Louisiana news briefs
Cost of efficiency consultant bumped up to $7.4M
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
The contract for Alvarez & Marsal was worth $4.2 million when the New York-based company was hired in December. But the contract since has been bumped up to $7.4 million, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office.
In June, the consulting firm’s report outlined proposals to save the state $2.7 billion over five years, either by cutting costs or increasing state revenue.
The fiscal office says the administration’s contract costs increased because Alvarez & Marsal is helping state agencies to implement its recommendations.
“Saving $2.7 billion over the next five years requires a sustained, coordinated effort from agency leadership and staff. This contract addition allows A&M to provide project management services throughout the early implementation process to ensure savings goals are met,” Jindal’s Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a statement Thursday.
Costs for the consultant could grow even further, because the contract doesn’t end until December 2016 and new tasks could be added.
DONALDSONVILLE (AP) — Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies says the body of a young man was found along the Mississippi River levee in Donaldsonville.
Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his deputies are investigating but the cause of death and the victim’s identity have not been determined.
Wiley said Thursday they are treating the case as a homicide.
to advertise budget
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette Parish School Board says it has a proposed budget ready to present to the public.
Superintendent Pat Cooper says he won’t start that process because the board’s proposals violate state and federal laws.
They have one month to get it figured out before a state-mandated Sept. 15 deadline.
Board member Rae Trahan started off Thursday’s budget meeting by noting that the board approved a preliminary version of the district’s 2014-15 budget July 31. Trahan essentially asked why that document hadn’t been advertised.
Cooper said he couldn’t approve the budget.
He cited a state law that says much of the budget authority rests with the superintendent.
The budget includes nearly $20 million in cuts, including the elimination of dozens of personnel slots, including teachers.
Ex-cop who burned body post-Katrina seeks leniency
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans police officer is about to be re-sentenced in connection with one of the crimes that came to symbolize the chaos and law enforcement scandals that followed Hurricane Katrina.
Gregory McRae already is imprisoned for burning the body of Henry Glover — who was shot by another officer days after the 2005 storm.
However, an appeals court threw out one of five federal charges on which McCrae was convicted and said his 17-year sentence must be reconsidered.
McCrae will be re-sentenced Friday.
McRae’s lawyer says in court filings seeking leniency that McRae was suffering emotionally from the storm’s carnage when he burned the body. He also says McRae did not know Glover had been shot by another officer and didn’t realize he might be covering up a crime.
to LSU board
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal has tapped a former congressman who gave him one of his first jobs to be the newest member of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Jindal’s office announced Thursday that the Republican governor has appointed Jim McCrery, of Shreveport, to the 16-member governing board.
McCrery is a partner with the Washington-based lobbying firm Capitol Counsel LLC. Before that, the Republican was in the U.S. House for more than two decades.
Jindal once worked as a summer intern for McCrery.
The former congressman takes an LSU board job left vacant when Shreveport doctor John George resigned. George leads a research foundation that manages two LSU hospitals through a no-bid contract with the state. He exited the Board of Supervisors a year after the privatization deal took effect.
Arrests made in drive-by shootings
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police arrested two suspects Thursday in a drive-by shooting that left a man and a teenage girl dead and seriously injured a mother and her two small children.
Chief Ronal Serpas said Blair Taylor, 20, is suspected as the gunman. He was being held on two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder. Jeffery Rivers, 25, was booked with being a principal to the same charges.
Serpas said tips to police and to the Crimestoppers organization led to the arrests. Two stolen cars, including one believed used in the shooting, were seized and police have recovered a weapon linked by ballistics to the shootings.
The shootings occurred shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. Police say 33-year-old Terrance McBride was the shooters’ intended target. McBride and 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson were killed.
From The Associated Press.
A 32-year-old woman and her two young sons were injured and remain hospitalized. Two other people had less serious injuries.
While Serpas said the shooting is believed to have been connected to the drug trade, he gave no specifics on the motive. He said at least one more arrest is possible.
Jail records show Taylor’s bond was set at $15,000 bond after a 2013 arrest for illegally carrying a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance.
Serpas did not comment on the amount of bond but made clear he was unhappy that Taylor was on the street despite the gun charge and a prior arrest for aggravated battery.
“Taylor has an arrest record that reminds us over and over and over again, if you are a young man in the city of New Orleans and you are involved in drugs and guns, the chances of you receiving a consequence appear to be none,” Serpas said, adding that Taylor had been arrested earlier for carrying a gun with an obliterated serial number.
Among those with Serpas at Thursday afternoon’s news conference were District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, and representatives from Louisiana State Police. Troopers have been diverted from other nearby jurisdictions and from other duties in New Orleans to help the city police department with patrols. And, Serpas said, troopers arrested Taylor after a brief car chase.
The extra troopers have been evident in the French Quarter since a June 29 gunfight that broke out on Bourbon Street, leaving one bystander dead.