"We've maintained throughout our existence that Blueprint is about helping to create the state we deserve. We believe we're well-positioned for progress on these key priorities for the state, but acknowledge the hard work associated with passing legislation," noted Blueprint Louisiana co-founder and Chairman Matt Stuller of Lafayette. Blueprint's five-part agenda includes the issues of state ethics, public education, workforce development, health care and transportation. The organization says it has now convened six working groups, one for each agenda item as well as a sixth dedicated to coastal restoration and hurricane protection, to develop legislation to implement its agenda. Blueprint also says it is working with legislators as well as the administration of Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, who did not sign Blueprint's contract, in advance of next year's legislative session. "Our interaction with legislators during the past few weeks has been very productive," Stuller says. "So many of them are eager, and they recognize the opportunities ahead of them to build a legacy of significant improvement in Louisiana." ... DAVIS, HEBERT TESTIFY TO ACADIANA'S RESPONSE TO HURRICANES On Monday, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu held a hearing on major disasters and catastrophes at the Old State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. (Landrieu is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery.) At the hearing, titled "Host Communities: Analyzing the Role and Needs of Communities that Take in Disaster Evacuees in the Wake of Major Disasters and Catastrophes," local witnesses testified about how their communities accommodated evacuees following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The witness list included Cajundome Commissioner Greg Davis, Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. ... FORMER LUS ADVERSARY NOW JINDAL'S LEGISLATIVE LIAISON The latest member of Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal's administration is a familiar face to city officials involved with Lafayette Utilities System's fiber-to-the-home project. Tommy Williams, tapped last week as Jindal's legislative liaison, worked as a BellSouth lobbyist for 38 years and was at the forefront of heated negotiations related to the company's opposition to LUS' telecommunications venture. Williams, 65, retired from BellSouth last year as vice president for regulatory and external affairs. As Jindal's legislative liaison, Williams will be the governor's point person for advancing bills through the state Legislature.
While working for BellSouth, Williams was a primary player in negotiating the 2004 Local Government Fair Competition Act, which placed a series of restrictions on LUS entering the telecommunications business and required a public referendum on the issue. While both sides agreed to the legislation, city officials later cried foul when BellSouth used the act to file a lawsuit against LUS' bond ordinance for the project. BellSouth eventually withdrew from the suit, which was also brought by Lafayette resident Elizabeth Naquin. LUS prevailed in the case and now plans to begin offering telecom services in early 2009.
"[Tommy Williams] was always their primary contact whenever we dealt with BellSouth," says LUS Director Terry Huval. "But Tommy Williams doesn't work for BellSouth anymore, and BellSouth is no longer BellSouth; it's AT&T, so there's different management of that organization as well."
Huval says those past disputes aren't personal. "Tommy was always a fine person whenever we dealt with him," he says. "I think some of the issues that came up where BellSouth as a corporation acted in bad faith wasn't necessarily at his direction. It was folks beyond that point that I think were involved in it." Huval also praised Williams as a deft negotiator. "Tommy is very effective in dealing with legislative matters," he says, "and I don't blame the governor for choosing someone who has as good a reputation as he has had in dealing with legislative matters."
Contributors: Nathan Stubbs and Mary Tutwiler
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Fifa under fire for fake turf plans; freed journalist back home; corporate conversions rising and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.