Politics Column for Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lobbyists spending limits upping $1

The amount lobbyists can spend on wining and dining legislators and other public officials is going up again July 1.

The rate will go up from $56 to $57 per occasion, based on the law that sets the limit. The law allows increases based on the federal Consumer Price Index for food and beverage.

When the law was enacted the per occasion cap was $50.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics, which monitors the situation, voted to up the limit based on the CPI rising 2.6 percent in the past year.

Treasurer’s finances going to the dogs

State Treasurer John Kennedy’s day job involves managing state government’s money.

At home, Kennedy’s personal finances are a little more difficult because of his three dogs.

Kennedy said one of his dogs suffers from allergies. He researched the issue on the Internet and read that he could give the dog Benadryl. As a precaution, Kennedy took the dog to the vet for a professional opinion.

The vet visit set him back several hundred dollars once tests were run.

The final diagnosis: Treat the dog’s allergies with Benadryl.

Morrish drops bid for Citizens CEO

State Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish has dropped his bid to become the next chief executive officer of the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics had advised that Morrish would have a conflict of interest because he serves on the Citizens’ board in his role as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee. He contended the hiring would be done by Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon so there would be no conflict.

Morrish filed for an Ethics Board declaratory opinion — a step that would have set the groundwork for an appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. But Morrish said he decided pull the plug on the request after learning Donelon has identified someone else for the job.

“I’m the third choice even though I was encouraged to pursue it,” Morrish, R-Jennings, said, adding that his “biggest negative” has been that he has never run an insurance company.

“I’m just going to let it go,” Morrish said. “It’s disappointing, but it was an opportunity I could not ignore.”

Citizens Executive Director Richard Robertson resigned from his $240,000 a year job effective June 1.

Tempers flare
at BESE meeting

A marathon meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education featured some frayed tempers late Tuesday evening.

The next day, Lottie Beebe, a board member from Breaux Bridge, told colleagues that while things “became a little bit unpleasant,” she did not intend for her comments to be taken as a personal slap at Teach for America.

The group trains high-achieving college students for the classroom, and sometimes clashes with traditionally trained public school teachers.

Beebe, who is superintendent of the St. Martin Parish school system, also took exception to what she considered unfairly negative comments about teachers who followed the traditional preparation route by state Superintendent of Education John White.

White, a TFA alum, answered by heaping praise on public school teachers, including 2,000 who have been undergoing training related to new job evaluations.

White said it is a mistake to view the use of TFA and other steps as an “insult” and that changes are needed in a state where 60,000 students attend F-rated public schools.

“I think you would agree that we should not do the same thing that we have done before,” he said.

BESE committees started work about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished the day’s work about 10 p.m.

Foil tapped as military judge

State Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, has been selected by the deputy judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy to be a military trial judge.

Foil, a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserves, was selected to participate in a Military Judge Course in Charlottesville, Va., and subsequently slated for one of three Reserve trial judge positions in the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary.

Foil has served 22 years in the Navy.

As a military judge, he will preside over general court-martial cases and will have worldwide jurisdiction.

Foil most recently served as the commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Legal Office in Washington, D.C., providing legal services to Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard service members and their dependence to support fleet readiness.

Haymon named
La. poet laureate

Baton Rouge writer Ava Leavell Haymon is the state’s new poet laureate.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the appointment Friday.

Haymon will serve a two-year term and deliver an annual reading. She has authored four collections of poetry.

Georges to speak
at BR Press Club

John Georges, publisher and chief executive officer of The Advocate, will speak Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club.

Georges will discuss changes he is making at the newspaper to make it viable in two major cities.

Press Club meets on Mondays at De La Ronde Hall, 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, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program.

Landry to speak to Pachyderms Club

Former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry will be the speaker for Thursday’s meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, 3084 College Drive, in Baton Rouge.

Landry was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 on a platform of cutting spending, creating jobs and limiting government’s growth. Landry lost a re-election bid to fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany when the two were thrown into the same district because of congressional redistricting.

Landry recently founded and is president of Restore our Republic PAC.

Cost for the buffet is $13. Pachyderm meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. RSVP: (225) 644-5728 or email info@pachydermsofgbr.org.

For information, visit the Pachyderms on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pachydermsofgbr.

Compiled by Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is cnb@theadvocate.com.