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Culture
12:00 am
Fri May 4, 2012

In Louisiana, Cubans Play Mexican Ranchera Music

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.


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Wildlife
12:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Sick Fish Suggest Lingering Impact of BP Spill

A lesion on a red snapper found in the area of the BP spill (Courtesy of James Cowan.)

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.


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Design
12:00 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Creative Louisiana Speaker Kenneth Brown on Southern Design

Interior Designer, Kenneth Brown. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

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.


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Baton Rouge Schools
12:00 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Big Charter School Push Coming to Baton Rouge

Chris Meyer is the head of New Schools for Baton Rouge, which will be facilitating the development of charter schools. (WRKF/Amy Jeffries)

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.


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Politics
12:00 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Pension Debate Pits Government vs. Government Workers

Key pieces of the governor's pension reform have started working their way from the legislature.
Credit 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.

This audio is pending

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Gulf Coast
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Coastal Communities Still Feeling Effects Of Spill

A view of the oil source as seen during an overflight on May 20, 2010. (Photo:NOAA)

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and causing the largest marine spill in American history.

Beyond the effects on wildlife, tourism and fishing along the Gulf Coast, the spill has had a lasting impact on the lives and relationships in communities there.

Diane Austin, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, was part of a research team that published a report last year on those social effects. She talked with WRKF's Ashley Westerman by phone about the pervasiveness of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.


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Transportation
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Voters Consider CATS Transit Tax

Passengers wait at the terminal on Florida and North 22nd. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Baton Rouge's bus system is in crisis. The future of the Capital Area Transit system, or "CATS," will be determined in a special tax election on Saturday. As WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, the system is facing a $2.1 million deficit in a budget currently projected at $12.6 million. The tax revenue would not only close that gap, but totally overhaul the existing system, and if it doesn't pass? Proponents say the buses could shut down in July.

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Historical Sites
12:00 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Neglected Louisiana Graveyards Face Continued Disrepair

Kenny Kleinpeter at Highland Historic Cemetery in Baton Rouge. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Baton Rouge's historic cemeteries are part of the backdrop of everyday life here. You probably drive past them on your way home from work or see the above-ground tombs when you drop your kid off at school. But many of the state's graveyards have been beaten up by hurricanes and other natural disasters, and remain in a stunning state of disrepair. In fact, as WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, there are few resources to keep them from crumbling away.


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Elementary Education
12:00 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Drop-Out Study Argues for Truancy Intervention

The Truancy Assessment and Service Center (TASC) program aims to intervene early so that kids stay in school. (LSU School of Social Work)

While the legislature has approved Governor Bobby Jindal's proposals for getting teachers to up their game and providing more school choice, an effort to keep some of the most at-risk kids in the classroom may be falling by the wayside.

The Truancy Assessment and Service Center, or TASC, program, addresses truancy among elementary school students, intervening early so they don't drop out later.

Administrators of TASC, which serves students from 21 parishes at 14 sites around the state, pleaded with the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week not to cut its funding.


Cecile Guin, Director of Research at the LSU School of Social Work, helped develop the program 13 years ago. She spoke with WRKF's Amy Jeffries in the studio along with LSU economist Stephen Barnes about TASC and the study they recently co-authored to bolster the argument for its preservation.

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Block Watch
12:00 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Local Civic Leader Opposes Watch Group Patrolling, Wants Change

Ricky Shaffer is President of the Sherwood Forest Civic Association and past president of the Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch. He says he opposes neighborhood watch group volunteers patrolling their jurisdictions.
Credit WRKF

Last week, George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty in the death of Treyvon Martin. The neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed the unarmed black teen while patrolling his gated community in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26.

Zimmerman's attorneys have said they will use Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground Law as his defense.

Louisiana has a similar justifiable homicide law.

Here in Baton Rouge, Ricky Shaffer heads the Sherwood Forest Civic Association in one of the city's largest neighborhoods, and is the former president of Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch.

Shaffer says he opposes the idea of watch group volunteers patrolling their neighborhoods.


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