Politics Column for Sunday, August 18, 2013

Adley, Campbell enjoy brief class reunion

A committee meeting at the State Capitol turned into a mini-class reunion last week when Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell entered the room.

The committee’s chairman, state Sen. Robert Adley revealed that he and Campbell attended second grade together at Bossier Elementary School.

Adley, R-Benton, and Campbell share other links — each ran for governor and served in the Legislature. Both still live in Bossier Parish.

“Foster, Foster,” Adley said gently when Campbell skidded off topic during a hearing on a lawsuit involving the state’s coast.

Later, the men joked they’ve been disagreeing since second grade.

Technology intervenes during panel meeting

Siri — iPhone’s voice-activated personal assistant — chimed in Thursday during a legislative committee meeting at the State Capitol.

State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret was taking his second crack at trying to convince legislators about the merits of incentives for South African energy giant Sasol Limited when he accidentally activated his iPhone.

Siri interrupted him as Moret explained that he had developed a better summary of the incentive package for legislators.

“Sorry, I’m not sure what you said,” Siri said.

Legislators erupted into laughter and Moret’s attorney, Leu Anne Greco, jokingly suggested that Siri needed to fill out a testimony card.

LSU Union to feature Larry King, Edwards

LSU’s Student Union Theater is digging deep to bring media personality Larry King and former Gov. Edwin Edwards to campus on Sept. 8 for a live discussion. The theater is paying King $66,400, including travel costs and two nights at a $300 per night hotel. Edwards will make $6,000 and receive 10 complimentary tickets for his appearance. Edwards biographer Leo Honeycutt will receive 10 complimentary tickets.

LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the student theater hopes to cover those costs through ticket sales and donor funds. If not, the funds will be paid with student fees deposited into LSU’s Auxiliary Services budget.

Kleckley’s answer clear on anti-sodomy law

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley had a succinct answer Monday when asked if he would lead efforts to purge an anti-sodomy law from Louisiana’s books.

“No,” he said.

Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, offered the answer while addressing the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

The law remains on the state’s books despite being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Sheriff’s Office only recently stopped using the law to arrest men for agreeing to have consensual sex with undercover agents.

Free at Last Pac gets donation from Fleming

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, chipped in the maximum $5,000 donation to state Sen. Elbert Guillory’s new federal Free at Last PAC.

The PAC, for which Guillory serves as honorary chairman, was formed to promote Republican values in black communities, as well as help elect black GOP officials.

Guillory, of Opelousas, switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party two months ago — becoming the only black Republican legislator.

The website for the Republican-fueled Free at Last PAC features an old photograph of civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose famous words are used in the PAC’s name. Superimposed is the message “Don’t Settle for Disappointment Join the Republicans.”

In Baton Rouge, Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon organizer Woody Jenkins announced that Guillory will be honored as the group’s “Man of the Year” at an event Nov. 1 at the City Club.

Event speaker will be U.S. Rep. David Vitter, R-La.

Dietzel declares his ties with Republicans

Republican Paul Dietzel II staked out his political agenda — aligning himself with “tea party” favorites Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — as he talked about his 6th Congressional District candidacy last week.

“I stand with them and others,” Dietzel told the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon crowd. He said he wanted to be part of that “new generation of leaders who are not afraid” of pushing for change.

Dietzel took a jab at announced 2014 opponent state Sen. Rick Ward III, of Maringouin, who recently moved from Democrat to Republican Party ranks: “Everybody is Republican these days. Even Democrats are running as Republicans.”

The Baton Rouge small-business owner said he is a “life-long conservative Republican.”

“Washington needs more business people,” said Dietzel, grandson of the former LSU football coach of the same name.

Dietzel has launched a website PaulDietzel.com

Cindy Rougeou named head of NASRA

Cindy Rougeou, executive director of the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, has been named to a top post in the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

Rougeou was tapped president-elect of the executive committee by association members.

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 provide pension and other benefits to more than two-thirds of all state and local government employees.

Wording of issue leads to misunderstanding

Lottie Beebe, a BESE member who lives in Breaux Bridge, renewed her criticism of BESE staff last week. This time, it was the wording of an issue she wanted discussed.

“BESE staff does not work with me,” Beebe said. “That’s why I come to Baton Rouge with an attitude.”

The wording under fire was part of the printed materials that outline the board’s agenda.

BESE member Walter Lee, who lives in Shreveport, said Beebe had a point.

Lee said the topic listed was “totally out of context” to what Beebe wanted to discuss, including her concerns about teacher evaluations.

Heather Cope, executive director of the board, told the panel she talked to Beebe beforehand on what the issue involved.

“I reached out to you, Dr. Beebe,” Cope said.

BESE President Chas Roemer, who lives in Baton Rouge, apologized the next day for the misunderstanding.

PAC for teachers group grades legislators

The political action committee of the Louisiana Association of Educators, which is a teachers’ union, gave 18 state senators and 42 House members “A” letter grades in the group’s annual legislative report card.

Two senators received “F”’s, state Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, and Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville.

In the House, 16 members were given “F”’s by the organization.

LAE officials graded lawmakers on increased state aid for public schools, allowing troubled public school districts to return to local control and permitting students with disabilities to be exempt from some standardized tests.

The full results are available at www.lae.org.

James excited about teaching at Southern

Campus business owners aren’t the only ones happy that Southern University Law Center classes start Monday. State Rep. Ted James took to his Twitter account last week to announce that he will add teaching as an adjunct professor to his resume this semester.

The Baton Rouge Democrat tweeted: “Excited about the upcoming semester at SU. I have accepted the challenge to become a Professor. I will be teaching Adv. Business Law at. ...”

Author, activist Barry to speak to Press Club

John Barry, author, historian and activist, will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Barry, whose books include “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America,” is a member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority and the point man for the lawsuit alleging 100 oil companies damaged Louisiana’s coast.

The Press Club meets 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.

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