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Sources: Berating assistants, often missing from office, Rita LeBlanc gave Tom Benson many reasons to worry

AP photo by Manuel Balce -- Rita LeBlanc speaks at the sixth annual Washington Ideas Forum in Washington in this Oct. 29, 2014, file photo.

Though she was once the apple of Tom Benson’s eye and the heir apparent to his sports franchises, Rita LeBlanc gave her grandfather plenty of reasons to worry about her ability to take over his empire upon his passing, according to some of the people who know both of them well. When Benson was well into… Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: In defense of Bobby Jindal, his 'no-go zone' comments are an inconvenient truth based on ton of facts

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to a crowd, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

What is wrong with you people? I mean, really, what is your problem? You people, you media jackals, are having crazy attacks because Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dared say there are areas in Europe, heavily populated by Muslims, which effectively are “no-go zones” because police and other non-Muslims are largely unwelcome.… Continue reading →

In Toon With Walt: We have a winner!

Wow, Folks! Every time we hold one of these contests I say how much I enjoy reading your entries but this time I was literally laughing out loud! All of your punch lines about the joy of falling gas prices were smart, witty and just flat out funny. This time we had 213 entries with… Continue reading →

An inside look at how families of 63 people killed in Baton Rouge homicides in 2014 are coping with tragedy

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Felicia, left, and Terry Coleman, in their living room with a framed portrait of their son Terrez, the seven-year-old who was killed in August 2014,  struck by a bullet riding home with his parents and older twin sisters in their car, after a family reunion. Though no one has been arrested yet for the shooting,the Colemans hope that whoever knows what really happened will decide to come forward.

The reminders are everywhere. Every car ride. Every morning before school. After school. The horse in the backyard. The horse. Terrez Coleman couldn’t decide on a name for his horse. The 7-year-old was with his older twin sisters and parents, riding home from a family reunion in August, when he finally picked a name… Continue reading →

Some Baton Rouge inmates serving excessive jail time: What’s the cause; how’s it being fixed?

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III.

After he was accused of writing himself a fraudulent check for $1,800, Joshua Williams spent five months in Parish Prison last year. That might not be an unusually long time for a convicted thief to remain in jail, but Williams, now 26, hadn’t been convicted. In fact, he did his months in Parish Prison without ever being… Continue reading →

Here's the first key hurdle in the quest to build a Baton Rouge inner loop

The first step in whether an $800 million “inner loop” around Baton Rouge is doable is an economic feasibility study expected to be done by October. The plan, which was submitted by an international engineering firm called AECOM, faces huge financial, technical and political hurdles. But for now, it is in the hands of… Continue reading →

BREC improving golf course conditions, not ready to close any yet

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- James Causey, right and Amy Roberts, left, play the ninth hole at BREC's J.S. Clark Park Golf Course in December.

Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission leaders are taking small steps to improve their seven golf courses but say they aren’t ready to follow a consultant’s recommendation to close some of the least-used courses. Golf courses both public and private have struggled throughout Baton Rouge over the past few years as the number of… Continue reading →

St. Augustine's Lanard Fournette, younger brother of LSU star Leonard, commits to the Tigers as an athlete

Advocate Photo by KYLE ENCAR --St. Augustine running back Lanard Fournette (center) looks to get into the end zone for St. Aug's first touchdown with only Shaw defensive back Jaiwon Charles (1) standing in his way at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.

St. Augustine senior running back Lanard Fournette, the younger brother of LSU standout Leonard Fournette, will be joining his brother in Baton Rouge. Fournette confirmed to The Advocate on Saturday that he was offered a scholarship as an athlete and that he committed during his visit to LSU this weekend. Big brother Leonard sent a congratulatory message… Continue reading →

Police: Man punches girlfriend into unconsciousness and other Baton Rouge police and fire briefs

A Baton Rouge police officer had to force his way into an apartment Saturday to arrest a 39-year-old man accused of choking and punching his live-in girlfriend during an argument, according to a police report. The argument between James Rabb and his girlfriend at their Main Street apartment at about 4 p.m. became physical when he started… Continue reading →

Obama to seek wilderness designation

FILE - This July, 2001 aerial file photo shows the Coastal Plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. President Barack Obama says he will ask Congress to designate more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including the Coastal Plain, as a wilderness area. The designation would seal the area off from oil exploration and give it the highest degree of federal protection available to public lands. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

JUNEAU, Alaska — President Barack Obama is proposing to designate the vast majority of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, including its potentially oil-rich coastal plain, drawing an angry response from top state elected officials who see it as a land grab by the federal government. “They’ve decided that today was… Continue reading →

2014: 63 East Baton Rouge Parish homicides -- how the victims died

Austin Stewart

Detectives in East Baton Rouge Parish investigated 63 homicides in 2014. These killings generally reflect those classified as homicides under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting standards. They exclude accidental, justifiable and negligent killings. 1 JAN. 7: Michael Taylor Sr., 53, of Baton Rouge, died nearly a week after being struck in the… Continue reading →

Renovations underway for new IT business; expected to draw young professionals downtown

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Construction continues Friday on the interior of the former offices of the Daily Advertiser building in downtown Lafayette.

Old wallboard and ceiling tiles are giving way to a New Age-style office in a space on Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette that will be home to Montreal-based information technology consulting firm CGI Federal. The company is putting down roots, making its home in the building — between nightclub B.E.D. and furniture store Workplace Solutions… Continue reading →

LITE works to become self-sufficient, keep up product development as state funding ends,

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Matthew Williamson demonstrates some facial recognition software being developed Friday at the LITE Center in Lafayette.

As LITE moves toward self-sufficiency ahead of an expected end to state funding in the next fiscal year, Lafayette’s destination technology center is exploring new sources for revenue. Like its parking lot. There’s nothing cutting edge about the parking lot at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise on Cajundome Boulevard. But when LITE’s 12-member staff took turns… Continue reading →

Ask The Advocate: That’s an awful lot of football fields

Q. For years, we’ve heard that Louisiana loses a football field of coastal land every hour. We’ve even seen some references to every 45 minutes and every 30 minutes. Is it possible that much land has disappeared over the years and there’s still any coast left? A.… Continue reading →

’American Sniper’ holds top spot at weekend box office

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Kyle Gallner, left, and Bradley Cooper appear in a scene from

LOS ANGELES — “American Sniper” hit the mark with moviegoers again. The military drama starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle topped the box office for a second weekend in a row with $64.4 million in first place, according to studio estimates Sunday. “American Sniper” is up for six Academy Awards, including best… Continue reading →

Police identify one of two bodies found Saturday

Baton Rouge Police on Sunday identified the body of a man found Saturday night in an open field in north Baton Rouge. Henery Jessie Gray, 59, who was homeless, died of natural causes, police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Sunday in a news release. Police found Gray’s body in a field in the 1300 block… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: The Benson Saga

Walt Handelsman is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator whose work appears in The Advocate four days a week. Follow this link to the cartoon.… Continue reading →

Sources: Berating assistants, often missing from office, Rita LeBlanc gave Tom Benson many reasons to worry

AP photo by Manuel Balce -- Rita LeBlanc speaks at the sixth annual Washington Ideas Forum in Washington in this Oct. 29, 2014, file photo.

Though she was once the apple of Tom Benson’s eye and the heir apparent to his sports franchises, Rita LeBlanc gave her grandfather plenty of reasons to worry about her ability to take over his empire upon his passing, according to some of the people who know both of them well. When Benson was well into… Continue reading →

Lawmakers looking for ways to balance the budget

The Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana legislators are throwing out all sorts of ideas to see what sticks in hopes of short-circuiting possible layoffs and deep budget cuts. State government will bring in about $1.4 billion less next fiscal year than is needed to pay for the current level of services. Come Monday, that hole could get much larger. To bring… Continue reading →

Capitol Buzz: Poll shows uptick in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s approval

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Jerome Zeringue, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities, speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club about coastal issues facing Louisiana.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has seen a slight uptick in Louisianans who view him favorably, according to a new poll of likely Louisiana voters. The poll, conducted by Jindal’s campaign pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc., found 46 percent approve of Jindal’s job performance heading into the final year of his final term, while 45 percent view… Continue reading →

Thousands turn out for Bobby Jindal's prayer rally at LSU; students, activists protest too

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Pro-life supporters exit busses in preparation of Gov. Bobby Jindal's speaking engagement near the LSU Greek Theatre prior to a prayer rally, called

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s day of prayer went off without a hitch Saturday — and without much commotion. Jindal didn’t make “the big announcement” regarding a presidential run. About 3,000 to 4,000 people prayed, hands lifted to the sky, for reconciliation among the races, the old and the young and men and women. The crowd sang uplifting, contemporary… Continue reading →

BR Diocese officials sticking with plan to close Redemptorist

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Redemptorist High and Junior High are scheduled to close in May 2015.

After considering a pitch to keep Redemptorist High School open, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge announced Saturday it is closing the school for good. Redemptorist supporters earlier this month asked the diocese to cut ties with the school so it could become an independent Catholic school run by parents and alumni.… Continue reading →

Middle school kids imagine cities of future in competition at LSU

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A city on the move, 'Aquacropolis' is taken to the judging room by Scotlandville Middle Magnet team members, left to right, Deylen Colligan, Dante Hicks, Juliet Walker, Danesha Caldwell, coach Ingrid Cruz and Craig Ferguson, inside LSU's Energy, Coast & Environment Building Saturday. Theirs was one of the teams of middle school students from Louisiana and Mississippi participating in the 2015 Future City Competition Regional Finals, vying for a chance to go to the competition's National Finals in Washington, D.C., February 15-18, 2015.

Using models built from bottles and broken toys, middle school students from Louisiana and Mississippi did their best on Saturday to convince judges of a concept still well in the future — creating a self-sustaining city that relies on renewable resources. Students presented their visions to a panel of judges at… Continue reading →

Narcotics agents arrest three in Breaux Bridge drug bust

Photos provided by the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office -- From left, Christopher Alexander, Christopher Celestine and Damien Joubert.

St. Martin Parish sheriff’s narcotics agents on Saturday arrested three Breaux Bridge men accused of carrying stolen guns and drugs that had an estimated street value of $40,000. Investigators executing a search warrant on Zin Zin Road in Breaux Bridge, found a “significant amount” of high-grade marijuana, methamphetamine, carisoprodol, and hydrocodone, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ginny… Continue reading →

Do-Re-ME! Music program helps Acadiana youngsters learn

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Preschool students, from left, Ke'ani Page, Scarlett Brooks, Sa'niya Broussard, Harlee Burkhart, and Khylen Taylor, practice using

Each day, a chorus of “Hello! Hello!” starts a lesson for a group of 4-year-olds at Truman Early Childhood Education Center, a ritual designed to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom through fun songs, movements and music. The music lessons are taught through Do-Re-ME!, a curriculum created by faculty at the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra… Continue reading →

No bombs found on 2 planes at Atlanta’s main airport

Law enforcement officials stand beneath a Southwest Airlines airplane as a bomb squad vehicle stands by at left on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Atlanta. Police were searching the Southwest plane and a Delta plane at Atlanta's main airport after authorities received what they described as credible bomb threats. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA (AP) — Police who searched two airplanes in Atlanta found no bombs following online threats made against the aircraft.

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said law enforcement officials finished their search Saturday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The threats targeted Southwest Airlines Flight 2492, which arrived from Milwaukee, and Delta Air Lines Flight 1156, which arrived from Portland, Oregon.

Both flights arrived… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Jan. 25, 2015

SCORE is holding a free workshop titled “Simple Steps for Starting Your Business” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Topics include myths and realities of entrepreneurship; critical success factors; know your options; components… Continue reading →

People in Business for Jan. 25, 2015

Russell Mosely, of Long Farm Village and Mosely Law Firm

Russell Mosely, developer of Long Farm Village and partner of Mosely Law Firm, has been elected president the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition board of directors.… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Jan. 25, 2015

Lisa Skemp, Our Lady of the Lake College

Lisa Skemp, professor of nursing at Our Lady of the Lake College, was inducted as a fellow by the American Academy of Nursing for her leadership in education, management and policy focused on improving health and also as a fellow by the Gerontological Society of America for outstanding contributions to the field… Continue reading →

Business Meetings for Jan. 25, 2015

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU WHEN: Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. WHERE: Holiday Inn Baton Rouge South, 9940 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge TOPIC: “Become a Volunteer of the Better Business Bureau” COST: Complimentary event for BBB-accredited… Continue reading →

‘Little things’ could mean state tax savings

Associated Press photo by PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS -- Tax preparer Richard Sowell works with Courtney Mayhew at H&R Block offices in Atlas District in Washington. The Internal Revenue Service started last week accepting electronic returns and processing paper ones.

Although no major changes took place in the Louisiana tax code, accountants and financial advisers want taxpayers to remember the little things, like claiming often-ignored tax credits and exemptions. “Some of the things that people should be aware of that they sometimes miss are the little things, like the Citizens Insurance tax credit,” said Jennifer McGinnis, director… Continue reading →

Persuading a judge to declare Tom Benson mentally unfit will be a tall order, experts say

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle Benson pose for a photo with his granddaughter, and Pelicans co-owner Rita Benson LeBlanc, second left, general manager Dale Demps, left, and head coach Monty Williams, right, at the Pelicans NBA basketball media day in Metairie, La., Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

In their explosive lawsuit filed Thursday, Tom Benson’s heirs — daughter, Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc — describe the Saints owner as tottering on the brink of senility, being manipulated by his wife and demonstrating “bizarre” behavior. They’ve asked a judge to appoint Renee to oversee his business affairs. But persuading a… Continue reading →

Documents break down buyout details as John Chavis planned to leave LSU for Texas A&M

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU head coach Les Miles, left, talks with defensive coordinator John Chavis before the Sam Houston State game, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva sent a letter to former defensive coordinator John Chavis requesting the coach pay a $400,000 buyout three days before Chavis officially resigned, documents show. The letter gives Chavis a deadline to pay the buyout and outlines payment options. The documents, which shed light on the buyout situation between the school and Chavis,… Continue reading →

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally preparing for thousands

Associated Press file photo -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit Sept 26 in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of people are expected to be on LSU’s campus Saturday for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally — either to support it or in protest of it. Jindal, who is considering a run for president in 2016 and is scheduled to speak three times at the prayer rally, will be joined at the event by several conservative… Continue reading →

Controversial strip club returns to St. Helena Parish

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Oak Ridge Lounge, located on Highway 16 in Pine Grove, La., photographed Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

For years, St. Helena Parish warred with the strip club in a nondescript warehouse building. A few years ago, the owner pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling den. The lounge has closed twice under inauspicious circumstances — torched by a suspected arson and shuttered after inspectors found a used condom… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge jury finds for DuPont in trial

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Dupont plant on LA-44 in Burnside, La..

A six-member jury, after eight hours of deliberation, on Friday night found for DuPont in a failed whistleblower lawsuit, deciding there was not enough evidence that leaks from its Burnside plant constituted a substantial risk to the public and required reporting to EPA. Because of the verdict, plaintiff Jeffrey M. Simoneaux, of… Continue reading →