Gov. Bobby Jindal quietly announced the veto of a highly controversial public records bill around 6:30 p.m. Friday, snuffing the collective hope of lawmakers who wanted to add more transparency in the way communications related to the BP oil spill are being handled by the executive branch. The provision was added to a House bill during the regular session’s closing days last week by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and produced a barrage of editorials statewide and endorsements from good government groups.
House Bill 37 by Rep. Gary Smith, D-Norco, was originally filed to establish a timeline for how long the state has to maintain certain inmate records, but Adley’s amendment turned the bill into a legislative vehicle that spurred heated exchanges in both chambers.
In his official veto letter, issued after the State Capitol press corps typically retires for the weekend, Jindal called the Deepwater Horizon incident “a man-made event” and included only two sentences from the governor justifying the veto. “This bill would allow BP and other parties with potential liability to the state to obtain information retained by any state agency responding to this tragic event,” the governor writes. “Such access could impair the state’s legal position both in responding to the disaster that is unfolding and in seeking remedies for economic injury and natural resource damage.”
Adley, who could not be reached for comment Friday evening, said during the session that he wanted the amendment because the BP rig explosion and subsequent oil leak had become the “greatest catastrophe in the state’s history,” and it would go on to impact generations of residents. “The public should know what’s going on,” said Adley.
His amendment would have targeted “any records having been used, being in use, or retained for use by the office of the governor or any other executive branch agency in the usual course of the duties and business of the office or agency.”
Adley was among the lawmakers pushing to open up more records — in general — in the governor’s office this session, and it was a move Jindal opposed and the Senate rejected. Although Jindal has ushered in legislation to make the House and Senate two of the most transparent chambers in the nation, he has repeatedly opposed measures opening up records in his own office.
As a result, national rankings show some disparity. Earlier this year the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics named Jindal among its 11 worst U.S. governors, specifically noting the public records exemptions enjoyed by the executive branch.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.