Lafayette City-Parish Councilmen Kenneth Boudreaux and Brandon Shelvin will be making $2,317 more than their peers on the council in the coming year. Thus far, Boudreaux and Shelvin are the only two council members to take advantage of an annual pay raise option. By charter, council members are given the option of accepting a salary increase each year, up to a max 10 percent boost over the course of each four-year term. This year, council members had the option to either accept the entire 10 percent raise, a portion of it, or take no raise. Both Boudreaux and Shelvin opted for the entire 10 percent, meaning their annual salaries will now go up from $23,170 to $25,487. All other seven council members opted not to take any raise. Those council members will still have the option to accept a salary increase in each of the remaining years of their term, up to the max 10 percent.
Council Chairman Don Bertrand says he wasn’t comfortable accepting a raise yet but didn’t rule it out in the future. “I knew what I was getting paid when I came in,” he says. “I haven’t even been [in office] a year yet. Once I’m there after a period of time I’ll take a look at what my constituents think my performance is and the amount of time and effort that I’m putting into it, and I’ll have a look at that over the next year.”
For his part, Boudreaux noted that staff employees are getting up to 14 percent salary increases this year. “We’re eligible for it,” he says. “I think it goes into the effort that you put forward. I’ve spoken to some constituents about it. When you conduct the number of meetings that I have, respond to the number of issues that I have, the after hour activities, I think you can justify it or you cannot; in my case I felt I could. I think I’m the hardest working councilman on the staff.”
Esquire backs Boustany, Treen behind Landrieu
In its new endorsement issue on newsstands now, Esquire magazine gives a big New York nod to Democrat Barack Obama for president, which is exactly what you might expect from a slick, full-color rag that has dedicated not one, but two covers to former President Bill Clinton over the years. But in the magazine’s breakdown of Louisiana’s races, its editors take a surprising turn to the right in endorsing incumbent U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, a Republican who practically stands for everything Obama is against.
State Sen. Don Cravins, a Democrat from Opelousas, has created a respectable momentum against Boustany by selling himself as a conservative voice for Acadiana. Even though he’ll never match the size of the congressman’s campaign kitty, Cravins outraised Boustany by roughly $30,000 during the most recent campaign finance reporting period. Additionally, a poll commissioned by the Louisiana Democratic Party earlier this month showed Cravins with a one-point lead over Boustany. Nonetheless, Cravins is quite absent in Esquire’s analysis:
“Boustany’s district was first battered by Katrina, then leveled by Rita in 2005. The recovery has been a mess of red tape and cynical GOP stonewalling over spending, but Boustany, otherwise a loyal Republican, has fought both — to the point, he says, of near exhaustion. Here’s hoping he comes back for another round.”
As for the U.S. Senate race, Esquire returns to form and endorses incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu over GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy: “Louisiana’s politics are as full of gators as its famous bayous. Here we have a Democrat who often looks Republican versus a Republican who until last year was a Democrat. The incumbent, however, has the clear edge in experience and legislative success.”
Landrieu also has the newfound backing of former Republican Gov. Dave Treen. It may come as a shock to conservatives, but Treen says it’s the type of bipartisanship Landrieu has built a reputation upon. “Sen. Landrieu has always worked across the aisle to get the job done for Louisiana,” Treen says. “She is respected by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and she is able to deliver for our communities when we need it most.”
Treen is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who have opted against backing Kennedy to endorse Landrieu, rather than just staying out of the race. So far 27 GOP officials have jumped to Landrieu’s camp, including four parish-wide officials from Kennedy’s home base.
Jindal answers call for Kennedy
In recent weeks, while Gov. Bobby Jindal was out working to help elect Republican congressional candidates in Mississippi and Florida, many in Louisiana were beginning to wonder why he wasn’t playing more of a role in state Treasurer John Kennedy’s campaign for U.S. Senate. This week, Jindal answered Kennedy’s call, as the campaign has launched a new commercial starring the governor, who gives a ringing endorsement of the Republican state treasurer. “John is a conservative. He’s honest, and he’s not afraid to stand up to anyone,” Jindal says in the ad. Kennedy faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Nov. 4 election. Jindal’s endorsement ad comes as Kennedy appears to be gaining momentum in the final weeks of the campaign; his campaign recently released a poll showing the state treasurer closing the gap to within 5 percentage points of Landrieu (other polls show Landrieu up by as much as 10 points). The National Republican Senatorial Committee also announced it is spending at least another $500,000 on pro-Kennedy ads.
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and 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.