Archive for January, 2010

Ruston City Council Monday Night

01/31/2010

The Ruston Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, February 1, 2010 at 5:30 PM, in the second floor courtroom of City Hall. On the agenda are several resolutions and ordinances for professional services agreements and a surplus property lease.

Downtown Revitalization

Hunt, Guillot & Associates, LLC will enter into a PSA with the City to provide engineering services for phase V of the Downtown Revitalization project.

Grant Implementation

A PSA with Utiliworks will allow the company to prepare grant implementation for an integrated water and electricity metering system. The city has recently been awarded a matching fund grant for a Smart Grid Initiative Program from the Department of Energy.

Mosquito Control Services

A PSA with Vector Disease Control will allow a three year (2010-2102) contract with the company for mosquito control.

Surplus Property

The Board will vote on an ordinance authorizing the lease of property near Memorial Drive and Georgia Avenue. The tract contains about a quarter of an acre and is to be leased for a minimum of $600/ month.

Community Sports Programs

The Board will consider a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Ruston Housing Authority for the operation of community sports programs. It will be administered through the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

IF?!?!?

01/30/2010

In The (Monroe) News-Star today, there is this stunning admission in their lead editorial.

Our stake is the 1,400-job payroll the project will create if it’s successful.

When did the IF start with the newspaper? Last June? Last fall? Since the beginning, The News-Star has been a promoter of this controversial project, rather than a skeptical watchdog of out-of-control government. It is too late for them to try and regain credibility, if they ever had any to begin with.

Lincoln Parish News Online has reported extensively on the controversial company and the Monroe project. Archived stories can be found here. We will continue to report on this ongoing story.

Neville HS Principal in Trouble?

01/29/2010

According to The (Monroe) News-Star today, Neville High School Principal Brent Vidrine may be suspended for possible credit card misuse.

Neville High School Principal Brent Vidrine could be the latest Monroe City Schools principal to be suspended as part of the district’s internal investigation into credit card misuse.

Interim Superintendent Julian Gray confirmed late Thursday, following a more than two-hour executive session in a special meeting, that he will make the decision on Friday whether Vidrine would be removed from his position.

Had you been reading Ouachita Parish News Online last December, this would have come as no surprise.

Well earlier OuachitaParishNewsOnline reported that the delay in disciplining the first principal that abused the credit card system was due to the fact that there where more priincipals involved.

The elephant in the room last night was the principal at State Football Champion Neville High School, a school located on the wealthy north side of monroe, but with enrollment from the wealthy african-american south-side King Oaks Subdivision where the president of the school board resides.

That’s why we say, “What isn’t in the newspapers is often more newsworthy than what is.”

V-Vehicle Progress or More Delay?

01/27/2010

Yesterday, The (Monroe) News-Star had a story that seemed to suggest the Department of Energy ATVM loan for V-Vehicle was making progress. The memo says the DOE intends to do an Environmental Assessment for the project.

Our reading of the memo suggests much more red tape that must be cut through before any loan might be approved.

Here is the memo.

You decide.

About the Kay Katz Seat

01/25/2010

Come next year’s state elections, the Louisiana House District 16 seat will be open. The current occupant, Republican Kay Katz is term-limited and can’t run for re-election.

So who is running?

Informed sources have come up with a few names. There is Paul Hurd, a Monroe attorney who has sought office before. Also mentioned is Ruth Ulrich, a Republican activist.

Another name is Police Juror Shane Smiley. Smiley is the OPPJ President and was elected in ’07. His high-profile support for the the controversial V-Vehicle project could be problematic. His signature is on the agreement secretly negotiated that obligated taxpayers to pay millions for that project.

And what of Katz? Does she retire or try for an area Senate seat? And remember, the districts as currently drawn will change after this year’s census and subsequent redistricting.

Mix all this in with the upcoming legislative session, state budget cuts and general unhappiness of the electorate, and you have guaranteed excitement for the next year or two.

V-Vehicle Blog Chatter

01/24/2010

We’ve run across a couple of blogs that have commented on The (Monroe) News-Star V-Vehicle story last week about vehicle “testing.”

Lessons in Stealth Communications: V-Vehicle Tries to Keep Technology Details Under Wraps

The bottom line is that Fisher would not confirm certain details of the Star-News report. For example, when I asked if V-Vehicle is testing multiple prototypes, or just one prototype, Fisher told me, “We haven’t commented yet on prototypes.” He added that “entering the testing and validation stage” does not refer to prototypes. When asked what it does refer to, Fisher said it means the startup has begun engineering on test vehicles. But he declined to define the meaning of a test vehicle, saying, “I’m not sure that we’re going to go beyond” what V-Vehicle has said in its official statements.

V-Vehicle Update: Testing a Prototype, Still Hoping for Federal Funds

This latest milestone for V-Vehicle — progressing to prototype testing of its first vehicle years after its 2006 founding — contrasts with the increasing momentum of Fisker, which is also backed by Kleiner Perkins. Although not founded until 2007, Fisker is now closer than V-Vehicle to production. After winning a $528.7 million loan this fall through the ATVM loan program, Fisker last week signed on A123Systems as a battery supplier and partner. It also closed a $115.3 million investment round to meet its equity requirements for the federal loan and help it set up U.S. manufacturing.

Lincoln Parish News Online has reported extensively on the controversial company and the Monroe project. Archived stories can be found here. We will continue to report on this ongoing story.

Smiley Survives Challenge for OPPJ Prez

01/20/2010

Shane Smiley, District E’s representative to the Ouachita Parish Police Jury was re-elected last night as President for 2010 – barely. Smiley was opposed for President by District F’s Pat Moore. Voting for Smiley were District B’s Mack Calhoun and District C’s Walt Caldwell. Voting for Moore were District A’s Charles Jackson and District D’s Ollibeth Reddix. Each nominee voted for themselves. The tie vote meant the incumbent retained the position.

Meanwhile, the Jury is still trying to figure out how it will get another property tax past the voters to operate the Ouachita Correctional Center. Johnny Gunter has the story.

Forgotston, Biersmith Bow Out of Senate Race

01/19/2010

C. B. Forgotston, Hammond, LA-based Government Watchdog and NewsBlogger, said today he was not running for the U. S. Senate seat from Louisiana this year. In a statement, Forgoston said, “I am officially NOT running for the U.S. Senate this fall.” He added, “I had hoped not to be put in this position again. Frankly, I thought the practice of announcing what one was NOT going to do would stop.” Forgotston had several times in the past declined to run for office after media inquiries as to his plans.

Also, Monroe, LA-based NewsBlogger Ed Biersmith said today in an interview he also was not interested in the race. Biersmith is the Publisher and Editor of the wildly popular news WebLog Ouachita Parish News Online. Biersmith was quoted as saying, “Absolutley not!” when asked about rumors that he might make the race.

OPNO, which tags itself as “An Unusually Reliable News Source,” has for the past few days been covering the corruption trial of former Delhi Mayor Mike Thompson in Federal Court in Monroe. Thompson is the brother of Louisiana State Senate District 34’s Francis Thompson.

Fisker Gets ATVM Money

01/19/2010

Fisker Automotive Inc., the Irvine developer of electric cars, said it had raised an additional $115.3 million in private equity funding to develop plug-in hybrid cars. The money allows Fisker to satisfy a U.S. Department of Energy condition to gain access to $528.7 million in Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loans.

The Los Angeles Times has the story.

The controversial V-Vehicle Company – a San Diego, CA based auto start up trying to build an assembly plant at Monroe’s old Guide Plant – is also applying for a total of $320 million in ATVM loans.

Fisker also has a fully-designed production version of their car that was displayed at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, while no model or photo of the V-Car has yet been revealed to the public since they announced the project last June. Yesterday the company admitted that they are just now beginning to do “testing and validation.”

According to Securities and Exchange Commission documents, V-Vehicle has raised only about $62 million in equity and about $3.4 million in debt. As of now, construction at the old Guide Plant is at a virtual standstill, as state tax grants have stopped until the company can raise $350 million in financing.

Lincoln Parish News Online has reported extensively on the controversial company and the Monroe project. Archived stories can be found here. We will continue to report on this ongoing story.

Why Your Paycheck is Suddenly Smaller

01/18/2010

Congress has rejiggered the withholding tables that employers use to figure how much federal tax money to take from your paycheck. Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website has the answer.

Congress Tinkers with Withholding Tax Tables for 2010