Moving on and movin' along: LSU fills van Heerden's old position, Ivor signs with BP and where is Tim Whitmer these days? Corrected

Let’s start todays job hunt round robin with LSU, which appears to have contradicted their own testimony on why Ivor van Heerden was let go per this Bill Barrow report:

Ivor van Heerden, released from his Louisiana State University faculty post, has cited new evidence in asking a federal judge to reconsider his rejected request to get his old job back.

The high-profile coastal researcher accuses LSU of parting ways with him because he so vocally blamed the Army Corps of Engineers for the levee breeches that flooded much of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In seven pages of filings, van Heerden tells U.S. District Judge James Brady that the LSU Coastal and Environmental Engineering Department on June 1 voted to hire a new associate professor, the same rank that van Heerden held until his contract expired last month. Making that new hire, van Heerden argues, is in direct conflict with LSU’s previous statements citing budget constraints to justify not renewing van Heerden’s deal.

Brady cited that defense when he declined on May 27 — five days before the College of Engineering’s new hire — to issue an injunction ordering LSU to hold van Heerden’s faculty spot open pending a jury trial on his claims.

A rolling stone gathers no moss but a coastal scientist in need of work these days ain’t smellin’ the oil and a BP Contractor, in a PR master stroke, has snatched up van Heerden. Editilla at the Ladder scooped that piece of news: Continue reading “Moving on and movin' along: LSU fills van Heerden's old position, Ivor signs with BP and where is Tim Whitmer these days? Corrected”

Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed

Nowadays, the process of selecting a post topic is akin to a game of disaster roulette.  As a result, I was “slicked and slabbed” by “writer’s block” – the chief symptom of same, a growing file of drafts but no post.  Fortunately,  “writer’s block” is not contagious nor does it limit reading.  Thus, I begin my recovery with an update on issues I’ve been following:

Ivor van Heerden lost the second round of his fight to regain his position with LSU:

A federal judge scolded LSU late Thursday for not being “much more professional’’ in parting ways with Ivor van Heerden, but said the respected coastal researcher failed to show that LSU retaliated against him for openly blaming the U.S. government for the levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge James Brady’s refusal to issue a preliminary injunction in van Heerden’s lawsuit against LSU means van Heerden, who has worked at the school for more than 15 years, must clean out his office.

Van Heerden’s attorney, Jill Craft, had asked Brady to “require LSU to keep his position on the books.’’

Craft said she now will move for an expedited jury trial of van Heerden’s suit. Brady said he would entertain such a request. h/t New Orleans News Ladder

Chip Merlin’s Back on the Texas Ranch-Hurricane Litigation and Settlement Discussions are Raging brings us up to date on litigation following Hurricanes Dolly and Ike with news that “TWIA is in trouble”: Continue reading “Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed”

Judge issues TRO: van Heerden reinstated until further Order of the Court – Hearing continues next week

It’s not over until it’s over but van Heerden will be reinstated under a Temporary Restraining Order issued at 10:10p.m. last night by Federal District Judge James J. Brady, Middle District Louisiana:

Upon consideration of the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, the record of this proceeding, the Verification and Affidavit of Irreparable Harm, the law, the evidence adduced, and in order to create a state of affairs in which effective relief can be awarded to either party;

IT IS ORDERED that a Temporary Restraining Order be and is hereby entered directed to the Defendant, Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, prohibiting said Defendant from terminating and/or otherwise terminating Plaintiff’s employment, ordering the immediate and temporary reinstatement of Dr. van Heerden to his position in the faculty ranks of LSU and, further enjoining this Defendant, its agents, employees, and assigns from infringing upon Petitioner’s rights under the United States and Louisiana Constitution and under Federal law, and harassing or retaliating against Petitioner, until further order of this Court at the conclusion of this hearing.

A related Minute Entry on yesterday’s hearing provides background on the TRO: Continue reading “Judge issues TRO: van Heerden reinstated until further Order of the Court – Hearing continues next week”

Slicked and SLABBED and "Spooky at a distance"

Only the Senator whose brain is you-know-where could come up with such a bone-headed plan!

Saying that he has received commitments from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with long-delayed Louisiana flood-control projects, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., agreed Wednesday to drop his hold that has blocked a Senate vote on the promotion of Army Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh to major general.

Yesterday’s headline story on PoliticsLA.com linked to TP story Sen. David Vitter drops hold on promotion of Corps of Engineers commander and challenged readers to connect the dots.

Drawing a line in the sand, those dots connect to David Vitter’s grandstand.  Could the Senator have been borrowing trouble and buying time for his big oil contributors – just enough time for BP oil to reach land?

You think, perhaps, it was a coincidence that Vitter claimed victory just as PB oil hit land A month after explosion, oil from Gulf of Mexico spill washes ashore in populated areas?

Slicked and Slabbed complete with a photo gallery and theme song.

“Oh the games people play now
Ev’ry night and ev’ry day now
Never meaning what they say, yeah
Never saying what they mean.”

While all eyes were on the oil in the Gulf, big oil was slickin’ and slabbin’ Tulane’s Environmental Law Center!  ThePopTort tells that story in BP and Law Clinics – One Spooky Interaction: Continue reading “Slicked and SLABBED and "Spooky at a distance"”

“My science was very good…My position at LSU was in jeopardy.”

Coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden testified Wednesday that LSU officials destroyed his reputation after he blamed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the levee failures that allowed Hurricane Katrina to flood New Orleans in 2005.

“My science was very good,” van Heerden told U.S. District Judge James J. Brady during questioning by attorney Jill Craft. “My position at LSU was in jeopardy.”

Van Heerden is asking Brady for an injunction that would prohibit LSU from allowing his contract to expire on Friday.

The hearing in April was for a Temporary Restraining Order that would prevent LSU from terminating van Heerden’s contract.  SLABBED reported on the outcome of that hearing in the post, SLABBED follows “Levees.org’s EXCLUSIVE Interview with Ivor van Heerden on recent federal judge’s decision” with case documents telling the whole story – Shame on you LSU! In a comment to that post, Sydney explained more about the process:

i would posit that for purposes of the injunction, van heerden would need to establish that he would be prejudiced should LSU be allowed to exercise its plenary power to renew or not renew contracts of employment–not to have LSU explain why they “fired” him. However, even if he loses the injunction, he will still have his day in court if his original petition proceeds where he bear the burden to prove LSU’s actions were retailitory etc. if so, then it becomes a matter of damages.

So, the current hearing is part two of a three-part process and the issue to be decided at this point is whether the court will issue an Injunction that  requires LSU to continue van Heerden’s contract as the case moves forward.  For that to happen, van Heerden must prove he would be prejudiced if his contact was terminated: Continue reading “”

SLABBED follows “Levees.org’s EXCLUSIVE Interview with Ivor van Heerden on recent federal judge

Levees.org has learned new information regarding U.S. District Judge James Brady’s decision not to require Louisiana State University (LSU) to rehire Dr. Ivor van Heerden immediately.

“This is encouraging news,” said van Heerden in a phone interview with Sandy Rosenthal. “Judge Brady has ordered an injunction trial on May 19 which means early in the litigation process, LSU will be forced to articulate exactly why they fired me.”

By allowing the injunction trial, says van Heerden, Judge Brady is indicating that he feels there are grounds for keeping him employed. Furthermore, using stern words, the Judge let LSU know that he will order a restraining order requiring LSU to rehire van Heerden if he is harassed.

When asked about LSU’s portrayal of van Heerden as ‘temporary labor,’ van Heerden said that was ‘non-sense.’

“I had a permanent hard-money academic position,” said van Heerden. “It was funded by the state for the last 15 years.”

SLABBED reported on “LSU’s portrayal of van Heerden as ‘temporary labor'” in yesterday’s post on Judge Brady’s decision.  After picking up Levee.org’s “EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Ivor van Heerden on recent federal judge’s decision” on the Editilla’s New Orleans News Ladder, SLABBED went to the source documents for more.

LSU’s attorneys with the reindeer-sounding name of  Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver & Blitzer removed van Heerden’s case from State court on the 5th of March – and, in doing so, LSU made it much easier for SLABBED and others to follow as the case make its way through the Federal court.

On March 15, 2010, ten days following defendant LSU’s removal of the case from Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, the KSW&B attorneys representing LSU filed an Ex Parte Motion Requesting Extension of Time to File Responsive Pleadings: Continue reading “SLABBED follows “Levees.org’s EXCLUSIVE Interview with Ivor van Heerden on recent federal judge”

Judge rules LSU doesn’t have to immediately rehire van Heerden but will hold related hearing before then – go figure!

Two Jefferson Parish open records posts in one day must have shorted my circuits. I had to read Mark Schleifstein’s story twice after spotting it hanging from the Ladder. h/t Editilla

A federal judge in Baton Rouge has denied a request by research geologist and marine scientist Ivor van Heerden for a temporary restraining order to require Louisiana State University to rehire him when his one-year contract with the university expires on May 21.

But U.S. District Judge James Brady also agreed to hear a related motion on a preliminary injunction requiring LSU to rehire van Heerden on May 19, following a telephone conference this morning with attorneys representing van Heerden and LSU.

Van Heerden contends he is being fired for his role as a whistleblower in publicly saying the Army Corps of Engineers was at fault for levee failures that caused flooding of much of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

In court papers filed Monday challenging the temporary restraining order request, LSU officials said van Heerden’s firing was not related to his critiques of the corps, and was allowed under university policies.

In other words, the Judge decided not to impose a Temporary Restraining Order that would have prevented von Heerden’s May 21 termination but, on May 19, the Judge may decide to impose an injunction that would prevent LSU from terminating von Heerden.  According to an earlier Schleifstein story,  the May 19 hearing” will…decide if and when van  Heerden’s lawsuit against the university will go to court.  Schleifstein also provides an interesting background summary.

Van Heerden has contended that senior LSU officials attempted to muzzle him after those statements for fear of losing financial support from the corps for research.

But in Monday’s court filings, LSU officials say the decision not to rehire van Heerden was made Continue reading “Judge rules LSU doesn’t have to immediately rehire van Heerden but will hold related hearing before then – go figure!”

from the bowels of academia comes this s#!% – LSU officials say van Heerden not fired but contract won’t be renewed

In a step below “the dog ate my homework”, LSU offered the Court this excuse for Igor van Heerden’s pending unemployment:

LSU officials said in their court-filed response this week that van Heerden has not been fired, but added that his research contract will not be renewed when it expires May 21.

The LSU response also denied that “van Heerden’s criticism of the Corps or speech on any other matter was a substantial or motivating factor in the decision not to renew his employment.”

van Heerden, according to the Advocate, “wants a federal judge to block the expiration of his LSU contract next month”: h/t Editilla

A vocal critic of the Army Corps of Engineers, van Heerden sued the LSU system in February. He alleged he is being forced out of his job because of his argument that the Corps’ levees in New Orleans had design flaws that caused their failure during Hurricane Katrina’s 2005 surge across the city…

LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said Wednesday that LSU officials will not comment while the lawsuit is pending….

This week, the nearly 50,000-member American Association of University Professors notified LSU that it will establish a committee to investigate the school’s action against van Heerden, former deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center.

Editilla had more on the AAUP story, too.

In a strongly worded letter, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has alerted Michael Martin, Chancellor of Louisiana State University (LSU) that, in its opinion, the firing of Professor Ivor van Heerden “raises significant issues of academic freedom, tenure and due process.” Continue reading “from the bowels of academia comes this s#!% – LSU officials say van Heerden not fired but contract won’t be renewed”

A Valentine for Ivor van Heerden

Well, sort of.  I snitched the great video Ken McCarthy posted in comments and “wrapped” it in this post.  Please take a look and Be Mine – pass it on!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wln_iq5bc8k]

The Daily Reveille sounds the bugle on LSU’s silence on the van Heerden lawsuit. Brings up an important public policy point we’ve tackled on Slabbed

With a tip of the hat to Editilla I’m highlighting yesterday’s oped from the LSU student newspaper for two reasons. First because we signed on to the van Heerden justice league and more important the editors tackled a public policy subject that we’ve also highlighted on Slabbed in the confidential settlement which we think is a tool for corporations to buy their way out of egregious behavior. I’ll link our post on the topic below the op-ed:

Those students, faculty and staff who were personally affected by Hurricane Katrina remember the frustration of the years that followed. Countless people across the Gulf South struggled to rebuild their lives, and figures across the spectrum of leadership pointed fingers at each other. We still aren’t exactly sure five years later what went wrong, why it went wrong or who was responsible.

One of the most high-profile — and important — battles from that time flared up again recently. And Louisianians have a rare, short window of opportunity to get some answers.

Ivor Van Heerden, a former University professor who made national headlines for his criticisms of the collapsed levees constructed and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, officially filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the University and several high-ranking administrators. Van Heerden claims he was forced out of the University because his criticisms of the Corps endangered federal funding. Continue reading “The Daily Reveille sounds the bugle on LSU’s silence on the van Heerden lawsuit. Brings up an important public policy point we’ve tackled on Slabbed”