Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Fri, September 12, 2014

Alexander creating new position to oversee fundraising of LSU foundation, alumni association and TAF

LSU President F. King Alexander is creating a new position in his administration—a vice president for institutional advancement, who will also serve as CEO of the LSU Foundation and oversee all fundraising efforts at the university, including those of the foundation, LSU Alumni Association and Tiger Athletic Foundation. Alexander says the move has been in the works for several months, and is based on the need to better coordinate fundraising among the three private, nonprofit organizations, which he says have not worked together closely enough over the years to produce results. "There is no reason in the world why Michigan State should have a $2 billion endowment and Indiana and Wisconsin, too, when our graduates are doing better than theirs and we have an endowment of less than $400 million," Alexander tells Daily Report. "We need to set our sights higher … We're just 20 years behind in what we've done with our foundations and fundraising." Alexander's actions also come in the wake of a recent lawsuit and sex scandal at the alumni association involving former employee Kay Heath and longtime president Charlie Roberts, who resigned last month but denied any wrongdoing. Alexander told the LSU Board of Supervisors this afternoon that an accounting firm is conducting an independent audit of the alumni association records and that attorneys are conducting a separate investigation. "We will make any findings available to the public," Alexander says. —Stephanie Riegel Read the full story here.

LSU supervisors approve contract extensions for Alleva, Caldwell

A proposed three-year contract extension for LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has been approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors. The Associated Press reports the board approved the extension without discussion at its monthly meeting today. The extension comes without a raise for Alleva, who has been LSU's athletic director since 2008, but it will keep him under contract through 2019. Alleva makes $725,000 a year with incentives that can increase it to $900,000. The board also approved three-year extensions for women's basketball coach Nikki Caldwell and softball coach Beth Torino, plus a $35,000 raise for Torino. She will now make $145,000 per year. Alleva was hired after spending 30 years at Duke, the last 10 as athletic director.

'Daily Report' Week in Review: Roper fired, council defers parking garage agreement with BRAF and much, much more

After the Metro Council dismissed Mary Roper as parish attorney at a hectic, nearly two-hour long hearing Wednesday afternoon, East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant Attorney Lee Ann Batson assumed the duties of the top position in the office. From here, the council can either appoint an interim parish attorney or move straight to hiring someone to fill the position on a permanent basis. The council is not required to publicly advertise the position. Because of procedural infractions during Roper's hearing in front of the council, she may have grounds for a lawsuit. Following the hearing, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the council delayed a decision to approve an agreement between the city-parish and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation over the operation of the parking garage at Third and Convention streets. William Daniel, Mayor Kip Holden's chief administrative officer, said the public would see a greater number of spaces over all because the garage agreement is tied to other deals at the Water Campus. Also this week, the Louisiana Workforce Education Initiative kicked off a fundraising effort for a long-term campaign to plug expected workforce shortages and send more young people to the state's community and technical colleges. The group hopes to help change the perception that all skilled jobs are physically demanding and that a four-year degree brings greater earning potential. —Kelly Connelly Read the complete Daily Report Week in Review.

La. GOP, Landrieu each release audits on senator's campaign flights

The director of the Louisiana Republican Party is accusing U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of charging nine commercial fights to her Senate account to collect campaign contributions at events around the state. As Gannett Louisiana reports, that's in addition to the four flights Landrieu already acknowledged, says Jason Dorť of the state GOP office, adding that if Landrieu did what evidence gathered in a Republican National Senatorial Committee audit indicates, she could be guilty of violating federal election law. When a USA Today article first pointed out that Landrieu and several other members of Congress had charged campaign flights to their House and Senate travel accounts, Landrieu repaid the money from her campaign account, claiming it was an accounting error. She pledged an audit of her travel since she was elected to the Senate, and she released her audit this afternoon, a few hours after news of the GOP audit was released. Landrieu says her audit found a total of $33,727.02 worth of taxpayer-paid flights were used for trips that included campaign events and were erroneously reported to the Senate Ethics Committee. Landrieu says her campaign has fully repaid for those flights. "The review I ordered last month found these mistakes stemming from sloppy bookkeeping. I take full responsibility. They should have never happened, and I apologize for this," Landrieu says in a prepared statement. "A new system has been established that has been successfully used by a number of senate offices to provide a safeguard from this happening in the future." Read the full story, and see Landrieu's internal audit.

'225': BR runway veteran emerging on NYC fashion scene

Baton Rougeans last saw Molly Simpson rocking a belly-baring alligator-skin suit designed by hairstylist and artist Rigsby Frederick. A three-time veteran of 225 and inRegister's Avenue Rouge Runway show, Simpson provided a striking climax to last fall's event when she was the last model to command the catwalk after an evening of stunning styles. One year on, Simpson is an emerging fresh face on the Manhattan fashion scene. In 225's annual fashion issue, on newsstands now, Simpson says about her big move, "It's exhilarating at first. Being thrown into all the castings and fittings, you quickly learn the pace of the industry. You also see that who you know can really matter." Quickly, Simpson has learned to put her communications degree to good use navigating the modeling world. So far, she's appeared in an Evian ad and immersed herself in New York culture, working a local farmers market and modeling for a string of talented and international photographers at the School of Visual Arts. The biggest lesson she's learned, though, is not taking rejection to heart. "Everyone has their own look, so it's not personal if they don't choose you." Read the full feature.

Jindal: More states will move away from Common Core

In an hour-long webinar produced this week by conservative Christian research group the Family Research Council, Gov. Bobby Jindal predicts more states will reverse course on Common Core, as Jindal wants Louisiana to do. "You look at the Carolinas. You see more and more states moving away from Common Core," says Jindal, who participated in the "Common Core: The Government's Classroom" webinar with Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who is running for the U.S. Senate. "I think you are going to see this trend only grow. The more that parents and teachers see this, the less they like it." Jindal has sued the U.S. Department of Education for allegedly violating the 10th amendment in the implementation of Common Core. Jindal, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, originally supported Common Core when he thought it would be a "state-lawed, bottom-up" approach to improving education standards. But Jindal has since reversed course and is now a staunch opponent of the education standards. "Even though they said its going to be a bottom-up approach, this has really turned into an attempt by the federal government to make curriculum decisions that they've got no right making," Jindal says in the webinar. Ultimately, he says, Common Core is just another example of federal government overreach. "The left thinks they know how to live our lives better than we do," Jindal says. "They don't trust us to buy Big Gulps. They don't trust us to buy our own health insurance, to decide what kind of health insurance we want. They don't trust us with our Second Amendment rights. They don't trust us with our religious liberty right. I think there's a pattern here." The Christian Post has the full story and the entire webinar with Jindal.

News roundup: La. rig count down two on the week … Cargill sues Syngenta in La. over China rejections of genetically modified US corn … La. congressman says some Republicans want 'an all-out war' with Islamic extremists

Two steps back: Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by six this week to 1,931. The Houston firm says in its weekly report, released today, that 1,592 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,768 active rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Alaska gained three rigs; Kansas, New Mexico and North Dakota each increased by two; and Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania were up one apiece. Texas and Louisiana each declined by two and California was down one.

Seeds of discontent: Cargill Inc., the top U.S. grain exporter, says it filed suit against Syngenta Seeds Inc. in a Louisiana state court today for damages stemming from rejections of genetically modified U.S. corn by China. Minnesota-based Cargill says in a statement that Syngenta had exposed the grain trader to losses by commercializing the Agrisure Viptera corn seed, known as MIR 162, before it was approved for import by China, a major buyer. Since November, China has rejected imports of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of U.S. corn, including from vessels loaded by Cargill in Louisiana, due to the presence of the MIR 162 trait, according to the statement. Syngenta says the suit is "without merit." Read the full story.

'Shock and awe': U.S. House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle are backing President Barack Obama's call to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State, even as Republicans' demand for a broader offensive to defeat extremists may delay congressional action. Bloomberg reports that although the president has said no U.S. ground troops will be needed, La. Rep. John Fleming says some of his fellow Republicans want to see "an all-out war—shock and awe" that sends a powerful message to Islamic extremists. Read the full story.
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