One house, one client, one neighborhood, one town. Now imagine that you're a new organization trying to institute massive government and legislative reforms for an entire state, and you get a sense of the obstacles and challenges facing Blueprint Louisiana.
That much was evident last week as Blueprint unveiled its first list of legislative and statewide candidates that had signed a pledge supporting the group's plan. Out of the four major gubernatorial candidates, only Independent John Georges signed Blueprint's contract.
Here are the total numbers on Blueprint supporters:
â?¢ 121 candidates for the Louisiana House of Representatives (out of 283 running)
â?¢ 57 candidates (out of 98 running) for the Louisiana State Senate
â?¢ 12 candidates for statewide offices (out of 34 running)
The relatively low numbers shouldn't be surprising. Blueprint's 5-point agenda encompasses ethics reform, early education, workforce training, health care reform and infrastructure repairs and investment ' all worthy goals, and all worthy of support. However, since its inception, Blueprint has held firm on its all-or-nothing challenge to candidates and legislators: Embrace our entire agenda, or we won't embrace you. So a politico who supports the whole agenda but prioritizes coastal restoration over road repairs, for example, has a legitimate reason not to sign the contract.
And what about candidates that wholeheartedly support, say, four out of Blueprint's five mission statements, but have a philosophical difference on the specifics of the fifth item? That's apparently what happened with Democratic gubernatorial candidates Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell, who've said that they fear Blueprint's health care reform plans would endanger the charity hospital system. Lafayette attorney and Blueprint co-founder and steering committee member Clay Allen tells The Independent that isn't the case, and Campbell and Boasso are misrepresenting Blueprint's proposed private/public health-care partnerships ' but there's a clear example where semantic disagreements aren't helping the group's overriding goals.
What to make of the number of candidates who've signed on so far? Blueprint naysayers surely see the glass as half-empty, while supporters say it's half-full; privately, some of the group's founders are probably angry enough to throw the glass at the wall ' especially after Republican U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal didn't sign Blueprint's contract. Adding insult to injury, Jindal's spokeswoman plainly told The Advocate, "Bobby is focused on releasing his own detailed policy plans and is not signing onto the plans of any other groups."
While Blueprint Louisiana's research, policy initiatives and diverse backing confirm the organization's non-partisan pledge, a number of steering committee members including Allen and Lafayette's Bill Fenstermaker have made personal contributions to Jindal's campaign. "I've contributed to Georges, too," says Allen. "I contributed to Jindal before we launched Blueprint. At this point, there's no candidate I'd support who doesn't support Blueprint. It's more important to me than any individual candidate or relationship I've had with a candidate." (Allen notes that he's "disappointed" that Independent Lafayette State Rep. Joel Robideaux doesn't intend to sign Blueprint's contract.)
"By not signing, candidates are saying that they have a vested interest in the status quo, or they're not interested in accountability," says Allen.
This is where it should get interesting. Blueprint has already spent $415,000 for its first round of media buys, which were largely aimed at creating awareness of the group and its goals. Now Blueprint is gearing up to spend $400,000 on its second wave of advertising, which will ostensibly highlight which candidates are or aren't in Blueprint's corner. Earlier this year, Blueprint co-founder Matt Stuller said the group intended to be "very punitive" toward non-Blueprint candidates. If that's the case, then at the very least, in the hugely important governor's race, will voters start seeing TV and radio ads trumpeting Blueprint's endorsement of Georges for governor?
"With TV and radio, we're going to try and drive people back to the [Blueprint] Web site," says spokesman Brad Lambert. "Our approach on the second phase of the media buy is to draw attention to the candidates who are supporting the agenda. The space of a print ad allows us to say, 'Here are the candidates that support the agenda.' We simply don't have time to do that in a 30-second TV or radio spot."
Only time and specific ad content will tell, but that overall strategy feels toothless. After investing so much time and money into its efforts, it seems strange that Blueprint wouldn't be taking more of a forceful shouting-from-every-rooftop approach to promote its candidates.
The ultimate test of Blueprint's effectiveness ' and the power of the group's founders and supporters shouldn't be underestimated ' will be post-election. And that raises the biggest question of all: How will the group measure legislators' commitment to its agenda if its supporters wind up working under a governor that never signed Blueprint's pledge in the first place?
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Artificial sweeteners eyed; Scottish independence vote begins; Ford has cancer and more national and international news for Thursday, September 18, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’