Louisiana news briefs
Wed, 2013-10-16 15:09
From The Associated Press.
Board ordered to fire convicted chief
HOUMA (AP) — The Grand Caillou Fire Board has been ordered to fire its chief, who was convicted in July of a felony in connection with his construction business.
After reviewing previous state attorney general opinions, Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. decided Tuesday the law dictates Fire Chief Jayson Ray should be terminated.
Waitz had asked the attorney general Friday for an opinion about Ray’s fate because the chief admitted guilt under a provision of state law that says a judge can suspend the sentence and remove the conviction from his record once he completes his three years of probation.
But Waitz said a 1993 attorney general opinion makes it clear Ray should lose his job.
William Dunckelman, Ray’s attorney, says he will not appealing Waitz’s decision.
Thibodaux seeks opinion on video poker regulations
THIBODAUX (AP) — A proposal to regulate the placement of businesses with video poker machines in Thibodaux is in the hands of the state attorney general’s office.
The Thibodaux City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday to ask the attorney general to determine the city’s ability to restrict the placement of any video poker facility with more than three machines. To do so, the council would have to amend the city’s zoning ordinance.
Council Chairman Lloyd Badeaux said he was concerned about the city’s liability in making a decision that would affect local businesses.
Several members of the public wrote up the amendment and presented it earlier this month to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The commission requested the council ask for the opinion.
Lafayette, Vermilion border dispute heats up
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The border between Lafayette and Vermilion parishes is once again in dispute after the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted unanimously to toss out a ten-year-old agreement with the Vermilion Parish Police Jury on where the line should be.
Councilman Don Bertrand, who pushed the measure, has long argued that the agreement gave too much land to Vermilion Parish because the line was based on incomplete historical records.
Bertrand said recent research has uncovered information that points to where the line should really be.
Lafayette’s decision Tuesday does not move the boundary but rather brings its location back into legal dispute, because both parishes do not agree on the location of the border. It will likely take action by the state Legislature or a judge to set it.
Sorrento’s mayor, police chief clash over vehicle use
SORRENTO (AP) — Sorrento Mayor Mike Lambert and Police Chief Earl Theriot clashed during a town council meeting over two documents each claimed governed the use of the town’s police vehicles by police officers.
Theriot said Tuesday a 3-year-old legal opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office gave him the authority to permit his police officers to take their police vehicles home. Lambert claimed an ordinance adopted by the council in 2009 prohibits police vehicles from leaving Ascension Parish.
Theriot insisted he had no written policy on the use of police vehicles, only a soft rule that officers may not take their vehicles home if they live more than 35 miles from Sorrento.
Festival International names director
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Festival International de Louisiane has a new executive director.
Missy Paschke-Wood will begin working with the festival on Oct. 21.
Her background is in music and theater but her professional experience has been focused in nonprofit and arts administration.
Prior to joining Festival International, she worked as the marketing and development Director at Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Ariz. and marketing manager for Arizona Theatre Company, in addition to consulting for many other nonprofit organizations.
Council limits travel trailer use
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Travel trailers can no longer be used as permanent homes in rural Lafayette Parish.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted 5-4 on Tuesday to approve a new regulation that bans travel trailers from being used as a residence for more than 180 days in any calendar year in unincorporated areas of the parish.
Zoning laws already prohibit living in a travel trailer within the Lafayette city limits.
Planning, Zoning and Codes Director Eleanor Bouy said the new regulation was prompted in part by a growing number of complaints about homeowners renting space in their driveways for travel trailers to house itinerant workers.
Bayou Sorrel boat launch work begins
PLAQUEMINE (AP) — State officials say construction has begun on improvements to the boat launch at Bayou Sorrel located in the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin.
A statement from the State Department of Natural Resources’ Atchafalaya Basin Program and Iberville Parish officials says the total construction cost of the project is $683,000. Of that, the department contributed $670,000 from the fiscal year 2011 Atchafalaya Basin Annual Plan. The remaining construction costs and all engineering costs are being funded by Iberville Parish government.
The project consists of a launch ramp on the north end, a parking area and a walkway going out to the relocated floating pier. The parish will provide maintenance and upkeep of the facility.
Landrieu taps Green for U.S. Attorney
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sen. Mary Landrieu is recommending that President Barack Obama appoint Walt Green as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. Green has been acting U.S. Attorney in that Baton Rouge-based federal district since Donald Cazayoux stepped down from the post in July.
In her announcement Tuesday, Landrieu noted that Green has served over the last 15 years as assistant U.S. Attorney for the criminal division in Nevada, Deputy Criminal Chief and First Assistant U.S. Attorney in Baton Rouge, and, now, as acting U.S. Attorney.
B.R. spending increases in Aug.
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Spending in East Baton Rouge Parish by consumers and businesses rose 2.6 percent in August from a year ago, the second month in a row that sales activity increased.
Sales tax collection figures released by the city-parish Finance Department show businesses and consumers spent slightly more than $663 million in August.
The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.
Teachers, union sue Jefferson School Board
GRETNA (AP) — The Jefferson Federation of Teachers claims the Jefferson Parish School Board has breached individual contracts with parish school employees by failing to maintain teachers’ level of benefits..
In a news release Tuesday, the union says the Jefferson board reduced agreed-upon levels of dental, vision and life insurance benefits. The union also claims the board reduced guaranteed money for teacher benefits, reduced time promised for planning and denied payment that was due to some teachers for accrued sick leave.
The union has filed a lawsuit outlining those claims in 24th Judicial District Court. Twelve teachers also were listed as plaintiffs in that lawsuit. The board did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.