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American Family Association defends Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's prayer rally at LSU: Prayer is the sole purpose

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions after signing SB667 concerning legacy law suits into law on the last day of legislative session.

Following the lead of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the group sponsoring a controversial prayer rally at LSU in January said the event is solely about prayer. On Thursday, Jindal defended the event, saying "it's no a political event. It's a religious event." American Family Association president Tim Wildmon released a statement early Friday morning. "As our nation faces unprecedented crises—culturally, socially,… Continue reading →

Negotiations for private takeover of West Jefferson hospital hit new snags

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

Negotiations to lease parish-owned West Jefferson Medical Center to a private operator appear once again to be in trouble, with a key negotiator for the Jefferson Parish Council accusing LCMC Health of radically altering its offer for the hospital, potentially lowering the value of the deal by $29 million. Also, once again, LCMC officials have sought to… Continue reading →

Smoking ban could hit casino, state revenue

Harrah's New Orleans casino

Louisiana regulators say $104 million in revenues and state fees might be lost over two years from Harrah’s Casino, the Fair Grounds racetrack and video poker halls if New Orleans enacts a widespread ban on smoking in public places, including bars and casinos. Early in the new year, the City Council will debate a proposed ban… Continue reading →

Revelation of 400 untested rape kits spurs new criticism of NOPD

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The New Orleans City Council took up the issue of the NOPD's dysfunctional sex crimes unit Thursday, December 18, 2014.   Council member Jared Brossett talks with Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux before the meeting.

New Orleans Police Department Cmdr. Paul Noel, who was heralded for his work in clearing a backlog of 800 rape exam kits that had gathered dust on evidence room shelves for months or years, told a City Council committee Thursday that a backlog has arisen again since he left that work in 2011, with more than 400 rape… Continue reading →

Legislators OK mid-year budget cut plans

 Jim Fannin

Louisiana legislators made some minor changes Thursday but otherwise approved the Jindal administration’s plan to fill an unexpected hole in revenue collections and rebalance this year’s $25 billion state budget. About 160 vacant jobs were eliminated outright, and others won’t be filled for the remainder of the budget year, which ends on June 30. Nobody will be… Continue reading →

Bailey Leon, girl who received game ball from Saints coach Sean Payton after the Bears win, died Thursday

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman talks after an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Chicago. The Saints won 31-15. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Bailey Leon, the young girl from Rayne battling pediatric cancer who Saints coach Sean Payton honored during New Orleans’ 31-15 win at Chicago on Monday night, died Thursday at Ochsner Hospital, her family said. She was 12. Bailey was a devoted fan of the Saints and Payton, with whom she developed a friendship after meeting him. Payton… Continue reading →

Legislative panel weighs housing protections for domestic violence victims

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of the new State Capitol building and grounds.

Some Louisiana lawmakers are hoping that efforts to protect victims of domestic violence from eviction could become a key issue in the next legislative session. The Louisiana House Civil Law Committee and the Senate Judiciary A Committee held a joint meeting at the State Capitol on Thursday to discuss the issue. A bill proposed this… Continue reading →

Molina contract extension approved

The Jindal administration received legislative approval Thursday for a $40 million, one-year extension of the state’s Medicaid claims processing contract. The Molina Medicaid Solutions contract, scheduled to end Dec. 31, already has cost the state more than $420 million over the past 10 years. And legislators heard that this contract extension request… Continue reading →

Alleged thieves saw green in stolen Blue Dog paintings, authorities say

The Blue Dog painting that authorities say was stolen by a local man recently.

Jarred Tervalon and Jared Thomas apparently saw green when they looked at the Blue Dog. The two New Orleans men were arrested last week after they allegedly tried to sell a valuable but stolen piece of art depicting the signature blue canine with white snout and yellow eyes made famous by the late artist George Rodrigue.… Continue reading →

Eight people attack men walking in Quarter, and other area police and fire news

Jacob Wiltz

Eight people in a group attacked and robbed three men Wednesday night in the French Quarter, New Orleans police said. Shortly after 10 p.m., a 21-year-old man was walking in the 1000 block of Gov. Nicholls Street when the eight people approached him. One of them… Continue reading →

Visitation Friday, funeral Saturday for civil rights activist Lombard

Rudy Lombard

A funeral will be held Saturday for Rudy Lombard, a New Orleans civil rights activist who died last weekend. Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the Rhodes Funeral Home Chapel, 3933 Washington Ave. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St.… Continue reading →

Mandeville council rejects moratorium on Trailhead residential units

When Mike Waller built several mixed-use buildings along the Tammany Trace in Old Mandeville in the mid-2000s, he was optimistic that the area would continue to develop and that some older, industrial-type sites would give way to a more pedestrian-friendly retail and dining district several blocks from the lake. That has happened — to a degree.… Continue reading →

Our Lady of the Lake College announces December 2014 graduates

More than 160 Our Lady of the Lake College students will be conferred master’s, bachelor’s or associate degrees during the college’s commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Friday in the Baton Rouge River Center. Anticipating trends in healthcare, the college transitioned from offering associate degrees in nursing and now offers only bachelor’s degrees in nursing. This graduation ceremony… Continue reading →

LSU to send 1,650 students off in fall graduations

About 1,650 students are expected to graduate during LSU’s fall commencement Friday. LSU doesn’t hold a main ceremony for its December graduation, but individual colleges will hold exercises throughout the day naming graduates and featuring commencement speakers. Keynote speakers include University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley at the College of Agriculture ceremony at 9… Continue reading →

Delgado graduates 832 in fall ceremony

Delgado Community College honored 832 graduating students Tuesday during fall 2014 commencement exercises in the Sen. Nat G. Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena. Commencement exercises included Delgado City Park, West Bank (Algiers), Charity School of Nursing, Slidell, Jefferson (Metairie) and Sidney Collier. Harold Gaspard, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs at Delgado Community College, presided over… Continue reading →

Concerned Citizens moves to join Tammany government’s fracking suit

The activist group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany and its president, Rick Franzo, have been frequent and vociferous critics of parish government. But the two have found common cause in fighting the plan by Helis Oil & Gas Co. to drill a fracking well near Lakeshore High School. Attorneys for Concerned Citizens have filed a motion in… Continue reading →

June 8 is deadline to file paperwork for BP settlement money

Gulf Coast businesses and individuals who lost money because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster have until June to file the paperwork necessary to qualify for BP’s multbillion-dollar settlement, the agreement’s court-appointed administrator said Thursday. Lafayette lawyer Patrick Juneau said the deadline for filing claims is June 8. That date is now set after… Continue reading →

Politics blog: La.’s incoming 5th, 6th District reps begin naming top aides

Garret Graves, who was elected earlier this month to represent the Baton Rouge-centered 6th District, has named Louisiana Department of Economic Development federal programs director Paul Sawyer as his chief of staff, according to a news release. Sawyer is leaving his post at LED for the job with Graves. He previously served as chief of staff for former… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Black voters made up slightly larger share of Dec. 6 vote than Nov. 4 primary

Black voters — the most solidly Democratic constituency in the state — made up a slightly bigger share of the turnout for the Dec. 6 runoff election than they did in the Nov. 4 open primary, but it wasn’t enough to change the partisan divide in the electorate, dooming Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu to defeat. To… Continue reading →

New Orleans casino market down 7.3% in November

The New Orleans casino market saw its winnings drop by 7.3 percent in November when compared with the year before. The three riverboats, Harrah’s land-based casino and slots at the Fair Grounds brought in $51.4 million during the month, according to figures released Thursday by State Police. That compares with the nearly $55.5 million in winnings during… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Karen Carter Peterson weighs in on Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, a New Orleans Democrat who chairs the state Democratic Party, has released a statement on plans for a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal at LSU next month. To read the complete blog entry, please click here.… Continue reading →

Group of 8 people attack, rob 3 men Wednesday night in New Orleans

Eight people in a group attacked and robbed three men on Wednesday night in New Orleans. Shortly after 10 p.m., New Orleans police report that a 21-year-old man was walking in the 1000 block of Governor Nicholls Street when a group of eight people approached him. One of the group members pulled out a gun and robbed the victim… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on criticized prayer rally: 'It's not a political event; it's a religious event'

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gov. Bobby Jindal announces his administration's move to pull out of Common Core during a press conference on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol.

. NEW ORLEANS -- Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday defended his role as headline speaker at a prayer rally on Louisiana State University's campus next month that has drawn the ire of protesters who say the group hosting the event promotes discrimination and an anti-gay agenda. The Jan. 24 prayer rally is expected to draw thousands of people… Continue reading →

Former WDSU-TV meteorolgist shot outside Waco-area TV station

This image provided by KCEN-TV shows an undated photo of KCEN-TV's meteorologist Patrick Crawford. Authorities from multiple law enforcement agencies are combing the area around a remote Central Texas television studio where the morning meteorologist was shot in a parking lot Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 after an argument. Jim Hice, the station's news director, says Crawford was wounded in the shoulder and the abdomen. The shooter fled. No motive has been released. (AP Photo/KCEN-TV)

EDDY, Texas -- Authorities are searching for a gunman who shot a Central Texas and former New Orleans television meteorologist during an altercation in the station parking lot. The Department of Public Safety says the attack happened around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday outside KCEN-TV in Eddy, 75 miles north of Austin. The suspect ran away. Investigators are seeking a motive for… Continue reading →

U.S., Cuba reach historic accord

Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations — a historic shift that could revitalize the flow of money and people across the narrow waters that separate the two nations. President Barack Obama’s dramatic announcement in Washington — seconded by Cuban President… Continue reading →

Emails show LSU board member helped set up Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's controversial prayer rally at PMAC

Bobby Jindal

A member of the LSU Board of Supervisors played a key role in helping select the university’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center as the site of a prayer rally that will feature Gov. Bobby Jindal next month. Emails obtained by The Advocate through a public records request show that Rolfe McCollister Jr., an LSU board member… Continue reading →

Causeway officials see hope in railings designed to keep vehicles out of Lake Pontchartrain

The truck speeds toward the bridge railing at over 60 mph. On impact, puffs of white can be seen as the tires explode, shards of glass and metal go flying and the back end of the truck rises off the ground, the wheels akimbo and still spinning. In slow motion, it’s like a ballet, hundreds of… Continue reading →

Judge berates lawyer in OPP case as new jail’s opening is delayed again

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Marlin Gusman.

In a scalding lecture from the bench, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk on Wednesday berated a lawyer hired recently by Sheriff Marlin Gusman for filing a “self-serving” series of court documents in the middle of the night, just hours before a hearing on the status of court-ordered reforms at Orleans Parish Prison. The hearing underscored many… Continue reading →