Seeking name recognition and an issue to get some traction on, Public Service Commission District 2 candidate Ed Roy of Lafayette has unveiled a new and quite possibly legitimate issue with which to hammer the presumed frontrunner in the race: Scott Angelle’s Aug. 8 resignation as a secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources — a resignation that occurred amid the deepening crisis with the ominous sinkhole forming in Assumption Parish.
Scott Angelle, left, and Ed Roy
The sinkhole is believed to be the result of a breached salt dome used by the oil/gas industry to store petrochemicals. It has spread to more than 600 feet in diameter and more than 400 feet deep, and it was recently reported that DNR — the agency oversees, among other things, oil/gas operations in the state — was aware of possible problems with the dome more than a year and a half ago. The sinkhole began forming on Aug. 3. A day later Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and dozens of residents in the Bayou Corne community were forced to evacuate. Angelle resigned four days later and announced his candidacy for PSC 2.
On Saturday the Roy campaign released a statement critical of Angelle:
Scott Angelle has once again demonstrated that his personal political ambitions are more important to him than the lives and property of the people of Louisiana. Angelle’s failure of leadership in this disaster lies at the intersection of energy, the economy and the environment. Angelle apparently knew about the structural problems with the salt dome as early as January of 2011, more than a year and a half ago. In that time, Angelle not only said and did nothing, he didn’t tell the local sheriff and officials who are responsible for the lives of those people, what he knew about the potential problems. Then, with the crisis coming to a head, and a state of emergency declared — Angelle promptly resigned from DNR, and a day later, announced that he was running for the PSC.
Angelle also served as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief legislative liaison for the last few years — a role for which he was rewarded after resigning from DNR by being named by Jindal to the LSU Board of Supervisors. In his press release slamming Angelle for his timely resignation, Roy refers to his opponent as the “former DNR Secretary and Jindal Lobbyist,” which one can’t help but read with a negative connotation.
Roy’s swipe is not without reason: among the declared candidates for the PSC District 2 seat, Angelle enjoys the most statewide name recognition, having served for eight years as DNR secretary plus a short stint as interim lieutenant governor after Mitch Landrieu resigned to enter the New Orleans mayoral race. Angelle also got a fair amount of statewide publicity for his much-celebrated speech at the doomsday-named Rally for Economic Survival in the Cajundome a little over two years ago following the BP disaster and ensuing deepwater drilling moratorium.
The PSC has served as a launch pad for three commissioners who later became governor of Louisiana — most recently Kathleen Blanco, preceded by John McKeithen and the almighty Huey Long.
The PSC’s District 2 is a far-flung unit covering East/West Feliciana, Lafayette, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes along with parts of parishes in and surrounding Baton Rouge. Roy, a Lafayette private investigator and former TV meteorologist who also served as a sheriff’s investigator, is probably the least known candidate in the race; a third contender, state Rep. Erich Ponti, represents parts of Baton Rouge.
Residents affected by the sinkhole are reportedly furious with both DNR and the Texas energy company that maintains the dome. The sheriff in Assumption Parish told the Associated Press that “DNR has lost all credibility with me.”
Unfortunately for Roy, Assumption Parish where the sinkhole saga is unfolding, is not in PSC 2, and unless he can get that much-desired traction out of the issue, it’s unlikely to retard Angelle’s momentum or tarnish his brand.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.