Author Archives: bucktownpirate
We say Mitch, he say Mary. We’ll all get along.
A week after Mary Landrieu lost her seat in the United States Senate to Congressman Bill Cassidy, several prominent Louisiana Democrats are hoping that the three-term Senator will become a candidate for Louisiana Governor. In 1995, a year before she was elected to the Senate, Landrieu finished in third place in the jungle primary for Louisiana Governor, missing the run-off election by only a point. Earlier this week, when asked if she would ever consider running again for the Senate or governor, Landrieu told reporters, “Oh Lord, no,” before then saying, “Well, let me say, I’m not going to say a definite ‘no’ about any of those two.”
Prior to Landrieu’s defeat on December 6th, many had speculated that her younger brother Mitch, the popular two-term Mayor of New Orleans and former Lieutenant Governor, was likely to jump in the race. But according to two sources close to the Mayor, both of whom…
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Is it you or is it me?
In the waning months of the 1992 Presidential campaign, James Carville hung up a sign on the walls of Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Little Rock. It read simply, “Change vs. more of the same. The economy, stupid. Don’t forget health care.” Carville’s pithy mantra, as we would say now, became a meme, particularly his second point. During the last 22 years, politicians of all stripes have used variations of “(It’s) the economy, stupid” as centerpieces of their campaigns. And there’s a reason the Ragin’ Cajun’s playful, direct, and simple message continues to resonate and work: “It’s the economy, stupid” cut straight through the noise and right at the essential argument that Clinton was making in his campaign for the presidency.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be publishing a series of articles about why the Democratic Party has struggled in Louisiana. To that end, I…
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Hypocrisy. Republicans. But I repeat myself.
Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:
By Lamar White
On at least 21 different occasions during the last two and a half years, Rep. Bill Cassidy billed Louisiana State University Health Science Center for work allegedly performed on the same days as Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the Affordable Care Act, according to records first posted by Jason Berry of The American Zombie. Cassidy, a medical doctor, remained on LSU’s payroll after he was first elected, despite concerns by his associates about the nature of work that Cassidy, as a member of Congress, could legitimately conduct in his capacity as an employee of LSU.
In May of 2010, Cassidy received an extensive opinion from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, advising, among other things, that he could be compensated as a “teaching physician” who teaches “a regular…
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Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:
When I listen to Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter fight over Louisiana’s participation in Common Core, it sounds like the dispute of a dysfunctional family, in which the parents are oblivious to how their brawl hurts the children.
Plates sail, curses fly and the terrified kids huddle behind the sofa, praying they won’t be hit in the crossfire.
Like too many domestic disputes, our leaders’ battle over Common Core pays no mind to what’s best for the kids. Instead, the players seem concerned only with their political futures. They posture and switch positions with ease, pandering to whichever audience is more likely to help them capture higher office.
Chief among those ignoring the children is Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Once, Jindal helped lead the national effort to write and adopt the Common Core academic standards. His bold signature is upon a document, the Common Core Standards…
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Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:
By Robert Mann
Trying to separate himself from his arch-rival, Gov. Bobby Jindal, it seems that U.S. Sen. David Vitter is having trouble remembering exactly where he stands on important issues, such as Common Core.
On Friday, Vitter endorsed the Common Core educational standards that Jindal once supported, but is now vigorously working to repeal.
“I strongly support the Common Core standards,” Vitter said in an interview with C-SPAN. Vitter went even further, taking a partisan swipe at Jindal: “I support the strong standards Louisiana now has in place and think Governor Jindal’s attempt to start from scratch right before the new school year is very disruptive,” he said.
All the Louisiana press dutifully reported Vitter’s statement, but somehow missed that just a few months ago, Vitter sent out a fundraising appeal in which he declared his opposition to Common Core.
On page four of the fundraising letter…
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Cenlamar takes on some court stuff we don’t understand. Read it.
Yesterday, a three judge panel (voting two to one) of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional Mississippi’s controversial law requiring that physicians who perform abortions maintain admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. The law, the court noted, would effectively result in the closure of Mississippi’s one and only abortion clinic, thereby forcing women in need of an abortion to travel to another state. Mississippi had argued that women seeking abortions would not be “unduly burdened” by the law, because they could just as easily seek those services in nearby Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Ironically, however, due to the passage and enactment of Louisiana House Bill 388, an almost identical bill as the one in Mississippi, the abortion clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge will also be forced to close. This issue didn’t actually come up in the court’s most recent opinion, but it’s…
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Let’s be clear, Jindal henchman Garret Graves is performing an impressive act of kabuki. He’s a career bureaucrat who’s worked for whatever oil-soaked politician came his way (mostly Democrats in the beginning of his career). There’s no doubt that he’s brainy, but he apparently isn’t too keen on politics.
Here’s the beginning of a strange exchange, prompted by an innocent assertion from a Times-Pic reporter:
— Julia O’Donoghue (@JSODonoghue) July 26, 2014
You can see that campaign video in there. Just FYI, this is what Youtube thinks are the related videos:
Yes, that is the “ultimate fails compilation.” No, we did not set that up.
Anyway, this precipitated a really fucking weird fight with old EWE, who is basically the rookie of the year on twitter:
— Edwin Edwards (@EdwinWEdwards) July 26, 2014
Which expanded into a really bitter response from Graves, who is basically calling Edwin’s (beautiful) wife and (cute) kid ugly. Which is a weird thing to do. Not exactly ingratiating himself to the voters.
— Edwin Edwards (@EdwinWEdwards) July 26, 2014
— Garret Graves (@garretgraves) July 26, 2014
Which is all a little weird, considering Graves is attacking Edwards family for no good reason. Other than the fact he is afraid of Edwin? I mean, really?
Leadership and Crisis in Education
In the fight over Common Core, Louisiana state government is failing its citizens and the governor is chiefly responsible
Louisiana state government is failing its duty to provide leadership and accountability for public school education in the upcoming academic year. The situation has reached a crisis level with serious potential consequences for students, parents, teachers and all of us as stakeholders in the future of Louisiana. This was a crisis of choice and the clearest responsibility for it lies with the governor.The current dispute between the governor on one side and the state education board on the other is on the verge of rendering a dysfunctional process to administer accountability tests to students this school year. This mess is potentially significant enough to damage the national profile of the state.The dispute is centered on differing views of whether the state should implement the Common Core standards, a path decided by laws signed by the governor as well as policy set by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The governor’s actions so far appear to be an attempt to thwart the law and the Common Core implementation by creating a bureaucratic contest over state procurement practices and contracting law.Fortunately, many solutions are available to address the immediate concerns of implementing accountability tests, which have been central to the state’s progress on key educational measures in recent years. The assessments could be handled in-house by the education agency, by adjusting the current contract for the next year or by a new contract competitively bid. Members of the state education board have proposed several worthwhile solutions.Though time is short, competitive contracting is a good policy principle that still could be employed in the current circumstance. The administration and its bureaucrats should carry on their role to review state contracts to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the procurement process and to meet the state’s legal requirements. But those bureaucrats, with the governor influencing their every move, should not be in the business of using that process to determine the state’s education policy and academic standards. That domain belongs to BESE and the Department of Education.The governor and his administration have been inconsistent on public contracting. After years of reviewing and approving Department of Education testing contracts, only now has the administration raised serious concerns about them. If the past contracting methods were faulty, the administration as well as the education agencies bear a responsibility. Although the governor now insists that competitive bids be used for a testing contract, he has endorsed no-bid contracts for major initiatives he has favored. His sudden zeal for competitive bidding is welcome but apparently is selective.From cutting-edge supporter to virulent enemy of Common Core, the governor’s inconsistent path on educational standards is becoming the defining issue of his gubernatorial and leadership legacy. The governor’s change in stance began with ambiguous statements about his commitment to the new standards, which he helped birth. Only a year ago he was pushing hard for faster implementation of Common Core, and yet now he shows intolerance for those who want to proceed with Common Core even slowly. When he decided to oppose the standards, he made a limp effort during the recent legislative session and proved to be a weak ally of his fellow Common Core critics. The Legislature rebuffed efforts to change the law in the direction he wanted it to go. Now the governor is on the presidential campaign trail loudly attacking Louisiana and its consensus implementation of Common Core.Anyone can change his mind, but Jindal’s oscillation on this issue combined with his apparent political calculations are affecting his image as a sincere and reliable leader here in Louisiana. Years of work brought us to the point where the state is ready to start a new set of standards, a process the governor until recently sought to accelerate. The current problem – finding a way to conduct assessments for the next academic year – was in no way created by the federal government. This is a fully state-created crisis. The governor has the main responsibility for creating this crisis and a failure of the system would be on his shoulders.The governor should not use his bureaucracies for harassment and ultimately allow bureaucrats to make policy decisions that are clearly and rightly delegated to state education leaders and the Legislature under Louisiana’s constitution and statutes. The governor regularly criticizes the federal government for this type of executive over-reach.The governor’s new opinion on Common Core is his business and his right, even though his opinion is not consistent with the laws he endorsed and signed into effect. It is unfortunate that the governor is traveling the nation criticizing his state on this issue. But his potential use of executive over-reach and bureaucratic interference to stop Common Core is a more serious matter and would be damaging and punitive to schools and taxpayers.If the governor wants to persuade the state to take a new direction on educational standards, then he should use a good, foundational democratic decision-making process to do that. If he forces the state in that direction with disruption and interference, then he lets slip the state’s steep climb out of its past era of autocratic rule. Is this demonstration of leadership an indication what kind of president he would be?For now, the governor has the opportunity to address the immediate problem of student academic assessments by demonstrating he has the skills to work with others and to allow Louisiana’s government to proceed with implementing state law and policy in a proper legal manner. In doing so, he could more likely be seen as a leader worthy of high office and not just a political candidate who blows with the latest wind.
For those of you following the most important story in Louisiana politics (cause nothing beats a Governor’s race), David Vitter’s campaign non-campaign SuperPAC packed away $1.79m for Vitter’s 2015 race. You can now count the SuperPAC as one of the largest campaign purses in the state, around the same size as other Gubernatorial candidates-in-waiting MAIN CAMPAIGN accounts of bigtimers such as John Kennedy, Jay Dardenne, or Mitch Landrieu.
In essence, a headless SuperPAC, the Deus ex machina of political campaigns, is tallying up the big money without Vitter’s such much as dialing a number (although to be fair, Vitter has appeared on behalf of the Fund for Louisiana’s future at least once, and of course transferred some of his own campaign funds to the cause). And how is this thing garnering so much cash without a candidate pushing the oarsmen?
In May, New Orleans federal judge Martin Feldman ruled that, based on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, Louisiana can’t enforce its limit of $100,000 donations for advocacy groups. The High Court ruled that spending money on advocacy is an exercise of free speech, which cannot be regulated. Less than two months later, the American Chemistry Council broke the $100,000 donation threshold for the Vitter Super PAC.
Overall, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future took in $623,968 in the three months through June 30, on top of $157,500 received in the first three months of 2014. That’s brought the group’s cash on hand to a robust $1,796,733.
Among the biggest donors for 2014, were $100,000 each from Tracy Krohn, CEO of W&T Offshore Inc. of Houston; and Daniel Heard, a retired investor from Houston. Since its creation in 2013, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future has received five donations of $100,000 or more. Galliano Marine Services of Cut Off and GMAA LLC of New Orleans gave $100,000 in 2013.
Other top donors during 2014 included Hilcorp Energy Co. of Houston, $45,000; 4K Marine LLC of Morgan City, $40,000 and Texas Petroleum Investments Co. of Houston, $30,000.
Oh, that whole “no limits” thing.
The Fund For Louisiana’s Future: No limits, Setting Records.
Need more evidence of money’s influence on legislation? We break down contributions between ayes and nays on SB 469
Breaking it down. Dollar for oily, greasy dollar.
Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:
Gov. Bobby Jindal, with the signing of House Bill 799, has continued his assault on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E), underscoring the importance and power of special interest money over the welfare of the state.
HB 799, authored by Rep. Stuart J. Bishop (R-Lafayette), bars the Louisiana attorney general from hiring plaintiff attorneys on a contingency-fee basis to pursue litigation against corporations like Chinese dry wall manufacturers responsible for millions of dollars in damages to new homes in Louisiana, pharmaceutical companies accused of price fraud at the wholesale level and of selling pharmaceutical products not approved by the federal government, companies found to be improperly handling underground storage tanks, or tobacco companies whose seven top executives (to evermore be known as the “seven dwarves”) lied under oath to Congress in saying nicotine was not addictive.
Bishop cited fees of $51.4 million paid state-contracted attorneys in a case against…
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