The Melancon/Vitter main event is now set — or is it? The long expected entry of U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon into the U.S. Senate race as a challenger to David Vitter finally occurred last week — almost one month after Vitter started attacking him publicly by name.
Melancon came out swinging on his own in his announcement, talking about how “Louisiana deserved better” than someone like Vitter, while mentioning his 37 years of marriage to wife Peachy, a passing reminder to the 2007 Vitter prostitute scandal. Melancon followed with a left hook to the mid-section of Vitter, talking about Louisiana having many challenges and needing an effective senator — then quickly pointing out the fact that Vitter was ranked by Roll Call newspaper as the 85th (out of 100) least effective senator in D.C. And this is just during the weigh in, folks; we aren’t even to Round 1 yet. Think the original Rocky movie.
This one will be a 15-round slugfest. Vitter will early and often attempt to link the moderate Blue Dog Melancon to President Obama on issues such as health care (even though Melancon was one of a few Democrats who voted against the bill in Congress recently). Aside from Vitter’s personal indiscretions, Melancon will hammer Vitter on his ineffectiveness and inability to even work with other Republicans to accomplish goals that benefit Louisiana. (Vitter’s nickname in the Bush White House was “Congressman Vitter” due to his lack of adherence to senatorial tradition on issues such as compromise and cooperation.)
But before the opening bell rang, a larger threat appeared to be looming for Vitter — that of not only one potential Republican challenger, but two, in the primary. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has not ruled out a challenge to Vitter, but the real shocker was Republican insiders and some media sources, including BayouBuzz.com, speculating that retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, largely credited with helping rescue New Orleans from Katrina after federal troops finally arrived, was strongly considering a challenge to Vitter. A black, Republican retired Army general considered a hero in New Orleans is the last thing Vitter would want to confront in the primary. No worries, says the general.
“I am not running for office, just moving back home to La,” Honore writes in a Sept. 1 e-mail response to Independent Weekly reporter Nathan Stubbs. “This rumor got out without me knowing were it [came] from,” he continues. “I spoke to the [BayouBuzz] folks, and they now know I have not been talking to the person that gave them that info.”
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.