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Gov. John Bel Edwards to critics calling him a “liar” about raising taxes: Get it out of your system, then come back to work

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at the unveiling of the new LSU gymnastics training facility, Saturday, February 6, 2016, during an open house and ribbon cutting in Baton Rouge, La.

Recently elected Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’s aware that some of his critics are accusing him of flip flopping on the issue of raising taxes, following a campaign where he stated he had no intentions of doing so. In an interview with Advocate reporters and editors, Edwards restated his defense that he was unaware that the budget deficits for this… Continue reading →

Drake: Reopening Istrouma High may take $17 million to $20 million, but he promises he won’t go ‘halfway’

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Front of Istrouma High School during a January 2016 visit by East Baton Rouge Parish school district officials after the state returned the historic high school to local control. Istrouma, which has been closed since May 2014, however, needs work. Recent repair estimates range from $17 million  to $20 million.

Superintendent Warren Drake tried to assure a concerned audience Wednesday night that the East Baton Rouge Parish school system won’t go cheap as it prepares to reopen Istrouma High School. Drake, who took over as superintendent in June, immediately began pressing to regain control of Istrouma, which was under state control. The school finally was returned… Continue reading →

Rumors of possible gravitational wave discovery swirl in advance of LIGO’s Thursday announcement

Photo provided by LIGO  Imbedded deep in the pine forests north of Livingston, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, conducts research beneficial to the fields of astronomy and physics.

The rumors started swirling almost as soon as the observatories in Livingston Parish and Washington state began collecting data with their upgraded equipment in September: Scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory had detected gravitational waves. If true, the discovery would prove Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity — on the centennial of its publication, no… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man surrenders in shooting death of car wash employee

Gregory Netter

A 57-year-old man surrendered Wednesday after he was identified as a suspect in the Tuesday killing of a Scenic Highway car wash employee. Gregory Netter is accused of killing Robert Harrison, also 57, with a single gunshot after the two got into an argument at the car wash at the corner of Scenic Highway and 69th Avenue… Continue reading →

Ascension Planning Commission finally says ‘no’ — denies a proposed Prairieville subdivision until flooding issues addressed

After months of criticism for not saying no to a new development that could stress existing infrastructure, the Ascension Parish Planning Commission on Wednesday denied an 86-home subdivision in Prairieville as neighbors suggested past home projects nearby already have caused severe flooding problems. The commission, which in the past has refused to… Continue reading →

Mom says Port Allen officer racially profiled her son in traffic stop — a claim the police chief vigorously denies

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown gives some ideas during Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee's breakfast meeting with city ministers in 2014 to discuss their vision for the city.

A woman claiming her teenage son was racially profiled and harassed by a Port Allen police officer threatened Wednesday to take legal action if the City Council does not initiate disciplinary action against the officer. Nikisha Joseph told city leaders the officer, a white woman, unnecessarily pulled over her 16-year-old son, who… Continue reading →

Buddhist monk accused of misusing money from Lafayette temple for gambling faces trial after plea deal craters

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Khang Nguyen Le, left, arrives at the Lafayette Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.

A Buddhist monk accused of using a Lafayette temple’s money to fund a blackjack habit will face trial in March after a federal judge on Wednesday rejected his second attempt at entering a guilty plea, one that unhinged on the Vietnamese man’s apparent misunderstanding of the charge lodged against him. Khang Nguyen Le, the former presiding… Continue reading →

Marksville man accused of illegally dumping tires, DEQ reports

An Avoyelles Parish man was arrested for the second time within five months for illegally dumping waste tires, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ’s Criminal Investigation Division obtained two arrest warrants for Daniel Lachney, 52, of Marksville — one in Avoyelles Parish and one in Pointe Coupee Parish. According to DEQ,… Continue reading →

Six suspected of DWI between Monday, Wednesday in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least six people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between noon Monday and noon Wednesday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: — Drake Critney, 33, 7624 Kim St., Addis, second-offense DWI, driver’s license suspended or revoked, possession of alcoholic… Continue reading →

Department of Agriculture and Forestry offers free seedlings Thursday at its downtown office

Anyone interested in getting free seedlings of a flowering dogwood or an Eastern redbud can go to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry building Thursday in downtown Baton Rouge. The seedlings will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis from the agency’s offices at 5825 Florida Blvd., starting at 2 p.m., while supplies last.… Continue reading →

Investigation continues into two Hammond shootings Tuesday, one resulting in the death of a 19-year-old

Deputies continue to interview witnesses but have yet to name a suspect in a fatal shooting in Hammond on Tuesday. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday that the shooting occurred about 9:30 a.m. A man driving a car near Rufus Bankston and Wardline roads heard a loud popping noise. When he looked over to his… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge-area plant managers worry economic slump will halt major petrochemical investments

Plant managers in the Baton Rouge area are growing more concerned about the continued slump in oil prices, new taxes and regulations, and a slowing of both the petrochemical industry and global economy, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance. The industry group’s members worry that these issues may reduce industry leaders’ incentives to continue large… Continue reading →

Louisiana's ugly budget outlook grows grimmer; state in ‘its own recession,’ economist says

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Louisiana’s already grim budget outlook got even worse on Wednesday. The panel that identifies the state’s projected income again lowered its expectations for the budget year that ends June 30, as well as the fiscal picture for the following year. State legislators, who are gearing up for a budget-focused special session this weekend, will now… Continue reading →

Cox pulls plug on New Orleans subscribers using analog service; some say move is money grab

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Corey Jones, an employee of Baton Rouge's Jago Tech Communications, which does subcontracting work for Cox Communications, moves around cables hanging over Government Street at Glenmore Avenue in July 2015.

First, a few channels disappeared. Then, a few more. Finally, there were none left in New Orleans. Next up are Baton Rouge and Lafayette. After issuing warnings for months, Cox Communications pulled the plug late last month on its New Orleans subscribers still using analog cable service, a transition that requires them now to rent… Continue reading →

Pelicans players, coach Alvin Gentry shed tears discussing death of Monty Williams' wife Ingrid

Advocate staff file photo by DANIEL ERATH -- Ingrid and Monty Williams.

Ingrid Williams, the wife of former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, died Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. She was 44. Ingrid Williams was driving and hit head-on by a vehicle that crossed the center lane. Susannah Donaldson, 55, the driver of the other car, also was killed. Monty Williams coached the Pelicans for five seasons.… Continue reading →

Traffic stop near Henderson leads to discovery of 202 pounts of marijuana in Tennessee man’s truck

A traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Henderson on Wednesday led to the arrest of a Tennessee man found with 202 pounds of marijuana in his truck, Louisiana State Police said. Michael Willis, 59, of LaFollette, Tennessee, was booked on possession with intent to distribute marijuana after a search revealed he had the large quantity of the… Continue reading →

Iberville Sheriff: Baton Rouge man fatally shoots self in head Wednesday while driving on I-10 near Whiskey Bay

Iberville Parish detectives said they don’t know why a 21-year-old Baton Rouge man shot himself in the head Wednesday morning while driving westbound on Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Basin, causing a two-hour backup near the Whiskey Bay exit. “We’re just thankful he didn’t cause any other accident,” Maj. Ronnie Hebert, with the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for Feb. 10

Arrests posted Feb. 9, 2016, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. MARK ANZALONE: 20, of the 100 block of Chemin Metairie Road, Youngsville. He was booked on theft under $100 and shoplifting. JACOBY JAMES BATISTE: 28, of the 3300 block of Main Highway, Breaux Bridge. He was booked on aggravated second-degree battery… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge businessman attends White House briefing

Calvin Mills Jr., chief executive officer of Baton Rouge-based information technology consultants CMC Technology, is among 50 business leaders invited to the Wednesday, Feb. 10, White House Business Council and Business Forward Briefing. The meeting’s topics are the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Obama Administration’s international trade agenda. Mills is a past winner of the U.S. Department… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge General, LHC Group form joint venture

Home nursing company LHC Group will serve as Baton Rouge General’s preferred home health partner for its patients under a joint venture announced Wednesday. As part of the agreement, Lafayette-based LHC Group will open an office on Baton Rouge General’s Mid City campus. The partners said the deal will help the General’s patients seamlessly transition from… Continue reading →

Vacant house fire on Victoria Drive ruled arson, BRFD says

A fire in a vacant house on Victoria Drive early Wednesday has been ruled arson, a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman said. Firefighters arrived at the home in the 2900 block of Victoria Drive shortly after 4 a.m. to find smoke coming from the house, BRFD spokesman Mark Miles said in a news release. The fire then began going… Continue reading →

Priority registration for summer Girl Scout camps to commence

Photo provided by Marianne Addy -- Girl Scouts have fun on the giant water slide at Camp Whispering Pines last summer.

Priority registration for Girl Scout resident camps will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Girl Scouts Louisiana East Council’s regional service center, 545 Colonia Drive, Baton Rouge. Priority registration helps guarantee a Girl Scout group or individual girl’s placement in the camp session of their choice before general registration opens on… Continue reading →

For homeless women in Baton Rouge, finding shelter for the night is a challenge

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Baton Rouge's Darasha Malveo, 23, holds  her daughter Jailee Malveo,1, right, as she talks with her son Kardae Malveo, 4, as he learns on the computer at the Bishop Ott Day Center at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  Malveo found herself without a home after the death of her mother recently, and is currently a client staying at the St. Agnes Catholic Church Missionaries of Charity's Queen of Peace Shelter on East Blvd. St. Agnes works in partnership with the Bishop Ott Sweet Dreams Shelter for Women and Children, which didn't have space for her when Darasha was placed. She travels to come to the day programs at the Day Center, and is excited about the prospect of the higher capacity at St. Vincent de Paul's location.

Tharisma Howard spends her days at homeless shelter support programs and her nights in her sister’s house, a place where they live without basics like water or electricity. The 23-year-old has been homeless since she was 16, but she has a place other than a shelter where she can sleep at night, something not available to… Continue reading →

'Not about to start censoring' floats, Spanish Town parade board member says in response to outcry

Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- A float rides down Spanish Town Road during the Spanish Town Parade on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.  Some float decorations have been under scrutiny for their controversial and insensitive nature.

Baton Rouge’s signature Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade provoked controversy for the second year in a row, with critics saying its risqué style of humor went too far this past weekend. This year’s most offending culprits were jokes about race, as at least two floats parodied the “Black Lives Matter” movement with “Pink Lives Matter” slogans,… Continue reading →

Photos: Rex reigns over Carnival, closing out New Orleans' signature holiday

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Rex presented it's 135th parade, with 29 floats on the Uptown parade route on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. The theme of the parade was "Royal Gardens - Horti Regis". Michael Kearney, Rex, King of Carnival, stopped to toast the Queen of Carnival, Adelaide Dabezies Goodyear in front of the Intercontinental Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.

Rex, Michael W. Kearney, greeted his subjects, toasted his queen, Adelaide Dabezies Goodyear, and celebrated the theme “Royal Gardens-Horti Regis.” Rex is carnivals oldest parading organization.… Continue reading →

‘This is a whole new day in terms of how we communicate’ — East Baton Rouge School System designing new websites

Photo provided by EBRSB -- The East Baton Rouge Schools have redesigned their website.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is going live Wednesday with a revamped website, one in a series of moves the state’s second-largest school district is taking to compete with the growing number of independent charter and private schools. Also on tap are individual websites for the district’s 70-plus schools, testimonial videos from parents and… Continue reading →

Tom Benson’s grandson Ryan LeBlanc says mental competency lawsuit is effort to ‘put the family back together’

Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- Ryan LeBlanc in the CBD in New Orleans, Monday January 18, 2016.

Ryan LeBlanc has heard the talk alleging that he, his mother and sister are pushing a mental competency lawsuit against the family patriarch, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, because they want to wrest away Benson’s $2 billion business empire after he cut them off more than a year ago. But there’s no question LeBlanc is… Continue reading →