[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information supplied by the Lafayette Consolidated Government.]
Faced with a long list of problems surrounding its selection of a group health plan provider, the Lafayette Parish School Board instead zeroed in during Wednesday’s meeting on the most minute of the issues to emerge during this year’s selection process.
The board, despite so many unanswered questions, has opted to get a legal opinion on the validity of its Oct. 2 vote awarding the group benefits contract to Key Benefit Administrators and whether it was in line with Robert’s Rules of Order since the agenda item was moved from introductory to action without a two-thirds majority vote.
LPSB's insurance consultant Rina Tikia
Sure, following proper meeting procedures is a must, but in the case of this year’s renewal process, Wednesday’s decision addresses the least problematic of the issues to emerge since July, when the original Request For Proposals was sent out.
If the requested legal opinion comes back saying the board’s Oct. 2 vote was legit and KBA is awarded the contract, here are a few of the questions that will have been left unanswered:
• Why were six companies disqualified for submitting bids without an aggregate quote, when the original RFP did not call for an aggregate quote?
• Why was Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana disqualified, but then allowed back into contention, so-say as a “courtesy,” while the other disqualified companies remain disqualified?
• Why did Rina Tikia, the board’s hired consultant, not reveal to the public that she also was an independent insurance agent?
• Why has the board not hammered down a firm contract with Tikia? And if it does approve her suggested $200,000 flat rate fee, isn't that a little expensive considering the Lafayette City-Parish Council recently went through the same insurance selection process and paid its consultant $108,500 ($64,500 for the preparation and issuance of the RFP and $44,000 for evaluating the eight proposals submitted).
• Why did Tikia not just revise and reissue an RFP explicitly asking for an aggregate quote?
Selecting the school system’s insurance provider is a big decision, worth millions, and considering KBA’s claim of $8 million in savings compared to the bid submitted by Blue Cross has not been substantiated or vetted raises even more questions, the most pertinent coming from a group of retired LPSS teachers: Why not restart the process? Because it seems if Tikia would have had her way from the start, there would have only been one option for the board to consider: KBA.
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OCT 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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