Louisiana news briefs
Cassidy: Leadership role lost after insurance vote
BATON ROUGE (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy said Wednesday he’s been booted from a Republican leadership position because he broke with GOP leaders in his efforts to stop higher flood insurance premiums from hitting homeowners.
Cassidy said he was removed from the House Republican “whip team” because he sided with Democrats last week on a procedural vote that could have quickened House consideration of a Senate-passed bill to delay some flood insurance increases.
The “whip team” helps track votes on legislation and tries to coax either support or opposition to bills for party leaders. A spokesman for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy didn’t immediately respond to questions about why Cassidy was removed from the position.
Cassidy is locked in a tight U.S. Senate race against Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, and flood insurance rate hikes are an attention-grabbing issue in their home state.
Both candidates have highlighted their efforts trying to stop increases set in motion by a 2012 revamp of the federal flood insurance program. It’s a rare issue on which the opponents are on the same side.
Bollinger finalist for $10.5B Coast Guard contract
LOCKPORT (AP) — Bollinger Shipyards is one of three finalists bidding for a $10.5 billion contract to build the Coast Guard’s next generation of offshore patrol cutters.
Lockport-based Bollinger will receive $22 million to further develop concepts for the cutter design.
Other contenders are Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., and Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine.
The winning bidder is expected to employ 2,500 people to build the new cutters.
In the meantime, 200 skilled and engineering jobs are expected to be created at each shipyard as they prepare the next phase of designs and plans for submission to the Coast Guard.
The finalists were selected from an initial pool of eight shipbuilders.
“The new offshore patrol cutters will be the most technologically advanced ships in the Coast Guard’s fleet,” said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Landrieu chairs the Senate Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee, which determines bids on military contracts.
Boysie Bollinger, a Republican leader who is CEO of Bollinger Shipyards, has endorsed Landrieu’s 2014 re-election bid.
The Shipyard was awarded a $250 million contract in September to build six fast-response cutters for the Coast Guard.
Retail sales hit record high in Lafayette
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette retail sales hit $6.02 billion in 2013, the highest year on record. That’s according to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.
Retail sales in 2012 were at $5.71 billion — the previous record.
LEDA reported that 2013 saw five months where retail sales climbed above $500 million per month, the most for any year on record.
Port Allen council seeks to designate department heads
PORT ALLEN (AP) — The Port Allen City Council hopes the third time will truly be a charm when it comes to adopting an ordinance that will grant department head status to five administrative positions within city government.
Councilman Garry Hubble presented an ordinance to the council for third time Wednesday night seeking to designate the city’s chief financial officer, chief administrative officer, fire chief, police chief and public works director as department heads.
Although Hubble managed to convince a majority of the five-member council to adopt the same ordinance the previous two times, his efforts were always thwarted by the veto power of former mayor Demetric Slaughter.
Slaughter, who served 11 controversial-filled months as mayor of Port Allen, was recalled from office Nov. 16.
St. James leader booked with negligent homicide
LUTCHER (AP) — St. James Parish Councilman Terry McCreary has been arrested on a count of negligent homicide in a crash that occurred five months ago that led to the death of a 74-year-old Paulina man.
Lutcher police said 64-yeaer-old McCreary swerved on two-lane Lutcher Avenue on Sept. 5 to avoid a Chevrolet Trailblazer ahead of him.
Police say the northbound pickup that McCreary was driving glanced the rear of the SUV and ran head-on into an oncoming pickup driven by Preston O. Barras Jr.
Barras had severe injuries after the crash and was taken to an area hospital. He died on Sept. 17.
It was unclear whether McCreary has an attorney.
Woman arrested after baby swallows crack
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Baton Rouge police have arrested a 33-year-old woman accused of failing to prevent her 1-year-old son from swallows crack cocaine, which led to the child’s hospitalization.
Police booked Keisha Sturdivant on counts of cruelty to juveniles, contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and using a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor.
Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. says the boy was in stable condition Wednesday night.
Sturdivant remains in jail in lieu if a $20,000 bond.
It was unclear whether she has an attorney.
Reward up to $15K in whooping crane shooting
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — There’s now a $15,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever shot two endangered whooping cranes this month, killing one of them.
Contributors to the reward fund include zoos in Florida, Louisiana, and Massachusetts and Operation Migration, which uses ultralight planes to teach young cranes a Wisconsin-to-Florida migration route, said Adam Einck, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ enforcement division.
The birds were shot Feb. 7 at a crawfish pond near Roanoke in Jefferson Davis Parish.
They were a mated pair. Biologists were encouraged when the birds made practice nests last year.
The female died; the male is recovering after surgery at the Louisiana State University veterinary hospital in Baton Rouge.
Whooping cranes are among the world’s largest and rarest birds. Only about 600 are alive, all descended from fewer than 20 birds.
State and federal biologists have been trying since early 2011 to create a flock in southwest Louisiana by releasing birds raised in captivity. Fifty cranes have been released in four groups. The female’s death leaves 32.
Predators killed some; some had natural health problems; people with guns have killed four and wounded one.
Tips can be called to 1-800-442-2511 or texted to tip411, either with a free “LADWF Tips” app or by texting LADWF and their tip to 847411.
The Audubon Nature Institute, which operates the Audubon Zoo and other creature-related attractions in New Orleans, was among donors listed by Einck in a news release. So were Zoo New England, which operates zoos in Boston and Stoneham, Mass.; and, in Florida, the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Some donors are anonymous. Others are the Humane Society of the United States, the Louisiana Operation Game Thief Program, King White, Dr. Ben Burton, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, the Animal Welfare Institute and the International Crane Foundation.
From The Associated Press.