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.
While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.