JINDAL TEAM MAKES HEALTH CARE RECOMMENDATIONS Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Health Care Transition Advisory Council has delivered a 35-page report with its recommended health reform agenda. The report largely echoes what other studies have found in recent years: that the state needs more of an emphasis on preventative/primary care, emergency rooms are being overused, and the state needs to get more people covered under some form of health insurance.
On the controversial subject of the LSU-run charity hospital system, the report states that Jindal’s team was unable to come to a consensus on the subject, but does recommend funding teaching hospitals in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe, adding that “all four academic medical centers should focus primarily on graduate medical education, biomedical research and specialized patient care.” Jindal has come out in support of rebuilding a teaching hospital in New Orleans, while plans for a new Earl K. Long charity hospital in Baton Rouge remain less certain. Jindal has said he supports redistributing federal uncompensated care dollars to all providers who treat the uninsured, instead of keeping all the money within the LSU system. ... LANDRIEU: LIBERAL OR MODERATE? Is incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of New Orleans liberal or moderate? If past campaigns are any indication, Landrieu’s opponents will label her as a liberal in her 2008 U.S. Senate re-election bid. And Landrieu will fire back that she’s a moderate. In that tit-for-tat scenario, Landrieu has a new weapon in her arsenal. According to an annual study by Congressional Quarterly, only one other Senate Democrat crossed the aisle more than Landrieu (Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska). Landrieu also serves as co-chair of the Common Ground Coalition, a bipartisan group of senators that approaches issues in a consensus-building way. “I do not approach Senate votes as a Democrat or as a Republican,” Landrieu says. “I support the president when it is right for Louisiana, including voting to shelve irresponsible taxes that left Louisianians footing the bill for national energy policy. But I will also continue to stand up to the White House when administration policy hurts us.”
If that refrain sounds familiar, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal used the same theme during his gubernatorial campaign. Democrat-turned-Republican Treasurer John Kennedy is running against Landrieu, while Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is still weighing his options. ... LA. CONGRESSMEN WANT HURRICANE AID IN ECONOMIC STIMULUS Louisiana’s congressional delegation wants an extension of Go Zone Act provisions to be a part of an economic stimulus package now being put together on Capitol Hill. Last week, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany issued a press release stating, “If the President and Congressional leaders are serious about boosting the economy, extending the GO Zone tax provisions is the place to start. The GO Zone credits allowed hundreds of small businesses across Louisiana to rebuild, boosting our economy. Extending the deadlines for the GO Zone provisions will allow more businesses to contribute to our economy as well.”
Several provisions of the 2005 Go Zone Act, which provides tax credits and grants for new construction throughout the Gulf Coast region, are set to expire this year. In addition, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon are calling for further hurricane relief measures in the economic stimulus bill. Landreiu wants further tax relief for Road Home rebuilding grants and Melancon has sought to revive a housing bill that would provide some $500 million to affordable rental properties across the Gulf Coast. ... BAKER DEPLOYS HIS GOLDEN PARACHUTE That didn’t take long. Two weeks after he announced he was considering taking a hedge-fund lobbyist job, Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Baker is resigning from Congress, effective Feb. 7. It’s now smooth sailing for Baker to jump to the other side of the aisle and lobby his former legislative colleagues on behalf of the Managed Fund Association.
Having a veteran Louisiana congressman bail mid-term — on the heels of fellow Republican stalwart Jim McCrery’s announcement he isn’t running for re-election — doesn’t help the state’s already-diminishing clout in Congress. In Rep. McCrery’s case, at least he’s fulfilling his elected duties and finishing out his term. Baker, however, can’t wait to deploy his golden parachute.
Baker’s also leaving Louisiana taxpayers with a special parting gift. Gov. Bobby Jindal had to call a special election for voters to choose Baker’s interim replacement, and guess who foots the bill for that special election?
Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.