The Atchafalaya Basinkeeper organization and several other concerned citizen groups are making good on their promise to deliver swift legal action against the St. Martin Parish School Board and Good Hope Inc. for plans to log several acresof cypress-tupelo trees in Section 16 of the Atchafalaya Basin.
A notice of intent to file suit has been delivered to Good Hope Inc. President and CEO Vidal Davis, St. Martin Parish School Board President James Blanchard and Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater on behalf of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association–West, Sierra Club Delta Chapter and the Gulf Restoration Network. The notice was delivered by the collective citizen groups' counsel, Machelle Lee Hall of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
“This Notice of Intent is critical to stopping the cypress logging that is about to spread like wildfire all over the Basin,” says Dean Wilson of the nonprofit Atchafalaya Basinkeeper organization in an email sent with the official notice. “At a time when the state of Louisiana is asking for billions of dollars for wetland protection and coastal restoration, the state should be showing the nation that it is taking very seriously the protection of its wetlands and should be taking the lead on finding ways to stop the demise of the Atchafalaya's cypress forests.”
The notice cites violations under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a) for any illegal discharges of pollutants and fill material into the basin as a result of the logging process and building of access roads; the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1540(g)(1)(A), as the logging would encroach upon a critical habitat for the endangered Louisiana Black Bear. The notice also alleges a violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 41:1009, which prohibits cypress logging on state-owned water bottom land.
Relief sought from the groups include $37,500 dollars for each day of violation of the Clean Water Act; an injunction issued from a federal district court to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act; and an injunction to stop the sale and cutting of the cypress trees on state-owned water bottoms.
“Atchafalaya Basinkeeper will do anything within our power to stop the craziness of forever destroying our cypress forests for mulch,” declares Wilson. “It is as insane as making gravel out of the coliseum in Rome or selling Picassos as recycled paper.”
MAY 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.