State Rep. Fred Mills, R-Parks, a GOP newbie who switched parties a few weeks ago and most recently announced his intention to seek the state Senate District 22 seat vacated by Troy Hebert, is being labeled a RINO — Republican In Name Only — by a conservative blogger. Suspicion of Mills’ motive in switching parties was already foreshadowed in the comment section at theind.com, and it’s a sentiment that could gain traction in what will be a short campaign. (The election will be held Jan. 22; other candidates to qualify are Republican Simone Champagne of Jeanerette; David Groner and Ruben LeBlanc, both of New Iberia and neither with party affililation; and Republicans Arnold Schwing of New Iberia and Ken Squires of Jeanerette.)
Seen in some circles as mere political expediency — Democrats just can’t catch a break in Louisiana’s current political climate — Mills’ party switch is increasingly becoming a topic in the blogosphere, most recently in a post titled “The Fred Mills File” at a site called Cajun Conservatism; the post was picked up by the right-leaning aggregator website The Dead Pelican.
Cajun Conservatism highlights political contributions by Mills ranging from $50 to $500 in 2008 and 2009 to Democratic politicians, Cedric Richmond and Don Cravins Jr. among them, as well as to the House Democratic Campaign Committee. The site also points to votes by Mills it considers antithetical to conservative principles, including voting against a bill that would require welfare recipients to be drug tested and a bill that would use public dollars for private school tuition vouchers.
The post further opines, “Fred Mills’ recent switch to the Republican Party prior to his qualifying for the special election for the District 22 Senate seat should leave one to question his true conservative principles. A cursory look at both his past political contributions and voting records show someone who is far from being within the mainstream Republican Party. Do we need another RINO to represent the people of District 22 in Baton Rouge?”
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.