January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WEST in Wired

This month's Wired magazine features a three-page spread on New Iberia startup company Wind Energy Systems Technology (WEST). Founded by veteran oilman Herman Schellstede and Harold Schoeffler, of Schoeffler Cadillac, WEST plans to recycle decomissioned offshore oil platforms to mount some of the nation's first offshore wind turbines. After running into difficulties in Louisiana, WEST has found a much more welcome reception from energy regulators in Texas. Wired reports that WEST hopes to have a test turbine up this summer and a farm of 50 windmills spinning by the end of next year. While not nearly as established as other national and international green energy producers, reporter John Geoghegan writes that these "gulf coast good ol' boys" may still be ahead of the curve:

Formed in 2004, Wind Energy Systems Technology (WEST) is on track to commercialize offshore wind power well ahead of more established and better funded contenders with greener credentials. At $240 million and 150 megawatts of peak output—enough to power 45,000 homes—the project is modest. But the eyes of the alt-energy world are upon it. "WEST may not be in the mainstream, but they're definitely serious," says Walt Musial at the National Wind Technology Center in Colorado. "They might actually do it."

by: Nathan Stubbs 1:23 PM

Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux

In November, Production Weekly reported that James Lee Burke's 1993 novel In The Electric Mist with Confederate Dead would be made into a movie and filmed in Louisiana. Now Production Weekly reports that Tommy Lee Jones will star as Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux.

by: R. Reese Fuller 12:04 PM

Acadiana winners in OffBeat's Best of the Beat awards

The results of the annual Best of the Beat awards from New Orleans' OffBeat magazine are out, and Acadiana musicians and businesses fared very well in the 2007 poll. The biggest surprises: Eunice's KBON 101.1 FM placed ahead of perennial winner WWOZ 90.7 FM of New Orleans in the Best Radio Station category, and Flat Town Records bested New Orleans labels like Basin Street Records in the Best Record Label category.

And congratulations to Independent photo editor Terri Fensel, who won in the Best Music Photographer category.

The list of Acadiana winners follows; for a complete list, click here.

Best Cajun Band or Performer

Best Cajun Album
BeauSoleil: Live in Louisiana (Way Down in Louisiana)

Best Zydeco Band or Performer
Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas

Best Zydeco Album
Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas: Hang it High, Hang it Low (Rounder)

Best Country/Folk/Roots Rock Album
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy (The ZoZo Sisters): Adieu False Heart (Vanguard)

Best Guitar Player
Sonny Landreth

Best Accordion
Terrance Simien

Best Radio Station
KBON 101.1 FM (Eunice)

Best Record Label
Flat Town Records

Best Instrument Store
International Vintage Guitars

Best Music Photographer
Terri Fensel

Best Festival Outside of New Orleans
Festivals Acadiens

by: Scott Jordan 11:24 AM

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

LNG call-in day

Environmental groups continue to try and pressure Shell Oil over its plans to build a controversial open-loop LNG terminal in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Cameron Parish. Campaign organizer Dan Favre of the Gulf Restoration Network writes in an email today:

This Thursday, Shell will release its profit reports from last quarter, and, as usual, it promises to be gigantic. Environmental and justice groups all over the country are using the occasion to draw attention to Shell's ridiculous abuses. We've already pitched in on an ad that's going to run in English and Dutch (Shell HQ) media markets, but the most important aspect is the homespun goodness.

The group is organizing a "call-in day" and members of the UL Lafayette group SPEAK plan to be out on campus trying to raise awareness on the issue. Shell is yet to begin construction on the $650 million terminal, which was licensed under a federal fast-track program prior to environmental concerns being raised by the state and several advocacy groups. The license was subsequently challenged in court, with a federal appeals court upholding the license. Of all the proposed offshore LNG importation terminals in the Gulf, Shell's is the largest using the controversial 'open loop' system that has come under fire for the threat it poses to fisheries.

by: Nathan Stubbs 3:24 PM

Monday, January 29, 2007

Iberia Parish audit in the mail

Iberia Parish President Will Langlinais and newly elected Iberia Parish Council chair Caesar Comeaux will have the long-awaited legislative audit in their possession on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The document is a confidential draft according to Dan Daigle, director of the Compliance Audit Division of the state Legislative Auditor's office and will not be released to the public until local governing authorities have had a chance to comment. Daigle suggests the audit will become public record in three weeks if everything goes according to plan. The Ind will receive an electronic copy of the audit the day it becomes public. Watch our website for updates.

by: Mary Tutwiler 1:33 PM

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Iberia Parish President to get audit

A legislative audit investigating contractual relationships between Iberia Parish President Will Langlinais and service contractors that may be in violation of the Parish Charter could be in the hands of Langlinais as early as this week, according to Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot in The Daily Iberian. Iberia Parish Council members will also meet with state auditors to go through the report before it is released to the public. Once the document is released, in approximately four weeks, it will be placed on the state website. It has taken the Legislative Auditor's office nine months to finalize the fact-finding audit, which was requested by Iberia Parish Councilman Bernard Broussard in April of 2006.

by: Mary Tutwiler 3:27 PM

Pavy & Jerry Lee for Jazz Fest

Renowned Lafayette artist Francis Pavy is the artist for the 2007 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Pavy had the honor of painting Louisiana native son and Ferriday Fireball Jerry Lee Lewis.

Jazz Fest announced its 2007 lineup today, with some interesting first-time headliners like ZZ Top and Norah Jones joining Fest vets Dr. John, The Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt and hundreds of Louisiana acts. To view the schedule, click here.

by: Scott Jordan 8:00 AM

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gulf Coast rebuilding and President Bush's State of the Union Address

Updating an earlier post, freshman Democratic Sen. Jim Webb briefly touched on New Orleans (and, by extension, Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts) in the Democratic Party's response to President Bush's State of the Union Address last night:

"Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans," Webb said.

It's only one sentence, but maybe it's a start.

Meanwhile, editorials and stories from the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post and syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson note Bush's omission of New Orleans or the Gulf Coast in his SOTU speech. It's heartening to know that there are national media outlets that do understand the current plight of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans and continue to try and keep it in the national spotlight, but Bush ignoring Katrina (not to mention Rita) in his speech is hardly surprising. The President doesn't want to renew conversation and conjure up images of one of his administration's worst failures. Gov. Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin continue to get rightfully pummeled for their ongoing post-Katrina blunders, but unlike President Bush, they're not in a position where they can shift public focus to Iraq, affordable health care, etc.

For full text of our Louisiana legislators' response to the President's speech and the omission of rebuilding efforts, click here.

by: Scott Jordan 9:21 AM

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Speaking of Louisiana ...

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, tune into LPB for a TV special hosted Lynn Whitfield, called, "Our Voice. Our Plan. Our Future," as part of the Louisiana Public Square series. (If you can't catch it then, check LPB's schedule for the three other broadcast times this week.) The program will cover and seek input from viewers on four areas of Louisiana's recovery process - coastal protection and restoration, community development and transportation, safety, and economic development. You can add your two cents and take the online poll until Feb. 10 on the Louisiana Speaks Web site.

by: R. Reese Fuller 1:24 PM

Monday, January 22, 2007

Democrats reviving focus on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast?

With the exception of the New Orleans Saints' now-finished storybook run at the Super Bowl, New Orleans and Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts have steadily been dropping off the national radar. Some pundits thought the new Democratic Congress would pick up the torch, but their first-100-days-in-office blueprint contained no mention of New Orleans, and Congress recently announced it would not pursue a probe into the federal government's response to Katrina. Out of sight, out of mind.

But Virginia Sen. Jim Webb sounds like he's ready to re-introduce New Orleans and Louisiana into the national conversation in a big way. As this AP story notes, Webb might use the Democratic rebuttal to tomorrow's State of the Union address to question spending in Iraq and say that rebuilding New Orleans "is a point of national priority."

"If we're putting all this money into Iraq and ignoring New Orleans, then we're doing something wrong," he told reporters during a teleconference.

Webb, who has visited New Orleans post-Katrina, also said the New Orleans devastation "is almost beyond description, but we haven't, as a government, really stepped forward to do anything about it."

Webb is no shrinking violet, so it's going to be interesting to see how strongly he pushes this issue.

by: Scott Jordan 3:03 PM

Golden Domino

Look for members of Lil' Band O' Gold in the upcoming Best of the Beat Music Awards in New Orleans, which will honor Antoine "Fats" Domino with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. During the days following Hurricane Katrina, Domino was feared dead in the flood waters that engulfed his Lower Ninth Ward home. He was later rescued from his home, moved to the Superdome and then Baton Rouge. He's now living back in the New Orleans area.

Local guitarist and singer C.C. Adcock says members of Lil' Band of Gold will perform with the likes of Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins and Jon Cleary. The 12th annual music awards ceremony in New Orleans is presented by OffBeat at the House of Blues on Saturday, Jan. 27. Domino is expected to be in the house for the event. For more information, visit OffBeat's Web site.

by: R. Reese Fuller 1:03 PM

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Saints joke of the day

This one's starting to make the rounds and was forwarded to us by Chef Pat Mould:

Peyton Manning, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Colts flag in the window.

"This house is yours for eternity, Peyton," said God. "This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here."

Peyton felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story mansion with a black and gold sidewalk, a 50 foot tall flagpole with an enormous Saints logo flag, and in every window, a New Orleans Saints towel.

Peyton looked at God and said, "God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was an all-pro QB, I hold many NFL records, and I even went to the Hall of Fame."

God said, "So what's your point, Peyton?"

"Well, why does Drew Brees get a better house than me?"

God said, "That's not Drew's house. It's mine."

by: Scott Jordan 4:02 PM

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ASO's conflict with the Saints

Imagine planning an event months in advance, then a week before the event, you learn that it's going to conflict with the upcoming Divisional Championship game between the Saints and the Bears. That's the unfortunate situation in which the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra finds itself. In an e-mail sent out to local media this morning, ASO's Volunteer Marketing Director Donia Garlington jokes that several alternatives were considered:

1 - Frisking everybody who enters (including the orchestra) for contraband electronic devices. Then making sure those folks are evenly distributed throughout the auditorium so that they can share their information with a maximum number of people.

2 - Projecting a streaming play-by-play commentary from espn.com on the side walls.

3 - Stopping between movements to give game updates - which would require [Maestro] Mariusz [Smolij] to wear an earbud to be sure that the information is up to the second.

4 - Substituting "When the Saints Go Marching In" for any part of the program - including the National Anthem.

5 - We definitely need to find ways to convince our audience that our Polish maestro, who also spent several years in Chicago, is not a secret Bears fan. It could get ugly if we don't!

ASO will present 26-year-old virtuoso pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine on Sunday at at 3:00 p.m. at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. The Russian pianist won his first competition at the age of 14 and has gone on to claim top prizes in international competitions in Kharkov, Ukraine, Argentina, Spain, China, Italy and New Orleans. For more information, visit ASO's Web site or call (337) 232-4722. In closing, Garlington had this to offer:We hope the Saints will be playing again in a couple of weeks, but we may never again have an opportunity to hear this amazing musician.

by: R. Reese Fuller 8:03 AM

Friday, January 12, 2007

Improve your French the easy way

If trying out rusty or newly-learned French in public seems too daunting, perhaps signing up for the Alliance Française de Lafayette's Wines of France Class will loosen up your tongue.

Sommelier Nicole Jordan plans to wine and cheese participants through the French regions of Champagne, the Loire valley and Alsace, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux. The list of wines to be tasted is impressive. Some of the finest houses of Champagne such as Tattinger, Piper Heidsieck and G. H. Mumm will be represented. Beautiful white Burgundies like Gevrey-Chambertin, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault are on the list, as well as the wine of the nine popes of Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape.

The course will be taught in English with French translation and of course French conversation. Speaking French is so much easier with a glass or two of wine under your belt. Class size is limited to 20 people on a first come, first served basis. The course costs $175 for six classes for members of the Alliance Française de Lafayette. Annual membership is $50 for families, $30 for individuals. The class begins on Tuesday, Jan. 23 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Magnolia Beverages. For more information call 262-5810 or check out the website.

by: Mary Tutwiler 3:23 PM

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gold and Guns

The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Musuem recently announced two upcoming "tourism based exhibitions." In January 2008, UAM will present "River of Gold: Precolumbian Treasures from Sitio Conte" and in 2009 it will host "Pistols: Dazzling Firearms." According to UAM's press release:

One of the premier cultural attractions of Memphis, Tennessee is the internationally acclaimed Wonder Series Exhibitions. Each year an exciting subject is chosen for a comprehensive historical exhibition. The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is pursuing a similar path.

For more about recent developments at UAM, read the Dec. 27 article "Artistic Differences."

by: R. Reese Fuller 4:49 PM

Louisiana Reps weigh in on Iraq

On the eve of the President's address announcing an overhaul of strategy in the war in Iraq, Congressman Charles Boustany is among 27 Republican members of Congress, which also include fellow La. Rep. Rodney Alexander, calling on President Bush to lean more heavily on Iraqi forces in securing the peace in Baghdad.

"Before the President makes any decision on the size of American forces in Iraq, he should understand the value that Iraqi troops can provide to secure their own communities," Boustany said in a press release.

In a letter ushered to Bush late last week, the coalition of House Republicans identified 21 trained Iraqi battalions currently stationed in provinces which experience less than one attack per day – troops they say should start being deployed into Baghdad.

"The way to develop mature Iraqi forces is to move all of them into the fight," the letter states. "Mr. President, this requirement of Iraq sending all its battalions into the fight should not be finessed or deflected by the [Iraq Ministry of Defense]. It should be an absolute U.S. requirement, made as it is against the backdrop of the enormous U.S. effort which has brought the new Iraq government into existence."

Many reports say Bush's new plan for Iraq, to be laid out in a speech tomorrow night, will include a call for an immediate surge in U.S. troops. Asked if Boustany was open to the idea of a troop increase, Boustany's press secretary said they will have a comment on the President's plan after it is presented.

In related news, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu was among a string of Democrats called to the White House last week to discuss Iraq policy. Running counter to many in her party's leadership who are gearing up to challenge Bush, Landrieu said she is open to supporting a troop surge if the President provided a defined mission.

by: Nathan Stubbs 8:55 AM

The imaginary crime wave

For most of 2006, the Lafayette police department has cited an increase in violent crime. Whenever there was tragic domestic violence or drug-related crime (the two biggest "crime" factors in our area), Lafayette p.d. spokesmen responded by saying crime was on the rise, often pointing to population increases (read: hurricane evacuees) as the reason. We've always thought this was hogwash, and reported on these dubious statistics as recently as October.

And as yesterday's Advocate story notes, the Lafayette p.d. and FBI crime statistics for Lafayette released in December were a complete sham:

[Lafayette Interim Police Chief Jim] Craft said the drastic increase is more of a computer problem than a crime problem.

Hopefully they've learned their lesson and will stop inciting fear with sensationalistic quotes about dramatic increases in violent crime.

by: Scott Jordan 8:24 AM

Monday, January 08, 2007

What's with the name?

So what's with the name of GMC's newest SUV - Acadia? Is it a tribute to the land and the people? In memory of Le Grand Dérangement?

I thought it was weird when Pontiac named that mini-van/SUV/station wagon thing the Aztek. But then again, there's always been weird car names.

(Thanks to Nick Pittman for this perplexing nugget of info.)

by: R. Reese Fuller 11:50 AM

Friday, January 05, 2007

Audit spurs resignation?

Speculation over the imminent release of a legislative audit's findings is helping shape the field of candidates in Iberia Parish for the 2007 elections. On Jan. 3 Iberia Parish Chief Administrative Officer Simone Champagne tendered her letter of resignation to Parish President Will Langlinais with the intention of running for District 49, the seat of term-limited state Rep. Troy Hebert. Champagne, who originally planned to announce her candidacy closer to Sept. qualifying, is leaving her job and will make her official announcement Friday Jan. 5.

She makes her move in advance of the Iberia Parish Council receiving the results of a legislative audit investigating her boss, Langlinais. The audit was initially requested by Iberia Parish Councilman Bernard Broussard in an April 2006 letter to 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney. Broussard requested Haney's help in dealing with "certain questionable contractual arrangements that have been executed by the Parish President with various contractors over the past few years." According to Haney in the Jan. 4 Daily Iberian, the auditors "interviewed the last person they had to interview (Langlinais). That meant they could be putting the final touches on it hopefully over the holidays. So, it could be getting to the parish council and parish president within 10 days to two weeks."

The specific contract that set the audit in motion was between Langlinais and attorney Shane Romero. Shane Romero is the son of term-limited State Rep. Romo Romero. It is widely speculated that Shane Romero will run for his father's seat in October. Broussard is considered a candidate for Langlinais' seat should the embattled parish president run for re-election this fall. Hebert plans to announce his race for term-limited Craig Romero's District 22 Senate seat soon.

Qualifying is Sept. 4-6; elections will be held Oct. 20.

by: Mary Tutwiler 10:05 AM

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We're not just sinking ...

... we're also slipping into the Gulf of Mexico!

Cain Burdeau, with the Associated Press, writes about a new report by scientists who say that Louisiana isn't just sinking into the Gulf, it's also slipping. But there's no reason to panic.

"People should not be afraid that we're going to fall into the Gulf. That's not going to happen," said Roy Dokka, lead researcher and executive director of the Center for GeoInformatics at Louisiana State University.
That's comforting.

The report appeared in the Dec. 2006 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

by: R. Reese Fuller 8:55 AM

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another classic Daily Advertiser front-page blunder

"It's game time," notes the front-page headline from today's Daily Advertiser. "LSU and Notre Dame will clash tonight at the Sugar Bowl."
The game is tomorrow night -- Wednesday, Jan. 3. Wonder how many calls The Advertiser received today from LSU fans.

by: Scott Jordan 3:12 PM