District 31 state representative hopeful Nancy Landry is cementing her frontrunner status with the type of establishment backing typically reserved for incumbent lawmakers. Landry is capitalizing on a broad coalition of support she built up in her narrow election loss for the same seat last year, and connections she has continued to foster through her recently launched political consulting and lobbying firm, Pelican Strategies.
On Monday, Landry picked up the endorsement of WESTPAC, one of four political arms of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Both Landry and her opponent, fellow Republican Troy Theriot — who has proudly touted his credentials as a small business owner — recently met with WESTPAC’s board. LABI Vice President and WESTPAC Executive Director Ginger Sawyer informed Landry of the endorsement in a letter along with a $2,500 check.
Also this week, state Rep. Joel Robideaux, an independent, gave Landry his official endorsement. “Nancy worked with the Acadiana area delegation during the last legislative session and impressed us all with her knowledge and tenacity,” Robideaux stated in his press release.
Landry’s campaign has also just announced an Oct. 29 fund-raiser at La Fonda with a host committee of more than 50 couples. Among the hosts are a number of elected officials and influential business and community leaders including state Sen. Mike Michot, state Reps. Page Cortez and Fred Mills, Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux and his wife, Performing Arts Society of Acadiana Executive Director Jackie Lyle, as well as Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation Director Jan Swift and Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs. The chair of the $250 per couple event is Ann Knight, chairman of Knight Oil Tools.
Landry and Theriot face off in the Nov. 4 special election for the District 31 House seat. They are vying to replace Don Trahan, who resigned after taking a new post with the state Department of Education.
Michele Ezell appointed to city-parish council
It took Gov. Bobby Jindal less than a day to decide who to appoint to the vacant District 6 seat on the Lafayette City-Parish Council. On the same day that the council officially deferred the decision to the governor, Jindal tapped Michele Ezell, the 39-year-old co-owner of Tsunami Restaurants and a former executive committee member of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. Ezell also served as part of Gov. Jindal’s transition team, on the Small Business Advisory Council. Ezell fills the vacancy created by the resignation of District 6 councilman Bruce Conque. She is the first woman to serve on the council since city-parish consolidation in 1996. An independent, Ezell will represent District 6 until a special election in April decides who will fill out the remaining two and a half years of Conque’s term. The Home Rule Charter prohibits Ezell, as an interim appointee, from being a candidate in that special election.
By charter, the council had 15 days to decide the appointment on its own before the decision went to the governor. However, a special meeting on Oct. 1 resulted in a 4-4 split decision, with half the council electing to appoint Democrat Sam Dore, who ran against Conque last year, and the other half backing Republican attorney Judy Kennedy. The votes fell along party lines. Dore, Kennedy, and Ezell were among five official applicants to the council asking to be considered for the appointment. Jindal was free to appoint anyone who met the voting and district residency requirements, whether they had applied or not.
Boustany posts huge financial edge
Incumbent Congressman Charles Boustany has a campaign warchest more than 20 times the size of his opponent, state Sen. Don Cravins Jr. The candidates recently filed their October quarterly reports with the Federal Elections Commission, which reveals campaign finance data from the latter part of September (Sept. 15-30). Boustany raised $142,412 during that period, compared to $40,198 raised by Cravins. Boustany also outspent Cravins; his campaign expenditures total $123,419 for the period, compared to Cravins’ $49,994. As of Sept. 30, Boustany’s campaign had $728,155 cash on hand. Cravins reported $33,767 cash on hand. U.S. Constitution Party candidate Peter Vidrine did not report any contributions or expenditures.
Melancon spreads the love
Despite being unopposed this fall, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon still managed to raise more than $49,500 during the third quarter of the year. But rather than blow it all on himself, Melancon used the dough to financially back Democrats in 24 other states, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
In a move that smacks of a political Robin Hood, Melancon, who represents portions of Acadiana, raised most of the money — $47,000 — from political action committees, or PACs, before turning it over to needy candidates. In total, he sent $42,000 to other Democratic campaigns in recent months.
But the figure pales in comparison to Melancon’s total cash on hand. He has more than $828,000 in his own campaign war chest. As Democratic campaigns enter the final stretch heading into the Nov. 4 election, Melancon will be a good friend to have.
So, aside from being unopposed, why is Melancon inserting himself into other races? “I’m trying to get more PLUs elected, which means ‘People Like Us,’” Melancon says. “I’m looking for conservative Blue Dog Democrats who understand pay-as-you-go and who want to get the budget where it should be.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and NathanStubbs
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.