WRKF News

This week the state legislature unanimously approved the 2012 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, a 50 year blueprint for restoring disappearing wetlands and protecting the state's natural resources.

Coastal land loss is an ongoing problem in gulf states and there are many agencies, non-profits and universities working to solve it. An independent research institute hopes to be the linchpin that brings them all together. The Water Institute of the Gulf was founded last year and has just selected UL-Lafayette civil engineering professor Ehab Meselhe as the new director of natural systems. He's also heading up a five-year, $25 million federally funded project studying land loss and restoration.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with him about how he hopes the Water Institute will streamline efforts to save the gulf.


Classrooms aren't as simple as they used to be - traditional chalk boards and pencils used to do the trick, but now computers play a huge rule in the way our kids learn.

Educator, author, and founder of the Mentorship Academy of Digital Arts, Brian Dixon, says that's a good thing. At his charter school in downtown Baton Rouge smartboards and iPads are the norm. He's the featured speaker at this month's Creative Louisiana and WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with him about using technology in the classroom and the future of education.


The senate finance committee has yet to reach a decision on the proposed state budget, which currently includes major cuts to health care and education.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland had a conversation with LSU Professor of Finance, Rajesh Narayanan, who says year after year the state has faced major deficits and the future doesn't look too bright - unless there are major changes in the way the state makes investments.


As of Friday, May 11, the state Legislative session has three weeks until it must adjourn.

The budget has yet to be balanced even though the house passed an amendment Friday to end the dispute over the use of one-time money, and Governor Bobby Jindal's pension reforms remain in limbo.

Robert Mann is the Director of the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at the Manship School at LSU.

WRKF's Ashley Westerman sat down with him earlier this week and asked what the biggest priority for the legislature is at this point.


En Luisiana, Los Cubanos Tocan Ranchera

May 4, 2012

Como consecuencia de Katrina, la población Mexicana en Luisiana ha crecido substancialmente y con ella, la demanda de grupos de Mariachi.  Luisiana solo tiene un grupo de mariachi, pero no son mexicanos.  Son cubanos.


In Louisiana, Cubans Play Mexican Ranchera Music

May 4, 2012

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana's Mexican population has grown substantially, and with it the demand for mariachi bands. Louisiana only has one mariachi band -- but they're not Mexican, they're Cuban.


Sick Fish Suggest Lingering Impact of BP Spill

Apr 27, 2012

In November 2011, roughly a year and a half after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, commercial fisherman began catching red snapper with dark sores and lesions in the Gulf.

A group of LSU scientists studying the impact of the disaster is still finding large numbers of sick fish -- snapper in particular -- throughout the area of the oil spill.


Designer and reality TV star Kenneth Brown says the best way to design a space is to get a fresh start - take everything out of the room and take a good long look at it.

Brown recently moved back to Baton Rouge from Los Angeles to start a new design firm. He's the featured speaker for this month's Creative Louisiana monthly meet-up.

He talked with WRKF's Tegan Wendland about why he moved back, and what the city has going for it.


Big Charter School Push Coming to Baton Rouge

Apr 26, 2012

The Recovery School District is announcing plans for an "Achievement Zone" in north Baton Rouge where the schools have been failing for decades.

As part of that effort, New Schools for Baton Rouge will be facilitating the development of charter schools.

Before moving upriver to launch the new non-profit, Chris Meyer worked for the RSD in New Orleans, identifying which schools to turn over to charter operators there.

As he told WRKF's Amy Jeffries, Meyer is out to prove that you don't need a hurricane to make radical changes to the way schools work.


Pension Debate Pits Government vs. Government Workers

Apr 23, 2012
Alex C. Balla

Key pieces of Governor Bobby Jindal's pension reform have started to make their way through the legislature.

A bill that aims to change retirement eligibility heads to the full House tomorrow for further debate. Meanwhile, legislation to create a cash-balance plan for retirees and raise employee pension contribution by 3-percent is slated for the full Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Jeffrey Sadow is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LSU Shreveport. He is also the author of the Louisiana politics blog "Between The Lines".

Sadow spoke with WRKF's Ashley Westerman via telephone about the political dynamics at play in order to get pension reforms passed.

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