Politics Column for Dec. 2, 2012

Capitol news bureau

Stephen Ortego
Stephen Ortego

LaBruzzo, family
moves to Central

Former state Rep. John LaBruzzo now is a resident of Central. LaBruzzo said he and his wife, Brandi, made the move from Metairie for professional and personal reasons.

The LaBruzzos have three daughters, the youngest of whom was born prematurely last year weighing only 2 pounds.

LaBruzzo said moving to Central made sense because it is his wife’s hometown. His mother-in-law volunteered to baby-sit while his wife settles into her new job at a Baton Rouge law firm.

“We like it. We like it a lot,” he said of life in Central.

Superintendent’s
office lacks decor

While state Superintendent of Education John White is paid $275,000 per year, his state office is as bare as they come.

White took the job in January, and the fifth-floor view provides a good look at the north side of the State Capitol and the Mississippi River.

But few pictures dot the walls, and his desk has a laptop and little else.

Two New York Yankee caps — White used to work in New York City — are stuck away in the corner.

A mock subway sign for the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station sits atop a shelf.

Louisiana and U.S. flags stand behind his office chair.

Despite the lack of decor, White says he has no plans to leave anytime soon.

“As I have said repeatedly, we are at the start of a long journey,” he said of efforts to improve public schools.

AG opinion sought
on health care cuts

State Rep. Stephen Ortego and some of his House colleagues want Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to weigh in on the legality of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health care cuts.

Ortego said it is clear to him and others that Jindal exceeded his legal authority when he imposed cuts at LSU hospitals without Legislative approval.Ortego asked for an expedited review noting that “the reductions will be implemented immediately” and could harm the ability of hospitals to deliver patient care and train the state’s future physicians.

Ortego argues that the cuts are much deeper than the 35-percent threshold in law that would trigger legislative approval.

But the cuts at the LSU University Medical Center and the Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville, are “more like 40 percent when you start factoring in the insurance and private pay dollars that would be lost with a reduction in services,” said Ortego, D-Carencro.

Ortego wants Caldwell to opine on the meaning of certain terms in the state law limiting Jindal’s budget cutting authority.

Fannin gets static
in presenting query

Static erupted from state Rep. Jim Fannin’s microphone Thursday when he tried to pose a question during a discussion of forest fires.

“I guess that’s a burning question,” state Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said.

Fannin, D-Jonesboro, eventually got his microphone under control.

PowerPoint sets high standard at meeting

State Police Maj. Mike Noel impressed legislators Monday by preparing a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting of the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice.

“A PowerPoint? We’re first class,” state Rep. Joe Lopinto said.

Lopinto, R-Metairie, said Noel probably should have gone last so he did not show up the other presenters.

Up next was Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Dale A. Hall, who delivered disappointing news to the committee.

“I don’t have my own PowerPoint,” he said, offering to use Noel’s instead.

Arbour ethics case
to be dismissed

A Louisiana Board of Ethics case against East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Jerry Arbour is nearing an end.

Arbour faced allegations he violated state law because he failed to electronically file campaign finance reports during his 2010 election.

The case has been pending before the Ethics Adjudicatory Board, called EAB, as Arbour contested the filing requirement.

The ethics agency said last week that the EAB will dismiss the charges because Arbour has electronically filed the required reports.

“Mr. Arbour will be assessed fees for the late filing of his reports. He may then request a waiver of said fees before the Board of Ethics,” said Ethics Board spokeswoman Alainna Giacone.

Arbour would be exposed to a per day fine to the maximum $2,000 for his failure to file.

“Jerry is happy to be done with this, and that the board decided to dismiss this case,” Arbour attorney Chris Alexander said. He said Arbour will seek a waiver of the fine.

State law requires reporting once a $25,000 threshold is met. Arbour claimed he did not have to file the electronic report because he had not hit the threshold. He said neither his loans nor his contributions separately exceeded that amount.

The Ethics Board said the threshold is computed using combined contributions and loans.

LASERS receives
award for standards

For the ninth consecutive year, the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System has received the “Public Pension Standards Award” from the Public Pension Coordinating Council.

The council presents the award to public employee retirement systems in recognition of their achievement of high professional standards in the areas of plan design and administration, benefits, actuarial valuations, financial reporting, investments and membership communications.

The Public Pension Coordinating Council is a confederation of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, and the National Council on Teacher Retirement.

Thibaut to speak
at BR Press Club

State Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads, will speak at the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Thibaut will discuss the comprehensive restoration plan for False River, designed to improve the Oxbow Lake’s habitat for commercial and recreational fishing, as well as for other recreational use.

Press Club meets on Mondays at De La Ronde Hall, which is located at 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers. The public is invited.

Hughes to speak
at GOP luncheon

First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jeff Hughes, of Walker, is addressing the Livingston Parish Republican Women on Wednesday, starting at 11:30 a.m.

Hughes is the Republican candidate for a post on Louisiana Supreme Court in Saturday’s runoff election.

The luncheon event is at The Wholly Grounds, 27988 Walker S. Road, which is on La. 447, just north of Interstate 12 in Walker.

The public is also invited to attend. There is a charge for lunch, reservations are required and may be made by contacting Terri Day at (225) 931-9206 or email at terriday@eatel.net.

GOP women’s group
to hold meeting

State Rep. Valerie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, is the guest speaker at the 6 p.m. Thursday meeting of Capital City Republican Women.

The “Donald Ray Kennard Legacy of Achievement Award” will be presented to its first recipient and 2013 officers will be installed.

The meeting will be held at the Baton Rouge City Club, 355 North Blvd.

RSVP required by noon Wednesday to hollico1@aol.com or (225) 284-5786. Cost is $30 per person.

Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Contact email is cnb@theadvocate.com.