BLOSSMAN IN HOT WATER OVER PITCH FOR ACADIAN SALESMAN Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman can now officially be counted in the politicians-without-a-clue category. Blossman thinks it’s perfectly OK for him to use a PSC-generated list of more than 200 transportation companies — businesses he’s responsible for regulating — and then write a letter on agency stationery to those companies asking them to accept a sales meeting with his friend who sells a mobile technology product. Some of the companies were not too happy about Blossman’s bone-headed and heavy-handed move, and promptly alerted Baton Rouge’s Metropolitan Crime Commission. Now it’s up to the state inspector general to determine whether Blossman’s correspondence qualifies as an abuse of public office.
The friend that Blossman was pitching for is Nicholas Larussa, a new sales employee of Acadian Ambulance’s Acadian Monitoring Services division. Larussa’s sister apparently babysits Blossman’s children. The Times-Picayune wrote, “Blossman said he was impressed with the technology when Larussa showed it to him and offered to write a letter to let people know about the product. ... He thought his letter did not encourage the motor carriers to do business with Louisiana, but only encouraged them to accept an appointment if Larussa called. He said that if the law prohibits that type of letter, ‘the law needs to be changed.’”
In regards to Larussa, Acadian Ambulance Vice President Tyron Picard told the Picayune: “In retrospect, the fact that we had a junior salesperson who was probably not very experienced, coupled with the fact with not having a complete understanding of dealing with the governmental arena, I’m willing to chalk that up to youthful inexperience and aggressiveness on his part that he has probably learned a good lesson on.”
PINAC NOT RUNNING AGAINST BOUSTANY Local Democratic Party officials had been looking to former state Rep. Gil Pinac as their go-to candidate in challenging incumbent Republican Congressman Charles Boustany this fall. Pinac, who lost a bid last year for state Senate, is a Crowley Democrat in the mold of former 7th District Congressmen Chris John and John Breaux. However, at a caucus meeting last Saturday of party officials from across the 7th District, Pinac broke the news that he would not be entering the race. “He told us he made a decision that this wasn’t the right time for him to run,” says John Bernhardt, chairman of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Party Executive Committee. Bernhardt is still holding out hope that a Democrat will emerge to run against Boustany, but says “as of this moment there’s no candidate.” Pinac could not be reached for comment.
SEN. “WIDE STANCE” CRAIG TO “SERIOUS SIN” VITTER’S DEFENSE U.S. Sen. Larry “wide stance” Craig is defending fellow embattled Sen. David Vitter, saying Vitter should not resign over his “serious sin” involving an alleged D.C. prostitution ring. Idaho’s Craig was among several GOP senators who said Vitter’s possible testimony in the “D.C. Madam” prostitution case should not have compelled his resignation, The Hill reported April 8. (It turns out that Vitter didn’t need Craig’s support, as the case was set to conclude Monday without Vitter being called to the witness stand.)
“First and foremost, in these kinds of issues, it’s the state and the relationship you have with your state that really determines where you ought to go,” Craig told the D.C.-based publication. “That was certainly my case. The Senate itself wasn’t going to judge me. I would allow the citizens of my state to do so. And there is still strong support there.”
Craig was arrested last year and pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from an undercover male officer in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. He then tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea, blaming his “wide stance.” After initially saying he would resign, Craig decided to stay in office, citing support from Idahoans. Last month he announced that he would not seek re-election and claims that decision was made before his “playing footsies” controversy.
LOUISIANA EARMARKS UP FOR DEBATE During budget debates in recent years, average citizens, editorial writers and good government groups have all winced at the sight of funding for hot air balloon races and high school alumni groups. Why? Because it’s your money that’s supporting these questionable activities and groups.
These earmarks are traditionally included in the state budget without information as to how the taxpayer money will be spent or who benefits. That’s why some folks call it pork, or even political payout. Additionally, many of the earmarks support nonprofit organizations — some of which receive virtually all of their revenue from state government grants sponsored by individual legislators.
“The question isn’t whether or not these organizations do some good in our state, it’s how efficient is the job they are doing,” says state Treasurer John Kennedy. “If the state is going to continue to give money to these nonprofit organizations, at the very least taxpayers statewide deserve full disclosure about these projects.”
As a possible solution, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, a Jennings Republican, has filed Senate Bill 106 to force lawmakers to reveal every last detail about their earmarks. Each funding request would have to include budget information, project goals, objectives and even information about connections with elected officials.
Kennedy is among the bill’s supporters and plans to testify when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the measure.
Contributors: Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs, Jeremy Alford and Leslie Turk
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)