Rombach contends that his decisions on compensation were consistent with those of his predecessor, Mark Drennen. Rather than have the Legislature vote on his fate, Rombach opted to leave the post he's held since 1988. His retirement will become official in July.
Rombach's automobile arrangement has prompted an examination of similar perks for other government leaders in Baton Rouge. Recent revelations indicate that a bevy of elected servants are driving in style thanks to the generosity of their constituents.
The purchase of a fully loaded Harley-Davidson Ford F-250 for Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley has resulted in an inordinate amount of damage control from his office. Citizens are picking up the tab for the $40,000 vehicle, which replaces the 2004 Eddie Bauer-designer edition Ford Expedition that the state bought for Wooley a year ago. Other state officials also enjoy luxurious top of the line cars and trucks on the taxpayer's tab.
Wooley's extravagance is nothing new for statewide officeholders; he had the misfortune of being the one showcased in a slow news cycle. A plethora of stories about his new transportation noted the distinctive racing stripes adorning Wooley's Ford.
Despite an embarrassing flood of headlines, this commissioner is not in the same league with predecessors Sherman Bernard and Doug Green, who both served time for ethical and criminal lapses of judgment. (Jim Brown, the man who hired Wooley, spent six months in a federal lock-up after being found guilty of lying to an FBI agent.) Wooley is the first insurance czar elected since 1967 who has not logged jail time.
BLANCO, CASTRO AND CONSERVATIVES
Gov. Blanco's unexpected two-hour lobster dinner with Cuban President Fidel Castro will likely go down as the last supper a Louisiana governor has with the septuagenarian dictator in Havana. Blanco's meal was greeted with a main course of criticism from Louisiana Republicans, and the governor probably wishes she never sat across the table from the world's most resilient tyrant.
GOP Chairman Roger Villere said he was happy to comply with prodding from President Bush to publicly chide Blanco, but Republican Louisiana House member Robert Barham, who also made the Cuba jaunt, challenged Villere on any White House rebuke for the Blanco-Castro powwow.
"If I had received any indication they didn't want me to go for some reason, I wouldn't have," Barham said. He represents the North Louisiana hamlet of Oak Ridge, hardly a Castro stronghold.
"That was an insult to our foreign policy and to the president of the United States," Villere said of the governor's choice for a Cuba dinner companion. Blanco Chief of Staff Andy Kopplin, who also sampled the lobster with Castro, told reporters the governor's delegation received no instructions from the White House or State Department to avoid meeting with the dictator.
Blanco's trip was successful from an economic development perspective, with Cuba agreeing to purchase $15 million in state products over the next 18 months.
The governor's meeting with Castro wasn't unprecedented. Republican Gov. George Ryan of Illinois met with the communist cigar aficionado a few years ago, and drew condemnation from President Bill Clinton. The last governor to huddle with Castro on Cuban turf was former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura of Minnesota. Ventura, author of the autobiography I Ain't Got Time to Bleed, survived the photo op with Fidel. It's likely Louisiana voters will have forgotten Blanco's meal with Castro by the time the Lafayette Democrat faces the electorate again in 2007.
Republicans may have pilloried her for the Castro incident, but Gov. Blanco is displaying some conservative credentials on social issues. The latest example is her support for a drug-testing plan for state government agencies under her authority. Blanco has issued an executive order on mandatory drug testing for the state's health, social services, labor and environmental quality departments.
The governor's order also requires random testing for government employees with various responsibilities, including the use of public vehicles. Spokesman Roderick Hawkins says the policy is a continuation of former Gov. Foster's drug testing edict. Boards and commissions appointed by the governor are also subject to the order.
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.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Jell-o sales plummet; Hamas kills suspected informers; bodies arrive in Malaysia and more national and international news for Friday, August 22, 2014.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.
The political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.