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How could LSU save millions, run smoother?

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Commons area at the West Campus Apartments to the right of Edmund Kirby Smith Hall.

LSU could save millions by overhauling its parking system, outsourcing the operation of its power plant and potentially partnering with a private developer to replace aging on-campus student housing, according to a private consultant the university hired. Based on Huron Consulting’s analysis of university operations, a parking revamp that isn’t just an across-the-board increase for… Continue reading →

Wait time complaints to bring change to state OMV

Changes are coming to the Office of Motor Vehicles to reduce wait times, including the addition of express lanes and incentive pay for employees who provide expedited services, the official who oversees the agency said Friday. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson, who is deputy secretary of the Department of Public Safety, told the Joint Legislative Committee… Continue reading →

Southern and Baton Rouge Community College students can now transfer seamlessly

Provided Photo by NAVILLE OUBRE JR. -- Standing from left to right at the signing are William Arp, Dean of Southern's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, VerJanis Peoples, Southern Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Andrea Lewis Miller, Chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College and Flandus McClinton, Acting Chancellor of Southern University.

Students at Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University can now transfer between the schools seamlessly after the signing Thursday of a new partnership called “Bears 2 Jaguars.” During a ceremony held at Southern, BRCC Chancellor Andrea Lewis Miller and Flandus Mclinton, Southern’s acting chancellor, signed the Memorandum of Understanding . The “Bears 2 Jaguars”… Continue reading →

LSU tackles African-American male achievement at summit

LSU is looking to expand educational opportunities and success for African-American boys and men in Louisiana, and a Thursday panel of experts weighed in on what works and the complex hurdles that exist. Based on U.S. Department of Education statistics, African-American males lag significantly behind their white counterparts, white females and black females in obtaining college degrees.… Continue reading →

Regents name three finalists for higher ed commissioner

For two days, members of the Louisiana Board of Regents met with an unknown number of people interested in becoming the state’s next higher education commissioner at the Hilton across from the New Orleans airport. They weren’t considered “candidates,” “applicants” or “semifinalists” — as far as the board is concerned — so the state higher education arm… Continue reading →

White pushes tests to school leaders

Advocate Photo by WILL SENTELL -- State Superintendent of Education John White is shown speaking with reporters in this July 17, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The controversial Common Core tests that students take in the spring will offer valuable state-to-state comparisons, state Superintendent of Education John White told local superintendents Thursday. The exams will come from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Whether to use the assessments has sparked controversy for months,… Continue reading →

Louisiana sinks to 40th in review of roads

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Interstate 10 through Baton Rouge, including the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, also known as the New Bridge, over the Mississippi River, remains closed Wednesday morning due to ice accumulation from Tuesday.

Louisiana’s highway conditions plummeted to 40th in the nation and pavements on urban interstates are better than only two other states, according to a report released Thursday. The state also ranks 44th in its highway fatality rate, 41st in the condition of rural interstate pavements and 39th in the number of deficient bridges. The findings are… Continue reading →

Bayou Health report questioned

Kathy Kliebert

A report legislators ordered up to help evaluate how goes the privatization of the government-run health insurance program is full of errors and inconsistencies, the legislative auditor said Wednesday, an assessment with which the state’s medical chief disagrees. State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the report “fully complies”… Continue reading →

Charles Boustany bills focus on IRS controversy

— In a response to the controversial IRS probes of conservative organizations seeking tax exemptions, the U.S. House approved three bills late Tuesday by Rep. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, to reform the agency’s practices. The bills were among several IRS-related measures brought to the floor of the Republican-controlled House, but U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.,… Continue reading →

House passes Cassidy veterans bill

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

Veterans who suffer traumatic brain injuries would be eligible for a wider range of government-paid medical treatments that would be evaluated more thoroughly under a bill by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, that passed the U.S. House late Tuesday. The bill also seeks to ensure greater access by… Continue reading →

Higher ed commissioner search meetings scheduled

Louisiana Board of Regents members who are handling the search for a new state higher education commissioner will be in Kenner this week for “meetings with interested individuals” at the New Orleans Hilton Airport. Twenty-five people have been under consideration for Louisiana’s top higher education leadership post, but the state board has declined to release… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal touts national energy policy plan in Washington D.C.

Associated Press file photo J. Scott Applewhite -- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal says America is hurting its economy through efforts that curb domestic energy production. In back-to-back events in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jindal touted a new national energy policy that focuses on increasing domestic and cheaper energy, which he says will stimulate jobs and the economy. The policy paper, released through Jindal’s America Next… Continue reading →

WellSpot program promoted

State health officials Monday promoted 35 WellSpots across Louisiana, including a variety of worksites and restaurants, that have made changes to make it easier for Louisiana residents who want to improve their health. The state Department of Health and Hospitals also announced the launch of a new website at WellAheadLa.com that makes it easy for users… Continue reading →

La. public school teacher retirements remain up

The spike in public school retirements eased somewhat, but the numbers are still higher than prior to passage of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education revamp, according to newly released statistics. The number of kindergarten through 12th-grade employees in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana who retired in the fiscal year ending June 30 stood at 2,979, the… Continue reading →

No uniform policy to address sexual assaults on La. campuses

Louisiana has no statewide policy for handling allegations of sexual assault on college and university campuses, leaving students open to varied experiences depending on which school they attend, according to a report the state Board of Regents released Monday. State Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat who had asked for the statewide look, said… Continue reading →

U.S. Sen. David Vitter target of campaign finance complaint

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Sen. David Vitter speaks at the weekly Baton Rouge Press Club luncheon recently concerning policies he's working on in the U.S. Senate and his candidacy for Governor.

A Democrat-leaning group filed a complaint accusing U.S. Sen. David Vitter of violating a state campaign finance law. The American Democracy Legal Fund accused Republican Vitter and his Senate campaign of impropriety in contributing $100,000 to a group supporting his 2015 governor’s race bid. The complaint was filed Friday with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which… Continue reading →

Tommy Boggs, influential lobbyist, dies; son of Congresswoman Boggs

Photo from pattonboggs.com -- Thomas Hale Boggs Jr.

Power peddler Tommy Boggs, who grew up in a pre-eminent New Orleans political family and went on to become the consummate Washington lobbyist, died suddenly Monday morning, apparently the victim of a heart attack. He was 73 years old. Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. was considered one of the most powerful lawyers… Continue reading →

Wall Street Journal: Technological advances extend energy boom

The U.S. energy boom has already lasted longer than expected because technological advances have made oil and natural gas-wells more productive, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. The “unrecognized but potent trend” should keep production flowing even though the number of drilling rigs working nationwide remains flat, the article says. The energy… Continue reading →

Accident shuts down natural-gas pipeline off Louisiana coast

Chevron Pipe Line Co. shut down a natural-gas pipeline off the southeast coast of Louisiana after one contract worker was killed and two others were injured while doing maintenance work, according to The Wall Street Journal. The pipeline carries natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana’s Henry Hub in Erath, a critical storage and… Continue reading →

Louisiana drivers ranked 12th-rudest in survey

Louisiana drivers ranked 12th-rudest in the nation and are most hated by drivers from Texas, according to a new survey by online insurance website Insure.com. Insure.com surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers, half women and half men, to measure rude behavior: weaving in and out of traffic, laying on the horn and “saluting with an upright digit.” Idaho… Continue reading →

In Toon With Walt: We have a winner!

Wow! When it comes to politics you folks really get it! With over 180 entries, I believe these were some of the best punch lines we’ve seen since we started this contest. Short, punchy, witty, clever and Fuuuuuuny! This time, there were several clever, mini song parodies as well as jokes about BP money, mud… Continue reading →

Common Core criticism not limited to the right

While the push to derail Common Core is often attributed to Republicans and conservatives, Louisiana teacher unions that are mostly aligned with Democrats are nearly as vocal in blasting the overhaul. Both the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators backed legislation earlier this year that would have scrapped the standards in favor of… Continue reading →

Officials expect minimal traffic snarls during I-10 bridge painting

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  A sign warning motorists of Mississippi River Bridge lane closures flashes around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.  The sign heralds 18 months of periodic work the bridge for painting and rust removal.

Traffic problems should be minimal during a $10 million, nighttime paint and rust removal project that is underway on the Interstate 10 Mississippi River bridge, officials said Thursday. “What we are doing is called spot painting,” said Danny Tullier, bridge preventive maintenance program manager for the state Department of Transportation and Development. “Portions or zones of… Continue reading →

Treasurer: Discipline a factor in graduation

Suzy Sonnier, Sec. Department of Children & Family Services

State Treasurer John Kennedy, who serves as a substitute teacher about three times per year, said one reason that nearly one in four students in Louisiana public high schools fails to graduate in four years is lack of discipline. “Too often there are one or two kids in every class who constantly interrupt and disrupt the learning… Continue reading →

Landrieu faces tough re-election race

From left, Mary Landrieu, Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness.

There’s a saying that “All politics is local.” That may yet prove to be the case in this year’s election for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana, but it’s hard not to see the race playing out against a national landscape. The big prize nationally in this nonpresidential election year is control of the U.S. Senate.… Continue reading →