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Martiny Running for Senate
Republican state Rep. Danny Martiny of Kenner has made it official -- he's going to run for the state Senate from District 10 next year during the statewide elections. The District 10 seat is currently held by state Sen. Art Lentini, who, like Martiny, is term-limited. Martiny, a Republican, kicked off his campaign with a free party at the Harahan Lions Club on July 29 and drew a crowd of about 900, including a number of Jefferson politicos. Among them were Parish President Aaron Broussard, Council Chair John Young, Council members Jennifer Sneed and Elton Lagasse, Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz, Kenner Councilman Ben Zahn, Lentini and fellow Jefferson Sen. Ken Hollis, as well as state Reps. Charlie Lancaster, Shirley Bowler, Steve Scalise and John LaBruzzo. -- DuBos

Livingston Expands Reach
After years of being on top of the Beltway lobbying game, former Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston, a Republican who now splits his time between Virginia and New Orleans, is expanding operations into state government. The Livingston Group has formed a strategic alliance with Impact Management Group, which has public affairs offices in Little Rock and Baton Rouge. To make sure their presence is felt immediately, Jason Hebert, former executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party and IMG partner, has been tapped to spearhead the move as the state reaches a pinnacle in recovery money. "Often, federal issues are being influenced more at the state and local level than inside the Beltway," Livingston says. "It just made sense for us to reach out and be a part of that communication process." The expansion focuses on lobbying the state Legislature, forming policy strategy, developing public-private partnerships and other roles. Formerly chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Livingston was expected to become speaker of the House until he stepped down in 1998. Livingston's firm now represents more than 80 domestic and foreign clients. -- Alford

Early Risers
Now that qualifying is over for the fall elections, politicians from all walks of life will be taping radio commercials to reach black voters. And some candidates will be getting up very early Sunday mornings to appear on "Sunday Journal," a live talk show on WYLD-FM Radio (98.5), airing from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. "There's no black talk on commercial radio in New Orleans -- Sunday morning is it," says host Harold "Hal" Clark, who has hosted the show since 2002. "Journal" hosted a debate between incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu during the recent mayoral contest, but the show also covers a broad range of topics including arts, culture and race relations. Local media icon and political consultant Bill Rouselle founded and moderated the show 13 years ago, before leaving WYLD and turning over the moderator's chair to Clark. A native New Orleanian, Clark, 44, is a spokesperson for Southern University at New Orleans and an aide to the university's chancellor. Clark's first novel, Chummy's Spirit, which he researched in Vietnam, appeared in local bookstores earlier this year. -- Johnson

Adios Amigos? After operating in New Orleans for more than 100 years, government officials in Costa Rica are considering closing the Louisiana consulate office. If Costa Rican President Oscar Arias decides to pull up stakes, it could impact some big numbers -- Louisiana exports to the country totaled $252 million last year. In hopes of heading off the shuttering of one of the oldest consulates in the nation, Louisiana's congressional delegation sent a letter to Arias. "We believe that the closing of the consulate in New Orleans would be a serious detriment to the expanding range of trade, transportation, tourism, educational, cultural, and other important ties that have developed between Costa Rica and Louisiana over many years," the letter states. Although the office is in New Orleans, the withdrawal could be felt all over south Louisiana. There are five deepwater ports along the lower Mississippi River that offer a strategic waterway to and from more than 30 states for trade in both directions between Costa Rica and the U.S. -- Alford

'A Right to Life'
The recent surge of drug-related homicides in the city has triggered frustration and more than a few dismissive comments in political, law enforcement and media circles. "At least they are killing each other," a local reporter said to a colleague recently. In recent years, police and tourism officials also have downplayed "drug-related" murders in the name of bolstering the city's image. But ex-cop Anthony Radosti, vice president of the private, pro-law enforcement Metropolitan Crime Commission, says such comments have no place in New Orleans. "Every person, whether they are problematic or not, has the right to live," says Radosti, a retired NOPD detective. Drug dealers and drug users have families and loved ones who are not involved in the drug culture, he adds. "A mother's loss is no less because he or she used drugs." The 14-member NOPD narcotics division should be "beefed up" to handle an influx of illegal narcotics that has spawned an "epidemic" of drug-related violence and property crimes, Radosti suggests, and drug offenders should be vigorously prosecuted but ultimately treated for their addictions. -- Johnson

Storm Suit Deadline Near
The deadline for filing suit against insurance companies on most Hurricane Katrina-related claims is Aug. 29, and the deadline for Hurricane Rita claims is Sept. 24. The deadlines mark the last day for effective negotiation for all unsettled claims, after which all bargaining power may be lost, says the Loyola Law Clinic, which is offering assistance to local storm victims. Attempts to extend the filing deadline may not be successful, as the constitutionality of new laws and special orders will likely remain in question after the deadline. The Loyola Law Clinic is offering an information packet that includes a pro se filing form for claimants to file suit against their insurers. The packet discusses both how to apply to the state-sponsored mediation program and how to file suit. For more information, contact the Loyola Law Clinic at 861-5590, ext. 2 and say that you want an insurance packet. -- DuBos

Resettlement Office Needed
Tulane University history professor Lance Hill says the city has failed to come up with effective strategies to resettle poor people returning to New Orleans -- but it's not too late. Hill says the city of Columbia, S.C., developed a model "resettlement center" for Katrina evacuees from New Orleans that can be used here as the storm-battered city repopulates. After the storm, Columbia officials formed "South Carolina Cares," a nonprofit, and BlueCross/BlueShield rented a hotel for arriving evacuees. Volunteers, trained by the Red Cross, assessed the basic needs of the Katrina "guests," ranging from employment, housing and medicine to after-school tutoring for children. Evacuees were then shepherded to various appointments, recreational activities and worship services by volunteers, according to published reports. Hill said "shepherding" could work well in New Orleans, given the legions of volunteers in the city and the high illiteracy rates of returning residents. "Instead, we let poor communities repopulate without any strategies to protect them from crime," Hill says. With few shelters available, returning indigents relocate to a few relatively undamaged areas like Central City, where old neighborhood rivalries inevitably flare up. "A resettlement process would solve a lot of problems," Hill says. "We could learn a lot from other states that took in our evacuees." -- Johnson

Rooms for Teachers
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has negotiated a special deal for teachers applying for K-12 teaching positions in the devastated region: free room and board. In conjunction with the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the CVB is offering free hotel vouchers during the interview process. "This extra bit of assistance will only make it easier for them to become a permanent part of our community," says Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University and LRA chairman. The Recovery School District, which took over more than 100 New Orleans public schools after Katrina, needs about 400 teachers for 17 schools. The 35 charter schools in New Orleans need another 50 teachers. -- Alford

Oysters at 16-Year Low
A serious shortage of Louisiana's famous Gulf oysters has been evident to most restaurant-goers in south Louisiana for months. Now a state study backs up diners' suspicions with hard numbers. Last year's storms damaged so many boats, docks and infrastructure -- and displaced hundreds of workers -- that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had difficulty completing its annual stock assessment of public oyster leases. "This was especially difficult due to the hurricanes," says Patrick Banks, a department biologist. "We were operating in many instances without a coastal office and in reduced vessels." The state surveyed its 1.65 million acres last month and found that overall stock sizes are declining in the wake of last year's two storms. In fact, public oyster resources are at their lowest levels since 1990. The availability of sack oysters, consumers' favorites, is down approximately 70 percent from last year. -- Alford

What would Churchill say? In a rare show of unity last week, Mayor Ray Nagin and key officials announced a series of modest first steps to rebuild the local jail, courts and other storm-shattered institutions at Tulane and Broad while restoring trust in a criminal justice system widely considered dysfunctional before Katrina. "We are going to rebuild respect for this system," said former state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, volunteer chair of the Mayor's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. -- Johnson

IOP Classes Resume
Politically, one sign of New Orleans' recovery is the resumption of classes at Loyola University's Institute of Politics. The IOP, which has taught annual political seminars for more than 35 years, is gathering names for this year's class and invites applicants to call Gayle Mumphrey at 865-3548 or email mumfrey@loyno.edu. The course begins in early October and meets on Tuesday nights through early April. Many of the city's and state's most politically connected -- and electorally successful -- politicos got their first taste of local politics in the IOP. -- DuBos

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