PRO-JINDAL GROUP RAISES NEARLY $750,000 The cost of gas, health care, and groceries keep going up, up, up, and the economy is struggling. But all’s good if you’re Believe in Louisiana, the non-profit group whose sole mission is to tout Gov. Bobby Jindal’s agenda and legislative accomplishments. The Times-Picayune reports that in just three months, Believe in Louisiana has raised nearly $750,000 — and it’s already spent more than $600,000 of that figure with a Virginia-based media firm.
The group was formed by Baton Rouge Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister, who also served as Jindal’s campaign treasurer. It’s organized as a 527 group, which isn’t restricted by campaign finance limits and allows for unlimited contributions. The Picayune notes: “... $625,000 of the donations came from fewer than a dozen people or companies, including four that gave $100,000 apiece: Lee Domingue, of Baton Rouge; Joseph Canizaro, of New Orleans; Bollinger Shipyards, of Lockport; and Edward Diefenthal, of Metairie. McCollister donated $4,100 himself.”
DARDENNE STAYING PUT FOR NOW In the current battle between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and her challenger, Republican Treasurer John Kennedy, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne was the wild card. Republican Dardenne, who’s widely respected and has high approval ratings among fellow Republicans and lawmakers, has been hedging his bets for months when asked if he’d join the fray. Injuries he sustained in an auto accident last fall put most of the campaign talk on the back burner for months.
Last week, Dardenne made it official: he’s staying put. For Kennedy, whose campaign has gotten off to a relatively slow start, it’s especially good news that he won’t have a fellow Republican to contend with in the race. The timing of Dardenne’s announcement was also a boon for Kennedy, who’s hoping for a fund-raising and name-recognition boost in the wake of President George Bush hosting a fund raiser for him last week in Baton Rouge.
As for Dardenne’s future political plans, he’s seen as a formidable challenger to U.S. Sen. David Vitter if Vitter runs for re-election in 2010.
AND SPEAKING OF KENNEDY AND LANDRIEU Landrieu has a 50 percent-38 percent lead over Republican challenger Kennedy, with 11.6 percent of voters undecided, according to a recent statewide poll. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. Louisiana’s senior senator, Landrieu is seeking a third term.
Interviews for the poll by Southern Media & Opinion Research were completed between March 26 and April 9 by telephone with 600 likely Louisiana voters; the results were released last week. Voters were asked who they’d vote for if the November election were held today.
Landrieu also received a 70 percent approval rating, which pollster Bernie Pinsonat says is extremely good, and Kennedy almost 48 percent. The good news for Kennedy is that 45 percent of the voters said they do not know enough about him to give an impression, so he has time for those numbers to move upward. Pinsonat says that he isn’t working for either candidate.
On the fund-raising front, Kennedy faces an uphill battle. While his $1.4 million raised in the first quarter of 2008 bested Landrieu’s $1 million haul, Landrieu has more than $4.5 million cash-in-hand, while Kennedy has approximately $1.6 million on that front.
LAKE PEIGNEUR BILL DIES Last Thursday, members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted against a bill that would have limited the expansion of natural gas storage caverns under Jefferson Island. It was a major setback for the citizens group Save Lake Peigneur, which has been fighting against the expansion for more than a year. Sen. Troy Hebert, SB 194’s author, told The Daily Iberian that the committee is “very friendly” with the oil industry. He added, “That lake has been poked more times than my grandmother’s pincushion.”
The group AGL Resources intends to add two caverns to the existing facility. Save Lake Peigneur Vice President Nara Crowley told The Daily Iberian, “The bottom line is that the lobbyists and the company, the people with the money, they could afford to sway the vote.” The bill sought to protect “the ground water of Lake Peigneur by prohibiting the development, expansion, or conversion of certain storage caverns in the Jefferson Island salt dome.” The vote against the bill was 4 to 3.
Contributors: Scott Jordan, Leslie Turk and R. Reese Fuller
Grads and gridiron fans gear up for game day and paint the town red
Jindal describes the privatization as a cost-cutting move to save the state more than $100 million this year, while improving services and medical training.
A Baton Rouge judge is reconsidering his decision to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's revamp of teacher tenure and salary laws.
Ambassador François Delattre will also receive an honorary doctorate of francophone studies at the commencement at the Cajundome.
During the past seven games, the Saints have forced two turnovers — a league low during that span. Now they're trying to figure out what has changed since their first seven games, when they forced 15 turnovers.
Choice cuts from Acadiana’s news media for Friday, Dec. 20, 2013:
For many fans, it was their third consecutive year participating in French Quarter parade.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, December 20, 2013:
Lafayette Parish School Board member Greg Awbrey deserves an attaboy for his unexpected vote during Wednesday’s meeting approving a mediation session between the board and Superintendent Pat Cooper.
The cable television network's suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson from the hit reality show has drawn criticism from the governor of Robertson's home state.
The State Bond Commission gave preliminary approval to the borrowing plan Thursday without objection.
The Pediatric Clinic is housed in the same location previously closed by state budget cuts in June 2012.
Three-term Louisiana senator facing tough re-election battle is next in line for Energy Committee chairmanship.
In a letter distributed during Wednesday night's meeting, Lafayette Parish School Board member Shelton Cobb, in his final meeting as board president, called on his fellow board members to start focusing on the children and stop battling Superintendent Pat Cooper.
Joshua Dore of Breaux Bridge was sentenced Tuesday to 1.5 years in prison for counterfeiting, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office on Wednesday.
School super Pat Cooper alleges Lafayette Parish School Board member Mark Allen Babineaux, an attorney, publicly disclosed the details of a closed-door executive session.
Sun Belt commissioner presents title and practice gets under way in preparation for Saturday
Kerry Bertrand’s charge was upgraded Tuesday by an Acadia Parish grand jury from manslaughter to second-degree murder for his alleged role in the drowning death of his stepdaughter, Skylar Credeur.
Sean Payton announced Wednesday that veteran Shayne Graham was New Orleans' new kicker, and that rookie Terron Armstead would get his first start at left tackle.
Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board tells it all: The board has lost sight of its elected purpose.
A public Mass will be held Thursday in New Orleans for artist George Rodrigue, who died Saturday of cancer at age 69.
Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration hasn't done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services.
"Whether it's the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense ... we're going to look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance."