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'Inappropriate influence': Consumer group seeks to ban campaign contributions by utility companies to regulatory authorities

Louisiana should follow the example of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia by prohibiting the campaign contributions that utility companies give the elected officials who regulate their industries, the Alliance for Affordable Energy argued in a report on ethics to be released Tuesday. “What we found is that this is not a public process. It’s an inappropriate influence,” said… Continue reading →

Blake Shelton, Superfest delayed by severe rains, but classy, country-home show warms Tiger Stadium crowd

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Country music star Blake Shelton closes out the 2015 Bayou Country Superfest, Sunday, May 24, 2015, on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Blake Shelton, country singing star and coach for TV’s “The Voice,” felt some pressure Sunday night in Tiger Stadium. Shelton, Bayou Country Superfest’s Sunday night headliner, took the stage 30 minutes after his scheduled starting time. Earlier, he’d watched his singing star wife, Miranda Lambert, perform during a rainstorm that drenched Tiger Stadium. Wind and… Continue reading →

Smoke shop owner arrested, accused of making, selling synthetic marijuana

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies on Sunday arrested the owner of Paradise Smoke Shop on Florida Boulevard and accused him of creating a synthetic marijuana drug lab at the store and selling the product to his customers. Chad Schaffer, 49, was arrested on counts of creation/operation of a drug lab and distribution/manufacturing of Schedule… Continue reading →

Lafayette Sheriff’s Office: Work release program prepares inmates ‘for life after jail’

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Colby Turner removes a tire form a large truck Thursday afternoon at Stelly's Auto and Truck repair in upper Lafayette. Turner worked at Stelly's before his incarceration, so it was natural for him to work there when he enrolled in the Transitional Release Program offered by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office.

Lafayette Parish’s effort to prepare convicted felons for life after jail has come a long way since Sheriff Mike Neustrom started the Transitional Work Program 11 years ago. Contrast July 2004 when one inmate with time left on his jail sentence entered the work-release program to today’s 98 participants. Eight of them are women.… Continue reading →

Whistleblower case at Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center leads to one arrest and one lawsuit

A secretary at the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center who thought her bosses had pegged her as a whistleblower and planned to fire her now faces prosecution for recording her supervisor’s conversations without his consent. Meanwhile, the actual whistleblower has sued the Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission, which oversees the detention center, claiming management forced her to… Continue reading →

Potential LSU-Tulane matchup in regionals would mean Alex Box Stadium 'would be rocking'

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri applauds with his players after seeing their bracket and the bracket they're paired with during the NCAA Baseball Selection Show, Monday, May 25, 2015, in the Champions Club at LSU's Alex Box Stadium.

LSU plays Patriot League champion Lehigh at 3 p.m. Friday before Tulane and UNC-Wilmington meet at 7 p.m. The winners meet Saturday night. Continue reading →

Photos: Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton are big hits at Bayou Country Superfest as storms soak acts on final day

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Country music star Blake Shelton closes out the 2015 Bayou Country Superfest, Sunday, May 24, 2015, on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Images from Sunday’s Bayou Country Superfest. Featured artists were Cassadee Pope, David Nail, Kip Moore, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton. During Lambert's set, heavy rains moved into the Baton Rouge area forcing a delay in the event. However, Blake Shelton returned after the rain cleared and finished out the music fest.… Continue reading →

'In the middle of the night, it sounds like hundreds' of coyotes, resident says of growing problem in Baton Rouge neighborhood

Photo provided by Tammy Hartley -- A coyote sits in a field near Iberville Terrace subdivision on May 10. Homeowners associations such as Iberville Terrace, Briarcliff and Oak Hills subdivisions are concerned about a number of coyotes that have been seen in the area.

A coyote’s howls on the prairie of a Western movie can help set the atmosphere as much as a Saguaro cactus or desert mountains, but to hear the animal’s call in an urban backyard such as a Baton Rouge subdivision can be unnerving. Homeowners in Iberville Terrace subdivision near Bluebonnet Boulevard and Perkins Road… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bobby Jindal-bashing has got to stop (a sarcastic take, of course)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Time has come to stop the constant Jindal-bashing on the editorial pages. Readers must be growing weary of all the attacks on our esteemed governor’s record, and the pooh-poohing of his presidential prospects. There is a long way to go yet, and we can’t keep sounding the same note. And we can’t just ignore Jindal,… Continue reading →

Jambalaya Champion of the World is 23-year-old Lee Elisar; youngest ever to claim the ‘Golden Paddle’

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- A close-up shot of the Gonzales Jambalaya champions, Lee and Kirk Elisar's pot of Jambalaya as it cooks at the early stages of the competition.

Usually, the hardest part of cooking the perfect pot of jambalaya is getting the rice right — not undercooked, but also not too greasy or too wet. On Sunday, as competitors at Gonzales’ Jambalaya Festival were cooking huge batches of the Cajun rice dish over wood fires, they faced another challenge: rain. “The wood has been terrible… Continue reading →

LSU softball coach Beth Torina: 'This team's goal isn't just to get to College World Series...the goal is to win it'

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU relief pitcher Carley Hoover (21) is hugged by catcher Kellsi Kloss (77) after the final out in LSU's 10-5 win over Arizona in the NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional Sunday in Tiger Park. The win gave LSU the Super Regional series and propels them into the Women's College World Series Thursday in Oklahoma City. Joining the reverie, left is Sandra Simmons (3).

It’s what Sandra Simmons said she has worked her whole life for. It’s what Allie Walljasper said perfectly illustrates the team’s “Power of One” motto. And it’s what Beth Torina has molded her program to expect, rather than aspire to. It’s Oklahoma City. With bats resembling those that powered it… Continue reading →

Diocese of Baton Rouge transfers three priests, assigns three deacons new positions; parishioners at Christ the King, St. Aloysius to see fresh faces

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Bishop Robert Muench blesses palm fronds with Holy Water as he observes a Palm Sunday ceremony Sunday morning before he and the congregation walk back to the Cathedral for Palm Sunday Mass carrying palm fronds.

Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench will transfer three priests and assign three deacons positions once they are ordained priests starting July 1, the diocese announced over the weekend. Rev. Joshua D. Johnson, 27, current parochial vicar at Christ the King Parish in Baton Rouge will become parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge. Serving as the… Continue reading →

A longtime smoker, Rep. Harold Ritchie’s long fight for higher cigarette taxes could succeed this year

Advocate Photo by TYLER BRIDGES -- State Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, has been pushing for higher state taxes on cigarettes for five years. This year he likely will succeed with a bill that would increase taxes by 32 cents per pack.

Harold Ritchie had unfinished business when he climbed into his 2001 Nissan truck in April and drove from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge to begin this year’s legislative session. It’s nearly a two-hour drive, and it gave Ritchie plenty of time to think. For the previous five years, the Democratic state representative had been on a quest… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man wounded in shootout with St. James deputies

A Baton Rouge man was injured in a shootout with deputies in St. James Parish early Sunday morning, the St. James Sheriff’s Office said. Ron Christopher Youngblood, 45, is in “guarded condition” at a hospital after he was shot once by a deputy, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said in a news release Sunday.… Continue reading →

Lafayette native honors first ‘King of Zydeco’ Clifton Chenier by writing book about the originator of Zydeco

Photo provided by Louisiana Folk Roots/Todd Mouton -- Record by zydeco legend Clifton Chenier

Lafayette native Todd Mouton came to the realization 20 years ago that there had never been a book written about the “King of Zydeco,” Clifton Chenier, and it was a problem he wanted to rectify. This fall, his book will finally be published. For Mouton, executive director of Louisiana Folk Roots, the… Continue reading →

Ten suspected of DWI from Saturday to Sunday in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least 10 people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Duman Calix, 28, 6875 Harry Drive, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, driver’s license required/expired… Continue reading →

Sue Bernie, East Baton Rouge sex crimes prosecutor, retires after 30 years of representing victims of sexual abuse

Retiring East Baton Rouge Parish sex crimes prosecutor Sue Bernie tears up when she reflects on her more than three-decade career of seeking justice for victims of sexual and physical assault and on the plaque that hangs just inside her office. It reads: “A hundred years from now … it will not matter what my bank account… Continue reading →

Crime Blotter for Acadiana

A man suspected of being impaired as he drove on the wrong side of the road early Sunday struck an SUV, killing the driver, an 18-year-old Loreauville High School graduate, the Louisiana State Police said. Jordan Prince, 18, of Loreauville, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Iberia Parish coroner, according to a State Police… Continue reading →

Low attendance doesn’t slow Kenny Chesney’s high energy show on Day 1 of Bayou Country Superfest

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Kenny Chesney performs at Bayou Country Superfest in Tiger Stadium Saturday, May 24, 2015.

Saturday’s attendance at day one of Bayou Country Superfest was noticeably smaller than Friday’s seat-filling takeover of Tiger Stadium by Taylor Swift fans. A lineup featuring five country music acts, including headliner Kenny Chesney and country-rapper Colt Ford, couldn’t outdraw Swift. The 25-year-old star officially left country music last year with the release of her… Continue reading →

Bayou Country Superfest is a family affair for locals, inside Tiger Stadium and at nearby tailgate parties

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Country music fan Laura Drury of West Baton Rouge jokes around with cardboard cutouts of Blake Shelton, left, and Brantley Gilbert in the photobooth during Bayou Country Superfest's Fan Fest, Saturday, May 23, 2015, at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

The cowboy boot- and hat-clad crowds have been coming to Tiger Stadium for the past six Memorial Day weekends for Bayou Country Superfest — an event often touted since its 2010 inception as an economic driver that fills up local hotels with people from nearly every other state and some foreign countries.… Continue reading →

Lafayette man shot dead on East Foch Street

A Lafayette man was found deceased in a vehicle Sunday morning in Lafayette, dead of a single gunshot wound, according to a police news release. Scotty Alfred, 51, was discovered dead around 6 a.m. sitting in a four-door automobile in the 300 block of East Foch Street, according to the statement from Lafayette Police… Continue reading →

Car crash kills recent Loreauville High School graduate

. A three vehicle car crash on US 90 near LA 14 in Iberia Parish killed an 18-year-old man and left others injured early Sunday morning, according to a Louisiana State Police release. Recent Loreauville High School graduate Jordan Prince, 18, of Loreauville, Louisiana died on the scene, according to the release.… Continue reading →

Cyclist dies in hit-and-run on Airline Highway

A cyclist died after being struck in a hit-and-run collision Saturday night on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, police said. Fredrick Harris, 49, of 3942 W. Brookstown Drive, was crossing the roadway on a bicycle in the 6900 block of Airline Highway around 7:30 p.m., said Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola in… Continue reading →

As voucher growth slows, state shifts focus to tax rebates to boost private school options

Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, is shown in this April 2013 Advocate file photo.

Louisiana spent more than $40 million this year on private school tuition vouchers for low-income children, yet still turned away 4,000 applicants. Despite the demand — and the fact that vouchers are a policy priority for Gov. Bobby Jindal — the program isn’t expected to grow for the next school year. In response, t he… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge government hope blight court will help fix problem properties

For more than a year, Victor Crain’s home has been an eyesore for his neighbors on May Belle Court — an otherwise well-kept neighborhood street where almost all of the yards feature manicured flower beds and freshly mowed lawns. But Crain’s property was flooded with garbage bags and debris. His backyard was so overloaded with junk that… Continue reading →

LSU baseball's ace Alex Lange has his groove back

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY-- Alex Lange pitches as LSU faces Florida in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. Saturday, May 23, 2015.

Alex Lange doesn’t often show emotion when pitching. He’s quiet, stoic and relaxed. There are no huge fist pumps, no celebratory punches, no loud roars. There are leg kicks, though – at least one. Moments after Lange’s final pitch Saturday left his hand, the freshman’s left leg kicked high into the air in a brief celebratory outburst for the… Continue reading →

As voucher growth slows, state shifts focus to tax rebates to boost private school options

Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, is shown in this April 2013 Advocate file photo.

Louisiana spent more than $40 million this year on private school tuition vouchers for low-income children, yet still turned away 4,000 applicants. Despite the demand — and the fact that vouchers are a policy priority for Gov. Bobby Jindal — the program isn’t expected to grow for the next school year. In response, t he… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Rare early exit from the SEC tournament could work in the LSU Tigers’ favor

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY-- Head coach Paul Mainieri and Andy Cannizaro talk with Kade Scivicque before he goes up to bat as LSU faces Florida in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. Saturday, May 23, 2015.

With the huge crowd at the Hoover Met still abuzz from the game that just ended, a member of the grounds crew took a shovel to the letters “LSU” painted on the path between the Tigers’ dugout and home plate. For the first time since 2012, they won’t… Continue reading →

Higher education bills are in the home stretch; legislation to slim TOPS costs on deck

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue R-Mandeville, left,  Phyllis Taylor, whose late husband founded the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, right, spoke in March in favor of legislation designed to better control costs of the popular scholarship program. Donahue and Appel sponsored Senate Bill 48, which the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation helped draft, that would set an amount that would cover tuition for each qualified student annually, but allow the Legislature to vote on whether to raise the amount of the TOPS award each year.

When higher education leaders started gearing up for the legislative session, they had a short list of requests. First and foremost, they wanted to be spared from potentially devastating cuts to state funding for universities and colleges. As the Legislature continues its work on the budget, that threat appears to have lessened somewhat. The rest… Continue reading →