Jindal pokes fun at alma mater during speech

Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling -- The Louisiana State Capitol Show caption
Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling -- The Louisiana State Capitol

Gov. Bobby Jindal made fun of his alma mater and national reporters Saturday during a speech at Virginia’s Liberty University.

Jindal, a graduate of Brown University in Rhode Island, joked that Republicans were scarce in the Ivy League when he went to college.

“It is said that college is an intellectual pursuit, involving reason and logic,” he said. “One of the good things about going to Brown is that I was able to become the president of the College Republicans on campus almost immediately. The other Republican student at Brown was the vice president.”

Jindal then touched on what he characterized as a general view among many elites that faith and religion are quaint and antiquated. He said he encountered elites in the national political reporters who came to Baton Rouge to meet the young Rhodes scholar leading Louisiana.

“Inevitably, during these interviews, they say something like this: ‘You are a smart guy. We know you went to Brown and were a Rhodes scholar. So, tell me, how is it that you call yourself pro-life? And you say that you oppose gay marriage, and you say that you oppose gun control? You just say that stuff to get elected in the Deep South, right?’ ” he related.

Jindal said he shut down the interviews by leaning over his desk, lowering his voice and saying he absolutely believes everything he says.

“As you can imagine, those interviews ended rather abruptly,” the governor said.

Adviser: Hospital plan to have fast resolution

An LSU adviser told the university’s board that discussions should move along fairly quickly to resolve the federal government’s issues — that some predict could cost Louisiana taxpayers up to $400 million — with the Jindal administration plan to turn management of the state’s charity hospitals over to private companies.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS, rejected state plans on May 2. CMS reasoned that a big part of the state’s financing structure — have the private contractors pay upfront a larger portion of their long-term leases of the charity facilities and equipment — did not comply with federal regulations.

State officials have been scrambling since the CMS announcement that it would not approve the “advance lease” deal.

Jerry Phillips, the LSU adviser who worked for the state when the deals were cut, told the LSU Board of Supervisors that, from his talks with federal officials, the issue seems to be the advance payments, rather than the regular leases the private companies are using to pay for the use of the hospitals. “There’s still some unclarity on how the partnerships operate,” Phillips told the LSU Board.

Phillips said CMS had earlier approved an advance lease arrangement when it signed off on the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center taking over the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge. But the deal, primarily for leasing related clinics in north Baton Rouge, was only a few million dollars.

The arrangements now under CMS scrutiny are much larger. One involving LSU’s hospital in New Orleans is for $250 million paid upfront on a long-term lease.

“It appears to be the size” of the advance hospital lease payments, Phillips said. “The (regular) lease is OK. The methodology OK. It’s the advance payment that must be resolved,” he said.

Former state senators gather for reunion

More than two dozen former state senators visited the Louisiana Senate last week during an annual reunion event, which included two former governors who had served in the state Senate and a statewide elected official.

A handful got to say a few words, including former state Senate President Don Hines who was in rare form and poking some political barbs at Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Hines, a Democrat, noted all the ethics changes approved under Jindal.

“I think y’all ought to go a little further and stop company lobbyists from making campaign contributions,” suggested Hines, a Bunkie physician. No sooner than the words came out of his mouth Hines reached for his cellphone, saying he already was getting reaction to his proposal.

“Hello governor,” Hines deadpanned. “How’s the weather there?”

Off the phone, Hines advised senators of the governor’s position on the contribution ban. “The governor said if y’all exempt the executive branch he’d be for it,” Hines said.

House rejects attempt to fund Go Grants

During debate on the state budget Thursday, the Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to carve out $2.7 million for need-based Go Grants. State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, wanted to take the money from the Recovery School District and spend it on the grants that help college students with financial gaps. As an adjunct professor at Southern University, James said he understands the costs associated with college. The textbook for his course is $150.

The grants range from $300 to $3,000. They are designed to help with 60 percent of a student’s financial need. Because of funding gaps, not all students receive the maximum $3,000.

State Rep. Jim Fannin, the budget bill’s sponsor, objected to taking money from the RSD for the grants.

“I don’t really know how it affects the Recovery School District other than it affects children,” said Fannin, R-Jonesboro.

The House rejected the amendment with 26 voting for it and 54 voting against it.

State Rep. Ted James pops the question

Break out the flowers and the rice: State Rep. Ted James is getting married.

James, D-Baton Rouge, popped the question at the beginning of the new year to his girlfriend, Veronica Moss. The wedding will take place in Houston next February.

“I am off the market,” James said.

Moss works for Peter Mayer Advertising. James is an attorney.

Wesley Bishop named to House committee

State Rep. Wesley Bishop is the newest member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Bishop, D-New Orleans, won election to the seat to represent the 2nd Congressional District.

Bishop, first vice chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, takes the seat vacated by former state Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans. Brossett won election to the New Orleans City Council and recently took office.

According to House rules, the Appropriations Committee is filled by a combination of appointments by the House speaker and elections by House members. Elections are based on congressional districts. Any vacancies that occur during a term are to be filled in the manner as they were filled originally. Brossett was elected to the committee, so an election was held to fill his seat.

Caldwell to address GOP Roundtable

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell will be the speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Ascension GOP Roundtable.

Sponsored by Ascension Republican Women, the meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at Philay’s Catfish & More, 13386 Airline Highway, Gonzales.

Cost for the meal is $16. The roundtable is open to the public, and guests are welcome.

Reservations are requested. Phone (225) 644-5728 or email: ARWrUS@aol.com

Public forum to focus on hospital financing

Leaders With Vision’s public policy forum luncheon Thursday will focus on the financing of the privatization of the LSU Hospital System after the federal government turned down the Jindal administration’s financing structure.

The panelists will include state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Don Gregory, of the Public Affairs Research Council; David Hood, a former secretary at the state Department of Health and Hospitals; and Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project. Representatives of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and LSU also have been invited.

The luncheon will be in the Ballroom at Drusilla Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge.

Doors open at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at 11:40 a.m., and the program will begin promptly at noon.

Tickets at the door are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers, and include lunch and the program.

Tables of 10 may be purchased online for $260.

Reservations are recommended and may be purchased at www.LeadersWith Vision.org by credit card online or payment by check and/or cash at the door.

Compiled by The Advocate Capitol news bureau