Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office, which overstepped its authority in replacing Lafayette attorney Elaine Abell as chairman of the governing board for the planned teaching hospital in New Orleans, appears to be behind an unannounced social event for the board yesterday. It was the first time the group had gathered, and it's unclear whether the function violates the state's open meetings law.
The event, which hosted nine of the 11 members and two of Jindal’s top aides and was held at the posh Windsor Court, came two days after the LSU System released a statement saying Bobby Yarborough of Baton Rouge — who is Jindal's campaign treasurer — would replace Abell as chairman of the board of the University Medical Center Management Corp. LSU System President John Lombardi, whom the UMC constitutional documents confirm has the unequivocal authority to name the chairman, had appointed Abell last Thursday. The governor’s interference in the process has been harshly criticized — with LSU Board of Supervisors member Tony Falterman among the most vocal. “If Gov. Jindal undoes everything the President does, shouldn’t the LSU Board just ask Gov. Jindal what he wants done on every issue and put Dr. Lombardi back in the classroom?” Falterman said in a statement reported by The Advocate Wednesday. The Independent Weekly was unable to reach Falterman for comment today, and Abell has declined to discuss the matter, saying only that she hopes the board can get its work done without this kind of political influence.
Yarborough, who is a recent appointee to the LSU Board of Supervisors, and Jindal’s legal adviser, Stephen Waguespack, billed the gathering as a social event that was not convened to discuss the business of what is projected to be a $1.2 billion medical complex, according to Thursday’s Times-Picayune. The paper appropriately raised the issue of whether the function, which was not attended by Abell and another member of the governing board of the planned medical complex, constitutes a violation of the state’s open meetings law:
On the one hand, neither Yarborough nor Waguespack could say whether they believe the law requires the University Medical Center corporation to meet openly.
The corporation was created as an affiliate of Louisiana State University, suggesting that it is a political subdivision of the state whose meetings should be open. But there has been some question in the past whether such entities, like the Tiger Athletic Foundation at LSU, are public or private, and state leaders have said throughout the planning that the hospital is meant to be an “independent entity” whose debts do not obligate taxpayers.
Yet the emphasis on the meeting as a “social gathering” appears to reflect an awareness that Louisiana court precedent gives some wiggle room for public bodies to hold “chance meetings and social gatherings” without public notice or access. If UMC is not subject to the sunshine law at all, exceptions would be irrelevant.
The social gathering exception dictates that no business is discussed.
Participants in the meeting could be heard from the hallway mentioning the formulation of bylaws, hospital bed counts and ground-breakings, though it was not clear whether those points pertained specifically to UMC.
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SEP 22 This bit of video from Saturday's LSU game is appalling, whether you're a fan of LSU or not. In it, you can see a Mississippi State player literally stomping on two LSU players during the game, which his team won. Twice the player, Dillon Day, can be seen jumping on the abdomen of LSU players during the game, the Picayune reports here. Day is a senior from West Monroe.
SEP 22 Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that Edwin Edwards has an irresistible story - on so many levels. Here's a post from CNN, which also has been unable to resist. His comments are classic EWE.
SEP 22 Blogger Tom Aswell, who spent about 50 years working for "mainstream" media, gives the Advocate what-for in this post. At issue is an editorial the Advocate printed last week, pretending that State Police Commander Mike Edmonson is some kind of saint for his part in the amendment debacle. The problems start with the paper's inability to spell Edmonson's name correctly (a common Advocate problem - inexplicably) and go downhill from there, he writes.
SEP 22 Blogger Crazy Crawfish is reflecting back on what was discussed during the Rising Tide conference, at least in terms of education. He's broken down some of the basic tenants of the current "reform" agenda in education, and explained why these ideas are flawed.
SEP 22 Six of the "privatization" agreements created by the Jindal administration for public hospitals are being renegotiated, at the order of Medicare/Medicaid officials, the Advocate reports here. Lafayette's public hospital is included, the story reports. Part of the order? No "side agreements," the story says. Hmmm.
SEP 22 Blogger Robert Mann tells an amazing story in this post. Cries for revenge and vengeance may be the usual response to violent death, but he's telling the story of people who have, instead, practiced forgiveness and grace.
SEP 22 Seems like there is nothing the interwebs likes more than listing stuff, and ranking states for good and bad things is a common practice. Columnist Jim Beam takes a look at some of the recent good and bad rankings that Louisiana has racked up.
SEP 22 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the Adrian Peterson case in this post. A lot of people are saying "My parents spanked me, and I'm fine," but they usually are not fine at all, Ian says. (The best example: Sean Hannity.) It's not OK to hit kids, Ian says, and it needs to stop.
SEP 20 This isn't the first story, and it won't be the last, written about the apparent conflict between Bobby Jindal's biology degree from Brown and the far right evangelicals who (he perceives) hold the key to his burning, blinding desire to be President. But this one's on ThinkProgress.org, a left-leaning blog, and gives an interesting view of how his dilemma might be attacked in a campaign.
SEP 20 Jeremy Alford examines the Family Forum's influence on the Legislature in this post. The ultra conservative lobby's annual "report card" keeps up with how well our elected officials are following its dictates, he reports, but also shows us how conservative our Legislature has become.
SEP 20 This post on the Dads Gone Wild blog is an ode to the education bloggers who have been akin to voices crying in the wilderness on the subject of "reform." He compares his experience, listening to the "reformers" and wondering why anybody gave them any weight, with loving punk rock in the 1970s. It's an interesting read.
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