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.
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.