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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 →

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 →

Owner of former St. Tammany work-release program facing ethics charges

Jimmy Laurent

An owner of a controversial work-release program that St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain shut down in March is facing a conflict-of-interest charge filed by the state Board of Ethics. Jimmy Laurent owns 30 percent of Northshore Workforce, a work-release program that was closed amid negative media coverage and repeated inmate escapes.… Continue reading →

Court clerk clashes with City Council president over his budget

Stacy Head

It is begging season at City Hall, the time of year when one agency head after another appears before the City Council to ask for more money — sometimes millions of dollars more — than the mayor proposes to give them in next year’s budget. But Arthur Morrell, the clerk of Criminal District Court, is clearly… Continue reading →

‘Good ol’ boy’ remark causes social media stir in hotly contested Tammany DA race

Nowhere is the sparring over who will become the next district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes more intense than in St. Tammany’s insular legal community. And just like much campaigning these days, much of the battle is playing out on social media. The latest flap began Thursday when Slidell attorney Charles Branton posted a… Continue reading →

Two small energy companies settle coastal damage claims with N.O. levee authority

Central marshes in St. Bernard Parish, La. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Two small Texas energy firms settled with a New Orleans-area levee authority on Thursday, becoming the first defendants to throw in the towel in a massive lawsuit accusing almost 100 oil and gas companies of directly contributing to coastal erosion in southeast Louisiana. Details of the settlements between the Southeast Louisiana Flood… Continue reading →

Fracking opponents celebrate court decision, plot strategy

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  St. Tammany Parish Councilman Jake Groby, District 7, addresses the audience during a community meeting about fracking Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at the John Davis Park Gym and Community Center in Lacombe.

A small group of St. Tammany Parish residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing gathered in a Lacombe gym Tuesday night for a meeting that was part strategy session and part celebration of a Baton Rouge judge’s ruling Monday keeping alive a lawsuit that seeks to block Helis Oil & Gas Co. from drilling a fracking well on a 960-acre… Continue reading →

Fire Department budget not adequate, union head tells council

The proposed 2015 budget presented last week by the Landrieu administration does not provide enough money to staff the Fire Department at a level that will keep the public and firefighters safe, the president of the local firefighters union told the City Council on Tuesday. New Orleans Firefighters Association President Nick Felton said the Fire Department,… Continue reading →

St. Bernard Parish Hospital audit details billing problems

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish Hospital

Problems with collecting bills from patients continued to plague the publicly owned St. Bernard Parish Hospital for much of last year, according to a report released Monday by the state’s legislative auditor, though the hospital’s CEO says the lingering issues have since been largely resolved. The 40-bed hospital generated $23.7 million in operating revenue in the… Continue reading →

Civil Service wants more money for new hires, testing

The Civil Service Department needs about $800,000 more than is set aside for it in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposed 2015 operating budget, Personnel Director Lisa Hudson told the City Council on Monday. The administration’s proposed budget allocates $1.86 million to the Civil Service Department, which operates the city’s human resources services and runs recruitment and retention… Continue reading →

Fracking lawsuit goes forward

The legal battle over whether a fracking oil well can be drilled in St. Tammany Parish will go forward after a state district judge in Baton Rouge refused Monday to grant a state motion to toss out a parish lawsuit seeking to block the well. Judge William Morvant, of the 19th Judicial District, told attorneys for… Continue reading →

Peralta vetoes ordinance barring raises for parish workers

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta leaves the parish jail after posting bond Thursday, April 24, 2014.

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta on Friday made good on his promise to veto a measure passed by the Parish Council this week that would have imposed a six-month freeze on salary raises for parish employees, thereby limiting the authority of the embattled first-term parish leader. Early indications were that the veto might stand.… Continue reading →

Trainor campaign, sheriff’s law firm share address, and other New Orleans-area political news

The Vampire Diaries -- Pictured: Ian Somerhalder as Damon -- Photo: Nino Munoz/The CW -- � 2013 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brian Trainor, one of four candidates hoping to replace Walter Reed as district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, minimized his role in a personal-injury lawsuit that landed attorney Charles Hughes in hot water this month when racial slurs Hughes used in a recorded conversation with an unhappy client became public. Trainor’s only involvement in the case… Continue reading →

City of New Orleans clears homeless from camps near Pontchartrain Expressway

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Pigeons and pigeon dropping are seen on tents underneath the Pontchartrain Expressway at Calliope and Camp Street in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Homeless people moved further away from the Superdome after the New Orleans Health Department handed out fliers Monday asking people to leave that overpass from Claiborne to St. Charles Ave within 72 hours and moving them out on Thursday morning.

The city continued its efforts to break up homeless encampments in the Central Business District on Thursday, evicting the homeless from a number of small camps near the Pontchartrain Expressway. On Sunday night, camp inhabitants were given 72 hours to disperse, according to City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who said she supported the sweep because of worsening… Continue reading →

St. Tammany district attorney candidate Roy Burns admits to having 2 homestead exemptions that likely saved him thousands

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Roy Burns is running for St. Tammany's District Attorney in Covington, La. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Roy Burns, one of four candidates running for St. Tammany Parish district attorney, likely saved thousands of dollars in property taxes by having homestead exemptions on two properties at once for more than a decade, an arrangement that Burns said was a mistake he eventually noticed himself and corrected several years ago. Under a homestead exemption,… Continue reading →

Fired Kenner inspector can have job back, board rules

The Kenner Civil Service Board has reinstated a city employee fired in May, finding that his dismissal — officially blamed on reckless driving — was in fact “arbitrary and … without reasonable cause.” Joey Metzler, an electrical inspector with Kenner’s Code Enforcement Department who was fired on March 25, will be reinstated with back pay after… Continue reading →

Firm drops plan to add oil storage tanks at Marrero plant

A petroleum distribution company has dropped plans to add more storage tanks as part of an overhaul of its Marrero facility. Magellan Midstream will go forward with other aspects of the project but not the addition of 13 tanks to the 53 that are already on the property, company spokesman Tom Byers told the Jefferson Parish… Continue reading →

Good news for NOPD: Chief Michael Harrison says recruiting starting to hit its stride

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Interim NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison is shown in this Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The newest faces of the New Orleans Police Department are a diverse bunch. Among them are a former UNO baseball pitcher whose recent jobs included termite inspector and country club pool guy, a state probation and parole officer whose sister is former City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, a Cuban-born Floridian with an MBA, the ex-manager of… Continue reading →

Surprise move: St. Bernard Parish president David Peralta threatens to veto measure limiting his authority

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta

With little fanfare beyond a quick reading of the proposed language, the St. Bernard Parish Council on Tuesday took steps to limit the authority of Parish President David Peralta, drawing a strong rebuke from the embattled parish leader, who in a surprise threatened to veto one of the two measures. The council, by a 4-1 vote,… Continue reading →

St. John water employees suspended after being charged with faking tests

DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday, May 31, 2013 holds a press conference at the Port of New Orleans headquarters for the first day of hurricane season to talk about the protection system. Also included were the parish presidents whose parishes are included within that greater New Orleans system. Natalie Robottom President of St. John The Baptist Parish. MAGS  OUT / INTERNET  OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/ LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC./GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT/225/10/12/IN REGISTER/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT/  MANDATORY CREDIT THE ADVOCATE/ELIOT KAMENITZ

Two St. John the Baptist Parish employees accused of faking chlorine-level tests, which would have found the presence of a potentially dangerous amoeba in the parish water supply, have been suspended without pay following their indictment Monday on charges of malfeasance in office and maintaining false public records. Meanwhile, parish officials, with the help… Continue reading →

Early voting begins Tuesday for senator, host of other offices

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Early voting starts Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

Early voting begins Tuesday for the Nov. 4 primary election in which voters will cast ballots for U.S. senator and House members, plus a host of local offices. They also will decide on 14 amendments to the state constitution and many local ballot propositions. Early voting will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through… Continue reading →