Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross doesn’t understand why Louisiana’s higher education community isn’t more up in arms over its situation.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature have stripped Louisiana’s colleges and universities of roughly $700 million since 2008 in order to balance state budgets year after year.
Speaking at a higher education conference Friday, Cross questioned where the uproar is hiding.
“I’ve not heard talk of a general strike on a college campus,” he told the crowd. “If this happened in France, people would shut down not just campuses but also cities. Why are we not out in the streets?”
Cross answered his own question in an interview after his speech. He said the Jindal administration is known for retaliating.
Martha Manuel, the governor’s former executive director of the Office of Elderly Affairs, was fired one day after she publicly criticized moving the office to the Department of Health and Hospitals.
In 2012, after State Treasurer John Kennedy criticized the governor for his “patchwork” approach to budgeting, Jindal took $511,279 from Kennedy’s office to “streamline” it.
Last year, a group of Republicans accused the Jindal administration of trying to fire the state commissioner of higher education for criticizing the governor’s approach to budgeting.
“I guess you don’t hear too much because people are scared of speaking out,” Cross said.
LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope agreed with Cross. He added that Louisiana doesn’t have a strong tradition of “group labor action.”
Also, “through observation, faculty see those types of efforts as futile,” Cope said.
Lawmakers again seek to open Jindal’s records
Two state legislators are back again with legislation aimed at opening more records of the Governor’s Office to the public.
State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and state Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, filed the measures.
They are back despite the failure of past legislative attempts to loosen tight public records restrictions adopted at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s urging. He’s objected to every attempt since then to provide for more transparency.
So why are they pressing the issue?
“… It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner, and that the citizens be advised of and be aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into making public policy,” according to Adley and Richard’s legislation.
To that end, “Records of the office of the governor shall be public records… .”
The governor would still have a public records exception for intraoffice communication among the governor and his staff, i.e., chief of staff and executive counsel.
But even that “privilege” would be not be forever. Records would have to be kept and archived subject to release 10 years later.
And the “privilege” would not extend to fiscal or budgetary matters. That communication would be public record.
Governor shares tale of dad’s arrival in U.S.
Gov. Bobby Jindal opened up Thursday to the Conservative Political Action Conference, talking about his immigrant parents’ early struggles in Louisiana.
Jindal’s parents, Amar and Raj Jindal, moved to the U.S. from India in the 1970s. Jindal was born several months after their arrival.
The young couple was drawn to the U.S. because of a career opportunity for Jindal’s mother. With a baby on the way, Jindal’s father thumbed through the Yellow Pages and placed call after call until he landed a job.
“(He) tells his new boss, after hours and hours of calling, tells his new boss, who offers him a job Monday morning, … ‘That’s great. I don’t have a driver’s license. I don’t have a car. You’re going to have to pick me up on the way to work Monday morning,’ ” the governor said.
Ex-Gov. Foster lauded for higher ed efforts
The Conference of Louisiana Colleges & Universities honored former Gov. Mike Foster with the 2014 Trailblazer Award on Friday in recognition of his “extraordinary service to public education and leadership in affecting policies and programs that have had long-lasting impacts on education in the state of Louisiana.”
Deposed official Barry defends coast lawsuit
A lawsuit that seeks billions of dollars from oil and gas companies is already sparking heated exchanges before debate begins in the Legislature.
John Barry, who was removed from the Southeast Flood Protection Authority-East after the panel filed the lawsuit, says he plans to make his views known to state lawmakers when they begin considering efforts to derail the legal challenge.
Barry noted that he was unable to play an advocacy role with legislators when he was a member of the authority.
No such rules apply now.
“And the truth is pretty powerful,” Barry said.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, R-Benton, is one of the sponsors of the bills that sparked criticism from Barry, including a measure that would require the authority to get the permission of the governor and attorney general to proceed in court.
Adley also said Barry and others erred when they entered into a contract with private attorneys rather than relying on the attorney general.
“And when you break laws in an effort to go sue somebody else who you claim has broken the law, you are the lawbreaker,” Adley said.
Barry and other backers of the lawsuit say the action is needed to restore coastal wetlands, and that oil and gas firms are largely responsible.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who declined to rename Barry to the authority, and his allies contend the lawsuit will disrupt state coastal restoration efforts.
The session begins Monday.
Schedler advances in national association
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is the new treasurer of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
The appointment, by NASS President Tre Hargett, of Tennessee, puts Schedler in line to assume the group’s presidency in 2015-16. Schedler has been the group’s secretary since 2013.
“Tom has established great working relationships with members from across the country and is viewed as a mentor and valued resource for guidance and information,” Hargett said in a news release announcing Schedler’s appointment. Hargett said Schedler has shared information on Louisiana’s award-winning GeauxVote app, online voter registration and emergency preparedness related to elections.
Coverage of session to appear online, on TV
Louisiana Public Broadcasting and its New Orleans affiliate WLAE will air live coverage of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s address to the joint session of the Legislature at 1 p.m. Monday. The address also will air at 8:30 p.m. on LPB2.
Monday also marks the start of LPB’s “Capitol Beat,” which highlights the major events of the day at the Capitol. The two-minute reports will run Monday through Thursday at 6:57 p.m. and 9:57 p.m. on LPB and at 10:57 p.m. on WLAE. The reports also air on KRVS-FM in Lafayette, KEDM in Monroe, and Red River Radio in Shreveport and Alexandria, and appear in the Baton Rouge Business Report.
LPB once again is joining with the Louisiana House and the Louisiana Cable Telecommunications Association to provide live coverage of the Legislature on LaTV. The Legislature shoots the activities in the House and Senate, and LPB takes the feed and uploads it to cable systems recruited by the LCTA. Television coverage will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday during the session, which ends June 2. At 6 p.m., viewers can continue watching streamed video coverage at www.lpb-latv.org or house.louisiana.gov.
Jindal staffer becomes state agency’s lobbyist
The state Department of Children and Family Services has a new legislative liaison.
David Pearce moved into the $75,000 a year position.
He previously worked as assistant director of constituent services in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.
In the unclassified position, Pearce will serve as “executive lead on all federal and state legislative matters for DCFS.”
According to documents submitted to Civil Service, the position serves as a lobbyist and advocate on behalf of the agency.
Cassidy schedules pair of events Monday
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is hosting two events in the Baton Rouge area on Monday.
Cassidy will hold a school choice fair from 8:30 a.m. until noon at the Baton Rouge Marriott, 5500 Hilton Ave.
Booths on charter and other schools will be at the site.
Charter schools are public schools run by nongovernmental boards and are supposed to offer innovative alternatives to traditional public schools.
Cassidy also will host a town hall meeting at Azalea Estates Assisted Living and Retirement Community, 2305 S. Purpera Ave., Gonzales.
The gathering is set for 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Mary Landrieu.
Session pre-empts Press Club meeting
The Press Club of Baton Rouge is not meeting Monday because of the start of the 2014 legislative session.