WAFB general manager leaving for WVUE-TV in New Orleans
WAFB General Manager Sandy Breland is leaving her post at the local CBS affiliate to become vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV in New Orleans. The announcement came in a release from Raycom Media, which owns WAFB and, as of this month, will begin providing operational services at WVUE, the Fox affiliate in New Orleans owned by Tom Benson's Louisiana Media Company. "Sandy is the perfect choice to lead and grow this station," says Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media. "She knows New Orleans and served the people of that community during some of the more challenging times in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Breland, a native of New Orleans, spent more than 20 years in the New Orleans broadcast market, the majority of that time at WWL-TV. She joined WAFB in the summer of 2008. She will continue her role as Raycom regional vice president, with managerial oversight of the company's Louisiana stations, WAFB, KSLA in Shreveport, and KPLC in Lake Charles. Raycom is expected to name a new GM to head WAFB.—Stephanie Riegel
Metro Council replaces veteran Planning Commissioner
With most of the attention at Wednesday's Metro Council meeting focused on residency requirements and the proposed city of St. George, few may have noticed that the council replaced veteran Planning Commission member Martha Jane Tassin with Greg Ducote, a neighborhood activist and long-time board member of the Southside Civic Association. Tassin served on the commission for 12 years—eight while a member of the Metro Council from 2001-2009 and four more since leaving the council. She was up for reappointment but did not get the requisite seven votes. "I am sorry I am not on it," Tassin says. "I loved serving but it's one of those things. . . The Metro Council does what the Metro Council does." According to a copy of the voting record from the Metro Council administrator's office, just four council members supported Tassin when her name came up for a vote—Trae Welch, Scott Wilson, Chandler Loupe and Buddy Amoroso. The other seven supported Ducote. It is unclear what affect Ducote's appointment may have on the commission but he will likely not vote in lockstep with his predecessor. Tassin was well regarded for her expertise and experience on the commission but was also seen as a friend of the development community. Ducote, by contrast, has been a vocal opponent of Rouzan and other projects in his neighborhood.—Stephanie Riegel
Proposed residency ordinance contrary to EBR plan of government, Delgado says
Five Metro Council members' proposed residency ordinance, which would require city-parish employees to live within the city or the unincorporated part of East Baton Rouge parish, is not without precedent, says Councilwoman Tara Wicker. "We are just lining ourselves up with other cities and municipalities that have done the exact same thing and have had these policies in place for a long time," Wicker says, referencing New Orleans. But Councilman John Delgado says there's a crucial difference between EBR's city-parish government and New Orleans's city-parish government: the city of New Orleans is geographically contiguous with the parish of Orleans, whereas EBR parish encompasses Baton Rouge, Baker, Central, and Zachary. To exclude citizens of the city-parish from working for the city-parish would be contrary to our plan of government, Delgado says. "In a metropolitan government, I believe that it violates equal protection to treat one class of citizens within that government differently than another class of citizens within that same government." Wicker says the movement to incorporate the City of St. George makes the proposed ordinance a necessary protection for Baton Rouge's tax base, a sentiment Delgado says he sympathizes with. "That's a good statement to make, and I respect that statement," he says. "But showing the folly of your opponent by doing the same thing is an equally bad idea." —Rachel Alexander
'225': Hays Town fights the fight no one else wants to
In 2009, Hays Town started to reinvent himself. As 225
details in a new feature story, the 1958 LSU alum enrolled later in life in grad school at his alma mater "to learn about the weather," he says. However, during a class on hydrology, he heard about saltwater intrusion. "I thought I would research it for a term paper, so I went out to the U.S. Geological Survey, and it was obvious," Town says. "I knew within the first hour of looking at the charts and graphs they gave me that there was a problem." The science of groundwater and the growing amount of salt in industrial and public supply water wells became Town's obsession. The more he learned about the looming decline in safe drinking water, the more concerned he became. Town has been hard at work, leading the formation of an advocacy group called Baton Rouge Citizens to Save Our Water, Inc., calling elected officials and requesting the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission hold public meetings. Problems remain, yet nothing has little or no action has been taken, Town laments. "To me, they seem to take pride in not being accountable to the public," he says. Read the full story.
LABI's Waguespack: Little things count
In his current column in the organization's newsletter, LABI President Stephen Waguespack notes that little things count. Echoing his recent message to the Baton Rouge Press Club, Waguespack stresses the crucial importance of soft skills in Louisiana's quest to become a regional economic powerhouse. "Our workers need soft skills to be effective in today's economy," Waguespack writes. "Soft skills" covers a lot of territory, but the concept "includes showing up to work on time, being able to pass a drug test, dressing in an appropriate manner for the workplace . . . and being able to work cooperatively and effectively with co-workers, supervisors and customers." To make his point, Waguespack cites Alabama Coach Nick Saban's insistence that officials put a single second back on the game clock in the Crimson Tide's historic game against Auburn. Rather than sealing a win, the seemingly small decision led to a dramatically different result than intended≠—a loss that sends Auburn to the national championship game. "The point is that little things can make a big difference and often go unnoticed at the time we need them most," Waguespack notes. Read the entire column.
'Business Report': Regenerating TransGenRx
Last summer, TransGenRx was in bankruptcy court, owing almost $7.9 million. Today, its core technology survives as the basis of a new company called ProteoVec. As Business Report
details in its current issue, the biotech breakthrough still might have commercial potential and one day help put the tiny local biotech sector on the map. "This community, and this technology, deserved a shot," says John Uhrin, ProteoVec's president. "When it went through the bankruptcy, it was taken apart. Now we're putting it back together." The technology was recently purchased by Baton Rouge's Svendson family. Uhrin says he began working with the Svendsons as a "distant consultant" this July when they formed ProteoVec. The new company in September bought TransGenRx's intellectual property and technical equipment for $400,000 as the sole bidder in a bankruptcy court auction. Uhrin says ProteoVec utilizes essentially the same technology and some of the same core employees as TGRx, but its business plan is completely different. "They had a speculative business model," he says. "They made Protein X and embarked on trying to find people who would pay for it." ProteoVec, by contrast, first will establish relationships with clients, such as universities, research centers, and small-to-medium-size biotech companies, that need small orders of research-grade proteins customized to their needs. Read the full story.
News roundup: Startups show they are quick to fire … U.S. agencies consider cell phone use on flights … House bipartisan budget pact's practical impacts
Don't get too fired up:
Working at a startup may come with many perks, but it's also very easy to get fired, The Wall Street Journal
reports, sometimes within days of beginning. Startup managers say they try to let underperformers or poor fits go within their first three months, but some hires don't last even that long. In part, that is a reflection of the "lean startup" ethos described by Eric Ries in his 2011 book of the same name, which urges new companies to stay unsentimentally focused on moving ahead, repeatedly releasing improved products and eliminating anything that doesn't serve customers. Read the full story.Silent flight:
Following public outrage at a Federal Communications Commission proposal to lift a long-time ban on the use of mobile phones during flights, the Transportation Department said on Thursday that it would consider exclusively prohibiting voice calls aboard airplanes, the New York Times
reports. Still, consumers are likely to soon be able to text, check email and connect to the Internet on their cellphones while their flight is above 10,000 feet. The F.C.C.'s consideration, which focuses on all mobile devices, is different from the Transportation Department's more narrow interest in voice calls. It specifically concerns new technology that allows cell phones to be used on airborne planes without interfering with wireless networks on the ground. Read the full story.In English, please:
A Washington Post
article covers the bipartisan budget plan passed by the House from the perspective of an ordinary citizen. Changes may include more expensive airline tickets, due to an increase in the fee flyers pay to the Transportation Security Administration. Federal civilian employees and members of the Armed Forces may also experience cuts to their retirement programs, and retired servicemen and women under the age of 62 may see smaller annual increases in their benefits. Read the full story.