Capitol Buzz: Beebe lashes out at White

During a lengthy meeting last week of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, one member lashed out at state Superintendent of Education John White.

“I am sure you can read,” BESE member Lottie Beebe said to White, eliciting groans from the audience.

White, who graduated from the University of Virginia and earned a graduate degree at New York University, appeared ready to reply but instead resumed discussion on the topic under debate.

Beebe, who often clashes with White, is superintendent of the St. Martin Parish school system.

Jindal ‘thinking’ about running for president

Gov. Bobby Jindal said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week that he’s “thinking and praying” about running for president, but he won’t make a final decision before November.

“Our country’s hungry for a big change in direction,” he said. “There’s a lot of frustrations with both Democrats and Republicans — both parties.”

Jindal went on the show after naming host Joe Scarborough as one of his picks for the “ice bucket challenge.”

It’s August in the SEC, so talk naturally turned to football.

Scarborough asked Jindal why he was picked to be doused with a bucket of ice water (Jindal also picked Willie Robertson, of “Duck Dynasty,” and LSU football coach Les Miles for the challenge). “Is it (that I’m an) Alabama fan? Why are you picking on me?” Scarborough asked.

Jindal joked back: “As an Alabama fan, you guys aren’t going to be able to have a Gatorade shower later this season when LSU beats you, so you might as well get it out of your system now.”

The more serious portion of the roughly 6½-minute segment dealt with Common Core. Jindal has become a vocal opponent of the school curriculum standards — putting him at odds with other leaders in Louisiana but in step with some other potential candidates for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

“It has become something very different than when it started,” Jindal said, echoing statements he’s made in recent months as he battles with state education leaders over the implementation. “I’m for tests. I’m for standards. I just don’t want the federal government driving the standards.”

Jindal not attending governors’ meeting

Some Southern governors will be meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, this weekend, but Gov. Bobby Jindal won’t be among them.

The Governor’s Office confirmed that Jindal (a Republican who is term-limited and eyeing a run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination) isn’t going to the Southern Governors’ Association’s annual meeting, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday.

A news release from the SGA noted a bipartisan group of governors were invited to the event but didn’t say how many or which ones would be attending.

The group, which includes 16 state governors plus the governors of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is chaired by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, thus the meeting’s location this year. Beebe will hand over his leadership role to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon during the meeting. Nixon and Beebe both are Democrats. (Jindal serves as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association.)

The Southern Governors’ Association’s event topics are slated to include a discussion of Arkansas’ efforts to move forward with an Affordable Care Act-driven Medicaid expansion under a “private option” model. Jindal has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act and its call for the expansion of Medicaid to include more uninsured and underinured workers.

David E. Dismukes, executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, will be a keynote speaker Saturday, discussing natural gas opportunities in the South, per the meeting’s agenda.

Walter Lee gets ethics training at BESE retreat

Six of BESE’s 11 members were on hand last week for a retreat, which included ethics training.

One of those on hand was Walter Lee, of Mansfield, who was indicted earlier this year in DeSoto Parish on felony theft and other charges.

Lee has pleaded not guilty.

He is the longest-serving member of the board.

Vitter takes on viral ‘ice bucket challenge’

Count U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who has said he plans to run for Louisiana governor next year, among public figures participating in the viral “ice bucket challenge” awareness campaign for ALS.

The viral video sensation, which is sweeping Facebook and Twitter, has people across the country posting videos of themselves or others dumping large buckets of ice on their heads. They then “challenge” others to do the same or donate to ALS charities. Many are doing both, and politicians and celebrities have become popular subjects to challenge, which seeks to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

High-profile Louisianans seemed to take on the challenge in droves this week and pass the torch on to others.

A Vitter spokesman said his children issued the challenge to Louisiana’s Republican U.S. senator, who then challenged fellow U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

Gov. Bobby Jindal did it earlier this week after he was challenged by Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Jindal passed the challenge on to talk show host Joe Scarborough, “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson and LSU football coach Les Miles, who was scheduled to get his ice-cold shower after LSU’s scrimmage on Saturday. Robertson and Scarborough each have met the governor’s challenge earlier this week.

Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said he was challenged by former NFL and LSU football player Justin Vincent. In his video, he challenged Republican state Senate President John Alario, of Westwego, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach and LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he was challenged by Steve Gleason, a former Saints player who has ALS and whose nonprofit “Team Gleason” has been promoting the “ice bucket challenge.” In a video posted online, Landrieu took a garbage pail-sized bucket of ice over his head in front of the Superdome. He issued the challenge “to the entire Who Dat Nation” and said he hopes to set a world record for the largest group of participants at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Superdome.

LASERS head wins national recognition

The head of the state’s largest pension system — Louisiana State Employees Retirement System — received a national honor.

LASERS Executive Director Cindy Rougeou was named president of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators executive committee.

NASRA is a nonprofit association whose members are the directors of the nation’s state, territorial and largest statewide public retirement systems. NASRA members oversee retirement systems that hold more than $2 trillion in assets and that provide pension and other benefits to more than two-thirds of all state and local government employees.

Rougeou has been at LASERS since 2002.

Group to celebrate women’s right to vote

The Capital City Republican Women are holding an event Monday to celebrate the 94th anniversary of the women’s right to vote.

Argiro Morgan, past president of the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women, and Shirley Husar, founder of Urban Game Changers in Los Angeles, are the scheduled speakers.

The cost is $25 per person and takes place between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, in Baton Rouge.

Qualifying for primary begins Wednesday

Qualifying for the Nov. 4 primary begins Wednesday and continues through 4:30 p.m. Friday.

All candidates for local municipal races will qualify with their parish clerk of court. All candidates for U.S. senator, U.S. representative, associate justice of the Supreme Court, courts of appeal and Public Service Commission must turn in the official paperwork and pay the fees to get their name on the ballot.

The state Secretary of State’s Office is located at 8585 Archives Ave. in Baton Rouge. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, clerks of court specific parishes can handle qualifying.

Once qualified, candidates will appear on the secretary of state’s website in real time at www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/GetElectionInformation/SearchForCandidates/Pages/default.aspx

Seminar to focus on BR transportation

Leaders With Vision is holding a luncheon seminar Thursday on “The Challenges of the Capitol Area Transportation, present and future.”

Confirmed panelists include Riley Berthelot, president of West Baton Rouge Parish; Mike Bruce, a transportation consultant; Dennis Decker, a state official working with multimodal planning; Chris Loar, chairman of the Ascension Parish Council; and Michael Songy, of the Green Light Program.

The luncheon will be held in the Ballroom at Drusilla Place Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, in Baton Rouge and costs $27 for nonmembers and $22 for members.

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