Of course, the Kenner congressman (at least for now) isn't doing all the heavy lifting. While Jindal never did sign on to the far-reaching agenda of Blueprint Louisiana, he's found a way to make peace with the well-heeled reform group: he has asked several prominent Blueprint members to set key interview appointments and write policy. Lake Charles lumber tycoon (and former commissioner of administration) Dennis Stine is leading the search for a new commissioner of administration and a revenue secretary, while Baton Rouge billboard exec Sean Reilly is helping craft Jindal's ethics package. For what it's worth, Stine says he isn't interested in the DOA post.
Meanwhile, in several fiefdoms of state government where incumbents have lost, a near panic has set in. Many public employees are fearful their entire careers are in jeopardy if they don't make the incoming administration's cut. It's particularly acute right now in the Agriculture Department and in the Attorney General's office. "Things were kind of strange during the primary, but now it's just plain bizarre," says one high-level employee in the AG's office. "No one knows what the hell is going on anymore. No one knows if they have a job."
Anxiety runs almost as high among those who have been contacted as it does among those who have not. Veterans Affairs Secretary and Brigadier General Hunt Downer, a Republican who ran against Jindal and Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2003, is among those willing to stay on the job but who have not yet been contacted by Jindal's people. Halfway through Blanco's term, Downer agreed to serve as her legislative liaison, a critical position that put the former House speaker in charge of communicating with lawmakers, many of whom had grown increasingly dissatisfied with Blanco. By most accounts, Downer got good reviews. "I would like to continue serving," he says. "I'd love to be able to keep putting my experience to use."
The legislative liaison post is a key appointment for any governor, particularly when the Legislature is dominated by the opposing political party. The liaison's relationship with lawmakers will take on added significance for Jindal, who has staked his administration's future on a special session dedicated exclusively to ethics reform. In a move that surprised many, Jindal recently told reporters he has tapped former House Speaker Charlie DeWitt, a Democrat from Alexandria, to serve as an interim go-between. DeWitt was arguably the most vocal opponent earlier this year of legislation requiring lawmakers to disclose their income. The chance to remain close to power is an obvious draw for DeWitt. For Jindal, DeWitt represents another overture to his newfound base in northern Louisiana ' and a man popular with most if not all returning House members.
Elsewhere in the legislative halls, Jindal vows to stay out of the leadership races ' unless he is asked for advice, which the governor-elect may be secretly anticipating. While it's noble for a new governor to dilute his own power by not muscling his friends into legislative leadership positions, Jindal runs a small risk of getting a leadership that's out of sync with his agenda. The more likely scenario is one in which leading candidates in both houses will get almost enough votes to win, and Jindal will be accorded the opportunity to provide the margin of victory at the end. That way, he'll get the best of both worlds ' staying out of the bloodiest part of the fight, but getting House and Senate leaders who owe him.
As of last week, those seeking the Senate presidency included Sens. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, Robert Adley, D-Benton; Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan; ; Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles; Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth; and Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans.
Chaisson, who represents portions of Lafourche Parish, has emerged as a compromise candidate, offering balance to a Republican speaker as a Democratic president. Touting himself as a pro-business moderate, Chaisson has formed a bipartisan coalition with Michot, along with others.
Michot told reporters last week that he would be comfortable with Chaisson as a compromise choice. In return, Michot could be tapped for an important position, like chairman of the Finance Committee, although Chaisson said he hasn't gotten that far into the process.
Each claims at least a handful of votes, but if you add them all up, you'd find Louisiana with about 60 members of the Senate, which officially has 39 members. Murray, the only African-American candidate, will assuredly have the support of black senators, and that could get him a key chairmanship ' as well as chairmanships or good committee assignments for those who stick with him.
Rep. Juan LaFonta, a New Orleans Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, says there's an easy truce right now between Jindal and lawmakers. Most of the coalitions taking shape in the House and Senate revolve around leadership elections, he says, and not around Jindal.
Once the leadership races are decided, lawmakers will stake out positions as either floor leaders for Jindal or as the loyal opposition. "I don't think there has ever been a governor who has enjoyed so much support that every single member of the Legislature backs what he backs," LaFonta says. "That's not going to happen now, either. For now, everyone wants to work together. There is too much at stake. And as for the caucus, we stand ready to oppose anything that goes against our constituency. Our main concern right now is that rebuilding isn't moving along fast enough."
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.