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Gretna hotel ordered shut down by Fire Marshal’s Office

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Bridget Barry, a homeless mother of six children, hugs boyfriend Ricky Bass, center, after they were told to leave the Luxury Inn & Suites on Claire Ave in Gretna, La. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Barry who paid in advance for the week has nowhere else to go because many rooms are filled because of Mardi Gras and the money won't be refunded for sometime. Her used Suburban vehicle has no heater so she won't be able to sleep there. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal and Gretna code enforcement informed occupants of the hotel to leave immediately after various code and electrical violations were found.

The Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office on Thursday issued a cease-and-desist letter to a Gretna motel that inspectors said has been plagued by a number of safety issues, including faulty electrical wiring that caused small fires in rooms, according to a spokesman for the agency. After investigators issued the order at the Luxury Inn and… Continue reading →

Tom Benson ups ante in proposal to take Saints, Pels out of estranged heirs’ trust

Associated Press photo by BILL HABER - New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson poses for a photo with his wife Gayle Benson and his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans Sept. 21.

After several days of watching his family’s infighting transfix New Orleans in a way that only his football team typically can, Tom Benson has substantially increased the amount he is offering to place in a group of trusts set up for his now-jilted daughter and two grandchildren, in return for removing from those trusts the Saints and Pelicans… Continue reading →

Jefferson School Board honors outgoing superintendent

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent James Meza talks about his tenure and his accomplishments during that time and where the school system is at today in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Standing in a meeting room buzzing with teachers, administrators and School Board members, outgoing Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent James Meza said his impending departure is feeling more real by the moment. “It feels great, though,” he said at the farewell event, held just two days before a retirement he announced more than a year ago becomes… Continue reading →

Funeral services Friday and Saturday for ‘Bo’ Dollis

Funeral services will take place Friday and Saturday for Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis, former big chief of the Wild Magnolias tribe of Mardi Gras Indians, who died Jan. 20 at 71. Public visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Carver Theater, 2101 Orleans Ave., and from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday… Continue reading →

Gang members convicted in killing of 5-year-old Briana Allen

Demond Saindifer, Sam Newman, Tyron Harden

A New Orleans jury has found all three defendents guilty in a gang racketeering case centered on the men accused of killing 5-year-old Briana Allen at a Central City birthday party nearly three years ago. Demond “Lil D” Sandifer, 19; Sam “Lil” Newman, 19; and Tyron “T-Man” Harden all face life in prison. A… Continue reading →

Oil executive: Companies must work together to survive drop in prices

As oil prices continued sliding to a six-year low, the president of energy giant Hess Corp. warned Thursday that energy companies will need to pool resources and knowledge in order to survive the latest boom-or-bust cycle. “It’s clear that there’s a lot of uncertainty in our business in this short-term cycle,” Gregory Hill, Hess’ president and… Continue reading →

U.S. Senate approves Keystone pipeline despite veto threat

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

— The Keystone XL pipeline got the green light Thursday from the U.S. Senate, moving the legislation to build the project closer to final congressional approval — and closer to an expected veto from President Barack Obama. The fight over Keystone figured prominently in the 2014 U.S. Senate race in… Continue reading →

David Duke: Steve Scalise is a sellout; I might run against him in next election

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, left, and David Duke

David Duke said U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is a sellout and that he might challenge the Republican congressman in the next election. “Steve Scalise, let me tell you something, this is the way I view it now: I mean this guy is a sellout. I mean he’s a sellout. He’s not David. He used to say that… Continue reading →

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. set world record for most one-handed catches in a minute

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. set the Guinness World Record for the most one-handed catches in a minute with 33 on "NFL Live" on ESPN on Thursday. The previous record was nine one-handed football catches in a minute. Brees and Beckham stood 10 yards apart on a… Continue reading →

Campaign cash: La.’s top contributors in 2014

The top political donor from Louisiana last year gave at least $86,362 to candidates over the course of the 2014 election cycle, while the next highest donor — who is closely tied to the first — gave at least $70,000, according to a new report. The Center for Public Integrity, a national non-profit, analyzed campaign finance records… Continue reading →

Victim says he doesn’t know why man shot him and friend

Donald Powell

Ervin Shaw says he does not even know the man who shot him and a friend Tuesday evening in the Upper 9th Ward or why the man opened fire. In a phone interview Thursday from his home, where he is recovering, Shaw said the stranger walked up to him and his friend Jake Tassin… Continue reading →

Abortion rights supporters: Louisiana ‘vastly exceeds’ its governing authority of abortion clinics

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON --  In this file photo, New Orleans lawyer Ellie Schilling testifies in front of the House Committee on Health and Welfare against HB388 authored by State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, in 2014 at the Louisiana State Capitol.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics, abortion rights interests testified Thursday. “These regulations vastly exceed DHH’s statutory authority,” said Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans lawyer representing the outpatient clinics that terminate pregnancies. About 80 people attended the… Continue reading →

Police, La. SPCA investigating beheaded goat in Algiers park

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- One of the goats that grazes at Brechtel Park in Algiers was found beheaded Thursday morning. Another goat is missing. A Louisiana SPCA truck drives through the park near where the goat was found. The incident is under investigation.

The grisly discovery Thursday of a beheaded baby goat in Algiers turned a serene patch of Brechtel Park into what animal cruelty experts insisted was a felony crime scene. The slaughtered kid, a 3-month-old pygmy goat named Calvin, appeared to be the victim of a “malicious” decapitation rather than an attack by a predatory… Continue reading →

George Toca, La. inmate at center of debate on juvenile life sentences, to go free

photo by John Simerman -- Joyce Dolliole, 76, of Avondale, is the aunt of murder victim, Eric Batiste. Here she holds pictures of him.

A state prisoner from New Orleans who recently landed at the center of national legal debate about mandatory life sentences for youthful offenders won his freedom Thursday after 31 years in prison. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office agreed to vacate his murder conviction. George Toca, 47, is set to… Continue reading →

Group encourages black moms to breastfeed

A grassroots effort is underway in several U.S. cities to encourage more black women to breastfeed their babies by teaching them the benefits of the age-old practice, which is sometimes shunned in African-American communities.… Continue reading →

Senate heads toward approval of Keystone XL pipeline bill

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate is moving toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The move defies a veto threat and sets up the first battle with the White House over energy and the environment. The Senate plans to vote later Thursday. It’s the first measure taken up by the… Continue reading →

Special BESE meeting sought on Common Core; discussion needed on how to handle students who opt out tests, member says

Advocate file photos -- Lottie Beebe, left, and Chas Roemer

A member of Louisiana’s top school board said that she and three other panel members want a special meeting to discuss upcoming Common Core tests, including students who skip the exams. Lottie Beebe, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made her comments in an email Wednesday to BESE president Chas… Continue reading →

Saints’ Drew Brees discusses ‘Deflategate’ on ‘Conan’

During an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s television talk show, Saints quarterback Drew Brees offered his insight on the current “Deflategate” flap.… Continue reading →

IberiaBank reports profit increase

Lafayette-based IberiaBank Corp. turned a fourth-quarter profit of $35.9 million, $1.07 per share, compared to $25.6 million, or 86 cents per share, a year ago. For the year, the company earned $105.5 million, or $3.30 per share, compared to $65.1 million, or $2.20 per share. The company reported its fourth-quarter and annual results late Wednesday.… Continue reading →

Tulane med school joins network fighting a lung disease

Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons -- Tulane University Gibson Hall

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tulane University School of Medicine has been selected to join an expanding network of medical centers caring for patients with a progressive lung disease. The university said in a Wednesday news release that it is joining the care network of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. The move means Tulane gains access to numerous resources… Continue reading →

$40 million donation pledged to LSU for athletics and engineering

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU students walk by the campanile.

A graduate of LSU has pledged a $40 million gift to be split among LSU engineering and athletics, among the largest donations in the university’s history. The donor’s name wasn’t released Wednesday by the university. The money will be given to LSU upon the death of the donor as part of the settlement of the estate.… Continue reading →

No big winners in Wednesday’s lottery drawings

The Louisiana Lottery Corporation says nobody won the two major jackpots in the Louisiana Lotto and multistate Powerball drawings on Wednesday night. Louisiana Lotto players matching all six numbers drawn would have won or shared a $600,000 prize, which will rise to an estimated $625,000 for Saturday. Players matching all five numbers and the Powerball would… Continue reading →

Full Court Press blog: LSU signee Simmons, commit Blakeney to play in McDonald’s game

LSU signee Benny Simmons and Antonio Blakeney, who committed earlier this month to the Tigers’ program, were chosen Wednesday night to play in the 38th annual McDonald’s All-American game. The McDonald’s game, a showcase for the top seniors among boys and girls in the country, will be played April 1 at the United Center in Chicago and… Continue reading →

Source: Unlikely past lawsuits against Gayle Benson will worry NFL, NBA officials; here's what they will focus on

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Lane Murdoch, Jr. photographs Hornets owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle Monday, October 1, 2012 at the Alario Center in Westwego during media day. Before Tom Benson came into her life, Gayle suffered financial challenges and was the subject of litigation and foreclosure.

Neither the Saints nor the Pelicans anticipate Gayle Benson’s record of being sued numerous times in New Orleans civil court will dissuade either the NFL or the NBA from approving a plan to make her the future owner of the two teams owned by her husband, Tom Benson, a source close to the situation said Wednesday.… Continue reading →

State Police to remain in N.O. until at least mid-May

Advocate file photo by MATTHEW HINTON--A State Police vehicle is parked in the French Quarter on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Extra State Police patrols that have been deployed since the June 29 Bourbon Street shooting, where a woman was killed and nine other were injured, will end this coming Sunday.

The State Police plan to keep a beefed-up contingent of troopers in New Orleans even after the Carnival crowds die down next month, seeking to mollify a crime-weary city and buttress its understaffed Police Department through a busy season of conventions and special events. Responding to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s repeated pleas to the state, Col. Mike… Continue reading →