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Amtrak pushes back against city of New Orleans in dispute over over Earhart Blvd. fence

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Stacy Head got the City Council to establish a new interim zoning district in order to stop construction of this fence  around the Amtrak train line which parallels Earhart Boulevard.

Amtrak has fired back against the city of New Orleans, adding steam to a deepening imbroglio over a chain-link fence intended to protect the train tracks along Earhart Boulevard. About a month after the city sued Amtrak, the company filed a countersuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court, claiming federal law trumps recent efforts by the City… Continue reading →

Arraignment of Destrehan teacher accused of having sex with 16-year-old student postponed

This combo of handout images provided by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office, LA shows Rachel Respess, 24, left, and Shelley Dufresne, 32, under arrest on Wednesday Oct. 1, 2014. Dufresne and Rachel Respess both from Destrehan High School are accused of having group sex with a 16-year-old student. Dufresne is also accused of having sex with the teen at her home in Montz, LA. (AP Photo/St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office) ORG XMIT: NY107

The arraignment of a former Destrehan High School teacher at the center of sex allegations involving a 16-year-old student has been pushed back to next month. Shelley Dufresne, 32, was set to be arraigned Thursday in 29th Judicial District Court in Hahnville, but her attorney, Deanne Williams of Luling, officially enrolled in the case… Continue reading →

Good news for NOPD: Chief Michael Harrison says recruiting starting to hit its stride

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Interim NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison is shown in this Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The newest faces of the New Orleans Police Department are a diverse bunch. Among them are a former UNO baseball pitcher whose recent jobs included termite inspector and country club pool guy, a state probation and parole officer whose sister is former City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, a Cuban-born Floridian with an MBA, the ex-manager of… Continue reading →

Nude no more: Bywater’s Country Club ends clothing-optional policy

NEW ORLEANS -- The Country Club, a popular restaurant, bar and pool club in the Bywater, has agreed to end its controversial clothing-option policy after a series of WWL-TV stories detailed the allegations of a woman who said she was drugged and raped while sunbathing nude there. The city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board announced… Continue reading →

Orleans Parish Prison inmate beaten, stabbed by four others

Pictured from left, Dernell Jynes, Cleveland Ross, Dernell McGufey and Davell Jenkins

Authorities said Wednesday they are investigating another episode of violence at Orleans Parish Prison involving an inmate who was assaulted and stabbed at the jail’s troubled Conchetta facility. No inmates have been charged in the Oct. 15 attack, said Philip Stelly, an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman. He said the incident was “not terribly… Continue reading →

Woman, 26, gunned down on 7th Ward street

A 26-year-old woman was found shot to death Wednesday on a 7th Ward street, New Orleans police said. The shooting happened about 3:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Columbus Street. Officers on patrol in the area head gunfire and found the victim in the street after a brief search, said Officer Garry Flot, a Police… Continue reading →

School performance scores remain steady across New Orleans area

Advocate staff photo by John McCusker -- Tiana Nobile teaches her first grade class at Morris Jeff Community School  in New Orleans.

School performance scores — a measure of public school quality that combines test results and dropout rates — remained relatively steady across the New Orleans area this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. In part, that’s by design. The latest results come as Louisiana is making a controversial transition to… Continue reading →

Surprise move: St. Bernard Parish president David Peralta threatens to veto measure limiting his authority

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta

With little fanfare beyond a quick reading of the proposed language, the St. Bernard Parish Council on Tuesday took steps to limit the authority of Parish President David Peralta, drawing a strong rebuke from the embattled parish leader, who in a surprise threatened to veto one of the two measures. The council, by a 4-1 vote,… Continue reading →

UNO panel releases scorecard on how academic programs are doing

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Students Ray Shall, Barrett Gale and Benjamin Pridgen visit on the quad between classes at the University of New Orleans.

A working group of faculty at the University of New Orleans has released an initial scorecard that evaluates the school’s 80 degree programs on criteria including student demand, size, graduation rate, tuition revenue from students and whether it’s an area central to UNO’s core mission. Programs that receive top marks include undergraduate programs in biological sciences,… Continue reading →

St. John water employees suspended after being charged with faking tests

DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday, May 31, 2013 holds a press conference at the Port of New Orleans headquarters for the first day of hurricane season to talk about the protection system. Also included were the parish presidents whose parishes are included within that greater New Orleans system. Natalie Robottom President of St. John The Baptist Parish. MAGS  OUT / INTERNET  OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/ LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC./GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT/225/10/12/IN REGISTER/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT/  MANDATORY CREDIT THE ADVOCATE/ELIOT KAMENITZ

Two St. John the Baptist Parish employees accused of faking chlorine-level tests, which would have found the presence of a potentially dangerous amoeba in the parish water supply, have been suspended without pay following their indictment Monday on charges of malfeasance in office and maintaining false public records. Meanwhile, parish officials, with the help… Continue reading →

School performance scores basically flat across New Orleans metro area

District performance scores

School performance scores — a measure of public school quality that combines test results and dropout rates — remained relatively steady across the New Orleans area this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. In Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, so-called district performance scores, encompassing results from all public schools,… Continue reading →

New Orleans police investigating 2 murders Tuesday morning

New Orleans police are working two fatal shootings Tuesday morning, one in the 800 block of North Roman Street in Treme and the other in the 3500 block of Piety Street in the Desire area. Little information was immediately available about either shooting. The victim in the North Roman shooting was a woman, police said, but they… Continue reading →

St. Bernard Council to vote on limiting raises, new hires

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta leaves the parish jail after posting bond in April.

The St. Bernard Parish Council is slated to vote Tuesday on imposing a six-month freeze on new hires and salary raises for current employees — moves that would limit the authority of the parish’s embattled first-term president, David Peralta, who faces mounting criminal charges. Both ordinances were introduced earlier this month after a lengthy closed-door session… Continue reading →

Two St. John Parish employees indicted over fake water tests

Two St. John the Baptist Parish employees responsible for testing chlorine levels in the parish water supply — an important safety measure against a potentially dangerous amoeba — were indicted on Monday, accused of faking the results of tests they never actually carried out. Kevin Branch, 54, of LaPlace, and Danielle Roussel, 43, of Paulina, each… Continue reading →

Textron lays off 200 from Slidell military plants

Textron plans to lay off about 200 workers from its two Slidell armored vehicle plants, saying it’s temporarily shutting down production. Workers were told earlier this month that they would be laid off effective Nov. 3. Company spokesman Tom Williams said Textron, an industrial conglomerate based in Providence, Rhode Island, is replanning… Continue reading →

Rouses, Associated Grocers reach settlement in legal dispute

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Thibodaux-based Rouses Supermarket, with one of its 40 stores located in Lafayette, reached an undisclosed settlement in legal dispute with grocery supplier Associated Grocers in Baton Rouge.

Thibodaux-based retail grocery chain Rouses Enterprises and Baton Rouge-based wholesale grocery supplier Associated Grocers have reached an undisclosed settlement in a legal dispute after three days of trial last week. “The Rouse family is very satisfied with this resolution,” managing partner Donny Rouse said in a statement Monday. He said terms of the settlement are confidential.… Continue reading →

New Beginnings charter schools sign 3-year-contract with CEO

The New Beginnings Schools Foundation, one of the city’s many nonprofit charter school operators, has reached a three-year contract with its chief executive officer, Sametta Brown. On top of a base salary of $140,000, Brown will be able to earn up to $35,000 more by reaching specified performance benchmarks. The base pay amounts to… Continue reading →

Driver hits French Quarter pole that falls and kills woman

A driver slammed into a pole that fell on a woman and killed her in the French Quarter early Sunday, New Orleans Police said. The victim, who would have been 22 on Monday, was walking in the 400 block of Burgundy Street about 5:20 a.m. Sunday when an eastbound 1993 Nissan Maxima barrelled into a balcony pole.… Continue reading →

In international cocaine conspiracy, judge orders new trial after 19 years

Photo Coutesy Miami Herald-Rolando

For federal prisoners, a life sentence usually means just that: incarceration without a pauper’s prayer for parole. The chances for early release diminish with every passing month and failed appeal. Short of a presidential pardon, Rolando “Roly” Fernandez seemed certain to live out his years behind bars, where he’s been since 1995, the year a New… Continue reading →

In international cocaine conspiracy, judge orders new trial after 19 years

For federal prisoners, a life sentence usually means just that: incarceration without a pauper’s prayer for parole. Short of a presidential pardon, Rolando “Roly” Fernandez seemed certain to live out his years behind bars, where he’s been since 1995, the year a New Orleans jury convicted him in a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving the Medellín cartel of… Continue reading →