Survey: First-time voters in 2008 less likely to vote for Obama
The LSU Public Policy Research Lab recently conducted a study that surveyed first-time voters in 2008 and found that 82.5% of those who voted for President Barack Obama are less likely than other Obama voters—90%—to think he deserves re-election. The PPRL survey also found that 82.2% of 2008 first-time voters are less likely than other voters—93.3%—to say they will definitely be voting in 2012, and that 71.9% of 2008 first-time voters are less likely than other 2008 Obama voters—90.4%— to say the president will be better than GOP candidate Mitt Romney at improving the economy. The study was supported by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and housed within the Manship School of Mass Communication. "This unique insight into President Obama's base offers a sneak peek into how his key constituency's loyalty has fared in the four years since he stepped into office," says PPRL Director Kirby Goidel. "This is the only survey to identify 2008 first-time voters to see where they are four years later. Other surveys have looked at new or young voters. It is important for this  election and for understanding how these voters—mobilized by an historic election—change over time." To view the full report, click survey.lsu.edu.
'Sporting News' bets LSU beats USC in BCS title game in Miami
Despite the Tigers' drubbing by Alabama in the 2012 BCS title game in January, Sporting News has again ranked LSU
No. 1—the second year in a row—in its preseason poll. Sporting News says, "We did what only the most highly trained experts would do in a situation like this: looked the other way. Buried our heads in the sand. Basically pretended the whole thing never happened. They were our preseason No. 1 last time out and, hey, they didn't exactly leave egg on our faces, winning 13 games and climbing onto the big stage in New Orleans ranked at the top of every national poll. In fact, six teams in our 2011 preseason top 10 ended up in BCS games." In the new poll, USC is ranked No. 2 and Alabama is No. 3. The site says LSU "is too good—and has too much motivation from last season—not to reach the national title game again. These Tigers are more talented than the team that won the 2007 national title, and if quarterback Zach Mettenberger can play smart and limit turnovers, no one will beat them." To read more, click here>.
Woman's expects higher volume, expanded service at new hospital
Officials with Woman's Hospital, which moves to its new campus Sunday, say new hospitals typically see a demand spike of about 10% to 15%, and they say the larger facility near the corner of Airline Highway and Pecue Lane will be ready. "There are some services we offer that are not well-known, and we've not promoted them extensively, because we were so limited on space," says Woman's President/CEO Teri Fontenot. Two general surgeons will be housed in the medical office building on the new campus, and an orthopedic surgeon who has been on staff for over a year will have more clinical space in which to see patients. Gastroenterology, particularly colonoscopies, and bariatric surgery also likely will be more common at the new location. The new hospital carries a $24 million a year mortgage, and Woman's is not adding beds. It also faces revenue challenges as the state cuts Medicaid payments. However, the hospital's more efficient layout and better technology should lead to savings on operating costs, officials say. —David Jacobs
Defense fund created to protect private schools accepting vouchers
A defense fund is in place to protect Louisiana schools that accept voucher students. The Alliance for School Choice and the Institute for Justice announced Tuesday the creation of the Louisiana Defense Fund in response to a letter last week from the Louisiana Association of Educators that threatened legal action against private schools that participate in the state's education reform. The Alliance is a leading national organization promoting and implementing school choice programs nationwide. The Institute for Justice, the nation's leading legal advocate for school choice, joined the Alliance in the defense fund. The Alliance for School Choice says LAE would rather threaten private schools that accept voucher students with lawsuits than work to improve failing and underperforming schools across the state. LAE on July 25 sent letters to private schools across the state stating that it would "take whatever means necessary" to prevent the private schools from accepting students using scholarship funds, or 5,637 vouchers that are basically checks backed by taxpayer dollars, the Alliance says. "We're not only standing with the schools of Louisiana," says Kevin P. Chavous, a senior adviser to the Alliance, "but most importantly, we're standing with the thousands of parents all across the state who deserve the opportunity to choose the best educational environment for their children." The trial to determine the constitutionality of the program is set to begin on Oct. 15 in Baton Rouge, the Alliance says.
Harahan golf course is sold
Colonial Golf & Country Club's sizable debt has been paid in full, reports The Times-Picayune. Businessman John Georges confirms that he and real estate developer Wayne Ducote completed the purchase of the 88-acre Harahan property Tuesday under the club's Chapter 11 reorganization plan. "All the creditors have been paid," Georges said Tuesday evening. "It's now private property." As J.W. Colonial Group LLC., Georges and Ducote agreed to pay $8.5 million to the club's creditors according to the plan approved June 11 by federal bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Magner. The 87-year-old country club closed earlier this year during foreclosure proceedings initiated by its primary creditor, Louis Lauricella-owned Colonial Finance LLC. Lauricella loaned the financially beleaguered club $4.7 million in 2007. But that debt swelled to $7.8 million, including interest, attorney's fees and other costs. The club declared bankruptcy in February, one day before the property was to be auctioned off at a Sheriff's sale. Colonial Finance received $4.5 million in cash from the sale. Georges and Ducote assumed the remaining $3.3 million debt, according to the plan. Another $656,472 was paid to the club's other creditors. To read more, click here.
Careers fair for north Baton Rouge residents premieres today
To increase job training and educational opportunities for north Baton Rouge residents, business and community leaders are hosting today the first-ever 70805 Education for Careers Fair, named after the ZIP code that has become synonymous with violent crime in the city. Beginning at 11 a.m., the careers fair will take place at the Capital Area Technical College on North Acadian Thruway. A group of leaders will also lay out plans for the launch of the North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative, a program designed to provide a new craft skills training program to eligible north Baton Rouge residents. Representatives from Capital Area Technical College, Baton Rouge Community College, nonprofit organizations and industry, including GBRIA ExxonMobil, Turner Industries, Associated Builders and Contractors, and HOPE Ministries, will be at the careers fair to discuss training and educational opportunities.
News roundup: Reservation deadline for Baton Rouge High School Foundation's 'Bulldogs Unleashed' today … Privately insured women now eligible for free health services … LDWF receives $150,000 matching grant for environmental education
Bullish for BRHS: Today is the final day the Baton Rouge High School Foundation is accepting reservations for its "Bulldogs Unleashed" celebration on Aug. 24. The group is placing 25 art-designed, life-size bulldogs around town and will auction them at Boudreaux's at the event, which also includes a tour of the renovated high school. To learn more, click here or visit the group on Facebook here.
Well-woman Medicare: Starting today, 592,117 Louisiana women with private insurance will become eligible to receive a range of preventive services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, without a co-pay or deductible under the Affordable Care Act. Other services include: well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, breastfeeding support and supplies, interpersonal violence screening and counseling, and HPV DNA testing. Already, almost 290,000 Louisiana women on Medicare already receive free preventive services. To learn more, click here.
Wild classes: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has received a $150,000 matching grant for environmental education from the Environmental Protection Agency. The LDWF will use part of the grant to fund Sustainably Yours, a multifaceted environmental education program tailored for teachers, K-12 students, the public and outreach professionals. The LDWF will also use the grant to provide new subgrants through the School Sustainability Grants program to bolster sustainability initiatives on K-12 school campuses. To learn more about EPA grants, click here.
Poll question: If Gov. Bobby Jindal were running for re-election in 2012, would you vote for him?