Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Even in defeat, Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, made a compelling case for pushing back against Gov. Bobby Jindal’s famed lack of transparency. Adley’s Senate Bill 57 would have undone what Jindal managed to do in his first year in office — shield virtually all the records of Louisiana’s executive branch from the state’s public records law. Candidate Jindal called lawmakers’ claims that some records should be kept from the public “outrageous,” and he went to laudable steps to make rank-and-file state representatives and senators subject to a “gold standard” for ethics. “This is the people’s government. It is not my job to make it more difficult for them to get records — it’s my job to make it easier,” Adley argued on the Senate floor Monday. This was the third consecutive year the north Louisiana Republican has tried to make good for the gander what’s good for the geese. Several of his fellow senators also spoke favorably of the bill and urged a sheepish Senate to get behind it. In the end, the bill failed by a 22-14 vote, with Acadiana-area Sens. Mike Michot, Elbert Guillory and Fred Mills voting on the side of secrecy.
Jindal’s opacity manifests in many ways. The Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee got so fed up with it last week, it voted unanimously to issue a subpoena for a financial analysis on the Office of Group Benefits prepared by a private firm. The OGB is the agency in charge of the health insurance plans for roughly 60,000 state workers — a plan Jindal wants to privatize. It’s also worth noting that the OGB has a $500 million surplus — funds critics charge Jindal wants to get his hands on to plug holes in the budget. Jindal canned the OGB’s former director, who opposed the privatization plan, and his replacement recently resigned following a contentious confirmation hearing that centered on the report at the heart of the subpoena. A national political news site, TPM, has joined the fray by filing a public records request seeking the report, which so far and like so many of Jindal’s official business on behalf of his employers — us taxpayers — remains secret.
On the same day the Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee issued the subpoena for the OGB analysis, it got another primer on secrecy from Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. For weeks Greenstein had refused to reveal which private firm had been recommended to win the most lucrative contract issued by the state — for running the Medicaid Management Information System, a contract currently worth $34 million. A least one committee member characterized Greenstein’s refusal to divulge the firm as “stonewalling.” Reminded about the fracas with OGB privatization, Greenstein finally fessed up: The winning firm is none other than his former employer, CNSI. Greenstein insists — and we’ll take him at his word — that he recused himself from the selection process due to the conflict of interest. The committee, nonetheless, voted to issue a subpoena for any records related to Greenstein’s contact with CNSI or its lobbyists.
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
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The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
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Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.