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.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.