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.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
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.
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.