For Romney fans, this will be a great chance to get a close-up look at the candidate; the Clearview Rooms are two modest meeting spaces that are normally the home of baby and bridal shows.
"Boasting an elegant feel with over 3,000 square feet in two meeting rooms,"
"Boasting an elegant feel with over 3,000 square feet in two meeting rooms,"the combined spaces can accommodate up to 300 people, and provide direct access to both the food court and Serrano's restaurant. Just remember: no confetti, glitter, rice, birdseed, streamers or open flames are allowed. Oh, and no DJs.
The rally is is scheduled to start at 9 a.m and is open to the public. Under the cut: A list of Louisiana politicos who are supporting or who have endorsed Romney, according to the campaign.
Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson pleaded not guilty to 38 counts — in theory carrying maximum sentences totaling 695 years each if convicted for all of them — of conspiracy , wire fraud and theft of programs receiving federal funds today in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy.
According to the indictment, Broussard and Wilkinson in late 2003 improperly hired Broussard's then-girlfriend, now-ex-wife Karen Parker as paralegal supervisor for the parish attorney's office, despite the fact that Parker was unqualified for the position and was actually working in ID management for parish employees.
Read the indictment here: Broussard__Aaron___Wilkinson__Thomas_sind.pdf
Between 2003 and 2010, the government charges, Broussard increased Wilkinson's salary from $100,000 to $184,000 and in return, Wilkinson kept Parker on his staff, gradually increasing her salary from $48,000 to $64,000.
When the feds indicted former Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard, former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson and Broussard’s ex-wife Karen Parker for payroll fraud on Dec. 2, some courthouse observers wondered if that was all that the government had against Broussard.
Wonder no more.
With Parker’s guilty plea last week to a single count of misprision (failure to report a felony), followed quickly by a single count of misprision against former parish administrator (and top Broussard aide) Tim Whitmer, federal investigators signaled that there’s a whole lot more to come.
Meanwhile, Whitmer and the former Mrs. Broussard are cooperating with the feds against Broussard and probably River Birch landfill co-owner Fred Heebe.
That should make Broussard, Wilkinson, Heebe and a lot of others in Jefferson politics very uncomfortable.
Lafreniere Bark, a new five-acre dog park, opens Saturday, Jan. 7, on the north side of Lafreniere Park (3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and event from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Everyone is welcome to attend the free event, and pet owners are encouraged to dress their dogs in Saints or LSU gear (You can choose another team if you dare.) and enter them in a pet sports costume contest. If you're ready to add a pet to your family, the Jefferson Parish SPCA will have animals available for adoption. Other activities also are planned.
According to the indictment, ex-Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, who resigned last year, allegedly overpaid his then-wife Karen Parker — who worked as a paralegal for the parish even though she wasn't qualified — by more than $20,000 per year.
The indictment says Parker earned over $320,000 working for Jefferson Parish from 2004-2010.
The feds allege that ex-parish attorney Thomas Wilkinson, who also resigned last year, was part of the scheme as well. According to the indictment, he authorized Parker's hiring at an inflated salary and then her subsequent raises. Here's how they say he did that:
THOMAS G. WILKINSON directed a subordinate employee to cross out the pay rate for defendant KAREN PARKER of $28,838.00 and write $48,000.00 on an official Parish of Jefferson, Department of Human Services, Request to Fill a Vacant Job Form.
Her salary would jump to $64,000 by 2012 under Wilkinson's watch, despite the fact that Parker wasn't trained or certified as a paralegal, according to the indictment. And while that was allegedly happening, Broussard approved more than $80,000 in pay raises for Wilkinson.
The press release, just in from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office:
(Complete press release plus the full indictment after the jump)
Lieutenant governor hopeful Billy Nungesser and his Senate champion, David Vitter, are planning a seven-city blitz of the state that will take them from Shreveport and Monroe all the way down to New Orleans in 10 1/2 hours. The duo (along with entertainer and former lieutenant governor candidate Sammy Kershaw) will begin at 8 a.m. in Shreveport ("Corner of Bert Kouns and Youree Dr. [look for the giant elephant with Nungesser signs on it]") before hitting Monroe, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and finally "New Orleans" (actually, Metairie).
(Interestingly, both the Monroe and Baton Rouge stops have the instruction: "Look for the statue of Drew Brees." Huh? There's a statue of #9 in Monroe??? A quick call to the campaign cleared it up: Nungesser, Vitter, Kershaw, et al. will be traveling with a Drew Brees statue. No word on whether the "statue" is an inflatable, or one of those car-dealership giant stick figures that flails around due to a fan at the bottom. Also no word as to what the steadfastly non-political Mr. Brees thinks of all this; to my knowledge, he hasn't endorsed anything more controversial than NyQuil.)
It's an ambitious schedule, particularly in regards to Baton Rouge, where the meet-and-greet is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., meaning they'll hit Red Stick rush hour traffic on their way to Metairie.
Full schedule and details under the jump.
Avondale Shipyard, Northrop Grumman's sprawling West Bank shipbuilding facility, is set to close in 2013. Rolling layoffs will impact thousands of workers. Local and national campaigns fight, hope (and pray) to keep it open — and this morning, hundreds of union members, laborers, families and others joined a march and rally to help save the shipyard. (Read more in Gambit.)
Hundreds gathered at the foot of Champions Square, carrying signs representing their unions or the campaign to keep the yard open. Mayor Mitch Landrieu shook hands in the crowd before making his way to a small stage and emphasizing the importance of keeping the yard open, both for the Westwego and West Bank communities and New Orleans. "Everyone (here) helped rebuild America," he told the crowd. "Let's get to work."
Among the unions and organizations in the march were NAACP, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and laborers, boilermakers, teachers, musicians and several other local union affiliates.
The police-escorted march began on Poydras Street outside Champions Square and made its way to the Hale Boggs Federal Building several blocks away. Jefferson Parish President John Young and labor leaders, led by the Treme Brass Band and Rev. Jim VanderWeele of New Orleans Interfaith Worker Justice, carried Save Our Shipyard banners and marched in the front. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, and Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego marched among dozens of groups following the lead.
"It's a nuclear bomb," Morrell said of the economic impact of a potential Avondale closure. "And the state doesn't have a sense of urgency."
"I would like nothing more than to respond to each and every allegation, because I have answers for each and every allegation,” Robinette said at the top of his popular "Think Tank" morning show on "The Big 870." “But I’ve been asked to refrain from discussing these matters."
Robinette never said who asked him to "refrain from discussing these matters," but did add, "I can look my wife and my daughter in the eye … and tell you the public, that I have done absolutely nothing wrong."
He then went on to host his program with no further mention of the controversy.
Heebe and his landfill contract are part of a 21-month-old ongoing federal investigation in Jefferson Parish. In September 2010, federal officials raided River Birch offices in Gretna, seizing computers and other documents and sparking a lawsuit by Heebe and Ward, who claimed the feds lifted property unrelated to the investigation. (In late 2010, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan agreed, ordering the feds to return some properties.) Meanwhile, In late May, former Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries head Henry Mouton pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting more than $460,000 in bribes from an unnamed co-conspirator in a case involving another landfill. A statement by the U.S. Department of Justice said Mouton "accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and illegal payoffs from Co-conspirator A who used Mouton, and specifically his influence, to keep the Old Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans closed and to prevent the permitting of the Two Rivers Recycling Landfill in Catahoula Parish." Mouton is scheduled to be sentenced early next year.
Meanwhile, WWL-AM is standing by Robinette. In a statement this afternoon, the station said:
In December 2010, Garland Robinette informed WWL about a loan he and his wife Nancy received in 2007 relating to a piece of property they owned, which Garland confirms is due and will be satisfied in October of this year. We do not intend to comment on it publicly any further and do not expect this matter to affect Garland's status with WWL. We expect him to continue his unique and vital role addressing on WWL the important issues facing New Orleans and the Gulf South.
Following accusations of sex trafficking by a personal assistant, Steven Seagal's stint with Jefferson Parish law enforcement was terminated. Seagal headed to Arizona to work with controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and film the third season of his reality show Steven Seagal Lawman. Former Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno also signed on with the sheriff. But filming got interesting on a bust involving cockfighting investigations in which a man's puppy was accidentally killed. Now the homeowner says his roosters are just "for show," and is suing the sheriff and Seagal. Hollywood Reporter explains, and there's this item from the Arizona Republic. TPM also flagged the story, and has this on other celebs who have been deputized by Arpaio.
Promise was rescued in 2010 with "one foot in death's grave," says veterinarian Allison Barca. She's now a healthy weight and living happily in Jefferson Parish's care.
In this week's cover story, I look at how Jefferson Parish is handling cases of horse neglect on the West Bank. In urban environments like New Orleans, animal welfare organizations often deal with huge numbers of dog and cat cases — from abused or abandoned pets to spay-and-neuter operations. Horses throw a completely different wrench into these groups' already straining budgets.
Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter (JPAS) divides its operations on the East and West banks. The shelter has six animal control officers and one humane officer, who works primarily with cruelty cases. The officers work 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., in shifts, covering both banks. They also respond to emergencies at all hours. It's the more rural West Bank that poses a problem. Horses aren't necessarily in your neighbor's backyard — along Highway 90, for instance, there are makeshift "barns," open fields and secluded grassy areas and pastures. It's the last stretch of the parish before St. Charles Parish comes into view. JPAS has a Westwego outpost, but there are cut-off stables beyond there.
From July 2010 to July 2011, the shelter, aided by ASPCA consultant Kim Staton, spent hundreds of hours on horse cases and seized 12 — seemingly a small number, but the budget-tight parish has cared for 12 horses that desperately needed thousands of dollars in veterinary care, as well as transportation, feed and housing. JPAS does not own stables. Even LA/SPCA, which covers the New Orleans metro area, has limited stable space, despite a massive case in 2007-2009 that seized 31 horses from an Algiers property. Two horses were found dead.
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