Sen. David Vitter was apparently in a joking mood last Wednesday during a speech at a Lafayette Parish Republican Executive Committee luncheon at the Lafayette Federal Courthouse. When state party treasurer Charlie Buckels congratulated Vitter for the senator's post-hurricane efforts for Louisiana, Vitter referenced the work of state officials and said, "It's easy to look like a giant in a land of pygmies." When another audience member asked about the efforts of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Vitter replied, "If you give me a recall petition, I'll sign it." He later downplayed both statements to The Advocate and said they were jokes.
His remarks were the latest in a string of comments by Louisiana politicians that underscore the dysfunctional relationships between top local and state officials. Just the previous week, Vitter and Sen. Landrieu openly sparred on the Senate floor over loan requirements for Louisiana's $750 million aid package, refusing to yield time to each other and derisively referring to each other as the "senior senator" and "junior senator."
Meanwhile, in an editorial board meeting with The Advocate last Thursday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin admitted his relationship with Blanco is severely strained. "We have very different styles," Nagin said of Blanco. "I'm really at a loss for what else to do."Â
With state employee layoffs expected in the near future and Blanco and Nagin's announcement of separate committees to steer rebuilding efforts, all eyes will be on the post-hurricane special session called by Blanco that begins Nov. 6. If more signs of harmony aren't shown during that session, federal officials will continue to cast a doubtful eye on Louisiana's ability to manage hurricane relief funds. ' Scott Jordan
On Monday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced the formation of the Louisiana Recovery Authority and its 23-member board of directors. Blanco is asking the committee to oversee the rebuilding of Louisiana in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and develop a 30-day, as well as a five year-plan, to help the state address the pressing issues of housing, health care, employment, transportation and education. The two Acadiana residents serving on the panel are UL Lafayette's John T. Landry and Stuller Inc.'s founder and CEO Matt Stuller. Blanco asked the group to put aside the differences in politics, race and religion that have mired Louisiana's progress in the past. "We can succeed only if we put aside politics and partisanship," Blanco said.Â ' R. Reese Fuller
At press time Monday, tropical storm Wilma was expected to develop into a major hurricane that could possibly affect the Gulf Coast later this week. It's the 21st named storm of the 2005 hurricane season, tying the record for busiest hurricane season set in 1933.
Reuters reported that forecast models for Wilma varied wildly, with some storm tracks taking it as far west as Mexico and other plots taking it toward the Florida panhandle. One thing's for sure: in the next few days, Louisiana residents will once again be watching the Weather Channel and monitoring weather Web sites with an uneasy feeling.
And hurricane season doesn't officially end until Nov. 30. ' Scott Jordan
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand: