LAFAYETTE’S PERRET RESIGNS FROM ETHICS BOARD In an unsurprising move, Lafayette attorney Hank Perret has resigned as chairman of the Louisiana Board of Ethics. The well-respected Perret, who was courted by the Jindal administration to be its chief council before Jindal hired Jimmy Faircloth, told The Advocate: “The board has been charged with enforcing the ethics code. That changes in August, so I think this is an ideal time to get those new members of the board who can support the new law as it goes forward.”
Perret did not return calls for comment, so we ran his statement through The Independent Weekly’s high-powered talking-points-and-prepared-statements translator, and here’s the result:
“The Jindal administration has so badly bungled its vaunted ethics reform that I want no part of it, and I’m not gonna waste countless hours of my time. Jindal and his cohorts have discouraged whistleblowers by not allowing anonymous ethics-violation complaints. They’ve neutered the ethics board by handing off oversight of ethics complaints to administrative law judges. And most important, they’ve made the inexplicable decision to change the existing standard of “reliable and substantial” evidence of ethics violations to “clear and convincing,” making it virtually impossible to prosecute and prove ethics wrongdoings. So I’m outta here, and I feel sorry for my successor, who’ll have the thankless task of presiding over nothing more than a glorified dog-and-pony show.”
Perret wasn’t alone. Eight additional ethics board members resigned last weekend in a mass exodus, leaving the board paralyzed until the positions can be filled. The presidents of Louisiana’s private colleges have 60 days to come up with nominees; from there, the Legislature and governor have another 60 days to ratify the choices. That means the board could be non-operational until October, unless the process is streamlined.
Adding to the mess is the exit of Ethics Administrator Richard Sherburne Jr., whose final day at work was Monday. As he prepared to leave the board and return to his private legal practice in Baton Rouge — and even while the board was powerless — the workload wasn’t slowing down.
“We’ve received another dozen or two dozen requests” for advisory opinions and official action from the board, Sherburne said Friday afternoon.
MORE ETHICS-RELATED CHAOS Last Friday, Lafayette Consolidated Government City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger sent out a memorandum outlining the new state ethics laws requirements for local board and commission members. Monday, June 1, was the deadline for any board member to resign before being required to comply with the new laws. Senate Bill 718, now Act No. 472, applies to all local boards and commissions that have “the authority to expend, disburse or invest ten thousand dollars or more of funds in a fiscal year.” Locally, Act 472 will apply to more than 30 committees. The new law requires members and their spouses to file information on their employer, business interests, range of income and information about potential conflicts of interest. At press time, LCG had received more than 15 resignations, which included members of the Emergency Medical Services board, the Cajundome Commission, Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, the Lafayette Regional Airport Commission and the Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission.
LEGISLATURE HONORS LOUISIANA’S MILITARY Communities around the state are looking for various ways to further honor Louisiana’s soldiers. The town of Franklin, for one, was fortunate enough to land $15,000 in the state’s operating budget for the next fiscal year to update its war monument. Every dollar of that earmark serves as a sober reminder that Louisiana has lost at least 111 soldiers to conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere since the 9/11 attacks.
Earlier this month, the Senate closed its doors to maintain a solemn decorum as 13 fallen servicemen were honored. Sen. Rob Marionneaux, a Democrat from Grosse Tete, has led the annual “Military Family Day” since 2005, reading from the floor individual resolutions that honor the lives and accomplishments of those lost. Army Sgt. Joseph A. Richard III, a UL public affairs student from Ville Platte, was among the names. At the age of 27, he died on April 14 in Baghdad after his unit’s vehicle was hit by a roadside explosive device. His story is told in detail in Senate Resolution 60 by Sen. Eric LaFleur, a Ville Platte Democrat, and will remain a record of the Louisiana Legislature for future generations.
Lawmakers, however, didn’t confine themselves to condolence resolutions this session when it came to addressing war veterans. GOP Rep. Jane Smith of Bossier City pushed through House Concurrent Resolution 105, which possibly sets the Legislature up to adopt a bonus-pay program for veterans in 2009. It requests the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Affairs Commission study and make recommendations regarding an “Afghanistan, Iraq, Global War on Terror Bonus.” The state of Louisiana has a long, honored tradition of establishing bonus payments to veterans for honorable service to the United States during wartime, dating back to World War II, and Smith wants to re-establish such a fund next year.
Contributors: Scott Jordan, Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.