CRAIG ROMERO EYEING IBERIA PARISH PRESIDENT RACE Sources close to term-limited Republican state Sen. Craig Romero confirm that he is exploring a run for Iberia Parish president. Romero met with some city and parish officials last week to discuss his candidacy. Residents of the parish polled over the weekend were asked if the race would be held this week, who they would most likely vote for ' announced candidates Ernest Freyou, a former secretary-treasurer of the Iberia Parish Police Jury and retired Regions Bank president, Ronnie Migues, who works for an oilfield service company, or Romero. Those polled were asked to rate Romero's performance as Iberia Parish president from 1984-92, when he succeeded his father, Francis Romero, in office. It also asked about his effectiveness as state senator from 1992 until the present. The poll concluded by asking if the respondent were Democrat or Republican, and whether he or she would be more likely to vote for gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, Walter Boasso or Foster Campbell. ... MEYER AND HEFNER CHANGE THEIR MINDS The Lafayette Parish School Board meeting last week yielded two surprise announcements from board members. Russell Meyer, who just began serving his first term on the school board this year, announced he will be stepping down effective Nov. 1. Meyer is planning a move to Grand Junction, Colo., to take a new job with an oilfield supply company. Meyer, a former school principal who runs Romero's Grocery store in Ossun, says the job will be something entirely different for him and that last week was the first that many school system officials and board members heard of the news. "They were very surprised," Meyer says, "and like I told them afterward, I was surprised myself because this was something that just came out of the blue. It wasn't expected, but sometimes it happens and I just couldn't pass this up." Prior to Meyer stepping down, the school board will appoint an interim replacement to serve until a special election can be held for his seat. Following Meyer's announcement, board member Mike Hefner broke the news that he is dropping out of the race for the District 5 City-Parish Council seat and committing to filling out his current term on the school board, which ends in December 2010. Hefner, who is entering his final year of law school with Concord, a correspondence school out of California, says the rigors of learning a new office would stretch his time too thin. "I've got a lot of background with [the school board]," says Hefner, who is now in his 18th year on the board. "I can keep up and take care of problems that constituents have. The thing that was concerning me was you got seven out of nine possible new members on the council, and it's going to be a lot of meetings and orientation and getting up to speed on issues. If I'm trying to do that in the middle of trying to prepare for the bar exam, I'm not going to do my constituents any favors." With Hefner out, the race for the District 5 City-Parish Council seat will now be between planning commissioner John Barras, landman Jared Bellard and Linda Duhon, owner of Acadian Food Mart in Scott. ... FORMER LA. FILM HEAD CHARGED WITH BRIBERY U.S. Attorney Jim Letten announced last week that Mark Smith, the former head of the Louisiana Film Commission, has been charged with bribery and conspiracy. According to the Bill of Information filed, between 2003 and 2005, while serving as director of the Louisiana Film Commission, Smith approved fraudulently inflated movie budgets submitted by a film production company in order for the film company to receive state tax credits. In return, Smith accepted cash bribes totaling more than $65,000. The Bill of Information further alleges that a businessman wrote corporate checks to a third party who cashed the checks and passed the cash to Smith. The Times-Picayune reports that Smith is expected to plead guilty and cooperate with the investigators. The charges come as a result of a federal investigation into Louisiana's film industry. If convicted, Smith faces up to 10 years in prison on the bribery charge, five years on the conspiracy charge, and a fine of $250,000. ... TAUZIN LANDS AT NO. 6 ON "MOST POWERFUL" LIST The lobbying power of former U.S. Rep., Democrat-turned-Republican and Charlie Melancon predecessor Billy Tauzin has earned him the No. 6 spot in GQ magazine's "The 50 Most Powerful People in Washington" list. Tauzin tied with AARP's Bill Novelli, AIPAC's Howard Kohr and the NRA's Wayne Lapierre. Chackbay native Tauzin is currently president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and lobbies on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Here's what GQ had to say about Tauzin, whose legacy is forever intertwined with his leadership role in the controversial Medicare Prescription Drug Bill: "In 2006, the four interest groups [Kohr, Novelli, Lapierre and Tauzin] command spoke for 40 million members and thirty-two drug companies, racked up $43 million in lobbying expenses, and threw their considerable weight around to keep a slew of unpopular laws on the books and uphold the status quo. â?¦ Thanks to the influence their groups wield that's both detectable (money given to campaigns) and subtle (the personal relationships built with committee members of both parties), don't expect any big changes to our Israel or prescription-drug policies in coming years."

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