Politics Column for July 28, 2013

Reasons personal cites Schneider

Scott Schneider offered a simple explanation to all the speculation surrounding his resignation from the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

“I’m missing a lot of meetings, primarily, because of work and some family stuff,” said Schneider when reached last week while vacationing at a national park.

Schneider said he had been apprised of talk that he resigned because of a conflict of interest surrounding his employment at Tulane University, where he is legal counsel, the institution’s ties to Teach for America, and a case before the Ethics Board.

“That’s absurd,” said Schneider, the Ethics Board’s vice chairman. “It’s purely personal.”

The case involved Kira Orange Jones, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and her work with Teach for America, which has BESE-approved contracts. The Ethics Board found no problem with the arrangement, an opinion for which Schneider advocated.

“I’m obviously involved with Tulane, but I have nothing to do with Teach for America,” Schneider said. “I don’t know if Tulane has a relationship with Teach for America.”

Ethics Board Administrator Kathleen Allen said no conflict would have existed even if there was a Tulane relationship because Schneider would have had “no substantial economic interest in that matter that was pending before us.”

Students gather at Capitol for seminar

Nearly two dozen high school students gathered at the State Capitol earlier this month for a leadership seminar for the Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council.

The group will work for the next year to bring issues important to teenagers to the attention of state leaders, including underage drinking, litter and the environment and education.

During the two-day meeting, students heard from Gov. Bobby Jindal, Secretary of State Tom Schedler, state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, and state Sens. Sharon Broome and Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, both Baton Rouge Democrats.

Young to help guide GOP 2014 campaign

A former Jindal administration employee has gone on the National Republican Committee payroll as the party gears up for the 2014 U.S. Senate race and 2015 state elections.

Chris Young is the party’s new state director for Louisiana, operating out of state Republican Party headquarters. The National Republican Committee is responsible for promoting the GOP’s political platform and election strategy.

Young is charged with overseeing the GOP’s field operation to put together a grassroots network in advance of elections.

He previously worked as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s deputy director of legislative affairs. He also was involved in Jindal’s 2007 and 2011 election campaigns. He worked in the 2012 election cycle in Nevada for the National Republican Committee Victory program- Romney/Ryan campaign.

“I am confident Chris will help us build a formidable ground operation to compete for every vote and register new voters, so we can defeat Mary Landrieu in 2014 and continue to send conservative reformers to Baton Rouge in 2015,” said state Republican Party chairman Roger Villere in an announcement.

Meaux named to lead La. educators group

Debbie Meaux, the new president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, graduated from Abbeville High School.

Meaux said the principal at the time was the late Cecil Picard, former state superintendent of education.

White open to further debate on standards

State Superintendent of Education John White said that, while he backs new, national academic standards, critics of the changes have made valid points and deserve to be heard.

The more rigorous courses are part of what organizers call the common core curriculum.

Backers say they will improve student achievement, make state-to-state comparisions easier and help make the U. S. more educationally competitive worldwide.

Critics contend the new rigor is being pushed on states by federal officials.

White said federal versus state autonomy on public school issues is a valid topic.

The changes take effect for the 2014-15 school year.

Treasurer to address Press Club of BR

State Treasurer John Kennedy will speak at Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Kennedy will discuss the recently session of the Louisiana Legislature.

The Press Club meet at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge. 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 address is cnb@theadvocate.com