BATON ROUGE — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is heading to her 2014 re-election bid with $2.5 million in her campaign account, more than twice what she had at this point in her last campaign.
The figure was disclosed in campaign documents filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission detailing money raised and spent through the end of 2012.
But a possible Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, isn’t far behind. Cassidy, a Baton Rouge doctor who hasn’t said whether he’ll seek the Senate seat, reported to the FEC that he has $2 million in his campaign account.
Other potential GOP contenders for the race were farther behind. U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden reported $481,000 in his account, while former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry of New Iberia ended the year with about $67,000.
Orleans touts drop in murders
NEW ORLEANS — Figures released by New Orleans officials show overall crime down by just 1 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 — but they also show a significant drop in the final three months of last year.
Statistics released Friday show that for the fourth quarter of 2012, overall crime dropped 8 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Fourth-quarter murders dropped by 18 percent. Rapes also were down by 18 percent in the fourth quarter while armed robberies and auto thefts dropped by about a third.
Assault was up by 16 percent, however. And theft was up by 4 percent.
New Orleans’ downward trend in the murder rate appears to be continuing, with 11 people killed in New Orleans in January, compared to 25 in January 2012.
“When our overall crime numbers are down, as well as our most violent crimes- murders, rapes and armed robberies- we know we’re on the right path, and that it’s safer for our residents in their neighborhoods as well on the streets of New Orleans”, Superintendent Ronal Serpas said in a prepared statement.
In a year-to-year comparison, rapes were down more than 16 percent, burglaries down 11 percent, auto thefts down nearly 13 percent in 2012. Armed robberies dropped by more than 8 percent and murder was down 3 percent.
Lockport festival set for March
LOCKPORT — Lockport’s annual Main Street Market is scheduled March 16 at the Bayouside Park.
The the market will include artisans selling clothing, jewelry, pottery, lawn ornaments, purses, wood crafts, art and other novelty items. Food and drink will be available at the nearby Bayou Lafourche Folklife and Heritage Museum.
Proceeds benefit the museum.
More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inmate sentenced for attacking guard
ALEXANDRIA — A 32-year-old inmate has been sentenced to 18 years for stabbing a guard with a makeshift knife at the federal penitentiary in Pollock.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley says Isaac Hashi was sentenced this week. Finley says Hashi pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2012, to one count of assaulting a prison guard and possessing contraband — a four-inch makeshift plexiglass knife.
Prosecutors say Hashi stabbed the guard multiple times on Nov. 4, 2009.
Hashi was serving a sentence for assault after throwing hot oil on a deportation official’s face on Jan. 11, 2008, at the Columbia Care Center in South Carolina.
Finely says Hashi will be required to serve three years of supervised release, which he will serve after the 17-year sentence is completed for the earlier assault charge.
DOE communications director named
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White has announced the hiring of a new communications director.
Anna Gatlin began work at the Department of Education last month after serving as a domestic policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
A Friday news release from the department said Gatlin has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, a master’s degree in secondary English education from New York University, and a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard.
For the Romney Campaign she was an adviser on education policy and other domestic policy issues. Prior to earning her degree at Harvard, she taught high school Spanish in Mississippi and worked in education in Tennessee.
Cameron starts construction on new high school
CAMERON — Ground was broken this past week on a new Johnson Bayou High School to replace one that was shut down after damaged by hurricanes Rita and Ike.
Cameron Parish Schools Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue said construction of the $16.7 million, 58,000-square-foot school will take about 22 months.
“Johnson Bayou High School has a very long tradition of excellence in a number of areas so we’re very pleased to be able to have a perfect environment for that to continue and to grow,” Rodrigue said.
The contractor is Lake Charles-based Bessette Development Corp. of Lake Charles is the general contractor.
The original school had been renovated in the early 2000s. But it was heavily damaged in 2005 when Hurricane Rita struck. The school was repaired, but in 2008 the storm surge from Hurricane Ike destroyed it.
The school district will spend about $1 million on the project with flood insurance and funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency covering the remaining costs.
About 70 students attend the school, which serves grades pre-kindergarten through 12.
Lake Charles to tweak zoning laws
LAKE CHARLES — Mayor Randy Roach’s administration is creating a master plan for Lake Charles.
The idea was discussed before Hurricane Rita. But after the storm, which hit in 2005, city officials and residents trained their attention on reshaping downtown and the lakefront, along with improving recreation and infrastructure.
Design plans and zoning laws were added to the city code, but those efforts were focused on small sections of the city.
Roach wants to see a master plan that can be “overlaid” with the city’s current zoning code.
BESE members touring state
BATON ROUGE — Members of Louisiana’s top school board are planning a statewide tour of public schools.
The first stops are Tuesday and Wednesday at eight schools in the Caddo and Bossier parishes.
Details of other visits are still being worked out, according to Brodrick Hampton, spokesman for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The visits come at a time of sweeping changes in education, including new annual evaluations for teachers.
BESE President Chas Roemer said the visits are designed to get feedback on education issues from teachers, parents and students.
“We get a lot of information at BESE board meetings but it is often second hand or third hand,” Roemer said. “I want to get some direct feedback.”
Roemer said he hopes to visit every school district in 2013, usually with BESE members who represent the area.
The Caddo and Bossier stops will include BESE members Walter Lee of Mansfield, an elected member, and Connie Bradford, who lives in Ruston and is an at-large member as one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s three appointees on the 11-member panel.
The four Bossier Parish school system schools set for visits include one school rated “A” by the state last year for academic performance and three rated “B.”
The four schools on the Caddo Parish list include one with an “A,” two with a “D” and one with an “F.”
From The Associated Press.