Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday afternoon news dump

Stacey Jackson was sentenced to 5 years in prison today.
Jackson's sentence is the longest of any of the a half-dozen people charged in connection with extensive fraud at NOAH that began shortly after Katrina.

The small anti-blight group become a quasi-city department when former Mayor Ray Nagin made it the main conduit for federal grant dollars that were to be used to board up or gut out Katrina-damaged houses owned by poor and elderly New Orleanians. All six pleaded guilty to charges, including Jackson's cousin and a former business partner.

In a series of payouts that began just months after the storm, prosecutors said Jackson steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to contractors who overbilled for rehab work -- or did no work at all -- in exchange for a share of the ill-gotten money.

Jackson's last kickback came in 2008, as reporting by blogger Karen Gadbois and TV reporter Lee Zurick, now with WVUE Fox 8, revealed NOAH contractors were being paid for work that had not been done, as well as for work at properties Jackson owned.
People don't talk so much about this scandal now. But it was a turning point for the Nagin administration.  It was the first time the local media started to take allegations of corruption against him seriously.  Also Karen Gadbois went on from there to do some things.

There is a third phase to the "South Market District" development and it is getting a handsome tax break.
The Beacon building is the planned $39.6 million third phase of the development, set to be at the corner of Girod Street and O'Keefe Avenue with 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 126 apartments.

The Domain Companies' plans for the whole $250 million project call for shops, restaurants, a hotel, 700 apartments and parking. 

The Industrial Development Board voted Tuesday (Oct. 14) to give Domain a break on property taxes over the next decade for The Beacon. The board already approved reduced taxes for the first two phases under construction, known as The Paramount and The Park

The "payment in lieu of taxes" agreement for The Beacon sets a base tax price at $22,239 for 2015 and 2016 during construction.

From 2017 through 2026, the property taxes will incrementally increase from $119,641 to $358,922. The payments begin at 25 percent of the full tax bill and increases every year. By 2027, the owners would owe full full amount, estimated at more than $478,500.
In other words, at a time when rents and real estate prices are out of control, and an insane 37% percent of New Orleans renters considered by the Census Bureau to have "severe housing cost burdens" the city is granting huge, decade long subsidies to encourage more luxury housing development. One of the many ways that gentrification is a conscious policy choice, y'all.

Patrick Juneau appears to have put a great deal of effort into investigating and intimidating poor lil' ol' Dambala here.
NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans-based blogger who published a chain of leaked emails related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement was subjected to an intense investigation to determine how he might have received the documents, according to a report authored by IBM.

The personal background and work of investigative journalist Jason Brad Berry, who operates the website American Zombie, was the subject of a March 26 report compiled by IBM’s CyberSecurity and Privacy Division at the behest of Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau, a Lafayette lawyer who oversees the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. Berry drew Juneau’s attention when he published a series of emails indicating that powerful lawyers associated with the case had selected more than 400 of their largest claims to be paid ahead of other claimants.
Do they do this to all the reporters? Or do they only go after the little guys with no legal departments?

Not that it matters.  Jason has been generally ahead of most media on this story. Not that it hasn't been covered. Only that it has been covered infrequently and, according to Jason, inadequately.
In the course of writing about the issues at the DHECC, I've come to the conclusion that mainstream media resources in this City and even national ones simply don't want to address the totality of this story.  Instead, they are satisfied with simply making a cursory glance and only choosing one side, BP, or the other, Pat Juneau, the PSC and the claimant attorneys.

The problem is, this story isn't a dichotomy.  There is a third party, the most important party, the people of the Gulf Coast who have been devastated by the BP oil spill and will continue to suffer for decades.  The reality is both BP and the "good ol' boys" running the show aren't nearly as divided with each other as the two entities are against the people to whom they are supposed be providing relief.  That complexity seems to be too difficult for MSM outlets like 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The LA Times, WWL-TV and a host of others to wrap their heads around.
This doesn't actually count as a "news dump" item since it's meant for next week's paper but here are Gambit's election endorsements anyway. 

Some of it is incredibly stupid. They endorse Steve Scalise because he knows how to do "bipartisanship" or something.  Scalise also knows how to raise as shit-ton of campaign money, btw.

They also endorse Mary Landrieu for mostly the same apolitical patrician reasons the T-P cited today. But they also throw in a little pepper here.
Landrieu’s Republican opposition has mounted a campaign based on fear, exaggeration (if not outright falsehoods) and anger — most of it funded by out-of-state special interests that do not have Louisiana’s interests at heart.
Finally, Ok Awesome points out that, despite having the luxury of the bye week to work with, several Saints bloggers have failed to turn in their papers on time.  That includes me, I guess.  I do have something I'll try to finish up tonight or tomorrow.

In the meantime, the closest thing to a "news dump" here is the Saints injury report.  There we find Jimmy Graham... surprisingly.. perhaps not credibly.. listed as "questionable" instead of "out." Also Keenan Lewis has some kind of toe problem but is "probable." Mark Ingram is gonna play which should strengthen the one phase of the game the Saints don't need much help with right now. Erik Lorig appears set to emerge from the fog of myth that has enshrouded him since training camp.  And then, there is this bit about Pierre Thomas.
Thomas said Friday that he was "sick as a dog" but would definitely play.
What is the NFL's ebola protocol?

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