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.
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.