Louisiana news briefs
Citizens homeowners rates to increase
BATON ROUGE — East Baton Rouge Parish homeowners who buy coverage from Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. would see rates increase an average of 9.9 percent while wind-only policies would jump by 17.1 percent under a proposed rate filing.
Statewide, Citizens personal lines, which include homeowners, renters, mobile home, condominiums and wind-only coverages, would increase an average of 5.2 percent.
The Citizens board voted Thursday to submit the rate filing to the state Department of Insurance for approval.
Under the proposal, Chief Financial Officer Steve Cottrell says rates for about 90 percent of Citizens personal lines policyholders would increase an average of 6.7 percent. Rates for policyholders in the areas below the Intracoastal would drop an average of 8 percent.
Judge jails district attorney’s
spokesman over gag order
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state trial judge has jailed the spokesman for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.
Judge Frank Marullo ordered Christopher Bowman jailed for speaking to the press about a decades-old murder case in violation of a gag order.
Records show Bowman was booked at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Bowman was quoted in a news story in The Advocate about the case of Juan Smith, who has been convicted in the killing of eight people in 1995. Smith had won appellate court relief and his case was back before Marullo this week.
Bowman criticized the judge in the news story for Marullo refusing a request by both prosecutors and the defense to delay an upcoming hearing for Smith.
includes 2 concourses
KENNER (AP) — The expanded New Orleans airport will include two concourses with 30 gates, a $17 million on-site hotel and a parking garage with 2,000 spaces, according to details of the plan presented Thursday.
The plan for the new 650,000-square-foot glass-walled terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport also calls for a new $87 million ramp from Interstate 10 to improve traffic flow. Artist renderings showed views of the $826 million airport overhaul, which includes a new north terminal for the airport.
The plan was presented at a news conference attended by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, members of the New Orleans Aviation Board and other public officials.
The airport serves between 7 million and 8 million passenger per year. Landrieu, who first announced plans for the overhaul in April, hopes to have it completed by the time the city celebrates its tricentennial in 2018.
Historic Circle Food Store grocery re-opening in N.O.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A historic food store is re-opening in New Orleans more than eight years after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Circle Food Store in the city’s 7th Ward has undergone $8 million in renovations — a project funded in part by the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative. That program is aimed at increasing access to fresh foods in underserved neighborhoods.
Scheduled to attend today’s ribbon cutting ceremonies were New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, store owner Dwayne Boudreaux and city and state officials.
Judge awards $255K to woman groped by male nurse
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A state judge awarded $255,000 to a woman who testified she no longer trusts anyone after a male nurse fondled her in the intensive care unit at Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge in 2009.
Sharon Hewitt was a patient at the hospital when Bruce Raymond Greene, who no longer has a nursing license, also performed inappropriate sexual acts in her presence.
Greene, who was living in Mandeville in 2010 when Hewitt sued him and Ochsner, also testified Thursday and acknowledged he did not tell Ochsner he once worked at a Mandeville hospital but was fired for inappropriate contact with a patient.
Greene was booked on charges of sexual battery of the infirm and later pleaded guilty to two felony counts of cruelty to the infirm.
dispute continues to smolder
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette City-Parish Council is scheduled to consider a measure next month that would push the parish line a little farther into Vermilion Parish.
Vermilion Parish sees things a bit differently, and the issue seems unlikely to be resolved outside of a courtroom.
The City-Parish Council voted unanimously in October to back out of decade-old agreement with the Vermilion Parish Police Jury that had set the boundary and ended years of dispute over the parish line.
City-Parish Councilman Don Bertrand’s proposal calls for adopting a new line on the west side of the Vermilion River, then to spend up to $30,000 for additional research on the parish boundary east of the Vermilion River, a portion of the Vermilion-Lafayette border that has not been as closely scrutinized.
Ethics board asked
to scrap limit on PAC donors
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana Board of Ethics is considering a request from a super PAC supporting Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, asking the board to jettison state limits on donations to political action committees.
The state currently caps the contributions at $100,000 for each election cycle. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited funds to help candidates at the federal level.
Jindal issues new state government hiring freeze
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued a partial hiring freeze on executive branch agencies in state government, seeking to reduce state spending.
Jindal has repeatedly issued limited hiring freezes throughout his administration as the state has struggled with budget problems. The goal listed in the executive order, posted Thursday, is to save $7 million in the state’s general fund.
The savings goal is modest. The current year general operating budget tops $25 billion.
This latest hiring freeze, issued while Jindal is on an Asian economic development trip, took effect immediately and remains on the books until June 30, 2015.
The state’s elected officials and the Louisiana Legislature aren’t covered by the governor’s order. Also exempt are the public college systems and jobs that provide direct patient care or law enforcement.