BALDWIN — The Baldwin Board of Aldermen has named a replacement for an alderman recently removed from office.
Mike Caesar was selected to temporarily fill the seat vacated by Tony Gibson. Gibson was forced to resign after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled he could not hold office due to a prior felony conviction.
Caesar ran in the 2010 election but did not win. He will take the seat as soon as he receives his commission from the Secretary of State and is inaugurated. He will hold the seat until a new alderman is elected in an Oct.19 special election. Caesar is eligible to run in that race.
Qualifying will take place Aug. 14 through 16.
Boustany says he won’t run for Senate
BATON ROUGE — Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany says he won’t challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in her re-election bid next year.
A spokesman for the Lafayette congressman confirmed Tuesday that Boustany won’t run for the Senate seat.
Spokesman Neal Patel says Boustany was encouraged to run against Landrieu in 2014. But he says Boustany remains dedicated to the residents of the 3rd Congressional District and to his continuing work on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Boustany would have to give up his U.S. House seat to run for the Senate, which would have risked bumping him from Congress entirely.
Other Republicans said to be eyeing a possible run against Landrieu are U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy and John Fleming, state education board president Chas Roemer and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.
New election ordered on N.O. bridge toll
BATON ROUGE — A state district judge on Tuesday nullified November election results for the 20-year renewal of tolls for the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans and ordered a new election in May.
Judge William Morvant ruled that voters were disenfranchised by the Nov. 6 election, in which the decision to extend the tolls passed by just 36 votes.
Later Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation and Development suspended collection of tolls on the bridge as of 6 p.m.
The tolls generate about $22 million annually and provide three-fourths of the budget for the agency that oversees the operation.
Paper check tax
refunds are back
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s revenue department is reminding taxpayers that they can request a paper check for their tax refunds this year.
If a taxpayer doesn’t specifically choose the check or electronic deposit on tax forms, the refund will come on a pre-loaded debit card.
The pre-paid Visa cards generated complaints last year when the revenue department introduced them and did away with paper checks. People said they didn’t understand how to use the cards or were charged fees when they did.
Lawmakers passed a bill that prohibited the department from requiring people who don’t use direct deposit to get their tax refunds on the debit cards.
The debit cards are used as a cost-saving measure, but department officials encourage people to choose direct deposit for tax refunds.
Officers face suspension
NEW ORLEANS — Two New Orleans police officers will be placed on emergency suspension Wednesday after each was charged with battery and malfeasance in office in two separate incidents that occurred last year.
Department spokeswoman Remi Braden says Lt. Mike Field and Officer Jamal Kendrick will be suspended without pay.
Field allegedly struck a seated and handcuffed man repeatedly on Feb. 19, 2012, at the Eighth District Police Station. Results of an investigation were turned over to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, which filed charges Tuesday against the 28-year veteran of the department.
An Oct. 13 videotaped recording shows Kendrick, who joined the force in September 2009, handcuffing a motorist and then striking him.
Students arrested after gun found
BATON ROUGE — Two Tara High School students face charges after a gun was found in the backpack of a 16-year-old 10th grader.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office says the 16-year-old boy was booked with illegal carrying of a weapon on school property. A 17-year-old boy faces the same charge and a charge of aggravated assault.
Deputies found an unloaded .38 caliber handgun inside the book sack. Witnesses told investigators the older student pointed the weapon at another student during class in a threatening manner, allegedly placing it directly on the student’s face. He then allegedly returned the weapon to the younger student, who told deputies he bought the gun illegally “off the street.”
Building renamed to honor airman
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — A building at Barksdale Air Force Base is being renamed in honor of a fallen airman.
A news release from Barksdale says the 2nd Bomb Wing will host a ceremony on Friday to mark the renaming of the Fitness Center to the Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell Fitness Center.
Bell, a member of the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, was killed in January of 2012, by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Water back on for now, but condos will shut down
BATON ROUGE — The water has been turned back on at a troubled Baton Rouge apartment and condominium complex — but only temporarily.
The month long extension of water service to the Brandywine Condominiums will give residents time to find other living arrangements before the complex shuts down.
The complex’s water was shut off Monday because the owners owe $125,000 in delinquent sewer bills.
Stephen Ayers, who owns 56 of the 70 occupied Brandywine units, says the extension was negotiated Tuesday. Service was extended by the city-parish government for $10,000.
Ayers said the complex will shut down because he and the condo association that pays bills for the project cannot pay off the condos’ debt.
2 ex-Monroe councilmen win new federal trial
MONROE — Two former Monroe City Council members have won a new federal trial on corruption charges after arguing that a personal relationship between a prosecutor and an FBI agent unfairly influenced their trial.
U.S. District Judge Donald Walter ordered the new trial on bribery and racketeering charges for Arthur Gilmore and Robert Stevens. They were convicted in 2011.
Lawyers for Gilmore and Stevens had argued that an improper relationship between Assistant U.S. Attorney Mignonne Griffing and FBI agent Bill Chesser affected the prosecution and trial.
They said Chesser, of Monroe, and Griffing, of Shreveport, used the case as an opportunity to carry on a then-secret affair.
Prosecutors said the relationship had begun in the 1990s and did not result in an unfair trial.
The new trial is set for April 22 in Shreveport.
The case involves allegations that Stevens and Gilmore attempted to extract bribes of approximately $8,700 in cash, land considerations and “other things of present or prospective value” from local businessman and developer Eddie Hakim.
In their 2011 trial, defense lawyers argued that the two men solicited donations for constituents, and the only thing they were guilty of is not reporting donations on their campaign finance reports.
Among issues raised in the motions for a new trial was whether Hakim, identified in court papers as a cooperating witness, ever threatened Chesser or Griffing with exposure of their relationship and whether that prompted the two to protect him in a related tax case. Prosecutors, while acknowledging an improper relationship between Chesser and Griffing, said there is no evidence that Hakim had heard allegations of the affair at any point when he might have been able to affect the investigation.
From The Associated Press.