When Gov. Kathleen Blanco pushed her Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority through the Legislature last month, she touted it as a way to consolidate efforts for hurricane protection, coastal restoration and levee oversight. It was a feel-good measure and meant to be inclusive, but like everything else with a ticking pulse and finite membership slots, lawmakers jostled over who would be appointed to the authority. Even some committee chairmen wanted a hand in the selection process. But one group, Parishes Against Coastal Erosion, was overlooked. "We asked the governor to let us have a member on it, but she told us no," says Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, one of PACE's vice presidents. Membership in the multi-parish organization includes officials such as City-Parish President Joey Durel, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle. The group has already made a name for itself by lobbying the Legislature, and a few hard stances on controversial topics are expected in the future. Currently, PACE is circulating a petition to increase Louisiana's share of offshore oil and gas revenues to 50 percent. ' Jeremy Alford
A groundswell of support is forming for a January special session of the Legislature. Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, a grassroots coalition of businesses and civic activists, has collected more than 46,000 signatures asking lawmakers and the governor to call the session to address levee board reform. "They are rising in anger against patronage politics and special interest deal-making by the political elite," says Jay Lapeyre, a founder of the group and chairman of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. ' JA
NUTRIA, SNAILS AND ARMADILLOS
It's no secret that nutria are often the culprits munching on marshland and eroding once-solid land ' they love the stuff and have insatiable appetites. But newspapers around the state have been picking up on another pest. Researchers from Brown and Louisiana State universities, according to The Times-Picayune, have discovered millions of marble-sized periwinkle snails chomping their way through wetlands buffering the Gulf of Mexico. And destruction on hurricane protection layers is not confined to nutria and snails. A 1.6-mile stretch of levee along Bayou Segnette in Jefferson Parish had to be repaired in 1995 ' due to burrowing armadillos. ' JA
ROUTES TO RETURN TO N.O.
Last week, Nick Spitzer, host of the nationally syndicated radio program American Routes, announced that his radio program and its staff would be returning to New Orleans after finding shelter in Lafayette with KRVS 88.7 FM since Hurricane Katrina ("Re-Routed," Oct.19). In an e-mail, Spitzer wrote: "I think we all felt that we had to return to our New Orleans home(s) to help with the rebuilding effort, fulfill our professional commitments, and see what the future holds. It's the appropriate place for us now to continue our conversation about music and culture from and to this region ... and to the nation as a whole." The show will move back to New Orleans after the first of the year to Basin Street Station. ' R. Reese Fuller
The New Orleans Bowl drew more than 18,000 college football fans to Lafayette last week and gave the Hub City some nice national exposure on ESPN. In a different kind of bowl game, Cajundome officials put out the call for volunteers for "The Great Cajundome Flush-off," a test of the Dome's 200 toilets and urinals. ' Scott Jordan