BREC in final stages of work on parks, moving to trails next
The $8 million BREC borrowed in August to provide adequate cash flow through the end of the year is not related to the $13 million in bonds that it has been approved to borrow for park improvements and maintenance, says BREC assistant superintendent Ted Jack. "It's the last bit of money we're borrowing on the Imagine Your Parks program," he says. The state Bond Commission gave final approval of the park and recreation department's $13 million bond plan on Thursday. The Imagine Your Parks program, which transforms neighborhood parks into community parks, initially bonded $45 million in 2005, Jack says. Since then, nine parks have been upgraded or have improvements under way: Perkins, Forest, City, Greenwood, Howell, Independence, Highland, as well as a new park in both Central and Zachary. "What we're trying to do is, no matter where you are in the parish, you're pretty close to one of these parks," Jack says. The Capital Area Pathways Project, which when completed will be a 7.4-mile loop, is also part of Imagine Your Parks. Jack says BREC hopes to have a groundbreaking in early December on the concrete trail at its first phase, a 2.2-mile section that runs from the Mall of Louisiana to Picardy Bridge, near Dick's Sporting Goods, and then from the bridge to Siegen Lane. In August the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation contributed $1 million to the trail system. Jack says it the system could be named the Medical Loop, as trails would eventually connect to Essen Lane, the Perkins park, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Rural Life Museum and Perkins Rowe. —Adam Pearson
Editor: Sleepwalking into Election Day
With fewer than three weeks now remaining until the Nov. 6 election, Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball has seen enough—or not enough—to declare the local mayoral race the most boring in the modern history of Baton Rouge. "Be honest: Is anyone at all excited about this election—other than the candidates themselves and those who will handsomely profit if their guy is in office?" Ball asks in his latest column. While Mayor Kip Holden and his main challenger, Metro Councilman Mike Walker, have been content to squabble over a few well-worn issues including crime and infrastructure, Ball says, long-shot candidates Gordon Mese and Steve Myers haven't been able to inject any excitement into the race. "This race is such a who-cares affair that the campaign contribution haul of all four candidates combined is less than the $800,000-plus [Business Report Publisher] Rolfe McCollister single-handedly raised in his 2000 primary run for mayor," Ball notes. Read the complete column here; and send your comments to email@example.com.
LaPolitics by Maginnis: Presidential debates, Louisiana style
For those who have not heard enough after the third presidential debate on Monday, four Louisiana politicians will go at it the following evening. The LSU Law School is sponsoring "A Conversation About the Issues in the Presidential Elections," at which Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and Sen. Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge will represent the Republicans, while state party chairman Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and House caucus leader Rep. John Bel Edwards will speak for the Democrats. The public is invited to attend the event, taking place 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the law school's McKernan Auditorium. It will be moderated by LSU professors Bob Mann and Jim Garand.
—Like Mitt Romney's suggested defunding of public television, which President Barack Obama's campaign has mocked as open season on Big Bird, Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Metairie, is questioning state funding for Louisiana Public Broadcasting. "Do we want to spend $9 million on public TV when that money can go to health care and education?" he asks. Ligi's real complaint about the amount budgeted for the state network is that it does not include funds for WYES-TV in New Orleans. The city's PBS flagship station predates the Louisiana Educational Television Authority and operates as a nonprofit without state support. LPB's operations are state funded, but the programming is paid for through its nonprofit Friends of LPB.
They said it: "I drove from Benton, La., and Lewis and Clark had an easier time." —Sen. Robert Adley, comparing notes with fellow legislators on traveling to the State Capitol, in The Advocate.
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)
Shaw Group forecasts weak 2013 results as orders fall
Baton Rouge-based engineering firm Shaw Group, which agreed to a $3 billion takeover by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. in July, is forecasting 2013 results far below market expectations due to a fall in orders, the company says in a quarterly report released today. Reuters reports investor concerns over certain provisions in the Shaw-CB&I merger deal led to doubts about whether it would go through. An investor fund alleged that the deal undervalued the company, accusing Shaw's chairman of potential conflicts of interest. Shaw today reiterated the deal is progressing on schedule and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013. The company expects an adjusted profit of between $1.70 and $1.90 per share on revenue of $5 billion to $5.5 billion. Analysts on average were expecting a full-year profit of $2.56 per share on revenue of $6.04 billion. Shaw reports net income of $113.2 million, or $1.68 per share, in the fourth quarter, ended Aug. 31, due to higher sales in its power business. Shaw reported a loss of $90.3 million, or $1.25 per share, a year earlier. The company sold its stake in nuclear power plant company Westinghouse Electric to Toshiba Corp. for $1.6 billion earlier this month. Excluding Westinghouse, Shaw earned $1.86 per share. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.36 per share. Revenue was flat at $1.5 billion but above expectation of $1.44 billion. Read the full story here; or check out the complete report for yourself here.
'225 Dine': Lafayette barbecue joint looks to B.R. for first franchise
Four years after opening in Lafayette, 2Paul's Radically Urban BBQ has plans to open its second location in nearby Broussard and is also looking to expand in Baton Rouge, says co-owner Gary "Paul" Roy. The Broussard location will be owned and operated by Roy and his fellow investors in the original restaurant, he says, and they hope to have it open by the middle of next year. The Baton Rouge location, however, will be the company's first attempt at a franchise. "The reason for doing the Broussard location is to demonstrate and replicate what we've done at our first restaurant, and hopefully make the idea of a franchise more palatable," Roy says. A few locations in Baton Rouge have been looked at, Roy says, and he has spoken with some potential investors in Baton Rouge. "It's nothing concrete at the moment, but I'd love to expand to Baton Rouge because I went to high school there, lived there for a few years and still have a lot of friends there," he says, noting 2Paul's does some catering in the Baton Rouge area. "We've had a great response to our food in Baton Rouge, and I think we could do well there." Roy says more locations and investors need to be vetted before firmer plans for Baton Rouge begin to materialize. —Steve Sanoski Read the rest of the new 225 Dine e-newsletter here.
Political unknowns run for La. congressional seats
They may acknowledge they are long shots, but the lesser-known contenders vying for Louisiana's congressional seats on Nov. 6 have political positions and frustrations they want to discuss as they seek grassroot support for their candidacies. Each of Louisiana's six U.S. House races has drawn candidates who have limited name recognition and have done almost no fundraising while trying to oust incumbent congressmen. Some of the names have appeared again and again on election ballots in unsuccessful bids for office. Others are political newcomers. All of them have to undergo difficult, if not impossible, battles to win their races. While some of the long-shot candidates are promoting specific policy points, others say they just don't want to see an elected official coast back into office. "There's something un-American about an unopposed congressional candidate," says Rufus Craig Jr., a Libertarian running against Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy in the Baton Rouge-based 6th District. Craig points out that his party offers an alternative to Democrats and Republicans, who he says have not done enough to solve the nation's problems or keep government from growing out of control. "We keep sending Democrats and Republicans to Washington. Without change, there can be no progress," says Richard "RPT" Torregano, an independent also running in the 6th District race. Check out the full story here.
News roundup: 4 former La. governors to convene for CABL 50th anniversary event … Halliburton says BP's deal with spill victims is unfair … Gun industry thrives during Obama's term in office
Come together: At an event honoring the 50th anniversary of CABL, former Louisiana Governors Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco will share the stage for the first time in a public setting in Baton Rouge on Dec. 12 to give their thoughts on where Louisiana stands, where it's come from and where it's going. The event will be recorded for statewide broadcast in partnership with Louisiana Public Broadcasting. The event will be held Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Capitol Center, 201 Lafayette St. Seating is limited, and reservations are required. You can make reservations by calling Elizabeth Morgan at 344-2225 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete event details are available here.
Agree to disagree: Halliburton says BP's proposed settlement with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill unfairly creates a "collusive alliance" against the oil field services company in a scheduled multibillion-dollar trial, Bloomberg reports. "The settlement agreements will improperly align the interests of BP and the settling plaintiffs in any subsequent trial on liability in this court," Donald Godwin, Halliburton's lead lawyer, says in a 138-page filing. The company is seeking permission from a judge to submit the filing in federal court in New Orleans. BP's deal creates an incentive for the plaintiffs who settled to change their strategy to minimize any determination of BP's share of liability and argue for greater compensation from the other defendants, including Halliburton, Godwin says. Read the full story here.
Locked and loaded: President Barack Obama has presided over a heyday for the gun industry despite predictions by the National Rifle Association four years ago that he would be the "most anti-gun president in American history." Gun buyers fear that Obama wants to restrict their purchases, especially if he were re-elected. An analysis by The Associated Press of data tracking the health of the gun industry shows sales are on the rise, so much so that some gun manufacturers can't make guns fast enough. Major gun company stock prices are up. The number of federally licensed, retail gun dealers is increasing for the first time in nearly 20 years. The NRA is bursting with cash and political clout. Read the full story here.
Today's poll question: Did the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 lead you to purchase additional firearms you otherwise would not have bought?