But around and inside the tallest building in downtown Baton Rouge, things are already getting back to normal. Lawmakers are finding their voices again, media is paying close attention, and by all indications, Jindal's honeymoon among the insiders has ended.
Maybe it's because Jindal beat all his opponents handily in the primary, giving his administration a one-month jump on most governors who have to slug it out against a tough opponent in a runoff. More likely, Jindal set the bar so high with his promises of revolutionary reform that onlookers are hungry for immediate action. Political insiders ' and the public Â' will only hand out so many passes and look the other way for so long.
Pockets of opposition have been sprouting up in increasing numbers over the past two months. During legislative sessions, teacher groups will take stands as the governor-elect pushes his plans to expanded charter schools and merit pay for educators; the teachers' union endorsed his opposition last year. Some lawmakers feel squeezed as well.
Rep. Damon Baldone, a Houma Democrat, was recently edged out of the race for speaker pro tem, the second-highest spot in the chamber, but was provided with the vice-chairmanship of the House Committee on Criminal Justice. Not long after, Speaker-designee Jim Tucker, an Algiers Republican, contacted members of the House vowing to support Rep. Karen Carter of New Orleans, a Democrat like Baldone, for the pro tem job. Jindal told lawmakers repeatedly last year that his leadership team would not interfere with the House elections as other governors have done. "It's obvious that the politics around here haven't changed," Baldone says. "That's why I'm just going to withdraw my name, even though this is supposed to be an elected position where legislators should be free to make their own choice."
Rep. Don Cazayoux, a Democrat from New Roads who was edged out of the race for speaker by Jindal and Tucker in similar fashion, was likewise left wondering what had happened to Jindal's vow to stay out of legislative leadership races and committee assignments. "We owed it the state to make every effort to try to elect a speaker independently, and we strongly believe independence is important to developing a more effective and responsive Legislature," Cazayoux says. "I wish the governor-elect had allowed the process to continue because many members were still undecided, and the momentum was turning in our favor."
Media reaction was swift. C.B. Forgotson, a Hammond attorney and one of the first political bloggers in Louisiana, pointed out that Louisiana law actually calls for an election in the House, not a statement to the media about who should be crowned. "Either the speaker made a mistake or accidentally revealed the truth," Forgotson says. "In either case, why have rules, if, like our laws, they are not obeyed by those who make them? Aristotle said, 'Good laws, if they are not obeyed, do not constitute good government.'"
Longtime political reporter and former editor Jim Beam recently wrote in his Lake Charles American Press column that "legislative independence may be just a pipe dream" and maybe Jindal needs to be prodded in the right direction. "Those of us who thought Jindal's election meant a new day was dawning in Baton Rouge are terribly disappointed at this latest turn of events," Beam wrote.
Then there's ethics reform.
Jindal told voters his administration would be squeaky clean, which means even the slightest detour on that road will grab headlines. So all hell broke loose last month when Jindal named Jimmy Faircloth as his executive counsel. Questions immediately cropped up about Faircloth's firm, which represents the Coushatta tribe's casino, and his plans to continue his private practice. Faircloth later retracted that statement, promising to work for Jindal only.
The Baton Rouge Advocate weighed in with an editorial: "However well Faircloth conducts himself, his desire to return to the firm after his service in the governor's office will raise questions whenever any decision is made by Jindal involving gambling." Even though Jindal has designated a special lawyer to handle the issues and Faircloth has severed his private ties, those questions ' and other queries about Jindal's hand-picked allies and the looming special session for ethics reform ' will continue.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.