Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Fri, August 29, 2014

Roper case continues, nears conclusion

A Baton Rouge judge ruled Friday morning that Parish Attorney Mary Roper's case to keep her position with Metro Council could proceed. Judge Michael Caldwell scheduled another hearing for September 5, when the court will hear arguments to determine whether Roper qualifies as a public official, as her attorney Wade Shows argues, or if her employment with the city should adhere to the same guidelines followed by attorneys and their clients. "There is not a case in the country where an attorney has sued his or her client demanding they remain the attorney and they remain the client," Murphy Forster III told Daily Report. "When a client no longer wants your services, you absolutely must resign." The ruling on September 5 will determine the parameters for a Metro Council meeting on September 10, says Shows. If Roper is found to be a public official, the Council must be able to present evidence of gross misconduct or that Roper has been convicted of a felony in order to dismiss her. "The Louisiana constitution provides her protection as a public official," Shows says. Shows says previous court cases have established precedent for the East Baton Rouge Parish attorney to be considered a public official. —Kelly Connelly

Reilly Family helps kick off program to help refugee children

Baton Rouge's Reilly Family has pledged $310,000 over the next four years in challenge grant funds to kick-start a new program designed to help unaccompanied refugee children seeking protection in the United States. The Louisiana Esperanza Project is being established by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge to provide legal services available under U.S. law that aim to not only protect the children's lives but assure their sanctuary in the U.S. remains documented. "The children at our border are some of the most vulnerable children on our continent," says Winifred Reilly, who, with her husband, Kevin Reilly, Jr., helped kick off the project. "Their parents have the same hopes and dreams as we all have for our own." Winifred and Kevin Reilly, Jr., joined several CCDBR board members and Jennifer and Sean Reilly in funding the project and challenging the community to match their gifts. "Louisianans are known for their generosity, and in this cause, we can help save lives," Winifred Reilly, says. "Our hope is that other caring people and foundations will step forward to match our gift." Funds from Esperanza will be used to expand CCDBR's legal team and to recruit and train pro bono attorneys who can handle Louisiana custody and federal immigration law issues, says CCDBR Executive Director David Aguillard. Additionally, the agency will seek to hire more advocates to become accredited for immigration court.—Stephanie Riegel

'Daily Report' Week in Review: BR General shelves plans to close ER, Jindal sues Obama over Common Core, chief economist warns of budget woes and much, much more

After Baton Rouge General Hospital announced Wednesday morning it would close its Mid City facility's emergency room in November, Governor Bobby Jindal's staff and the Department of Health and Hospitals met with hospital officials to cobble together nearly $20 million to keep services running until June 2015. According to a report by the Public Affairs Research Council emergency room visits to the Mid City facility increased 53% in the six months after Earl K. Long closed, with 40% of those visits by patients who were uninsured. Over that same span, the hospital's uncompensated care costs rose 44%. DHH Chief of Staff Calder Lynch says the state is committed to working on a long-term funding solution. Also on Wednesday, Jindal filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for pushing Common Core education standards on the states. Treasurer John Kennedy announced the state would pay for last year's budget with $40 million from this year and a $1.2 billion shortfall was predicted in the state's budget for next year. The Legislature's chief economist, Greg Albrecht, delivered a downbeat assessment of the state's finances to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge Wednesday. —Kelly Connelly Read the complete Daily Report Week in Review.

State debit cards hacked

The Department of Revenue announced Friday that JP Morgan Chase alerted the state of a data breach, including personal information, that could affect pre-paid debit cards issued for certain government assistance and payment programs, according to The Associated Press. Income tax refunds, unemployment benefits and other payments handled by the Department of Children and Family Services could be affected. JP Morgan Chase told AP it did not know to what extent information has been compromised. AP reports that Louisianians that participate in these programs are being advised to monitor their financial reports and change passwords for any online accounts. This is the second data breach that has affected state-issued pre-paid cards with JP Morgan Chase in under a year. The Associated Press has the full story.

New boutique comes to Towne Center

Michelle Marino, owner of the Massage Envy on Corporate Boulevard, is expanding into Towne Center, where she says she plans to open a European Wax Center. The international franchise has 620 locations in the U.S., and Marino already runs a location in Lafayette, which celebrated its first anniversary on Thursday. Marino says she previously looked for a location in Baton Rouge to open a center but decided to open a store in Lafayette instead when visiting friends thered and noticed an empty storefront in that city's River Ranch mixed-use development. Marino said European Wax Centers are easier to manage because they requires fewer employees and clients pay for particular services instead of by the hour. She says she found European Wax Center through other Massage Envy owners. According to Marino, Massage Envy managers own 90% of European Wax Centers in the U.S. The new store is set to open in December in the store between New Balance and Eros. Grey Mullins Commercial Properties represented Marino in lease agreements. —Kelly Connelly

'225': LSU running back Terrence Magee gets his chance to shine

The off-season is almost over for LSU, with college football returning Saturday as the No. 13-ranked Tigers take on the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers at Reliant Stadium in Houston. As 225 reports, one Tiger that LSU fans will be watching is senior running back Terrence Magee. For years, the Franklinton, Louisiana, native has been waiting for a chance to show his skill-set. With determination, hard work and a will to get on the field, he's become the team's "yes man," playing everything from special teams to wide receiver in previous seasons. This season, he's a leader for a group of young running backs. For the August issue of 225, Magee sat down with Matthew Sigur to talk about his approach to the game. "Since I've been here, whatever's out there for me to do to contribute to the team, I'm willing to do so," Magee says. "I feel like if there's something out there that fits my skill set, or if I can go out there and learn from a guy who's done it before, then why not go out there and learn it?" That humble spirit is something Magee got from his grandmother, whom he still visits when he goes back home. "Within five minutes of the conversation, the word 'humble' is going to come out of her mouth," he says. "She's going to tell me to always remember who you are and where you come from." Read the full story.

News roundup: Final Sasol permits approved… Symphony names new president and executive director… Rig count up by 18

Good to go: The Army Corps of Engineers gave Johannesburg-based energy and chemical company Sasol approval of the final two permits needed to build a $21 billion gas-to-liquids and ethane cracker complex in Westlake, Louisiana. The existing Sasol site was chosen for expansion in part due to Louisiana's incentive programs. The new facility is expected to create 1,200 direct jobs and 5,800 indirect jobs in the Lake Charles area. The complex was announced in 2011.

Byrd is the word: P. Carrigan Byrd Jr.—previously director of development at Da Camera of Houston, that city's premiere chamber music and jazz organization—was named president and executive director of the Baton Rouge Symphony today. During his seven years at Da Camera, Byrd increased the organization's operating budget by 50%. Byrd received a graduate degree in music from LSU. "We are delighted to have Cary join our BRSO family and return to Baton Rouge," says interim executive director Ron Ross. Byrd's selection was the result of a nationwide search, Ross says.

Drill, baby, drill: The number of rigs in the country used for exploring for oil and natural gas increased by 18 across the country this week but remained stagnant in Louisiana, according to a log kept by the Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc., an oilfield services company. Louisiana's neighbor Texas gained 12 rigs. That brings the total count to 1,914, up from 1,776 a year ago. The Associated Press has the full story.

Editor's note: In observance of Labor Day, the Daily Report staff is off on Monday and the e-newsletter will not be published. Daily Report will return on Tuesday. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.
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