

In this Sept. 18, 2014, file photo, Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. A government watchdog agency says Medicares prescription drug program kept paying for costly medications even after patients were dead. The problem seems to have started with a bureaucratic rule now getting a second look. A report coming out Friday from the Health and Human Services inspector general says Medicare has been allowing payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patients death.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Call it drugs for the departed: A quirky bureaucratic rule led Medicare’s prescription drug program to pay for costly medications even after the patients were dead. That head-scratching policy is now getting a second look. A report released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general said the Medicare rule allows… Continue reading →

N.O. BioChallenge names pitch contest finalists

Four New Orleans life-sciences startups will pitch their business ideas to investors Nov. 18 in a competition for the $25,000 top prize in the third annual BioChallenge, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center announced Friday. The finalists are: AxoSim Technologies. The contract research firm’s “nerve-on-a-chip” provides a faster, more efficient alternative to animal testing for… Continue reading →

Orleans Sheriff’s Office mum on deputy’s firing

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is refusing to release details about a deputy fired recently for a series of administrative violations, including “seeking the release of an inmate.” The deputy, Estravion Thomas, had been hired by the Sheriff’s Office in August 2010 and was terminated Oct. 9, said Philip Stelly, a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman.… Continue reading →

Suits filed against Cleco over proposed sale

Two lawsuits have been filed by shareholders against Cleco Corp. relating to the company’s proposed sale. Both suits argue the sale price undervalues the company and allege the proposed sale was engineered for company directors and executives who would profit from change in control benefits. The lawsuits on behalf of Edward Braunstein… Continue reading →

Judge applauds progress at Orleans Parish Prison

The federal judge overseeing a series of reforms at Orleans Parish Prison sounded a note of optimism Friday, praising the Sheriff’s Office and city officials for inching closer to constitutional conditions at the troubled lockup. “I know that change is difficult, and changing something that has been in place for an especially long time is difficult… Continue reading →

Girl, 16, allegedly raped on Lusher campus

A 16-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted on the middle- and high-school campus of Lusher Charter School, New Orleans police said. The incident was reported about 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the 5600 block of Freret Street, where Lusher’s campus is located, according to a daily crime log. It was not immediately clear if that is when the… Continue reading →

Pencil and paper, not computers, for Common Core tests

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White speaks in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center on Monday morning. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

Reversing plans, the state will rely on pencil and paper rather than computers when the first round of Common Core tests is given next spring, officials announced Friday. State Superintendent of Education John White previously said students in grades five through eight would use computers to see what they know about the new standards in… Continue reading →

Settlement with energy companies over coastal erosion nets $50,000

There’s little more than a symbolic victory for a New Orleans-area levee authority in its settlement with two energy companies over coastal erosion The deal, which was announced Thursday without details, will provide $50,000 toward restoration efforts, a barely perceptible sum compared to the billions the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East is seeking in the on-going… Continue reading →

Ian Somerhalder stumps for another St. Tammany candidate

Ian Somerhalder, the TV heartthrob from “Lost” and “Vampire Diaries,” is apparently not done stumping for local political candidates in St. Tammany Parish. First he made an endorsement in the race for district attorney, now he’s weighing in on the contest between incumbent family court Judge Dawn Amacker and challenger Nanine McCool in the 22nd Judicial District,… Continue reading →

Rob Maness could pull ‘shocker’ in Senate race, Sarah Palin tells RealClearPolitics

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2014 file photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former vice presidential candidate speaks in Washington.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Rob Maness, who is making his first run for elective office, could pull off a “shocker” and win the Louisiana Senate race on Tuesday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told RealClearPolitics on Thursday. “Like a gator in the swamp, Col. Rob Maness may have been seen as sharply lurking, but is now ready… Continue reading →

Republicans call out Mary Landrieu, ask her to apologize for remarks about race, Barack Obama

In this Sept. 30, 2014, file photo, Sen. Mary Landrieu speaks in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

President Barack Obama has a difficult time politically in the South in part because of his race, Sen. Mary Landrieu told NBC News on Thursday. Continue reading →