On Friday, Sept. 12, state Sen. Don Cravins Jr. went to New Orleans for a special lunch meeting with one of the Democratic Party’s most famed political advisers. Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his blunt demeanor and south Louisiana roots, James Carville, political adviser to former President Bill Clinton, recently moved back to Louisiana from D.C. and has reached out to some of the state’s Democratic congressional candidates. Richard Carbo, Cravins’ campaign communications director who previously worked with former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, set up the meeting to get Carville’s advice on campaign strategy.
Cravins, who is running to unseat District 7 U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, says Carville was largely complimentary of his campaign. “He knew about our race. He thought we were strong on the issues. He understood my plight as a southern Democrat,” adds Cravins, who has been running ads touting his pro-life, pro-gun positions. If schedules work out, Carville may appear at a Cravins rally closer to the election.
SITTIG OVERSEEING LOOP
Dale Sittig of Eunice is stepping down from the Public Service Commission after being named executive director of the Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority. He will be overseeing the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a deepwater oil terminal off the coast of Port Fourchon that receives about 13 percent of the nation’s foreign oil. Sitting, a former state rep, has served on the PSC since 1995.
Gov. Bobby Jindal tapped Pat Manuel, also of Eunice, as Sittig’s interim replacement on the PSC. Manuel is the president and owner of Manco Vegetation Management and a member of the board of directors at Tri-Parish Bank. Manuel will serve until a special election can be called. He will not be a candidate in the special election.
DISTRICT 6 COUNCIL APPOINTMENT MOVED UP TO OCT. 1
Last week, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Don Bertrand sent a letter to council clerk Norma Dugas calling for a special meeting to be held Oct. 1 for the sole purpose of appointing the council’s newest member. The council will be appointing an interim member to fill the vacancy created by outgoing District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque, who is stepping down to take a new full-time job with the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.
The council has already solicited applicants for the District 6 seat and had planned to make the appointment on Oct. 7 at the start of its regularly scheduled meeting. The appointee was then to take his or her seat with the council for the remainder of the meeting. Bertrand says the council decided to move up the appointment to give the new member adequate time to begin voting on issues at the Oct. 7 meeting. “There’s a couple reasons for that,” Bertrand says. “One is just general fairness so that whoever the appointee is they’ve got some time. We definitely want to make sure that District 6 has representation at the meeting on the 7th. This will give the person a whole week to look over the meeting agenda and information packet and kind of get their bearings before they step in.”
The council is scheduled to interview all applicants for the District 6 seat Thursday, Sept. 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The 30-minute interviews will all be held in executive session unless the interviewee requests to make it public. Six residents have submitted applications for the District 6 council seat. They are: KVOL program director and talk radio host Todd C. Elliott, attorney Judith Kennedy, local sales rep Raymond Doré, retired oilfield executive Lewis Kellog, retired businessman Richard Prevost, Tsunami owner Michele Ezell, and local attorney and chairman of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee John Bernhardt. Whomever the council appoints will serve through April 4, 2009, when a special election will be held to determine who will fill out the remainder of Conque’s term. The interim appointee will not be allowed to run for the seat next spring, according to the city-parish charter.
REPUBLICANS TOUT SURVEY
State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere sent out an e-mail blast last week to supporters proclaiming, “It’s an exciting time to be a Republican in Louisiana.” Villere cites recent poll numbers from late August, prior to the Republican National Convention, which show Republican presidential candidate John McCain enjoying the support of 58 percent of likely voters surveyed. The same poll shows 66 percent of Louisianans think the state is on the right track. “We know of no other place where the citizens are this optimistic about the direction of their state at present,” Villere writes. The survey also shows Jindal’s favorable image rating at 78 percent, which Villere notes, “is now one of the highest of any sitting governor in the country, perhaps the very highest.” It’s worth noting that the survey was done prior to the rave reviews Jindal received for his handling of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The survey results come from OnMessage Inc., which conducted telephone interviews Aug. 27 and 28 of 500 likely general election voters stratified by parish to reflect historic voter trends. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
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.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.