U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, just named chair of the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, has asked Democratic state Sen. Don Cravins Jr. to join her in Washington, D.C., to head the committee. If he accepts the job, Cravins would resign his Senate seat and serve as chief of staff for the committee — overseeing more than 20 staffers, including attorneys, research and press assistants, and hearing and legislative clerks. An attorney, Cravins would also fill the role of chief legal counsel for the small business committee, which oversees the Small Business Administration.
Landrieu’s office is mum on the offer. “Sen. Landrieu does not comment on hiring matters until someone has accepted a position,” says Landrieu Press Secretary Stephanie Allen. “She believes Sen. Cravins to be a talented leader in Southwest Louisiana and greatly respects him.”
Cravins also declined to confirm details of the offer and tells The Independent Weekly he and his family will make a decision in about a week. “We are strongly, strongly considering it,” he says. The 36-year-old is in his second year as a state senator, having been elected to the post in 2007 after replacing his father a year before in a special election. Prior to that, he served two years in the state House, making history with Don Cravins Sr. as the first father-son duo to serve in the Louisiana Legislature at the same time.
Cravins Jr., who currently chairs the state Insurance Committee, says the decision will be tough, noting the work he’d like to accomplish in the Legislature as insurance chairman and as an advocate for juvenile justice reforms. While Cravins’ departure from the state Senate would be a loss to Louisiana, overseeing the small business committee would provide him numerous opportunities and challenges to help small businesses not only in the state but across the country. Small businesses are likely to be a critical component of President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to stimulate the nation’s economy.
In political terms, the small business chairmanship is a major bump in influence and rank for Landrieu, who already is chairing a subcommittee of the powerful Senate Appropriations and sitting on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“Bolstered by my seats on other key committees for our state, this assignment provides the seniority to fight even harder for Louisiana’s more than 350,000 small businesses,” Landrieu says. While serving on the small business committee, Landrieu has developed a strong coalition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and taken a lead role in disaster recovery legislation.
She recently met with Obama to “emphasize the importance of American small businesses to the economic recovery of the nation and any community affected by future disasters.” Landrieu replaces Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts who was recently appointed chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In a prepared statement, Kerry said small businesses should feel “proud” to have Landrieu at the helm. “As small business committee chairman, I traveled to Louisiana with Mary and I saw firsthand her passion for helping small-business owners in her state and across the country. After Louisiana was walloped by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Sen. Landrieu put Washington on notice that she wouldn’t accept a second-rate federal response and she fought for aid to rebuild her state’s economy.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.