[Clarification: It seems what we have here is a failure to communicate. Drs. Bob Buckman and Ryan Teten at UL evidently each believed the other was in charge of making arrangements with the Boustany and Landry campaigns during the time period in which the Boustany campaign was left out of the loop, based on conversations and emails exchanged Thursday between IND Monthly and the professors. We stand by the accuracy of this report, although we don’t share the Boustany campaign’s suspicion that their candidate was in any way “set up” by either Teten or Buckman.]
UL Lafayette journalism professor Dr. Robert Buckman announced late Tuesday afternoon that the debate scheduled for Monday afternoon in the Angelle Hall auditorium between the two main contenders in the Nov. 6 election for the new 3rd Congressional District — U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia — has been cancelled. In the press release announcing the cancellation, Buckman cites “unforeseen conflicts involving time, location and format.” But that’s not exactly accurate, and sources close to Boustany are wondering, was the four-term Lafayette congressman being set up for a fall?
IND Monthly has obtained an email thread demonstrating that for nearly three weeks the Boustany camp — Chief of Staff Jeff Dobrozsi and Campaign Manager John Porter, specifically — were not copied on emails between Buckman and the Landry camp concerning details about the format for Monday’s event. Much changed in that interim. According to sources, the last time the Boustany camp was updated on the debate was around Friday, Sept. 21. At that time the event was scheduled for a smaller venue in Burke-Hawthorne Hall, Lake Charles Democrat Ron Richard was supposed to be part of it, KATC was going to broadcast the event live and KATC anchor Hoyt Harris was set to moderate it.
On Tuesday of this week, Dr. Ryan Teten, the UL political science professor who was pegged to moderate the debate, emailed Dobrozsi and Porter at Boustany’s office with the press release Buckman had released to the media earlier that day about the Monday debate. Head scratching ensued at Camp Boustany. Porter emailed Teten back at just after 6 p.m. Tuesday: “Dr. Teten: What happened with Richard? What happened with Hoyt Harris? Now we have a panel? I’m confused here on the changes.”
Teten replied to Dobrozsi and Porter less than a half hour later:
Checking back on all of the communications sent out, it seems as though Dr. Buckman left both you and John completely off of his mailing list that had updates at each step of the process. I apologize profusely for this. Therefore, you have not been getting any of the e-mails that he has been sending over the last three weeks regarding any of the planning going on for the debate (all of the panelists and Landrys [sic] campaign manager are on the list). As soon as KATC suggested that the event would not be televised, Dr. Buckman took the reins quite forcefully and set up the panels, the venue and was sending out the e-mail updates. The format and trying to insert myself as moderator to manage the debate were some of the only ways that I have been able to get any sense of stability to the event. If there is anything that you would like me to do at this point for you all, please let me know immediately.
Shortly after Teten’s hat-in-hand accounting for the communications error, he goes further in an email about an hour later, at 7:20 p.m. and addresses only Dobrozsi:
Jeff, If Boustany has any reservations about the event, I can gladly suggest that I completely screwed up the date or the communications and can issue a press release suggesting that it was completely my fault in terms of a debate organization mishap and we can cancel it. I do not want this event to seem like a gotcha tactic on you guys or make it something that endangers the relationship UL and our department have with you and Rep. Boustany. I feel like I should have been on top of the e-mail list Dr. Buckman was using so that all concerns could be expressed way in advance. Please let me know if there are any steps you need me to take either way.
By this time — yesterday evening, Tuesday, Oct. 9 — the whole debate is sagging into a steaming pile of ain’t gonna happen. The Boustany camp is fuming, fully suspecting FreedomWorks and the Tea Party of Lafayette, which jointly opened a “get out the vote” pro-Landry office in Lafayette on Monday — FreedomWorks is the non-profit, conservative political group that essentially invented the tea party movement in 2009 and has bankrolled much of its “grassroots” activities — played some role in the screw up, a suspicion Buckman seeks to dispel in an email this afternoon to Porter and Dobroszi:
Dear John and Jeff: I just learned from Ryan Teten about your concerns over the format. I had thought he was forwarding everything to you, but I may have erred in that assumption. He explained to me your concerns about a one-on-one debate and that you may think that we have attempted to “set you up” by excluding the other candidates and presenting you with a fait accompli at the last minute. I can assure you we had no such intention.
...Dr. Teten, bless his heart, is offering to fall on his sword over this. Like me, he had no ulterior motive and no ax to grind with either of your candidates. We both just wanted to provide a service to the voters.
Buckman did not return a phone call Wednesday evening seeking comment.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
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.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.