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Healthcare Privatization
1:38 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Centers for developmentally disabled approved for privatization

Louisiana's health department has received approval to hire private companies to run state facilities in Hammond and Bossier City that care for the developmentally disabled.

The Civil Service Commission agreed to the plans Wednesday without objection.

Under the plans already backed by lawmakers, the state is turning over the operations of Northlake Supports and Services Center and Northwest Supports and Services Center to private contractors.

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Jefferson Parish Housing Authority
6:51 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Audit: JP Housing Authority should repay $650K

A federal audit says the Jefferson Parish Housing Authority illegally paid board members nearly $107,000 and created a conflict of interest and violated federal rules by paying $91,000 to a state legislator's repair company.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development audit says the agency should repay the money and must either document or repay another $450,000. That includes $240,000 paid to four Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies for security services, $95,000 to its attorney and $81,000 to its accounting firm.

Louisiana Supreme Court
6:46 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Fifteen Orleans officials side with Johnson in Supreme Court spat

Fifteen New Orleans-area elected officials have told Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Katherine Kimball that she should take steps to ensure that Justice Bernette Johnson succeeds her as the court's chief.

Kimball retires next year. Louisiana's Constitution says the longest serving justice must succeed her. Johnson and Justice Jeffrey Victory each stake claims to being the longest serving.

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Hurricane Season
3:33 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

State officials ready for peak of hurricane season

State officials say they are ready for whatever the weather might throw at them this hurricane season.

Kevin Davis, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Wednesday the state is standing by should a storm threaten Louisiana. He added that he encourages citizens to review their own emergency game plans, before severe weather strikes.

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Election 2012
3:16 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Jindal meets with other GOP governors in Colorado

Gov. Bobby Jindal is mingling in Colorado with other Republican governors who are among those mentioned as potential running mates for Mitt Romney.

Jindal is scheduled Wednesday evening to be part of a speaker series with GOP governors hosted by The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank headed by Walter Isaacson, a Louisiana native.

Among the other governors included are Chris Christie of New Jersey, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

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Office of Group Benefits Management
3:11 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Civil service panel approves state insurance contractor

The Civil Service Commission has narrowly agreed to a Jindal administration plan to hire a private company to manage a state employee health insurance plan.

The panel voted 3-2 Wednesday to allow Blue Cross/Blue Shield to run an insurance plan in the Office of Group Benefits that covers more than 62,000 employees and their dependents. The outsourcing will take effect Jan. 1.

The move will eliminate 177 state jobs — 121 of which are currently filled.

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Environment
3:08 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Stagnant swamp water causes odor in Bayou Manchac

State officials say a stinky smell reported from Bayou Manchac last week stems from stagnant swamp water in Spanish Lake that heavy rains pushed into the bayou.

Rodney Mallett, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, tells The Advocate in an email that inspectors reached that conclusion by tracking the flow of the water, visual observations and some field parameters.

Mallett said the stagnated water washed through Alligator Bayou to Bayou Manchac.

DEQ officials say the same phenomenon has occurred a few times a year for the past three to four years.

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Music Licensing Lawsuit
2:29 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

BMI sues Slidell bar over licensing fee

A Slidell bar accused of playing songs without paying a standard music licensing is being sued for copyright infringement.

The Times-Picayune reports Broadcast Music Inc., a nonprofit composers' rights organization, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans against Tooloula's Bar.

Federal law mandates that writers and publishers of music are entitled to be paid for the public performance of their music. Bars and other businesses usually pay an annual fee to groups such as BMI for a blanket license to their songs.

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Latest News
2:26 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Doctors: Father competent to stand trial in Thibodaux decapitation

Count documents show doctors believe a Thibodaux man accused of decapitating his disabled 7-year-old son nearly a year ago is competent to stand trial.

The Courier reports doctors have been treating Jeremiah Wright at the Feliciana Forensic Facility in Jackson for the past nine months.

Wright is accused of the Aug. 14 first-degree murder of Jori Lirette, who had cerebral palsy. Jori used a wheelchair and had to be fed through a tube.

A competency hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Crime
2:23 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Guilty pleas entered on 'Lil Boosie' drug charges

A friend of imprisoned rapper Torence "Lil Boosie" Hatch and a former Dixon Correctional Institute guard have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to smuggle drugs into Dixon for Hatch while he was jailed there.

As part of negotiated plea agreements, state District Judge Mike Erwin put Walnita Decuir on active supervised probation for five years and Joshua Wilson on unsupervised probation for six months.

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