Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Mon, February 04, 2013

Perkins Rowe foreclosure sale set

Perkins Rowe will go on the auction block March 20. That is the court-ordered date set this morning for the foreclosure sale of Tommy Spinosa's mixed-use development. Whether the property actually changes hands that day and brings to a close the 3.5-year-old foreclosure case is another matter. In part, that's because the property must sell for at least two-thirds—or $63.3 million—of its $95 million appraised value. If no one bids that much at the first auction, the property will be offered a second time at a later date but with no minimum price. Typically in foreclosure cases, such properties go to a second sale. In theory, Spinosa—who owes lender KeyBank National Association more than $200 million on the development—could buy the property back at auction. Still, he would have to pay the difference between the sale price and what he owes the bank, which is expected to file a deficiency judgment against him to make up the difference. The process could also be delayed should Spinosa file for bankruptcy, which is not necessarily expected but is a possibility. —Stephanie Riegel

Unglesby calls for ban on assault rifles

Ruling out handguns and ammunition clips holding 10 rounds or fewer, well-known defense attorney Lewis Unglesby says semi-automatic assault weapons and high-volume magazines should be banned from sale and bought back from the public. "I'm trying to get rid of weapons of mass destruction," says Unglesby, who made the remarks today as guest speaker of the Baton Rouge Press Club. The attorney is adding his voice to debates about gun control that are taking place nationwide following the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.; President Barack Obama's is addressing the tragedy with calls for new legislation. Unglesby says it is "foolishness" to consider anything less than banning assault weapons. "They're only for one thing: killing people," he says. Outside of hunting rifles and handguns, Unglesby says, highly effective weaponry ought to be legislated like the automobile industry and tobacco companies. He says it is misguided to defend assault weapons based on the rights outlined in the Second Amendment, considering that the Constitution was written at a time when only muskets were available to the average consumer. Instead of the NRA driving much of the debate about gun rights, Unglesby says, politicians should talk publicly about societal measures—like gun control—rather than stay silent and accept campaign contributions from the gun-lobbying group. He notes the NRA last year gave $18 million in direct contributions to political candidates. He also says it is disingenuous to consider arming teachers with guns to protect children in classrooms. Unglesby suggests hunting groups should also join the debate, noting that assault rifles are not needed to hunt deer. —Adam Pearson

Executive Spotlight: Paula Talbot Dawson

Paula Dawson loves a challenge: She takes on the No. 1 killer in the United States for a living as vice president of development for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association of the Capital Area. Dawson's career in nonprofits did not begin immediately after graduating from college with a degree in general studies. She spent some time volunteering, took some classes through the University of Phoenix, then entered the corporate world. Later, she accepted a job with the American Heart Association, in part inspired by an aunt who had suffered multiple strokes and heart attacks. Dawson is based in her hometown of Baton Rouge with a staff of 10, but also helps oversee employees in the Lafayette and Lake Charles areas. You can find the full Q&A with Dawson, from the new issue of Business Report set to his newsstands Tuesday, here. The following is a sample:
What was your first job?
"In high school I applied at Wendy's, even though my parents preferred I not work. I was hired as the hostess, or 'peppermint girl.' My family teases me to this day, saying I was replaced with a basket. After college, my first job was at Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. That is where my love for nonprofit work began."

B.R. posts nation's lowest patent growth rate

Of the 358 metropolitan areas in the United States analyzed by the Brookings Institute for its recent report on patenting and innovation, Baton Rouge ranks dead last for patent growth per worker between 1990 and 2010. New Orleans is ranked second-to-last in the same report. The report says patenting is correlated with productivity growth, noting 14 of the 20 metro areas with the largest increase in patents per worker experienced above-average productivity growth. "The same relationship between patents and productivity changes can be drawn by examining metropolitan areas that developed fewer patents per worker over the three decades. Rust Belt metro areas with low productivity growth—like Pittsburgh, Toledo, and Buffalo—actually saw a decrease in the number of patents per worker. This is also true of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Louisville, and Baton Rouge, all three of which had very slow productivity growth," reads the report. In recent years Baton Rouge has apparently fared better when it comes to patent growth per worker. For its average number of patents filed between 2007 and 2011, it ranks No. 141 of 358, with 71 per year. New Orleans ranks No. 79 in that category, with an average of 79 patents filed each year over the five-year period. Top patenting companies in Baton Rouge, according to the report, are Albemarle, Exxon and LSU. You can check out the complete report here, or see an overview with at-a-glance stats for every metro area here.

At least 30 vying to be LSU president

LSU has more than 30 candidates interested in being the university's next president, one of whom could take the new position as early as June, The Times-Picayune reports. The search for a new LSU president is progressing extremely well, says Bill Funk, a search consultant for the university. In addition to individuals with previous administration experience there are a sprinkle of nontraditional candidates, he says, adding that the applicant pool thus far is diverse with respect to race and gender. LSU has been looking for a new president since firing John Lombardi in April 2012. Mike Martin, the former chancellor of LSU, stepped down in May to take a new position with Colorado State University. William Jenkins has been serving as the interim president and chancellor. The LSU Board of Supervisors decided at the end of 2012 to combine the system president and chancellor positions with a view to promoting a "One LSU" autonomy with all the campuses around the state, saving money, and further advancing the reorganization process. The consultant group expects more candidates to join the pool in the next few weeks. June has been mentioned as the target month for hiring the new president. The next phase in the process, LSU board member Blake Chatelain says, is narrowing down the list of candidates, the majority of whom are sitting presidents and chancellors.

'Business Report' planner: Southern University hosts workshop to start a nonprofit … BBB has Sheriff Sid Gautreaux at B2B breakfast … BRAC's monthly investor luncheon zeroes in on augmented reality

Tuesday — The Center for Rural and Small Business Development in the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center holds a "Nonprofit Startup" workshop from 10 a.m. to noon in room 191 of the extension center, 181 B.A. Little Dr. The workshop is free and open to the public.

Tuesday — The Better Business Bureau hosts a business-to-business breakfast with East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux at the Baton Rouge Marriott, 5500 Hilton Ave. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with the program to follow from 8 to 9 a.m. More details are here.

Tuesday — BRAC's monthly investor luncheon will be held at the offices of Kean Miller on the seventh floor of II City Plaza, 400 Convention St. Rob Hudak, interactive creative director for Zehnder Communications, will lead a discussion on how augmented reality can assist businesses. Cost is $15 for BRAC investors, $20 for all others. A networking session will begin at 11:30 a.m., with the program to run from noon to 1 p.m. Register online here.

The Business Report planner is open to events of general interest to the Capital Region business community. Items must be submitted no later than noon the Friday before the event occurs. Email [email protected] with information.

For the full list of upcoming events, click here.

FEMA awards another $10 million to La. for Isaac recovery

Two Louisiana agencies will receive a combined $9 million to reimburse expenses incurred protecting residents during Hurricane Isaac, FEMA announced today. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will receive about $7 million in grant funds to help cover the costs of transporting evacuees to shelters, as well as other emergency protective measures taken during the hurricane and its aftermath. The Louisiana National Guard, for its part, will receive about $2 million to reimburse it for overtime costs incurred by personnel carrying out emergency protective measures. The newly awarded funds are a portion of the $195.5 million in total Public Assistance recovery dollars approved for the state since the Aug. 29, 2012, disaster declaration. Also today, FEMA announced Plaquemines Parish will receive a nearly $1.3 million federal grant to reimburse the cost of repairing a roadway damaged by Isaac.

Shreveport's Moonbot Studios looks for video game funding

The Oscar-winning team at Shreveport's Moonbot Studios is seeking financial backers for its newest project: a video game based on the longing for a soul. At a news conference today, Moonbot co-founders Williams Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg announced their game, The Golem, needs pledges of $750,000 by March 26 if it is to be funded. Pledges are currently being accepted via a Kickstarter campaign. As of this afternoon, the effort already had 100 backers and about $6,500. Moonbot plans to develop the game for distribution on Valve's PC and Mac platform, Steam. The Shreveport Times has more details and a video of the Moonbot founders discussing the project here.

News roundup: Downtown Business Association gets new director … Goodell: Blackout not a big deal … Trump calls out Jindal for 'stupid' remark

New morning: Alicia Baron has been tapped as the new managing director of the Baton Rouge Downtown Business Association, a nonprofit that focuses on growth and success of the downtown area, working closely with the public DDD. Baron began work in her new position Tuesday. She moved to the greater Baton Rouge area from Austin in October 2011 and has been serving as the expo director for the Louisiana Marathon Health & Wellness Expo. More information on the DBA can be found at its website here.

Taking it lightly: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that the 34-minute blackout during the Super Bowl game Sunday will not harm New Orleans' future bid for the sport's showcase game. The cause of the power outage remains under investigation. "The most important thing is that people understand this was a fantastic week here," Goodell says. "This will not affect the view of the NFL about the success of the game here in New Orleans. … I fully expect we will be back here for future Super Bowls. We want to be back." The Times-Picayune has more details here.

Stupid is as stupid does: Real estate mogul and political onlooker Donald Trump called into the Fox and Friends radio show this morning to criticize Gov. Bobby Jindal for his recent appraisal of the GOP as the "stupid party" following its losses in 2012. "I think he was stupid for using that term, because that term is so obnoxious, and so good for the other side," Trump told the Fox News hosts. "He should not have used that term. That term is going to be living now with the Republican Party for a long time, and they're going to have his face on television saying it for the next four years." The Huffington Post has more on the story here.

Sign up for E-Newsletters


  • Of the nearly 36,000 Louisianans who registered to vote in the past two months, roughly half did not align themselves with either the Republican or Democratic parties. What do you think this is a reflection of?
  • It's a reflection of voters' growing frustration with both parties.
  • 70%
  • It's a reflection of voters' increasing unwillingness to label themselves politically.
  • 18%
  • It's a reflection of a shift in Louisiana's political culture away from party affiliations.
  • 8%
  • I don't know.
  • 4%
  • Total Votes: 770