Freshman state Rep. Stephen Ortego is teaming up with Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper in an innovative attempt to bring Cooper’s proven model of school-based health and wellness to Lafayette Parish. Ortego has introduced legislation that if passed would create a formal partnership between LPSS and University Medical Center. The goals of the partnership outlined in House Bill 867 are, among other things, to provide primary care services to students and their families with an emphasis on preventive care, and to make the model one that can be replicated in other communities. Cooper’s approach to neutralizing problems in public schools by addressing issues facing pre-school children and their families in poverty helped turn around school districts in West Feliciana Parish and McComb, Miss., where he formerly served as super. “Dr. Cooper has already proven that comprehensive school reform is best achieved through a truly comprehensive health and wellness model in public schools,” Ortego says in a press release announcing the legislation. “It may also be a great fit for our LSU hospital system which already specializes in caring for the communities that need it the most.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal sent “a chilling message,” as gubernatorial gadfly/blogger C.B. Forgotston aptly put it, when he fired the executive director of the state Office of Elderly Affairs last week after she spoke candidly — and contrary to the administration party line — about a plan in the governor’s proposed budget to consolidate her office within the much larger bureaucracy of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Mary Manuel told a legislative committee she thought the move would diminish the state’s ability to serve Louisiana’s elderly population. For her candor Manuel was rewarded the next day with a pink slip, delivered in the form of a phone call from a Jindal underling. Granted, state agency directors serve at the pleasure of the governor, but as political commentators rightly observe, Jindal’s ouster of Manuel reinforces the notion that state lawmakers will only get yes-man (and woman) assessments of state operations and policies from Jindal’s appointees — not honesty.
We held our collective tongue recently after the brain trust at UL’s student newspaper decided it would be a good idea to sell the front page of The Vermilion — the front damn page! — to an advertiser. Even university-underwritten student newspapers are cash-starved we guess. But last week’s crudely rendered — editorially as well as artistically — cartoon pantomiming the most threadbare cliché about black America’s insatiable fondness for fried chicken was just, well, stupid. The cartoon depicts a black customer opting for a more expensive version of a high-end television because the set, as the salesman puts it, “comes bundled with grape soda and a bucket of fried chicken.” Yes, they did. The Verm’s editor defended the cartoon, telling KATC it was drawn by a black cartoonist and a black person wouldn’t do anything to offend blacks. Unfortunately the many black students at the university who were offended didn’t get that memo. And grape soda? Really?
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