Gov. Bobby Jindal today nominated Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle to serve as interim lieutenant governor after Mitch Landrieu becomes mayor of New Orleans May 3. Angelle, a Democrat who has toyed with the idea of switching parties, will have to be confirmed by a majority vote of the House and Senate before he can assume the post. At that time, he will step down temporarily from DNR but will continue in his current part-time role as legislative liaison for the governor’s office.
Landrieu’s permanent replacement will be chosen by voters in a special election Oct. 2; if necessary, a runoff election would take place in November. Angelle has agreed not to run for the statewide office, which the governor said was a condition for any nominee.
The interim appointment comes at a time when Jindal is proposing to abolish the position of lieutenant governor, which would require a constitutional amendment and a 2/3 vote of both houses of the Legislature. If he’s successful, voters would have the final say on the abolishment this fall, at the same time they go to the booth to elect Landrieu’s replacement.
The governor has named Robert Harper as acting secretary of DNR. Angelle plans to return to the agency once his tenure as lieutenant governor is over. Harper currently serves as undersecretary at DNR.
In other breaking DNR news, an attorney today filed a writ against the agency, demanding that it turn over all documents it has regarding the purchase of generators after Hurricane Gustav, according to Baton Rouge’s Daily Report. “Stephen Babcock’s filing today is related to a suit he filed last year on behalf of Generator Supercenter, which has offices in Baton Rouge. According to the suit, the state had a contract to buy 68 generators after the hurricane from Generator Supercenter,” notes Daily Report. Babcock contends the state is refusing to pay $3.2 million for generators it delivered and claims DNR has turned over less than 10 e-mails regarding the generator purchases. He charges the agency with “hiding behind feigned confusion” to avoid releasing embarrassing correspondence.
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.
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.
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.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.