Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. CDT

October 04, 2018 - 12:00 am

MARSHAL SERVICE-LOUISIANA

Louisiana man nominated to lead the US Marshal Service

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped a Louisiana man to lead the U.S. Marshal Service.

Donald Washington, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, has been nominated for the Marshal Service director's job.

Louisiana's two U.S. senators, Republicans Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, praised the pick in a joint statement Wednesday. The U.S. Senate must confirm Washington before he can take the job.

Washington is a lawyer working in private practice in Lafayette, dealing mainly with business, energy, white-collar crime and health care issues. He was the Western District's U.S. attorney from 2001 through 2010. He is a West Point graduate.

POLICE-CUSTODY DEATH

Chief: Handcuffed man stopped breathing, couldn't be revived

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' police chief says a man stopped breathing shortly after he was handcuffed by officers, but they were unable to save him using the drug Narcan and by performing CPR.

The man died early Wednesday at a hospital.

Chief Michael Harrison says three officers responded Tuesday night to calls about a screaming man and a possible break-in at a residence. Officers spotted the man in a driveway. Authorities say he dropped a knife he was carrying when officers told him to, but continued to approach officers.

Harrison says that once the officers noticed he stopped breathing, one administered Narcan to reverse a possible opioid overdose. They then tried to revive him using CPR.

Autopsy reports are pending. Harrison says body-worn camera video and witness statements indicated officers acted appropriately.

LOUISIANA SOYBEANS

Rainy harvest devastates Louisiana soybeans for 2nd year

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana congressman says the trade disputes with China are hurting the state's soybean farmers at a time when rain during harvest season has also hit them badly. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham is asking the federal government for help.

Abraham says many soybean shipments are coming down the Mississippi River instead of going to the West Coast, filling storage silos and leaving little space for Louisiana's big but damaged crop.

Soybeans were a big target of tariffs imposed by China in response to those imposed by the Trump administration.

An LSU AgCenter soybean specialist says this is the second straight year that a rainy stretch during harvest season has devastated Louisiana soybeans. Todd Spivey says rains in late September kept farmers from harvesting ripe soybeans, which are now badly damaged.

GOVERNOR-HOLLYWOOD MEETUP

Louisiana gov, studios meet over state film opportunities

(Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The governor of Louisiana has met with eight major film production companies to discuss filming opportunities in the state.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reported Wednesday that Gov. John Bel Edwards met this week with Netflix, Warner Bros., NBC, Universal, HBO, Hulu, CBS and Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. He urged them to use the state's Motion Picture Production tax credit, which was implemented in 2002 to attract productions and boost the economy.

It has attracted productions such as "Django Unchained" and "12 Years a Slave." A 2017 economic impact study says entertainment spending in 2015 and 2016 brought in nearly $1.8 billion in household earnings for state residents.

There are seven films and six television shows being filmed in Louisiana, and Edwards says he expects to see more in the coming months.

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STORM DRAIN COVERS

Covers missing from nearly 150 New Orleans storm drains

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Big metal covers are missing from nearly 150 storm drains around New Orleans, and the mayor's office says they're trying out covers that lock.

A spokeswoman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell tells WWL-TV it costs $250 to $500 to replace storm drain covers, and more than 140 are missing.

A 9th Ward nonprofit official tells NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune that people may be stealing covers left off by city crews. Thom Pepper of Common Ground Relief says storm drains were left open after post-flood vacuuming in August 2017 and during street repairs the following month. He says each time, the covers were gone within 48 hours.

Mayoral spokeswoman LaTonya Norton says if locking covers are effective, the city will replace all missing covers in the 9th Ward with them.

NEW ORLEANS TOURISM-WORKERS RIGHTS

Amid pay gap, New Orleans workers want 'sustainable tourism'

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' service and hospitality workers are asking for better pay and benefits from a city that last year drew in around $8 billion from the tourists they serve.

News outlets report workers and activists spoke before the New Orleans Community Development Committee on Tuesday to advocate for "sustainable tourism."

Researchers from Loyola University's Workplace Justice Center say Orleans Parish has the state's largest pay gap. Advocates assert the city's largest economic driver, tourism, is built on the backs of the working poor.

Workers are asking for better enforcement of the Living Wage Ordinance, which took effect in 2016. The council will vote on changing its enforcement Thursday.

Workers are also seeking improved affordable transit, local hiring and apprenticeship programs and representation on City Hall's various committees and boards.

LOUISIANA FLOODING-CONGRESS

Congress passes disaster fix to help Louisiana flood victims

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Legislation headed to President Donald Trump's desk could help thousands of Louisiana flood victims.

The U.S. Senate gave final passage Wednesday to a package of federal disaster policy changes, included in a bill authorizing spending for federal aviation programs.

Federal policies have kept thousands of victims of the 2016 Louisiana floods from being able to access a federally-financed homeowner grant program because they already received Small Business Administration loans.

Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy says the bill will eliminate those restrictions so homeowners with flood damage who received SBA loans can get grants through the Restore Louisiana program.

Trump is expected to sign the measure into law.

Gov. John Bel Edwards extended the application period for the state's homeowner aid program until Nov. 16 in anticipation of the federal change.

HOSPITAL LAWSUIT

Ex-hospital manager, insurer proceed with antitrust lawsuit

(Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com)

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — BRF and Vantage Health Plan say they're proceeding with their antitrust lawsuit in Louisiana against Willis-Knighton Health System.

BRF tells the USA Today Network in a statement that it's entitled to damages. The suit filed in 2015 alleges Willis-Knighton conspired through Louisiana State University's Shreveport medical school to destroy BRF and what was then University Health Hospital Shreveport by siphoning its commercially-insured patients. Vantage is a statewide insurer and claims Willis-Knighton locked it out of the Shreveport market.

Willis-Knighton spokesman John Kyte says it denies the allegations and asked the U.S. District Court judge to dismiss the case.

On Monday, BRF turned over operation of Louisiana's safety-net hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe that care for the poor and uninsured to a new company jointly controlled by LSU and Ochsner Health System.

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