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BRPD officers, traffic violator exchange gunfire

Two Baton Rouge police officers exchanged gunfire with a traffic violator after the driver fired multiple shots at officers while attempting to flee away from the vehicle in the 12,200 block of Robbie Avenue around 8:10 p.m. Thursday, police spokesman Ljean McKneely reported through a news release. Police had been attempting to stop a 2008 Honda Accord… Continue reading →

GOP legislators will look at tax exemptions to help raise revenue, despite Gov. Jindal's objections

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Louisiana State Capitol and grounds.

When the budget is unveiled Friday, some Republican lawmakers say they’re going to be looking at tax exemptions and credits, which Gov. Bobby Jindal repeatedly has declared off-limits, to see if any adjustments can be made that would raise revenue to help fill a $1.6 billion deficit between the cost of state services and the amount of revenues… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal at CPAC: Repeal Obamacare; remove Common Core from every classroom; we are at war with radical Islam

Associated Press photo by CLIFF OWENGov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal took aim at the Affordable Care Act, Common Core educational standards and President Barack Obama’s leadership in the fight against Islamic terrorism in a speech Thursday that stuck to familiar ground at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The 2015 CPAC is a significant… Continue reading →

Riverboats return to Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --The American Queen riverboat docks in Baton Rouge for an afternoon of touring.

The American Queen riverboat docked in Baton Rouge Thursday, the first of an expanded 84 scheduled visits that paddle-wheel cruise boats are set to make to the city over the next 11 months. While officials with Visit Baton Rouge didn’t have hard numbers on the economic impact the riverboats have on the… Continue reading →

Baker couple accused in $450,000 Medicaid fraud scheme

Melvin Williams, Shonda Augustus

Authorities this month arrested a Baker couple accused of collecting almost $450,000 in false Medicaid claims over the past five years for services they never performed for the residents of their group home. The scheme began in 2010 when Shonda Augustus and her husband, Melvin Williams, started filing false claims on behalf of five Medicaid recipients… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU gambled and lost — but you can also blame the NCAA and another mindless rule

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles gestures to an official during a review during the Alabama game Nov. 8.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be in Indianapolis for an NCAA men’s basketball tournament mock selection exercise. It was a highly organized, informative, exceptionally professional event. It was the NCAA at its big-time best. Thursday, we were witness once again to the NCAA at its bureaucratic worst. LSU’s football program was… Continue reading →

Jake Fraley’s two-run triple propels LSU to 9-8 win over Southeastern Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU's Jake Fraley throws the ball infield during the game against Southeastern in Alex Box Stadium Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.

Jake Fraley was tired of being beaten and battered. He took out his frustration at just the right time. Fraley hit a two-run triple in the eighth inning to lift LSU to a 9-8 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday night, bailing out the Tigers for what could have been a historic loss. LSU avoided back-to-back home midweek… Continue reading →

Bloomberg political pundit: Bobby Jindal earns B- for CPAC performance

Associated Press photo by CLIFF OWEN -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Thursday

Bobby Jindal desires to be the anti-Washington, anti-Common Core, anti-Obamacare candidate among the GOP nominee hopefuls but Jindal’s temperament and style create difficulties for him as Jindal sets out to contrast himself from the edgier Ted Cruz and others. Mark Halperin, managing editor of Bloomberg Politics, graded the Louisiana governor’s performance along with Ben Carson, Chris Christie,… Continue reading →

Regulators approve tougher rules for Internet providers

Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. Internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile would have to act in the

Internet activists declared victory over the nation’s big cable companies Thursday, after the Federal Communications Commission voted to impose the toughest rules yet on broadband service to prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from creating paid fast lanes and slowing or blocking Web traffic. The 3-2 vote ushered in a new era… Continue reading →

Author talks about mental health crisis in Louisiana and nation

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Pete Earley, best-selling author of

Even with ample means, connections and determination, Pete Earley initially couldn’t force his unwilling son into treatment during a mental health breakdown in Virginia because he wasn’t obviously threatening “imminent danger” to anyone else. So when his son was jailed and charged with breaking and entering after being found taking a bubble bath in a stranger’s home during… Continue reading →

With D’Amico retiring, Pointe Coupee School Board on hunt for a new superintendent

 Linda D'Amico, outgoing superintendent of schools for Pointe Coupee Parish.

The job advertisement is already running and the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday accepted Superintendent Linda D’Amico’s pending retirement. But what the board hasn’t done yet is figure out the mechanics of how it will choose the next superintendent. The board opted to revisit the matter during a special… Continue reading →

Report: Ex-LSU standout Chevis Jackson to return to Tigers as team analyst

Chevis Jackson pumps up the crowd as Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon calls for a first half timeout at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge Saturday.

Chevis, who returned an interception for a touchdown in LSU’s 2007 national title game, has been a graduate assistant at South… Continue reading →

Louisiana outlaws new strain of synthetic marijuana, sold as Blue Nugs

State public health officials announced Thursday the ban of a new strain of synthetic marijuana similar to ones already prohibited because of adverse side effects. The designer drug 5f-ADB, sold under the name Blue Nugs, can cause nausea, vomiting, and violent thoughts and actions, public health experts said. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary… Continue reading →

Lafayette police still seeking suspect in East Simcoe Street fatal shooting

Terrence Augustine

Police are still seeking information on the whereabouts of a Lafayette man suspected in an October shooting on East Simcoe Street, according to a news release from the Lafayette Police Department. Terrence J. Augustine, 28, is wanted for attempted second-degree murder in the shooting in the 900 block of East Simcoe Street, in which a 34-year-old… Continue reading →

Plea deal offered to Springfield mayor, police chief: Resign or face multiple charges

Charles Martin, left, and James Jones

The mayor and police chief of Springfield have been given a choice — they can avoid going to trial in a few months on multiple charges if they resign their positions and plead guilty to malfeasance in office. In March 2011, a then-town police officer reported feeling pressured by the men to drop a drunken driving… Continue reading →

Political expert: There's something unusual about Bobby Jindal, David Vitter's icy relationship

Associated Press photo by CLIFF OWEN -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Thursday

Gov. Bobby Jindal let an open secret slip during an interview with a national media outlet this week: He and U.S. Sen. David Vitter aren’t exactly friends. “If you turn (your recorder) off, I’ll tell you what I really think about him,” Jindal reportedly told the National Journal when asked about Vitter, who is running… Continue reading →

Brother-in-law of state health secretary Kathy Kliebert facing ethics charges for failure to disclose his state Medicaid contractor employment

State health Secretary Kathy Kliebert’s brother-in-law is facing ethics charges for failure to disclose his employment by state Medicaid contractor Magellan Health Services Inc. The Louisiana Board of Ethics said Galen Schum failed to file financial disclosure statements required of public servants and members of their immediate family who derive anything of economic value, directly,… Continue reading →

Video: How do you catch a pair of loose llamas? A lasso, and some luck

SUN CITY, Ariz. (AP) — Two quick-footed llamas that dashed in and out of traffic in a Phoenix-area retirement community were captured by authorities Thursday, causing a stir in the streets and on social media. Television footage showed a large, white llama and a smaller, black llama darting through the streets of Sun City during the lunch… Continue reading →

In advance of Lafayette concert, comedian Bill Cosby thanks loyal fans

Associated Press file photo by BRENNAN LINSLEY -- Comedian Bill Cosby performas at the Buell Theater in Denver in January.  The embattled comic will perform at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette on Friday.

Embattled comedian Bill Cosby, who has canceled dates on his tour because of sexual abuse allegations that have led to protests in some cities, will perform at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette on Friday. In advance of his Lafayette performance, a public relations firm hired by Cosby issued a statement thanking those who plan… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal to propose spending $500 million less on tax credits, give money to Louisiana higher education, health care

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to spend $526 million less on refundable tax credits next year, and direct that money to lessen the budget cuts on public colleges and health services. The plan will be contained in the governor's budget proposal for next fiscal year, to be unveiled to lawmakers Friday. For tax credits deemed "refundable,"… Continue reading →

State Sen. Elbert Guillory stumps GOP message on Hip-Hop airwaves

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas

Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory is marking Black History Month by hitting the airwaves to promote the Republican Party on hip-hop and R&B stations in 11 cities across the country. Guillory, an Opelousas Republican and candidate for lieutenant governor, will be on radio stations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, as well as Memphis, Birmingham, Miami, Jacksonville,… Continue reading →

Louisiana reaches export record of $65.1 billion

Merchandise exports from Louisiana climbed 2.8 percent to a record $65.1 billion in 2014, and new trade agreements could boost those totals in the coming years, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Wednesday. The 2014 gain marked the sixth consecutive year of export growth for the state, up from $63.3 billion in 2013, the World Trade Center… Continue reading →

Trio of out-of-towners arrested in armed robbery in Lafayette

Three men were arrested Thursday in an armed robbery at a Lafayette shopping center, police said. Randy Wilson, 29, of Fresno, Texas, and Dante King, 20, of Alexandria, were each arrested on a count of armed robbery after a 22-year-old man reported he was robbed in the Midtown Plaza parking lot in the 2500 block of… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Will Bobby Jindal-John White feud affect Louisiana governor’s budget plans?

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Superintendent of Education John White

A bitter disagreement between Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Superintendent of Education John White over Common Core may show up again when Jindal’s spending plans are unveiled on Friday morning. State aid for public schools, dollars for standardized test contracts and funding for the state Department of Education are all in play in the budget amid… Continue reading →

KATC-TV: Bill Cosby thanks Lafayette community leading up to Friday show

In this Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, comedian Bill Cosby performs during a show at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Fla.  (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

A spokesman for Bill Cosby has released a statement thanking the Lafayette community on behalf of the embattled comedian ahead of his Friday performance at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette. Cosby has canceled or postponed more than a dozen shows on his comedy tour amid allegations by numerous women that he sexually abused them.… Continue reading →

Black history month speaker Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, ‘I’m living the American dream’

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- As Federal Judges, from left, James Brady, Brian Jackson and Shelly Dick, watch, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, the high court's first black chief justice, right, takes off her glasses for emphasis while speaking Thursday at an African-American History Month event at U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge.

Donaldsonville native Bernette Joshua Johnson reminisced Thursday about attending segregated public schools in New Orleans and being denied the right to vote in Louisiana in 1964 after graduating from Spelman College in Atlanta during the height of the civil rights movement. Still, Johnson went on to become the first woman elected to sit on the Orleans… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Legislator wants voters to decide on Medicaid expansion

The Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

With health care cuts looming large, top Democratic state Sen. Karen Peterson is proposing to let Louisiana voters decide whether they want Medicaid expansion to relieve the funding pressure. Gov. Bobby Jindal has vehemently opposed Medicaid expansion, claiming it only extends an expensive program that’s not working to improve people health and would end up being too… Continue reading →

Two arrested in East Baton Rouge Parish for DWI

Authorities arrested at least two people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2:30 p.m. Thursday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: James Gibson, 33, 31082 Blakeley Way, Spanish Fort, Ala.,… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Make higher ed the top funding priority, education leaders urge a day before Bobby Jindal’s budget recommendation

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU freshman student Maria Rodriguez, does some last minute studying for an upcoming Math final exam Monday afternoon at the foot of the Memorial Tower on campus. The exams, which signal the end of the fall semester, continue through Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.

The leaders of Louisiana’s college and university systems and the state commissioner of higher education have sent a joint letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal, urging the governor to look for ways to keep funding steady for higher ed in the face of a $1.6 billion funding shortfall in the coming year. Jindal’s administration will… Continue reading →

La. VA complains about payments

Louisiana veterans are running up debt because a federal agency isn’t paying their medical bills on time, according to the chief of the state’s veterans agency. Federal law authorizes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health coverage for eligible military veterans when they are “financially liable” for emergency medical services provided at a local non-VA… Continue reading →

Lafayette looking for ‘dynamic, motivated’ school system leader

The search for a “dynamic, motivated educational leader” for the Lafayette Parish School System is officially underway. An advertisement for the schools superintendent job was published in The Daily Advertiser, the parish’s official journal, on Sunday to fill state law requirements linked to filling a vacant superintendent position, said Bruce Leininger, the school system’s human resources… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge-area industries expect to maintain employment, spending

Most of the Baton Rouge area’s major industrial employers expect spending and employment at the plants to remain the same or expand during the next six months, according to a survey by the Greater Baton Rouge Industrial Alliance. The group represents more than 57 petrochemical, energy, paper, pharmaceutical, pipeline, storage terminal and other industrial facilities in the… 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 →

Baton Rouge police: Man, 22, accused in rape of 14-year-old girl

Police arrested a Baton Rouge man Wednesday accused in the rape of a teenage girl about a week ago at an Autumn Place apartment off McClelland Drive. Yancy Dwayne Vincent, 22, is accused of raping the 14-year-old girl inside her home at the apartment complex on the night of Feb. 18, according to a Baton Rouge police… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis ranked fifth-best coach-general manager combo in NFL

Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis (AP)

. The working relationship and sharing of ideas between Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis is the foundation on which the Saints are built. This is no secret and more often than not, those two men know how to concoct a winning formula. This is why NFL.com has named them one of the best coach-general manager combinations… Continue reading →

New York Times profiles Whitney Plantation in Wallace, America’s first slave museum

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  John Cummings owns the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, La. and has overseen its renovation. He is standing inside the Antioch Church on the plantation's grounds Wednesday, October 1, 2014. Cummings commissioned the clay bust of Pope Nicholas V, whose 15th century edict sanctioned the right of the Portuguese people to enslave black Africans. In perpetuity! Cummings added in tones of indignation as he recounted papal history.

America’s first slave museum, the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, and the odd circumstances that led to its establishment are profiled in The New York Times Magazine. The article describes how the plantation, 35 miles west of New Orleans on River Road, was built — “largely in secret and under decidedly unorthodox circumstances.” See… Continue reading →

Lafayette investigating recording of police officer using racial slur

The Lafayette Police Department is investigating an audio recording that a retired police officer says is evidence of one of his former co-workers using an offensive racial slur. City-Parish Council Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux confirmed on Thursday that the department has launched an internal investigation into the incident, which was brought to light by… Continue reading →

Authorities try to unravel what happened to man whose body was found near Baker; foul play not suspected

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the death of a man whose body was found Thursday morning on an East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works maintenance lot off La. 19 just north of Baker. No foul play is suspected in the man’s death, and investigators are working to determine how the man died, said Savannah Williams, a… Continue reading →

Four engineering and contracting firms combine under Bernhard

Advocate Staff Photo by Bill Feig -- Jim Bernhard Jr., chairman of holding company Bernhard and former CEO of The Shaw Group

A holding company chaired by former Shaw Group executive Jim Bernhard Jr. has aligned four businesses to provide design-and-build energy infrastructure services similar to the company that acquired Shaw two years ago in a $3 billion deal. CB&I, which bought Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group in February 2013, describes itself as “the most complete energy infrastructure-focused company in… Continue reading →

Lafayette rapper ‘Vicious’ convicted of ‘inciting a riot with death’

Eric

Lafayette rapper Eric “Vicious” Johnson was found guilty Wednesday night of inciting retaliatory violence that led to the 2012 shooting death of a 43-year-old bystander during a melee at a Duson apartment complex. After a two-day trial, the jury deliberated about three hours before announcing Johnson’s conviction on the charge of “inciting… Continue reading →

Sheriff’s Office: Screwdriver wielding robber captured; tells deputies he lost his job and has ‘major drug addiction’

A man seen on surveillance video wielding a screwdriver during a Tuesday night robbery of a Cracker Barrel service station was arrested Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies. After “multiple callers” identified Andrew Gayden Darce, 54, as the man seen in images of the robbery distributed by the Sheriff’s Office, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s detectives tracked down Darce… Continue reading →

Advisers: Louisiana's Group Benefits reserves fallen below 'safe' levels

Once-robust state Group Benefits reserves have fallen below what the state-operated health insurance program’s financial advisers consider “safe.” The Legislative Fiscal Office reported the fund balance sat at $102.8 million at the end of January — down from a high of more than $500 million a little more than two years ago. The fund balance… Continue reading →