Jan. 13, 2008 09:00
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dr. Scott's economic forecast promising for Acadiana
Noted economist Dr. Loren Scott delivered his 2008 Economic Forecast at yesterday's Entrée to Business luncheon sponsored by The Independent Weekly, and his prognosis for Acadiana is promising. Scott predicts that the Acadiana economy will remain strong, adding 6,300 local jobs over the next two years and experiencing 2 to 4 percent growth. While housing sector woes are leading to national fears of an economic downturn, Scott says Acadiana's relatively stable housing prices should keep our region insulated from any major housing-sector fallout.

Scott also says Acadiana is the third-fastest growing economy in the state, behind Houma and New Orleans. He reminded the 400-plus in attendance how much Louisiana's economy relies on New Orleans' economy, and while New Orleans' overall employment numbers are only back to mid-1980s levels, there are currently $15 billion in construction and rebuilding projects on line in the Crescent City. One major area of concern remains New Orleans' struggling tourism industry, which continues to be plagued by the effects of the city's epidemic violent crime.

On that front, Louisiana got some good news yesterday afternoon: embattled New Orleans District Attorney resigned. The Times-Picayune notes:

The unprecedented move ends a tenure mired in criticism over a widely perceived failure to successfully prosecute violent criminals, chronic turnover in his office, and most recently the bizarre disclosure that a robbery suspect fled to Jordan's Algiers house only to then become a suspect in the shooting of a New Orleans police officer.

In a statement yesterday, Jordan said he was resigning so he could spend more time being incompetent in the private sector.

Whoops, my mistake. What Jordan really said was, "I am resigning not because I am a quitter, but because I honestly believe this painful act will prevent further disruption of the district attorney's office," said Jordan.

One telling postscript: the only one rushing to Jordan's defense is William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson.

UL wants new trial in Baldwin case
UL Lafayette's attorneys tell The Daily Advertiser that an appeal of the $2 million judgment awarded to the university's former football coach, whose suit claimed racial bias in his 2001 firing, is a last resort. Rather, attorney Larry Marino of Lafayette's Oats and Hudson law firm says he wants a new trial.

On Oct. 18, a Baton Rouge jury voted 10-2 to award Baldwin $2 million: $500,000 for general damages that included emotional distress, $600,000 for past lost wages, $900,000 for future lost wages and $2,676 for special damages. Emerging from one of the state's most conservative districts, along with the fact that UL has a long history of diversity in its hiring practices, the verdict shocked many in the legal community.

Now, however, it seems some jurors can't recall how they voted, which certainly calls into question the accuracy of the verdict. What's not clear is whether Oats & Hudson law firm immediately polled the jurors (a common practice that might provide strong grounds for the university's challenge) or went back and interviewed them in a more informal process. All along, the university's attorneys have been perplexed by jurors who found that Baldwin was not terminated because of his race yet still answered "yes" to a second question about whether race was a determining factor in his dismissal.

Baldwin, who coached from 1999 to 2001, was terminated after posting a 6-27 record. The 53-year-0ld is now a minister at New Living Word Ministries in Ruston.

Neither Marino nor the university's public relations office could be reached for comment this morning.

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