News Briefs

Hundley in hot water, April fools at The Advertiser and more


Just 15 months after being officially appointed city police chief, Randy Hundley's position with the department now hangs in the balance. Hundley was placed on paid administrative leave last Wednesday pending an investigation by state police into whether he illegally recorded employee phone conversations within the police department. State law prohibits anyone from recording a phone conversation without at least one party's knowledge and consent.

While Harson has not officially confirmed the origin of the allegations, multiple sources say Hundley's secretary, Jeanette Luque, filed the complaint. Luque is a 25-year veteran of the department who has served under a number of police chiefs.

In February, Lafayette Police Public Information Officer Mark Francis confirmed that Hundley's office was the focus of a federal inquiry into allegations of wiretapping within the office. At that time, Hundley told The Independent Weekly that speculation he may be stepping down as police chief as a result of the wiretapping allegations was unfounded and that he intended to remain city police chief for the foreseeable future. City-Parish President Joey Durel is a longtime friend of Hundley and appointed him interim police chief in February 2004 following the retirement of former Chief Ronald Boudreaux. Durel formally selected Hundley as the new city police chief in December 2004. ' Nathan Stubbs


Leave it to The Daily Advertiser to cover one of the biggest Louisiana sports stories in recent years with one of the paper's biggest blunders in recent years. A front-page, banner headline on Saturday, April 1 ' the day of LSU's Final Four showdown with UCLA ' trumpeted a 16-page special section titled "Final Four Keepsake."

There was only one small problem. The section was nowhere to be found inside the paper.

In the following day's edition, The Advertiser understatedly noted, "Because of an error, this section did not appear in Saturday's newspaper."

So LSU fans, already left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the team's dream season ended with a lopsided 59-45 loss to UCLA, were treated to the outdated special section on Sunday, complete with its front-cover "LSU Tigers roar into Final Fours" headline. ' Scott Jordan


A contentious lawsuit between Acadiana C.A.R.E.S. and Roselawn Properties owner Kathy Ashworth ("Homeless for the Holidays," Jan. 11) has been settled. The suit centered on lease payments, insurance, and maintenance issues, and the settlement allows the C.A.R.E.S. offices to remain downstairs and Hope House, a residence for AIDS/HIV-positive clients of the agency, to reopen upstairs. Hope House closed its doors in December 2005 in advance of an anticipated eviction notice from Roselawn.

The lawsuit cost CARES $53,848 ' $31,000 of which was incurred in 2006. The non-profit agency is asking for financial support from the community and is planning a fundraiser to help pay for the legal fees.

C.A.R.E.S. now has a two-year lease for the offices and Hope House, with an option to renew for one more year. Rent has increased $2,000 a month under the settlement, from $3,000 to $5,000 monthly. In the third year, the rent will go up another $2,000 to $7,000 a month. C.A.R.E.S. Director Claude Martin says Hope House should reopen in 10 days, and it won't be a moment too soon. "We already have a waiting list of people to move in," Martin says. ' Mary Tutwiler


Last week, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. announced that his office was conducting an investigation into the Humane Society of the United States for the alleged misuse of funds raised for relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Wayne Pacelle, HSUS' chief executive officer, says the organization raised $30 million to help with animals during natural disasters, with $4.8 million earmarked for Katrina relief efforts. Foti's office requested an accounting of the funds spent by HSUS, which Pacelle says HSUS has provided. "There's been no allegation of impropriety," he says. "The attorney general has basically asked us to provide information, which we've done."

Pacelle says HSUS was one of several organizations operating under the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, which allowed pets to be adopted and transferred out of state after Oct. 15. "I think what happened here is that some people complained to Foti's office and said, 'We can't get our animals back.' It's unfortunate, but that's just the way things happen. The state allowed the adoptions to occur. It wasn't like we were some rogue entity." According to Pacelle, HSUS rescued 10,000 animals ' 8,500 were companion animals and 2,300 were eventually reunited with their owners.

Pacelle was not pleased that Foti jointly announced the HSUS investigation along with news of his office's Red Cross investigation: "We were kind of upset that they announced it with the Red Cross thing, because there were actual allegations of misuse of funds [within the Red Cross], and for us there's been no such allegations," Pacelle says. ' R. Reese Fuller


A large number of animals were displaced by last fall's hurricanes and never reunited with their owners. To avoid this in the future, the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission is pushing legislation in the ongoing regular session to create an official governmental pet registry. House Bill 772 by Rep. A.G. Crowe, a Slidell Republican, would create a voluntary, statewide database that would link up pets with their owners if they become lost. "This will be of considerable benefit with regard to disasters, the like of which we experienced last year," says Pinckney A. Wood, chairman of the welfare commission. There would be a registration fee of $15, which will be reduced 50 percent if the pet is spayed, neutered or fitted with a microchip tracking device. ' Jeremy Alford**