Politics Column for Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013

Edwards addresses Southern students

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, joked to Southern University students last week that he shut down his law practice when he decided to run for governor.

Edwards plans to run for governor in 2015, when Gov. Bobby Jindal is barred from seeking a third, consecutive term. In addition to being a legislator, Edwards is a lawyer.

After his talk with students, Edwards said he tries to practice law a few hours a week, leaving time for fundraisers and community meetings. Running for governor, he said, is more than a full-time job.

“I’m trying to find the right balance,” Edwards said.

State continues privatization efforts

Efforts are just getting underway to develop the state’s approach to privatization of its long-term care for the elderly, developmentally disabled and those with adult on-set disabilities.

But companies interested in the work are already in state trying to line up providers willing to be part of their care networks.

State Health Secretary Kathy Kliebert tried to allay the fears of advisory panel members who met for the first time last week. She said no decisions have been made on the direction the privatization initiative would go, including the scope of services to be provided.

And Kliebert said the health agency did not initiate the private company activity.

“It’s not going to be a quick process,” Kliebert said, “It will be a very deliberative process.”

The Jindal administration has already moved two-thirds of the state’s Medicaid program recipients into private insurance entities, as well as its behavior health services. Services for the elderly and disabled are the final big piece of privatization of the state’s $7 billion-plus Medicaid health insurance program for the poor.

Civil Service panel looks to replace Polite

New U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite Jr. has resigned from the seven-member state Civil Service Commission.

Now the process begins to find Polite’s replacement on the panel which oversees state government personnel practices.

Civil Service director Shannon Templet said she has already asked Xavier University president Norman Francis to submit a list of three potential nominees to the governor by Oct. 18. Templet said the governor will then have until Nov. 17 to make an appointment from the list. The appointment process is detailed in state law.

White delivers speech in hometown of D.C.

State Superintendent of Education John White, who grew up in Washington, D.C., returned there last week to deliver a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

White said he was accustomed to the Washington Redskins having success and 11-5 was considered a bad season.

“I still bleed burgandy and gold,” White said. “And when I left town in the early 90s all hell broke loose. So first and foremost I’m here to ask, ‘What in the wide world of sports have you people done with my Skins?”

The Redskins are 1-3 this season.

Woodruff replaces Jackson in Legislature

Ebony Woodruff, a lawyer from Harvey, gained a seat in the Louisiana Legislature on Friday after no other candidate signed up for a Nov. 16 special election to fill a House District 87 vacancy.

Woodruff, a Democrat, will replace Girod Jackson, also a Harvey Democrat, who resigned in August. Jackson, a general contractor was charged with fraud and failing to pay taxes.

Woodruff is a former assistant Jefferson Parish parish attorney.

La. officials cultivate French connection

Two news items cropped up this week involving the Rhone-Alpes region of France and Louisiana connections.

Game-worn baseball uniforms and equipment from some Louisiana college teams are headed to the region as part of a sports initiative organized by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.

And state Sen. Dan Claitor welcomed a group of officials from the same Rhone-Alpes region last week to Baton Rouge. The group was on mission to establish closer tourism and agriculture connections between Louisiana and the region.

The baseball-softball gear donation to the Rhone-Alpes Baseball and Softball League came as a result of a request for help in exposing more French children and adults to the sports. The request was made while Dardenne and others were on a cultural, educational and economic development mission to France last fall.

“Louisiana coaches responded generously. Though the uniforms and equipment are quite worn, the contribution is greatly appreciated by our friends in France,” Dardenne said.

Coaches at University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Baton Rouge Community College, Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Nicholls State University in Thibodaux and Delgado Community Collee in New Orleans contributed. Assisting with the project were the L’Union Francaise, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the use and love of the French language in New Orleans, and the Consulate General of France in New Orleans.

Broome receives award at D.C. conference

Senate President Pro-tem Sharon Broome received the 2013 Pacesetter Award of the Woman Legislators’ Lobby during a recent conference in Washington, D.C.

Broome, D-Baton Rouge, was recognized for “her commitment to excellence and a resolve that the voices of women of all races and stations in life are fully and fairly represented in shaping public policy.”

The Women Legislators’ Lobby is a non-partisan network of women state legislators who work together to influence federal policy and budget priorities.

Brown to take part in leadership program

State Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, is the Louisiana Senate’s nominee to participate in the 2013 Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills.

The leadership program is sponsored by the Southern Legislative Conference and the University of Arkansas System. The program will be held Oct. 30 to Nov. 3 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute in Little Rock. The sessions will focus on communication, conflict resolution, consensus building and critical decision-making.

Participants receive a full scholarship from the program cosponsors.

Forum to help teachers with discipline in class

A recent report released by the Center for American Progress titled “The State of Women in America,” Louisiana was given an “F” and ranked 50th (dead last) among all states in an overall ranking on issues regarding economics, leadership and health for women based on 36 factors examined in the report.

The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana will host a forum Oct. 17 aimed at helping teachers with discipline in the classroom.

Officials of Manners of the Heart, a nonprofit group in Baton Rouge, will discuss their program to build character, morals and respect among children for adults.

Kelli Bottger, a spokeswoman for A+PEL, said discipline problems in the classroom is a frequent complaint from teachers.

The gathering is set for 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the JK Haynes Room at the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators, 5550 Florida Blvd.

There is no charge to attend the event.

Richard to address Baton Rouge Press Club

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, will be the guest speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Richard will discuss Common Core and other educational issues from the perspective of Louisiana school boards.

The Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. 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.

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