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November 17, 2018 - 12:00 am

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR-TEACHERS

Edwards rallies union support: 'Elections have consequences'

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards rallied his core base of education union support with a preview of his 2019 re-election stump speech. He urged teachers and school workers to maintain a "sense of purpose" about the governor's race.

The Democratic leader spoke Saturday to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. He offered a defense of his record since taking office in 2016 and a pledge of educator pay raises.

The receptive crowd was packed with Edwards supporters who helped his election bid three years earlier and promised to help him reach a second term.

The governor repeated his plan to seek a $1,000 teacher pay raise and $500 school support worker raise in next year's legislative session. He said he'll have a three-year plan to raise salaries to the Southern average.

BEATING-RACIAL SLURS

3 surrender to police after beating, racial slurs alleged

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three white men accused of shouting racial slurs and beating a black man on a New Orleans street have surrendered to police.

New Orleans news outlets report Matthew Adam Vining, Stone Michael Linden and Bobby Lee McCollister, all 23, were arrested Wednesday and Thursday and released on bail.

Investigators believe the 64-year-old victim was driving near the French Quarter early Nov. 4 when the men blocked his vehicle.

The man told police that when he honked his horn, the men responded with racial slurs.

Police said witnesses and surveillance video indicate the driver was beaten after getting out of his car holding a stick.

Hearings for the men are pending. Defense attorneys told The New Orleans Advocate the public should not jump to conclusions about the suspects.

NEW ORLEANS WATER

A boil water advisory in New Orleans after pressure drops

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Many New Orleans residents woke up to inconvenient news — much of the city was under a precautionary boil water advisory.

City officials say Saturday's advisory was issued out of an abundance of caution after a power loss at a distribution system caused a pressure drop to low levels. The concern is that low pressure can allow contaminants to enter a water pipe.

The advisory affects all New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board customers on the East Bank of the Mississippi River. Pressure dropped to below the safety threshold between 6:42 a.m. and 6:50 a.m.

It was unclear when the advisory would be lifted. Recurring power problems have plagued the Sewerage and Water Board in recent years — at times affecting the drinking water system and the city's drainage pumps.

MARDI GRAS-NEW KREWE

New streetcar riding 'krewe' to herald Carnival season

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A new "krewe" plans to help kick off New Orleans' annual Carnival season on Jan. 6.

A group known as the Phunny Phorty Phellows has long heralded the arrival of the season by donning costumes and taking a ride on the St. Charles Avenue street car. New Orleans news outlets report that, now, another streetcar full of revelers plans to follow them.

A spokesman says the group — the Funky Uptown Krewe — hopes to encourage more people to come out for the start of the season. One attraction is a chance to literally catch some music: the group will toss CDs featuring local bands.

Carnival season begins on Jan. 6 and continues until Mardi Gras — or Fat Tuesday — which falls next year on March 5.

MEDICAID AUDIT

Computer upgrade aims to improve Medicaid eligibility checks

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration told lawmakers a computer upgrade will address concerns the state Medicaid program has paid millions on people not eligible for the coverage.

The Legislature's joint budget committee Friday approved the contract extension for the upgraded system.

The legislative auditor's office released an audit this week that said Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program may have spent as much as $85M on ineligible enrollees. Auditors suggested more double-checking of Medicaid recipients' income.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the upgraded system will do quarterly checks of eligibility, rather than the annual checks that have been done, and will use more data for comparison.

Discussion of the audit sparked the latest disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over management of a Medicaid program that costs nearly $13 billion a year.

LOUISIANA CONGRESSMAN-LEADERSHIP

Louisiana congressman elected to Republican leadership job

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana has a new leadership job, elected chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee for the congressional term that begins in January.

The group of about 150 House lawmakers is influential in GOP decision-making. Johnson, in his second term as a congressman from the Shreveport area, will take over as the House shifts to Democratic control.

His election to the two-year chairman's term was announced Friday. In a statement, Johnson said the position will give Louisiana greater influence in Congress and he'll use it to "fight for the core conservative values I and so many other Louisianians hold dear."

Previous chairmen of the caucus include Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who will be the No. 2 GOP leader next term.

SERIAL KILLER-INVESTIGATION-THE LATEST

The Latest: 2 Georgia slayings solved after man confesses

DALLAS (AP) — Authorities in Georgia say they have closed the decades-old slayings of two women based on confessions by a man being held in Texas who says he killed as many as 90 people over four decades.

Two Bibb County investigators traveled to Decatur, Texas, to question 78-year-old Samuel Little.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that one victim was killed in 1977 and another in 1982. In the 1982 case, a woman's body was found in the backyard of a Macon home. She had been strangled. Police identified her as Fredonia Smith.

The 1977 victim was never identified. Her skeletal remains were found at the edge of some woods in a local backyard.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office says Little gave them specific details and information" linking him to both slayings, and Smith's family was notified about the new developments.

Little was already serving a life sentence in California when he was interviewed by a Texas investigator that resulted in the confessions.

Authorities in Louisiana say they've closed two longstanding murder investigations because of confessions by a man being held in Texas who says he killed as many as 90 people over four decades.

An internal Louisiana State Police memo obtained by The Associated Press says 78-year-old Samuel Little provided details on two killings in the Gulf Coast town of Houma "that only the murderer would have known."

Fifty-nine-year-old Dorothy Richard was found dead in 1982 and the body of 40-year-old Daisy McGuire was discovered in 1996. Both had been strangled.

The memo says Little has confessed to other killings in Louisiana and those claims are being investigated.

Little is being held on a murder charge in West Texas.

He was already serving a life sentence in California when he was interviewed by a Texas investigator that resulted in the confessions.

STRIPPERS SUE

Judges: Louisiana breast-and-buttocks law is clear enough

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court panel has reversed itself and cleared the way for Louisiana to enforce its law setting a minimum age of 21 for exotic dancers in bars and nightclubs.

In September, the panel had agreed the law was too vague regarding how much of a young dancer's breasts or buttocks must be covered.

But the same three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that the law is clear enough to pass constitutional muster.

The abrupt reversal was a defeat for three would-be strippers who were 18, 19 and 20 when they challenged the law last year.

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