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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pivots on tax credits, marking a big change in philosophy


After years of hewing zealously to a promise never to approve a tax increase — a pledge that he believes also prevents the elimination of any state tax breaks — Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday unveiled a budget plan for the coming year that trims tax credit programs by a whopping $526 million.… Continue reading →

Bad timing: Scandals, criticism erupt around Louisiana’s film credit program

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints cheerleaders the Saintsations dance on the field in a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. A reality TV show produced about the Saintsations by Horizon Entertainment got $1 million in state film tax credits.

The timing couldn’t be much worse for supporters of Louisiana’s film industry. As the state stares down a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, one due in part to the spiraling cost of corporate giveaways, a fresh wave of scandals has erupted around the film program, giving new ammunition to critics at a moment… Continue reading →

Million-dollar mansion club in New Orleans is booming, and a few key reasons might explain why

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- This home at 401 Iona St. in Metairie sold for $2.6 million.

Eleanor Farnsworth specializes in high-end real estate. She represents the buyers and sellers of homes in some of the ritziest parts of the New Orleans area. But even she is surprised by the current market for upper-echelon homes. “I haven’t seen this type of demand… Continue reading →

Check it out: New Orleans opens Parisite Skate Park -- the first public skate park in city’s history

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Christian Dufrene, 17, of Lafayette flys over a jump during the opening of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commissions Parisite Skatepark Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in New Orleans. 'We don't have anything like this in Lafayette,' said Dufrene, who drove in for the opening. The 18,000-square-foot park, under an elevated section of Interstate 610 at Paris Avenue and Pleasure Avenue, features concrete and wood ramps, rails and jumps common to skateparks. The project is the result of a collaboration between the City of New Orleans, NORDC, Spohn Ranch Skateparks, Tulane City Center, and Transitional Spaces, a nonprofit formed by local skateboarders.

Hundreds of skaters, New Orleans officials and curious onlookers came together Saturday to celebrate the opening of the city’s first public skate park, an 18,000-square-foot space under the Interstate 610 overpass in Gentilly. Located at the intersection of Paris Avenue and Pleasure Street, Parisite Skate Park was the vision of Transitional Spaces, a nonprofit formed by… Continue reading →

Abortion clinic in New Orleans sees construction restart, but protests continue; ‘God hates this project,’ one pastor says

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Protesters lined up outside the site of the new Planned Parenthood building on South Claiborne in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The site has resumed construction on Tuesday, after a year of delay.

Planned Parenthood has resumed work on a controversial new clinic in New Orleans, eight months after pressure from the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and anti-abortion protesters shut down construction. Planned Parenthood expected to have the clinic open for business by now, but only the bare foundation has been laid so far after the archdiocese succeeded… Continue reading →

Fishermen in coastal New Orleans parishes identify a new safe harbor for hurricanes, but there’s a catch

Commercial fishermen in the coastal parishes south of New Orleans have identified a place to serve as a safe harbor for their boats during hurricanes, though they probably will have to spend at least one more hurricane season with no officially authorized place to go when a storm churns its way up from the Gulf of Mexico.… Continue reading →

New Orleans-area crime news: Offender tampers with ankle bracelet; woman indicted over false Road Home documents

A New Orleans woman was indicted Thursday for allegedly submitting false documents to the Louisiana Road Home Program, a federally funded agency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Deborah Fortner, 52, applied for a Road Home grant to renovate her home after Hurricane Katrina, and in 2007, she was awarded more than $97,000. In… Continue reading →

Man sought in fatal shooting near New Orleans Police headquarters arrested Saturday, called police to complain he was being followed

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Police work the scene of a murder on the Broad Street overpass near police headquarters Friday, February 27, 2015.

Authorities have arrested an apparently mentally disturbed man accused of a brazen shooting spree Friday in which he fatally shot a friend, dumped the corpse in the middle of South Broad Street, shot another man outside the Orleans Parish Criminal District Courthouse and opened fire on a third victim blocks away in what police described as a “road… Continue reading →

Report: Three months after brutal beating, California lawyer returns to 'wonderful' New Orleans

Photo provided by Bill Callaham -- California lawyer Bill Callaham reportedly returned to New Orleans on Friday night, just three months after he was brutally attacked by three men in the city.

A brutal attack by three men in New Orleans this past December can't keep California lawyer Bill Callaham away from Louisiana. According to a WWL-TV report, Callaham returned to New Orleans on Friday night for the first time since that incident to celebrate with friends and family. "So many people ask me, why would… Continue reading →

New Orleans man found guilty in fatal hit-and-run of boy

Arthur Toledano

A New Orleans hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a 6-year-old boy last year in Gentilly was found guilty of manslaughter Friday in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. Arthur Toledano, 23, faces between 10 and 40 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday before Judge Dennis Waldron. The judge… Continue reading →

Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s appeal to be heard Tuesday

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard arrives for sentencing  in federal court in New Orleans in 2013. Broussard is trying to get his guilty verdict set aside based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s bid to get his 2012 guilty plea on federal corruption charges thrown out will go before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Broussard, who is serving a 46-month sentence in a Florida prison, contends the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevented his lawyer from effectively representing him by keeping… Continue reading →

One man killed, another injured in shootings near New Orleans Police Department headquarters

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Police work the scene of a murder on the Broad Street overpass near police headquarters Friday, February 27, 2015.

Update: New Orleans Police have made an arrest in this case. A man was shot to death Friday afternoon near the New Orleans Police Department headquarters on South Broad Street. A body could be seen lying in the middle of the Broad Street overpass as law enforcement officials rushed to the scene about 2:30 p.m. Police… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: No-Spin Zone?

Is the dizzying array of misinformation coming from Bill O’Reilly catching up with him? Follow this link to the cartoon.… Continue reading →

WWL-TV report: Former Perlis executive pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former executive with a popular Magazine Street clothing store pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling nearly $3 million from his employer over the course of almost two decades. Michael Sapera, longtime chief financial officer of Perlis Clothing on Magazine Street, pleaded guilty as charged to four felony counts, including embezzlement, identity theft and two counts of… Continue reading →

WWL-TV report: Video evidence of possible rape at Bywater club no longer exists, NOPD says

Video surveillance footage that could have offered police key evidence in a high-profile rape investigation cannot be viewed because the footage was erased and recorded over, police told WWL-TV on Thursday. The station did a series of stories last year about Maria Treme, a woman who said she was drugged and raped at the Country Club,… Continue reading →

Armed robbery results in stabbing of man, and other area crime news

Brett Flower and Krysten Verdin

A 52-year-old man was robbed by three men and stabbed Wednesday evening in the 7th Ward, New Orleans police said. The man was reported in critical condition at Interim LSU Hospital. Three men came up to the victim at North Claiborne Avenue and Annette Street about… Continue reading →

Possible pot of cash for more state troopers: uncashed lottery tickets

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Newly graduated police officers Aundeah Kearney and Roger Benson stand in ranks Friday, December 5, 2014 at Dillard University before a graduation ceremony. 26 members of NOPD Recruit Class #170 are now officers.

With the crime rate on a worrying trajectory in New Orleans, state Rep. Helena Moreno thinks she has found a way to pay to get more cops on the streets. And she thinks she can do it without raising taxes or taking money from other vital budget priorities. Moreno, D-New Orleans, wants to draft… Continue reading →

Lafitte Greenway spurring development plans in Mid-City

Rendering provided by Friends of Lafitte Cooridor -- One of the alternatves for the Lafitte Greenway project includes a festive community space at the intersection of Bayou St. John and the Greenway.

As the $9 million Lafitte Greenway project nears completion, details are emerging about a handful of new developments being proposed near the 3-mile bicycle and pedestrian path, which stretches from the edge of the French Quarter to Mid-City. A new strip mall anchored by a CVS pharmacy is slated for the site of the… Continue reading →

Suspect wounded during raid by 3 New Orleans law enforcement agencies

Steven Ellis

Law enforcement officers fired on a man inside his home in the 7th Ward early Thursday while executing a search warrant for drugs, according to New Orleans police. About 12:30 a.m., Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies, along with members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, raided the home in the 2400 block of Pauger Street.… Continue reading →

Tom Benson’s request for an expedited appeal is denied in legal battle over Texas trust

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson at a luncheon for the  Superbowl Host Committee  Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at the Superdome.

A panel of appeals judges in Texas has rejected Tom Benson’s request for an expedited review of a lower court’s decision to temporarily oust the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner as steward of a trust established for the benefit of his estranged daughter. Benson’s lawyers, in a motion filed Monday, had asked the Texas… Continue reading →

FBI confirms formal investigation into case of Jefferson Parish deputy repeatedly punching high school student in face

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Brady Becker, right, listens as his attorney David Belfield speaks outside the Becker  home in Reserve. Becker still shows the bruises from his arrest last Friday night by an undercover JPSO detective.

The attorney for Brady Becker, a high-school student punched in the face repeatedly by a plainclothes deputy in Jefferson Parish, said Thursday that he has been contacted by an agent in the FBI’s New Orleans field office in connection with Becker’s violent arrest this month. Continue reading →

WWL-TV report: Arrest warrant finally issued for burglary at bail bonds office

More than two months after bail bondsman Steve Adams and his employees said they suspected an inside job following their discovery of a burglary, missing cash and fraudulently cashed checks, New Orleans police finally have agreed with them. The NOPD said Wednesday that an arrest warrant was issued recently for Jeffrey Stokes, accusing him of being… Continue reading →

Home prices rise for third year in a row in the New Orleans area

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A house for sale last year in the sought-after Mid-City neighborhood.

The cost of buying a home in the New Orleans area climbed for the third year in a row in 2014. And it was not just the city, but the suburbs as well, that saw gains. Meanwhile, in the city proper, the latest figures showed that the market has gotten so hot in more desirable neighborhoods that… Continue reading →

Man arrested in St. Claude Avenue homicide, and other area crime news

Advocate staff photo byMATTHEW HINTON --- A 39-year-old man was found shot to death inside a New Orleans East home on Wednesday afternoon.

After finding the alleged murder weapon in a detergent box, New Orleans police arrested a 72-year-old man Wednesday in connection with a Saturday homicide at St. Claude Avenue and Pauger Street. Donald “Bilal” Wiliams was booked on a second degree murder count. Police… Continue reading →

WWL-TV report: Many officers supposedly transferred to street duty didn’t get there

Almost from the moment two months ago when New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison announced the transfer of 22 officers from desk or support jobs to street patrol duty, the impact of the move was blunted. Civil District Court judges and the district attorney complained about losing officers dedicated to their offices, and critics questioned if… Continue reading →

Monitors: Despite progress, risk of harm to OPP inmates still ‘extremely high’

Violence reigns, as ever, at Orleans Parish Prison, and inmates still face “extremely high” risks of harm, but Sheriff Marlin Gusman has made incremental headway in remedying the substandard state of the lockup that has festered for decades. That sobering, if familiar, assessment formed the crux of a 140-page report published Wednesday by a team of… Continue reading →

Loyola announces academic reorganization

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- Graduates enter the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at the beginning of the Loyola University graduation ceremony last spring. Loyola announced a restructuring of its internal colleges Wednesday.

In its second major shake-up since Hurricane Katrina, Loyola University announced Wednesday that it will reshuffle its academic programs as part of a long-range plan aimed at coping with the university’s flagging enrollment and its multimillion-dollar deficit. The new plan scraps a school formed during Loyola’s last, controversial restructuring in 2006, splitting its departments… Continue reading →

Trial begins for 2011 shooting named by prosecuter as 'Valentine's Day Massacre'

Thaddeus Ross.

The trial of Thaddeus Ross in a 2011 shooting that left one person dead and four — including a 3-month-old girl — injured began Wednesday with sparring over the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, a man who is himself accused of attempted murder in a separate case. Ross, who faces a second-degree murder charge, was… Continue reading →

Residents’ satisfaction with NOPD drops sharply

Fueled by a recent surge in violent crime, residents’ perception of the New Orleans Police Department has fallen precipitously in the past year, with the dissatisfaction crossing racial and geographical boundaries. The latest twice-yearly survey, published Wednesday by the New Orleans Crime Coalition, found that only 48 percent of residents said they are satisfied… Continue reading →

Two New Orleans-area lawmakers draft legislation to rein in film tax credit program; critics say proposals are too timid

Louisiana state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, left, and state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans

In an effort to tackle the skyrocketing costs of one of Louisiana’s most high-profile giveaway programs, two New Orleans-area lawmakers have drafted legislation that would cap costs and eliminate certain expenses now subsidized under the state’s generous film tax credit program. The biggest changes would be setting a $300 million limit on the program’s annual… Continue reading →

Doctors chosen for Tom Benson mental evaluation, but judge orders that names be kept confidential

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Tom Benson showed off the new Pelicans practice facility next door to the Saints' headquarters off Airline Drive in Metairie Tuesday, September 17, 2013.

The three doctors who will examine Tom Benson as part of a lawsuit brought against him by his estranged relatives were selected in time to meet a deadline Wednesday. But the judge presiding over the case has ordered that the physicians’ names and other details regarding the tests they will perform on the owner of the… Continue reading →

Man found shot to death in New Orleans East on Wednesday afternoon

Advocate staff photo byMATTHEW HINTON --- A 39-year-old man was found shot to death inside a New Orleans East home on Wednesday afternoon.

The New Orleans Police Department is investigating a homicide that happened Wednesday afternoon in New Orleans East. The 39-year-old male victim was found inside a residence in the 8000 block of West Laverne Street, according to police. He was found at about 4 p.m. unresponsive on the living room floor with a gunshot wound to the… Continue reading →

New Orleans congestion keeps Chiquita active in Gulfport

Congestion at the Port of New Orleans is keeping the port in Gulfport, Mississippi, busy nearly two months after Chiquita was expected to have cleared out its containers there. Chiquita, which moved to New Orleans in October after 40 years in Gulfport, was supposed to be out Dec. 31. However, Chiquita containers filled with paper are… Continue reading →

Ian McNulty: Vietnamese restaurateur breaks from the expected, takes more contemporary path

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The restaurant Kin is slated to open the first week of March near Xavier University.

As his first restaurant has taken shape over the past few months, Hieu Than constantly heard variations on the same refrain. “Everyone who saw this place and saw us working on it, they’d ask if it’s going to be, you know, insert-Asian-restaurant-concept-here,” said Than. “I’m Vietnamese, that’s my heritage, but that’s not where my culinary outlook… Continue reading →

Amid budget cuts, declining enrollment Loyola reveals restructing plan that restores, cuts colleges

Advocate staff photo by JOHN MCCUSKER -- Loyola University, New Orleans, Wednesday, July 10, 2013. Loyola announced a restructuring of its colleges Wednesday, February 25, 2015.

Loyola University in New Orleans has announced restructuring plans that include the restoration of the university's College of Arts and Sciences and the creation of a new College of Graduate and Professional Studies. The move comes as the university deals with declining enrollment and budget deficits in recent years. In its announcement Wednesday, the university said that the new College… Continue reading →

Prosecutors: ‘99 percent chance’ St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta will be charged with additional crimes; legal troubles mount after accusations of handcuffing, beating, raping wife

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta leaves his office with a new iPhone because his other phone was confiscated during a search of his home and offices by the Louisiana Attorney General's office and other state investigators in Chalmette, La. Friday, July 25, 2014.

Embattled St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta is almost certain to face additional criminal charges, including conspiracy, a prosecutor with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office told a state judge at a hearing Wednesday. “I think there’s a 99 percent chance there’s going to be a superseding indictment,” Assistant Attorney General David Weilbaecher Jr. told Judge Frank… Continue reading →

New Orleans attorney avoids jail time in case of her caught on video making sexual advances in cab, accused of filing bogus report

A local attorney and former radio personality avoided jail time Wednesday in a bizarre case in which she was accused of filing a bogus police report against a taxi driver who filmed her making sexual advances in his cab. The lawyer, Jennifer Gaubert, faced up to six months in jail for criminal mischief —… Continue reading →

Blue Cross Louisiana CEO Reitz retiring mid-2016

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING    Mike Reitz, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, is retiring in mid-2016.

Mike Reitz, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, plans to retire in mid-2016 after 40 years with the state’s largest insurer. The company’s board will conduct a nationwide search for Reitz’s successor, said Blue Cross board Chairman Dan S. BornĂ©. “For all things, there is a season, and my time… Continue reading →