ACADIANA DELEGATION FILLED WITH PRAISE FOR SESSION With a $1.1 billion surplus fully spread around, how could area lawmakers not be at least a little giddy returning to their districts this week? That’s how much of your money was spent during the seven-day special session that convened last Friday.
More than $500 million was poured into roads and $300 million pegged for coastal protections. Tax breaks were also doled out to parents and businesses, and many regional ports received financial assistance. “The Legislature as a whole came forward to improve the business climate in this state. This session, in addition to the progress made from the special session on ethics, has the future of our state looking bright,” says Rep. Jonathan Perry, a Republican from Abbeville who chairs the Acadiana Delegation.
The lawmaker caucus represents a 22-parish stretch and is growing in membership. As part of its outreach, the delegation released a rave review of the recent special session that listed eight items of interest for the legislatively-defined area of Acadiana. Those items included:
• $20 million to widen U.S. Highway 90
• $75 million that UL Lafayette can share in with other Louisiana colleges and universities for critical repairs
• $2 million for Acadiana parishes (the Legislature’s 22; not the traditional geographic outlay) for the maintenance and improvement of rural roads.
Perry adds all of the accomplishments were collective goals that every member of the group assisted on when possible. “I am particularly proud of how the Acadiana Delegation came together on those issues that directly affected our districts,” he says.
GOVERNOR MAKES PR SWING THROUGH LAFAYETTE It’s becoming increasingly safe to label Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal as the most-traveled governor in recent years, at least inside state lines.
He hit the road and visited Louisiana major metro areas during the campaign, after being elected, before his special session on ethics and then again following the session. Now, with a successful second special session in the can, Jindal took to the asphalt again to tout his administration’s accomplishments from the gathering that convened last week.
He appeared on Monday at Lafayette’s Restaurant, in the Bayou Room, highlighting his victories from the recent special session where lawmakers spent the state’s $1.1 billion surplus according to an agenda crafted by his administration.
AN “INFURIATING” $156 MILLION INCREASE TO ICF FOR THE ROAD HOME Last week, The Times-Picayune revealed that former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration increased the payment to ICF International for administering the Road Home project in December by $156 million — from $756 million to $912 million, an increase of 25 percent — unbeknownst to the general public. Blanco defended the action, telling the T-P via e-mail, “It was my understanding and belief that any contract change would be publicly noticed. I encourage Steve Theriot, the legislative auditor, whose office was consulted during negotiations, to continue to audit ICF and to hold them accountable for every dollar of their contract.” Theriot told the paper he would begin dissecting the amendment costs immediately.
The Associated Press reported that ICF is boasting strong profits after going public and getting “a potentially big raise recently from the state of Louisiana,” even though 56,000 applicants still hadn’t received any Road Home monies as of last month. True to form, ICF representatives defended the raise and laid blame elsewhere for inefficiencies in the program. ICF spokeswoman Gentry Brann complained in an Associated Press story that the Road Home has come to be viewed as an entitlement program and blamed meddling community groups for some of the program’s problems. The T-P was not amused, blasting Brann and ICF in a Sunday editorial:
“That is outrageous,” the paper wrote. “This grant money is a small measure of repayment for the massive devastation wrought when the federal government’s levees fell apart during Katrina. The air of entitlement comes from Ms. Brann and others at ICF, which went public after getting the Road Home contract and has profited handsomely on rising stock prices. ... Ms. Brann pointed out in the AP story that ICF will only make a 3 to 5 percent profit on the Road Home contract. She makes it sound like a sacrifice. But 5 percent on $912 million is $45.7 million. That would be a fortune to the thousands of South Louisianians who have had to beg for the grants they need to rebuild their shattered homes.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and R. Reese Fuller
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.