First, there was Lee Domingue in Baton Rouge, who was defeated this spring for the state Senate by a longshot lawyer named Dan Claitor. Then, Jindal chose to endorse Brent Callais of Houma for the vacancy created by Sen. Reggie Dupré’s retirement. Strike 2: Norby Chabert, the youngest son of the late legendary Sen. Leonard Chabert (whom the charity hospital is named after in Houma) defeated Callais handily this summer. Most embarrassing was this Saturday’s defeat of Jindal’s former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, for the north Louisiana Supreme Court seat. He was defeated by District Judge Marcus Clark of Monroe, who has been suspended previously by the Supreme Court for failing to timely handle his case docket, and was cited by the Judicial Elections Commission in this race for exaggerating attack claims about Faircloth. No one has confused him with legendary legal scholar Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes. Clark, of Monroe, used a strong turnout in his home parish of Ouachita to outpace Faircloth’s strong showing in his home parish of Rapides, beating him 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent. The personable and well-liked Faircloth had no previous elected office experience, which further confuses the issue of how he could be defeated by the less than spotless Judge Clark.
Add to that fact that Jindal has arguably done more for the northeast region of Louisiana (where the election was held) than any other region of the state. Jindal performed economic CPR on a lifeless chicken plant in Monroe with a $50 million dollar infusion of state funds this summer, and financially seeded a new eco-friendly car factory in the region. Those two events alone should have given Jindal more popularity in north Louisiana than Terry Bradshaw in Ruston or Doug Williams in Grambling. But they didn’t. Even more surprising was the open opposition to the governor’s candidate by nearly all sheriffs and district attorneys in the district, all of whom galvanized behind Clark.
Don’t think that astute legislators won’t take note. With the state facing a potential budget deficit of over $500 million next year alone, legislators may be less fearful of taking the governor on over the near-certain draconian budget cuts to state services that Jindal’s 2010 executive budget will likely contain. It’s too early to tell whether Jindal has lost his luster with the voting public in Louisiana. But certainly all political observers would agree that he is no longer considered by John Q. Sixpack as the whiz kid with answers to all that ails Louisiana.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
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.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.