louisiana-news

Another kid shot in his own home.

KSLA: A 3-year-old boy is at LSU Hospital after being shot with a .22 rifle in a North Bossier Parish home Monday afternoon.

Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Bill Davis says deputies were dispatched around 6 p.m. to the home on Scarborough Road off of Butler Hill Road in Benton.

Deputies believe it was an accident that happened when the rifle was knocked over by a sliding glass door after it was bumped by another child.

This keeps happening over and over and over, with sickening regularity. But of course, we shouldn’t do anything about it, because… Well, I’m not really all that clear on the because. Because some people are too fucking stupid to understand cause and effect, I guess.

But good thing the family had that rifle handy, huh? Otherwise, some criminal might’ve busted in and hurt someone in the family. Yes indeedy-doo, a bullet hole in your toddler is really a small price to pay in exchange for keeping your family safe.

[photo by MSVG]

The Louisiana House yesterday voted to uphold an unconstitutional state ban on sodomy — essentially political jargon for gay sex — as part of its “crimes against nature” law. 

In Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy bans are unconstitutional. But a handful of states, including Louisiana, refuse to change their anti-sodomy laws. While the statute technically can’t be used as a basis to arrest people, Louisiana deputies have reportedly made sodomy-related arrests recently, inciting a lawmaker to try to repeal it. 

Against all logic or reason, on Tuesday, the state House voted 66-27 to keep the anti-sodomy law in place. 

In a letter urging Louisiana lawmakers to reject the proposal, the influential Christian lobbying organization wrote, “Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy, and immoral.”

In a hearing earlier this month, Bill Smith, a member of the Louisiana Family Forum, told committee members that anti-sodomy laws save the lives of gay people by decreasing their exposure to HIV.

"I have homosexuals in my family. I’m here out of love and concern for the health of these people," Smith said in April. “The fact is this opens up ways for them to really kill themselves.”

I want to scream and cry and throw things. 

The Real True Detective?

Ten years ago, the town of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was traumatized when a local church’s secret Satan worship, ritualized child molestation, and animal sacrifices came to light. Rust Cohle may be a fictional character, and time may not really be a flat circle, but that sounds an awful lot like the events of the first season of HBO’s hit True Detective. In this episode of our brand-new series The Real, we went down to Ponchatoula to meet Stuart Murphy and Tom Tedder, two law enforcement officials who helped put these terrible, true events in Ponchatoula’s rearview mirror.

Watch the documentary

One in 86 adults—double the national average—ends up behind bars in the Pelican State. That is five times higher than Iran, and 13 times more than China.

Louisiana has created a system more efficient and despondent than state run prisons or regular privatization. The costs are low, profits high and human life is a commodity that allows the market to keep growing.

A state judge in Louisiana has ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Edward Rubin of the 15th Judicial District Court in Louisiana ruled that state law prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, violating the due process and equal protection clauses of 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the full faith and credit clause. 

The news comes weeks after District Judge Martin Feldman upheld the Louisiana Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage in an error-riddled decision. Feldman’s decision was a sudden monkey wrench following 21 consecutive federal rulings against banning gay marriage, a previously unbroken streak since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. 

HELL YEAH, Louisiana. 

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WELCOME TO JAZZLAND - NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

In August of 2009, Ray Nagin, then mayor of New Orleans, announced that kids’ entertainment channel Nickelodeon signed a deal to redevelop Six Flags of New Orleans into the TV channel’s first stand-alone theme park.  

"This is huge," he said. "I don’t know what we could have done better… I don’t know if we could have found a better partner. Anyone who owns land in New Orleans east is probably sitting pretty good right now."

In the mid-’90s, the city of New Orleans took out loans totaling $25.3 million dollar from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to construct the park. Jazzland, its original moniker, opened with much fanfare in 2000. It only operated for two seasons before filing for bankruptcy. A few years later, desperate to find a company to take over operations, the city added on some $15 million in additional loans to help finance Six Flags’ takeover. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left the park stewing in 12 feet of floodwaters for two weeks. Abandoned and decaying, the park sits in the marshes of New Orleans East, the tops of its roller coasters visible for miles.

The Nickelodeon deal required an initial investment of $165 million dollars. Financing hinged on capturing Gulf Opportunity Zone Bonds (GO Zone Bonds), a federal program that offered low interest rates to businesses investing in storm damaged areas of New Orleans. Despite the endorsement of the city’s Industrial Development Board, the bonds never came through, and the developers did not secure other financing options. Nickelodeon dropped the project within a few months.

Other discarded plans include everything from a baseball complex to a water park. The most recent redevelopment scheme was an upscale outlet mall, complete with a boardwalk where patrons could ride on the remaining roller coasters. Approved by the city in March of 2012, the $40 million dollar mall would be largely paid for with tax increment financing (TIF). TIF is a form of public-private financing where the up-front development costs are subsidized by public entities, creating long term municipal debt. This debt is then paid for by the anticipated tax revenues generated by the redevelopment once it reenters commercial activity. The majority of the sales taxes and increased property taxes would go towards debt repayment rather than city or state coffers.

At a public meeting debuting plans for the mall, some residents pushed back on using TIF dollars. According to the Times Picayune, David Garcia, a lead developer of the project, responded that anyone claiming to be able to redevelop Jazzland without TIF was “lacking in either expertise or honesty.” The site is too damaged and risky for developers to be willing to wholly finance any project themselves, he added. Ultimately, the debate was moot. The plans were dead a year later. The city would instead support building an outlet mall on the Mississippi River, less than half a mile from the French Quarter and 17 miles from Jazzland.

Before the storm, Jazzland was an economic loss for the city. Now it’s an economic drain, siphoning funds without even providing jobs. Currently, New Orleans pays $1 million dollars annually on the original construction loan. Meanwhile, city funding for children’s athletics, the library, and substance abuse counselors gets slashed due to a protracted budget crisis.

The arguments for redevelopment mirror the arguments for building such a monument in the first place—we need jobs, we need development in the East. But if it’s true what David Garcia said—that rebuilding Jazzland necessarily means leveraging TIF dollars, mushrooming municipal debt and earmarking taxes away from public ledgers—then it seems like a poor bet for anyone to make, especially for the city. Redevelopment could mean New Orleans over-extends itself financially again. Another natural disaster or bankruptcy would leave the city with a bigger annual debt payment, and kick off another round of redevelopment roulette, with firms trotting out new proposals. No matter what glittering designs the plans depict, though, the promises will be the same: jobs, tourist dollars, and higher property taxes for everyone in the East. The question is whether or not low wage jobs, which dominate the labor economy of shopping malls and theme parks, are worth the price of admission.

* * *

Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. Currently, she is working with partner Darin Acosta on The Airline is a Very Long Road—an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.

Medical marijuana will be considered by the Louisiana Legislature again

(NOLA) Medical marijuana will be back on the table during the Louisiana Legislature’s spring lawmaking session.

Rep. Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge, has pre-filed a bill that would allow for marijuana to be dispensed and distributed for medical purposes.

"I think the state needs to move its discussion on this. The polls show people 80 percent in favor it," he said.

The Legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1991, but  the current law does not allow for the legal dispensing of the drug. Doctors can legally prescribe it, patients can legally use it, but there is no way to acquire it. Honore’s bill would address the lack of a middle man.

A former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty Tuesday to destroying evidence in the aftermath of the deadly rig explosion that spawned BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anthony Badalamenti, 62, faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence. His sentencing by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey is set for Jan. 21.

Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., BP’s cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.

Last month, a federal judge accepted a separate plea agreement calling for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti’s conduct. Halliburton also agreed to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.

The April 20, 2010, rig explosion killed 11 workers and led to America’s worst offshore oil spill.

See more at: Rigzone

US: Louisiana Fuels HIV Epidemic

Louisiana state laws and practices that prohibit access to sterile syringes and criminalize sex work contribute to an uncontrolled HIV epidemic and an extremely high AIDS death rate. The AIDS death rate in Louisiana is more than double the US average. New Orleans police regularly interfere with sex workers who carry condoms, putting them and their clients at risk of HIV.

“The HIV epidemic in New Orleans is one of the worst in the US, and proven strategies for addressing it are being ignored,” said Megan McLemore, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch and the report’s author. “People who use drugs can’t get clean needles, and police are confiscating condoms from sex workers and those suspected of sex work, such as transgender women.”

Photo: An outreach team from Unity Of Greater New Orleans counsels a homeless man on housing options, January 2011.

© 2011 AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Louisiana Senate committee kills bill making marijuana possession misdemeanor

(NOLA) After more than three hours of testimony that included personal offenses, scripture readings and recidivism statistics, a Louisiana Senate Committee killed a bill on Tuesday (April 22) that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession. The bill, its sponsors argued, would be a step toward meaningful sentencing reform that could generate more than $20 million in savings a year. 

Members of Senate Judiciary C Committee had an opportunity to adopt an amendment toSenate Bill 323 that would keep Louisiana’s marijuana possession law — among the toughest in the country — the same with the exception of an added measure that would make possession of less than an ounce, under any circumstances, a misdemeanor. Had the same senators who voted later to shelve the bill not blocked the amendment, those convicted in Louisiana one or more times of possessing less than an ounce of pot would face a maximum $500 fine and six months in jail. The amendment and the bill, however, were both killed by a 4-3 vote.

Read more

The southern United States has the fastest-growing HIV epidemic and the largest number of people dying of AIDS of any region in the country. Louisiana’s two largest cities, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, have the second and third-highest rates of new HIV infection in the nation. In New Orleans, 40 percent of people with HIV are not receiving treatment.

In celebration of DOMA’s repeal and Pride month, LGBT activists in Lafayette, Louisiana recently hoisted a rainbow flag as part of a celebration in a local park. 

A Louisiana citizen and Korean War veteran named Ray Green noticed a picture of the flag in the newspaper, became horribly offended, and wrote about it to Andy Noquin, a City-Parish councilman. Now Noquin is drafting legislation to outlaw flying the rainbow flag (and any other non-government flag) in a public venue. 

Opponents of the proposed ordinance say no disrespect was intended, and were quick to point out that there are thousands of gay veterans who have fought for their country as well.

Green told the paper that while he is not “against the gays,” he is opposed to “the act itself.”

There already exists a firm set of federal laws that govern the flying of the American flag on public property, including a provision that says no flag may fly higher than the American flag on the same property. Organizers of the Pride in the Park event say that no American flags were removed while hoisting their own flag.

Is this really necessary? Why can’t we all just be friends?