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Ruffino's is relocating its corporate headquarters and catering operation to De La Ronde Hall at 320 Third St. downtown, and plans to offer banquet and catering services for up to 500 patrons in the 8,500-square-foot space. "This location is the 50-yard-line of Baton Rouge, and it's probably the prettiest facility in the city," says Ruffino's co-owner Ruffin Rodrigue, who adds the new location will be called Ruffino's Catering and Events at De La Ronde Hall. "There is so much going on downtown, and this is where we want to be." Rodrigue says he and co-owner Peter Sclafani, Ruffino's executive chef, have been eyeing downtown for some time but were not yet ready to open a third full-service restaurant there, given their expansion last year with a Lafayette restaurant. "This enables us to have a presence downtown," he says. "We want to invest downtown." With the new endeavor comes a new partner: Howard Walker. He's the general manager of Ruffino's Highland Road restaurant and will join Rodrigue and Sclafani in the ownership of the catering operation. His sister, Mindy Walker, is Ruffino's existing banquet and catering director and will remain in that role from the new downtown offices, which are being completed this week. —Stephanie Riegel Read the full story.
State Sen. Robert Adley says he plans to introduce legislation during the upcoming session that would restrict judicial fundraising activities. "I'm working on some language in a bill that would essentially say judges cannot take money from lawyers who have court proceedings in front of them," says Adley, R-Benton. The move comes just days after the north Louisiana senator sent a letter to the Louisiana Supreme Court requesting an investigation into a fundraiser held for 19th Judicial District Court Judge Janice Clark by a group of local attorneys, including one who has a high profile matter in her court. As first reported by Daily Report, attorney Wade Shows was last week among 37 attorneys who hosted a $250-per-ticket fundraiser for Clark at Le Bon Temps Bar and Grill. Shows is representing the Louisiana attorney general in a lawsuit filed against him by the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. "It's bad enough that the judges take the money," says Adley. "But the worst part of it is that the lawyers don't even see anything wrong with giving it." Shows told Daily Report last week that he did nothing wrong in lending his name to the host committee for Clark's fundraiser. "He may be right—it is perfectly legal," says Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Travis Scott. "But this opens a whole conversation about appointed versus elected judges." —Stephanie Riegel
Business leaders and members of the Capital Region's legislative delegation are reacting cautiously to a bill filed late Friday that would create four sub-school districts in East Baton Rouge Parish. The proposed legislation by Sen. Mack "Bodi" White, R-Central, would give sweeping autonomy to deputy superintendents in each district and is intended to help address chronic problems in EBR schools that have led to efforts to incorporate a new city of St. George from unincorporated portions of East Baton Rouge Parish. BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp declines to comment on the bill, saying he has not had time to study the measure. BRAF also declines to comment. Republican Rep. Steve Carter, who heads the Baton Rouge legislative delegation and chairs the House Education Committee, says he, too, needs to know more about the bill before taking a position on it. "But I applaud anybody who is trying to improve the school district," he says. "This may not be the solution … but maybe we can tweak it and … merge it together with some ideas the superintendent [of EBR Schools] has and come up with something that makes everyone happy." Appeasing the disparate factions in the Baton Rouge legislative delegation—which mirrors the divided parish as whole—will be easier said than done. Democratic Rep. Pat Smith of Baton Rouge is incensed by White's bill, especially its requirement that children only attend schools within the district in which they reside. "It looks unconstitutionally separate but equal," says Smith. "You would be creating totally separate, all African American school districts. It's almost like redistricting." —Stephanie Riegel
Since the beginning of the year, the most pressing issue in Baton Rouge has been the effort to incorporate a new city of St. George in the unincorporated southeast portion of East Baton Rouge Parish.
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Entrepreneur Todd Waguespack has guided his development company through tough times into the multimillion-dollar success it is today.
While Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White has been barnstorming the state to drum up support for Jump Start—which, if approved by the Legislature this spring, will revamp the way the state provides career and technical training to high school students who may not be interested in or ready for college—the Baton Rouge business community has quietly been doing its part to help get the program enacted and make sure it's a success.
State Sen. Mack "Bodi" White's decision to pre-file a bill that would create four semi-autonomous school districts in East Baton Rouge Parish is drawing sharp criticism from EBR Schools Superintendent Bernard Taylor. "This is lunacy … it's sadder than sad," says Taylor. "We are making improvements. We are making academic progress. Financially, we couldn't be more stable. … But it's still not good enough. The real issue is that the people want certain kids to only go to school with certain kids and it's time to put this out on the table." White, R-Central, submitted the bill to be pre-filed earlier today. He says the sole intent of his proposed legislation is to decentralize a school system that isn't performing. "We have to fix education," he says. "We're going to get one shot at this in history. This is the time." White's bill would create four sub-districts—including the southeast district that was created but never funded by the 2013 Legislature—each with a deputy superintendent, who would report to the EBR Schools superintendent but have sweeping authority to hire principals and make other key financial and administrative decisions. The bill would be revenue neutral, dividing state education dollars by formula on a per pupil basis, with special weight given to needy and disabled students. The bill would also require pupils to attend schools within the districts in which they reside. Funding would follow the students, and each district would have a magnet program for elementary, middle and high schools. —Stephanie Riegel
This South American menu doesn't skimp on hearty flavors