Earlier this week at the Lafayette Hilton, Every Child Matters in Louisiana held a gubernatorial forum on children's health care issues. The two-hour forum boasted a number of major sponsors, and KLFY's Darla Montgomery moderated the event. Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Georges, Democratic candidates Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell, Independent Tony Gentile and Libertarian Lee T. Horne were all present to offer their vision for health care in Louisiana.
The forum was an opportunity for Republican frontrunner and U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal to highlight his extensive health care knowledge. In 1996, Jindal was appointed secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Two years later, he was named executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. After serving in that capacity for two years, Jindal was appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and became a senior health policy adviser to President George W. Bush.
Jindal, however, was conspicuously absent from the Every Child Matters forum, and his campaign waited until last week to inform organizers that Jindal would not be participating. His decision is particularly disappointing, considering the back story.
Every Child Matters in Louisiana first notified all the candidates of its intentions and the forum via a letter in mid-June, and followed up with phone calls to each campaign on July 2. Jindal's campaign is the only one that didn't respond, so forum organizers also hand-delivered and faxed letters to Jindal's Metairie congressional office, in addition to e-mailing Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere on July 19, who responded that he would forward the info to Jindal's campaign.
Instead of participating in the health care forum, Jindal spent Monday campaigning from Slidell to Hammond on his "Fresh Start" bus tour.
Conventional political wisdom holds that frontrunners have the most to lose by debating, as they risk opening themselves up to opponents' barbs and unexpected questions. But if there were ever an election that warranted throwing away the script, it's this one. In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana faces massive, unprecedented challenges. An insurance crisis. A crippled health care system. Long-overdue education reform. The need for comprehensive coastal protection and restoration. Housing shortages in the areas affected by Katrina and Rita. The list goes on and on.
Currently, Jindal has only committed to one major gubernatorial debate: a one-hour televised debate on Louisiana Public Broadcasting from 7-8 p.m. on Sept. 27. If that time is split equally between the four current major candidates ' Georges, Jindal, Boasso and Campbell ' then Louisiana voters will have a grand total of 15 unfiltered minutes to see and hear the four men who say they're the best choice to lead Louisiana for the next four years. (The Council for a Better Louisiana's Barry Erwin is hopeful that all the candidates will also commit to a second televised forum focusing primarily on health care issues, slated for Oct. 13.)
Louisiana voters deserve more. The race for governor so far has consisted largely of platform soundbites and predictable partisan sniping between the candidates and state party leaders. As the Oct. 20 election approaches, the inevitable onslaught of carefully scripted 30-second attack ads will only serve to further muddy the waters.
As the frontrunner, Jindal's in a prime position to set the tone for this election season. Voters are hungry for new leadership, new ideas and specific plans on how to move the state forward. Our next governor needs to be bold, unafraid of controversy and hard decisions and willing to take on all challenges put in his path. Imagine how refreshing it would be ' and what a message it would send ' if Jindal stepped up and said he was willing to debate his opponents as many times as necessary before Oct. 20. Instead, he looks like he's perfectly content to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)