Author Archives: Lamar Parmentel
This has been a rough few months for ed reform beauty queen John White. Super White has often been the belle of the ball around these parts, winning praise over the years from widely diverse constituencies, from liberal education reformers in New Orleans, to conservative business elite the state over. He leads a cult of young, idealistic followers at the DOE, many of which are religiously devoted to data-driven education revolution. White’s ascension to Superintendent, with massive infusions of money to swing BESE races in his favor in 2011 (including hundreds of thousands of Bloomberg money to elect pro-White BESE members, as chronological at this anti-Common Core blog) has been swift. His fall might be swifter.
White’s been able to deal with criticism before, including getting an LPB reporter fired for negative reporting on education reform. Unfortunately, White has run into a rough patch from which no amount of his own bs jargon or political hatchet work can extricate him.
Since last year, Bobby Jindal has been ratcheting up his rhetoric against Communist Core, the hated red takeover of public education that threatens to teach our kids that socialism union hordes should be able to forcefully gay marry anyone they want while burning the American flag and singing the French national anthem. Here’s Jindal crossing over to the dark side last year:
Wading into a national debate, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that he is concerned Louisiana public school classrooms would be saddled with a “federalized curriculum” sparked by a series of tougher standards called Common Core.
At the time, White was also buffeted by the blooming national “populism,” including the election in New York City of Bill de Blasio, who promised to backtrack on White’s work as a former NYC school deputy chief. After Jindal’s waver, White went to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute to plead for sanity:
“An aggressive form of populism has asserted itself in the rhetoric of our day,” White is expected to say at the conservative American Enterprise Institute’s headquarters in Washington. “I see it in a tone that is skeptical of reformers in the same populist way our country today is skeptical of authority generally. This is, I believe, greatly damaging for an education reform effort that has done good in America and that needs to be sustained.
That was just the beginning. Jindal announced earlier this year that he was done with Communist Core, and weighed in in support of legislative efforts to end Louisiana’s participation.
White’s fired back a number of times, most recently with a useless meeting last week. But Jindal hasn’t been pulling punches. He’s ripped White’s contracting authority and generally abused him in public, going so far as accusing White of corruption. An investigation at DOE over payroll fraud isn’t helping White’s case.
Now, White is crying uncle.
Johnny Golden Boy has only been the subject of praise and reverence throughout his career. Now, running into the buzzsaw of a Louisiana politician with an ax to grind, White can’t take it anymore:
In a sign of rising tensions over Common Core, state Superintendent of Education John White told Louisiana’s top school board Wednesday that he is being unfairly targeted personally for possible wrongdoing by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and its allies.
“I am no stranger to politics, and I know that political rhetoric can be heated,” White said in a four-page letter to members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“However, to have multiple officials alluding to the potential of purported and unfounded malfeasance within our agency and within my office, all within days of one another, is worthy of concern,” according to the letter.
Giving up won’t stop this assault. White is going to have to quit. Everyone can see that now. This cry for uncle is only the beginning. White better start packing his bags.
BINGO! @Cenlamar nails a cenla private school for a sleazy bingo deal
Originally posted on CenLamar:
On Tuesday, the City Council of Alexandria, Louisiana voted unanimously (with one noticeable abstention) to lift its moratorium on video bingo parlors for the next 120 days. The moratorium was first championed more than six years ago by former City Councilman Myron K. Lawson, who claimed he was concerned about the unchecked and unregulated proliferation of gambling businesses disguised as social welfare clubs. Video bingo is not the same game played in elementary schools and nursing homes across the country. It’s vastly more sophisticated and much more lucrative. The buy-ins are larger, and so are the prizes. So, too, are the profits. While the moratorium may have effectively ended the opportunity for new, enterprising operators to open up new facilities, it also had the direct effect of protecting the profit margins and granting quasi-monopoly status to established businesses and non-profit organizations. Because of the moratorium, there would no longer…
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“Bobby Jindal is among the least popular Governors in the country” – Public Policy Polling, July 8th, 2014.
For history’s sake, you can check out some of his recent polling in this graph:
Jeremy Alford writes today in LaPolitics about the comings and goings of the VitterPAC, the now-unlimited money cannon Vitter will no-doubt use to pummel Jay Dardenne and friends in the 2015 Governor’s race.
Alford reports that the VitterPac has already made its first moves across the chessboard:
A new web-only media buy from the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, overseen by Charlie Spies of the D.C.-based law firm Clark Hill, turns the spotlight on state Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. The banner ads thank Donelon, who doesn’t seem to be facing any real opposition, for “standing up to the federal government and fighting to protect Louisiana families from skyrocketing flood insurance rates.”
Like Vitter, who Spies has long said would be the center of the super PAC’s universe, Donelon cannot coordinate activities with the fund; by law it must act independently of candidates and campaigns. The other distinguishing characteristic of a super PAC is its ability to raise unlimited dollars on the federal level, and presumably, due to a recent court decision, on the state level.
The fund’s sudden interest in Donelon, of all politicians, and federal flood insurance provides voters and the Louisiana press with a deus ex machina, or rather a politically expedient explanation for a curious thread from the developing race for governor. While Vitter cannot use money from his federal Senate campaign account to run for governor (he has a separate state account for that), the senator did direct a $100,000 donation from his federal war chest to the super PAC that was largely created in his name for his gubernatorial bid.
Alford misses the fact that Vitter has given $1 MILLION dollars more to his own SuperPac, but that’s besides the point. Alford suggests that, in fact, without “coordination,” VitterPAC is beginning to coordinate a ticket of pro-Vitter candidates while simultaneously throwing off the “this is just a David Vitter shadow campaign” scent that is otherwise plain as day.
The full extent to VitterPAC’s nefarious plans is not yet known, perhaps even to the lawyers behind the thing. This is uncharted territory, and with more than a year to go before election day, there’s far more road to travel.
THE SILVER FOX IN THE HOUSE!
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Last Thursday, I drove down to Baton Rouge to interview the Cajun Prince, the Silver Fox, former four-term Louisiana Governor, former Louisiana State Supreme Court Justice, former United States Congressman, former federal inmate #03128-095, former reality television star, and current candidate for Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District, Edwin Washington Edwards. Like him or loathe him, it’s indisputable that, since his very first election- 60 years ago- to the Crowley City Council, Edwin Edwards has remained an irrepressible, unforgettable political figure.
His life’s story, which is exhaustively documented in Leo Honeycutt’s authorized biography, reads like a Greek or Shakespearean tragicomedy. Depending on who you ask, Edwin Edwards is either the most beloved politician in Louisiana history or the epitome of political corruption. He is either a good and decent man who was unfairly targeted and railroaded by his ideological foes or a loathsome and ethically bankrupt politician who ultimately became a victim of…
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According to the political press, Bobby Jindal launched another one of his embarrassing broadsides against the awful “DC establishment,” calling for a “hostile takeover” of DC by enraged teahaddists.
Jindal is, as usual, intentionally misreading the popular sentiment. Yes, people hate DC. But not because it is too liberal, or too activist. But because it is terribly broken in the era of tea party politics.
However, here in Louisiana, there is a growing resentment brewing. The signals of a “hostile takeover” are much clearer. Where? Well, let’s just let David Vitter tell it:
Louisiana’s junior senator, who is assembling his 2015 campaign for governor, repeatedly said at a Press Club of Baton Rouge meeting that he was not criticizing Jindal or “here to grade anyone.”
He did take a couple of potshots at the governor, though.
If elected governor “This will be my last political job, elected or appointed, period,” he said.
Jindal often is criticized for what some interpret as trying to make points toward a run for president and spending too much time in states that have presidential primaries and caucuses, rather than taking care of the state’s needs.
“I’m not even running to gain a cameo appearance on ‘Duck Dynasty,’ as intensely jealous as I am about that,” Vitter joked, referring to Jindal’s recent appearance on the reality television show filmed near West Monroe.
Vitter said he wouldn’t exclude the possibility, as Jindal has, of accepting federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover more of the working poor. Currently, 240,000 Louisiana residents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu calls it “the Jindal Gap” because Jindal refuses to accept the federal funds that would provide their health care.
Chas Roemer, a Republican and president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, told Bridges, “There’s been no interaction with the governor except through the press. I find it offensive. This is not a part-time job. This is not one that can be done from New York or Washington, D.C., or wherever his latest fundraiser is.” Roemer added he hadn’t met with Jindal in a year.
John White, Ed Reformer in chief and Jindal’s boytoy also hates Jindal these days:
John White, the state’s top education official, said Tuesday that educators deserve to know that Louisiana is committed to following through with its adoption of Common Core academic standards, taking an implicit swipe at lawmakers who have tried to derail implementation and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is still threatening to do so.
Speaking to thousands of teachers gathered in New Orleans for a conference on the transition, White said, “You deserve clarity, you deserve a long-term plan, you deserve not to have standards and curriculum and assessments tossed about in the morning headlines like they can be changed with the waving of a magic wand.”
Treasurer John Kennedy is no fan either, as Jindal just vetoed his key legislative accomplishment:
I’m disappointed in the Governor’s veto of HB 142 allowing money to be wasted on frivolous contracts. We’ll be back next year. #LALege
— John Neely Kennedy (@JohnKennedyLA) June 20, 2014
Whomever runs for Governor in 2015 will be running against Bobby Jindal.
So, there is a revolution brewing. Not against DC. But against the tyrannical rule of Bobby Jindal, part-time Governor.
The strange thing about that call is the word choice. “Hostile Takeover.” Now, as a matter of literally meaning, this implies some sort of struggle for power. Perhaps even an armed struggle. Something like a coup d’etat.
But the term “hostile takeover” is more often used in business. You might be familiar with the “vulture capitalism,” a charming term that Rick Perry popularized in 2012 to describe the kind of “hostile takeovers” that Mittens Romney was famous for executing as a corporate raider:
Jindal’s background as a bloodless corporate consultant (McKinsey alum) shouldn’t surprise in the double meaning in this term. Jindal is of course signaling that this takeover will be through his usual privatization obsession. The only way he knows how to govern. Not shrinking government. Just outsourcing it.
I’ll be honest. I don’t like you. I’ve never liked you. Maybe it’s your awkward folksiness or your generally amateurish disposition. It’s hard to say, really. I must admit, though, that when you were elected, I felt reasonably confident that you could handle the job. I thought to myself, “Well, he’s not my guy, but at least he’s smart and moderately competent.” Holy shit, was I wrong.
I realize you’re not as dumb as you pretend to be. My guess is that you decided at some point that intellectual integrity is a political liability. And maybe you’re right. Maybe everything about politics militates against intelligent discourse. Maybe, as a matter of strategy, it’s safer to do nothing and appear smart to stupid people than it is to actually lead. I honestly don’t know.
THE OTHER LAMAR HITS IT OUT THE PARK
Originally posted on CenLamar:
“A lot of people mentioned to me how omnipresent BP lobbyists were, more than the other major oil companies were (though all of them showed plenty of interest), so much more that it got a lot of people wondering, `What’s in the bill for them?’ It certainly got us wondering.” – John Barry, June 5, 2014
“As our analysis shows, SB 469 fails to protect the local governments whose concerns your letter concedes are at issue and puts at risk billions of dollars of local government claims against BP. And, here, it should be noted that BP heavily lobbied for the passage of SB 469 – a fact strongly suggesting that the now known consequences of SB 469 were not unintended at all.” – Robert Verchick, June 4, 2014
“They (BP) didn’t lobby me, because they knew my position. But they lobbied several of my colleagues.” – State Representative John Bel…
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We’ve spoken before about the ruthless methods behind the David Vitter political money chutes seem to be remaking the political money game in Louisiana. But this innovation is radiating outward, now affecting political money nationwide.
Let’s set up the players, because this gets a little complicated.
1. David Vitter’s current Federal Senate Campaign account (this is the traditional, Federal account for which he raises and spends to get elected to the US Senate. (Latest filing showed $804k on hand)
2. The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, a SuperPAC organized as a “hybrid” to support David Vitter in both his State and Federal adventures. This arrangement was controversial to start, being as how Louisiana used to have rules about how much money a particular entity could raise from any donor for a particular race. We say “used to” because David Vitter’s buddies at the SuperPAC fixed that.
Anyway, Vitter’s campaign and the SuperPAC are “supposed” to be uncoordinated. It does seem like a joke, since the SuperPAC has a picture of Vittycent on their website. However, the rules state that they may SUPPORT a candidate, but just not work with that candidate directly as if the candidate controls them.
So in this case, Vitter is literally moving his current Federal campaign cash that he cannot spend on his Governor’s race into a hybrid SuperPAC that now has the ability to spend an unlimited amount to support him for Governor. Very, very slushy. The potential here for circumventing campaign finance rules here is extreme. Under this potential regime, any Federal candidate can launder their Federal cash back through a SuperPAC for any purpose at all, ignoring their state-level laws on campaign finance.
In Louisiana, that means David Vitter’s quest for a boatload of campaign cash for his Governor’s race is even further ahead than we thought. If you gave money to support David Vitter for Senate, he is now giving it to his buddies to spend it on his run for Governor.
You can see some of the donors in The Fund for Louisiana’s future April FEC filing.