Jindal blasts Holder, DOJ over lawsuit

Gov. Bobby Jindal got U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s attention when he accused Holder of trying to “stand in the schoolhouse door” and blocking Louisiana children’s access to a quality education.

The criticism stemmed from the U.S. Justice Department’s legal battle over the Jindal administration’s expansion of a school voucher program. The department wants federal oversight of the program, which uses taxpayer dollars to shift children from troubled public schools to private schools.

“We’ve got Eric Holder and the Department of Justice trying to stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent minority kids, low-income kids, kids who haven’t had access to a great education, the chance to go to better schools. Over 90 percent of these kids are minority children. One hundred percent of these kids are in low-income families,” Jindal said.

Holder’s sister-in-law was the late Vivian Malone Jones, who prompted then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace to literally stand in the schoolhouse door when she attempted to integrate the University of Alabama in 1963. For Wallace, it was a largely symbolic gesture designed to demonstrate his promise to support of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

After hearing that Jindal uttered the charged words “stand in the schoolhouse door” during a national appearance, Holder’s office sent the governor a copy of the civil rights history book “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.” Tucked into the book was a sticky note helpfully pointing to a passage on the history of the “stand in the schoolhouse door” line.

Jindal fired back with tweets, thanking Holder for his note and inviting him to watch a video promoting Louisiana’s school voucher program. “Hope you’ll reconsider standing in the way of kids having an equal opportunity,” the governor tweeted.

Edwards to reveal intentions Monday

The last time former Gov. Edwin Edwards spoke to the Press Club of Baton Rouge, he was there to talk about the Democratic Party’s future. This Monday, he’s expected to focus on his own political future.

Edwards, a four-term governor, has been flirting for weeks about the possibility of a running for Congress in the state’s 6th District.

At the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast last week, U.S. House candidate Paul Diet-zel II leaned toward Edwards and tried to persuade him that the rumor mill has him running for the U.S. Senate. Edwards laughed and said all will be revealed Monday.

“I’m going to announce it on Monday, whatever my decision is,” he said.

Press Club meets on Mondays 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.

Senator accuses BR judge of misconduct

State Sen. Robert Adley filed a complaint against Judge Janice Clark, of the 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge, over potential misconduct.

The allegation involved a private attorney for the state who was on a Clark fundraiser host committee.

The fundraiser occurred while the attorney was in Clark’s court defending Attorney General Buddy Caldwell allowing the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East to hire an attorney to sue nearly 100 oil and gas companies over damage to Louisiana’s coastline. The suit was filed by the oil and gas companies.

The same night as the Clark fundraiser, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association hosted a $500 per person fundraiser for Adley, R-Benton.

Adley filed legislation that would require the authority to win written permission of the governor and attorney general to hire special attorneys. The measure would also be retroactive, which means it would apply to the lawsuit against the oil and gas companies.

Adley said there’s a difference in the two situations.

“I was not in session, and I disclosed it,” he said. Clark had the case before her for judgment that Caldwell’s attorney Wade Shows was arguing, he said.

Legislators are banned from fundraising during legislative sessions while they are acting on legislation. The fundraiser occurred Feb. 27. The legislative session began March 10.

Capitol’s Louis XIV painting disappears

A painting of Louis XIV that has hung for decades in the governor’s suite of offices disappeared.

Old hands were unsure what happened to the painting that dominated a wall of a fourth-floor space in the State Capitol that had been an appellate courtroom, then the place where many governors over the years held press conferences.

Newer employees had not paid much attention and didn’t immediately know what happened to the painting that is about 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall.

Turns out the portrait of the Sun King, for whom Louisiana was named, was removed a few months ago when some air conditioning work was being done in the governor’s suites.

Painted by Alexandre Alaux in about 1900, according to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s office, it is a copy of the famous 1701 portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud that was gift for Philip V of Spain. The original is hanging in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

The Louisiana copy is being stored in a Louisiana State Museum facility a few blocks down river on Chartres Street from The Presbytere in the French Quarter.

Debate ensues over mayhaw’s classification

Is it a tree or a vine?

The question came up as a state Senate panel took up legislation to make the mayhaw tree the state tree.

“I thought mayhaw was a vine, not a tree,” said state Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe. “The only ones I ever picked were on vines hanging from a tree.”

Kostelka suggested the mayhaw become the state vine.

“It’s in my district. It is a tree,” said state Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the mayhaw tree designation as requested by the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. John Smith, R-Leesville.

Pierre re-elected chairman of delegation

State Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, has been re-elected chairman of the 46-member Acadiana Legislative Delegation.

The group, like others around the state, advocates for issues that affect the 22-parish area.

The delegation was formed in 1979.

Rep.: Education panel has most bills to review

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said his committee has the most bills to review.

Part of the volume stems from proposals on Common Core, which are tougher standards in reading, writing and math that have sparked controversy.

Carter told the House on Thursday that on March 26, the panel will focus solely on bills dealing with the state’s college scholarship program called TOPS.

BESE meeting draws current, ex-lawmakers

Not only did last week’s meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education draw several state lawmakers, but former House Education Committee Chairman Don Trahan, of Lafayette, was on hand.

Trahan is now an assistant principal at an elementary school in Rayne.

The meeting got attention because BESE was finalizing details of its $3.5 billion spending request to the Legislature.

Acadiana lawmakers to speak at Press Club

State Reps. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette; Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas; and State Sen. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, are scheduled to speak Monday about major issues of the legislative session at The Acadiana Press Club.

Lunch will be available for purchase from the Viva la Waffle food truck. The event begins at noon at The Daily Advertiser Community Room, 1100 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette. Public sector pensions topic of discussion

Lunch With Leaders Policy Forum will discuss the impact of revamping pensions for public sector employees on Tuesday.

The panelists include Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project; state Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell; and chair of the House Retirement committee; Louis Reine, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO; and others.

The event begins at 11:15 a.m., Tuesday at Drusilla Place Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge. Cost is $22 for members.

Senator to perform at comedy concert

State Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Kaplan, will sit in the Senate Judiciary C committee hearings Tuesday morning and perform “Cajun comedy” at a concert Tuesday night.

He is performing with comedian Kent Gonsoulin as part of the “Cajun Comedy Tour,” 7:30 p.m. at the Manship Theater in downtown Baton Rouge.

Club to discuss Jefferson beautification

Todd Murphy, president of the Jefferson Chamber, and Lee Giorgio, president of Select Properties, will discuss the Beautification Jefferson Campaign on Tuesday with the Pelican State Pachyderm Club.

The meeting begins at 6:15 p.m. at Soho Asian Cuisine, 601 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. Cost is $25 per member. RSVP to miltonatebara@aol.com.

Assessor to speak at Ascension roundtable

Ascension Assessor M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. will be the keynote speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Ascension GOP Roundtable.

The meeting, sponsored by Ascension Republican Women, will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Brew-Bacher’s Grill, 909 E. Ascension St., Gonzales.

A native of Ascension Parish, Smiley served two terms (2003-2012) in the Louisiana House of Representatives before his successful bid in 2011 for Ascension assessor. He is the first Republican in more than 60 years to serve in that position.

Cost for the meal is $14. The roundtable is open to the public, and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. Phone (225) 644-5728 or email ARWrUS@aol.com.

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