Friday, 28 January 2011 17:09

Louisiana Politics: Edwin Edwards, UNO-SUNO Merger, Jim Tucker, Rainwater

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News of the morning: Edwin Edwards is in the news as he is getting plenty of mail, Louisiana's budget problem might hit some mid-level government officials, our cities are losing homes. 

Also, from the conservative newsletter, LaNewsLinks, Louisiana House of Representative Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, talks about the controversial UNO-SUNO merger. Also, what government officials owe money to the Louisiana Ethics Board.

Quote of The Day

"We're looking at one-time dollars as a bridge to this transformation," Rainwater said. "That gives higher education (and other agencies) the chance to move the ball down the field more and protect critical services. "Our perspective is that we'll use one-time money as a bridge for critical services without breaking those critical services."

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2 more apply to take BR police chief exam

La. officials seek to halt pay raises


La. attorney general slams Strange's role as head of lawsuits

State's cities losing homes

Cold weather keeping Louisiana crawfish small

Fans send tons of mail and messages to Edwards


From Louisiana News Link newsletter, a conservative publication


State seeks to halt raises
by MARSHA SHULER - Advocate (excerpt)

The Jindal administration wants to cancel pay raises for some 56,000 rank-and-file state employees as part of efforts to balance the budget in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater has asked the state Civil Service Commission to approve suspension of state agencies’ authority to award the pay increases.

If approved, it would mark the second consecutive year that classified employees would not get the annual 4 percent pay bump given those who qualify based on job evaluations. Nearly all employees receive the pay increase on the anniversary date of their employment. On Thursday, Rainwater said the move would save $55 million — $16.5 million of it in state general fund revenue.

One-time funds could tide over state
by Greg Hilburn - News Star (excerpt)

Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said Gov. Bobby Jindal's next budget must include non-recurring money to soften the projected $1.6 billion deficit, but he wouldn't say how much one-time money the governor is willing to tap. Rainwater, who spoke to the Monroe Rotary Club at the Civic Center Thursday, said the administration will continue to cut state government expenses, but needs to use one-time funds during the transition to its vision of smaller government.

"We're looking at one-time dollars as a bridge to this transformation," Rainwater said. "That gives higher education (and other agencies) the chance to move the ball down the field more and protect critical services. "Our perspective is that we'll use one-time money as a bridge for critical services without breaking those critical services."

Rainwater said he doesn't know yet how much one-time money will be available or how much the administration is willing to use. "We're working on the budget all the way until March 11," he said.

GOP figure in BR sues board
by JOE GYAN JR. - Advocate (excerpt)

Baton Rouge businessman and Republican activist Scott Wilfong sued the state Board of Ethics on Thursday, claiming the board engaged in a “malicious prosecution’’ of him over his role in the circulation of an anti-Kip Holden flier in the 2008 mayor’s race.

The Ethics Board filed charges against Wilfong in August 2009, alleging he and his companies may have violated state campaign finance law on three occasions when he failed to disclose expenditures in connection with the flier.

The board dismissed those charges in November. “The prolonged and public prosecution of Scott by the Ethics Board without evidence constitutes a stunning abuse of power,’’ Wilfong’s attorney, Chris Alexander, said. “It is abusive to cause public and personal embarrassment to a citizen when you have no evidence of wrongdoing,’’ he added. “That is why Scott filed this lawsuit.’’

Agency's plan would cut personnel costs
by MARSHA SHULER - Advocate (excerpt)

Louisiana’s public safety agency is embarking on a plan it hopes will help cushion employee layoffs while reducing personnel costs, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Thursday.

Under the plan, some veteran agency employees would retire and then come back to work limited hours at reduced pay and without benefits, Edmonson said. The plan saves the state salary funds as well as retirement and health insurance contribution costs while his agency can keep part-time employees with valuable “institutional knowledge,” Edmonson told a Senate study committee.

The public safety agency, which includes State Police, the state Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Office of Motor Vehicles, would be the first state agency to implement the program as part of work force reduction efforts associated with budget shortfalls.

State Police chief: No cadet classes this year because of state budget woes
by Ed Anderson - Times-Picayune (excerpt)

BATON ROUGE -- State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson told a panel of legislators today that he does not plan to have a new crop of State Troopers going through a training academy in the fiscal year starting July 1 because of budgetary constraints. Edmonson, a colonel who has been with State Police for 31 years, said that although he has not seen final budget numbers from the governor's office, a new academy of 50 troopers is not possible. "There is none planned for 2011-12," Edmonson told members of the Senate Study Committee on Public Safety and Corrections, which is looking into efficiencies in the state prison system and Edmonson's office. Asked by panel chairman, Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, how a possible 20 percent cut would affect him, Edmonson said that probably would mean layoffs. "Ninety percent of my budget is salary," the superintendent said. "There would be a reduction of personnel."

Jim Tucker Speaks at UNO
by Matthew Hinton - Times-Picayune (excerpt)

Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives Jim Tucker, a UNO alumnus, speaks during the University of New Orleans Faculty Senate Meeting at UNO's Milneburg Hall about UNO's funding and a possible merger between UNO and SUNO Thursday January 27, 2010.


Who owes big bucks to the Louisiana Ethics Administration?
by Jeremy Alford (excerpt)


NOTE: Through our partnership with the 4 Investigates team, a version of this TJR exclusive also appeared Tuesday evening on WWL-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast.

More than $1.2 million. That’s how much the Louisiana Ethics Administration is owed by some 800 political souls around that state. They’re elected officials dodging debts, political organizations ignoring fines, failed candidates trying to forget and lobbyists in arrears — at least according to the top ethics hounds in the state.

Even more shocking, however, is that nearly half of the sum originates with tardy payers from Jefferson and Orleans parishes. In fact, locals owe a cool half mill — or $550,438.10 to be exact — to the Ethics Administration. There are 120 on the hook, of which 75 are from New Orleans and 45 are from Jeff.


Board of Regents targets 459 degree programs
by Jan Moller - Times-Picayune (excerpt)

Nearly one-third of the degree programs offered by Louisiana's public colleges and universities are at risk of elimination under a streamlining initiative announced Wednesday by the Board of Regents.

The review marks the third time since 2009 that the state's higher education policy board has examined the state's academic offerings with an eye toward eliminating duplication and weeding out programs identified as "low completers" that don't graduate enough students.

A total of 459 programs are on the target list, including 33 at the University of New Orleans, 10 at Southern University at New Orleans and 24 at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. The earlier reviews resulted in 245 degree programs being mothballed, but Regents officials said the latest effort will be more stringent.

Regents to discuss SUNO-UNO merger Feb. 8
Associated Press (LA)


Vitter, Paul introduce resolution to amend 14th Amendment on citizenship
Times-Picayune (excerpt)

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced a resolution that would amend the Constitution so that a person born in the United States to illegal immigrants would not automatically gain citizenship unless at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces or a naturalized legal citizen. "For too long, our nation has seen an influx of illegal aliens entering our country at an escalating rate, and chain migration is a major contributor to this rapid increase -- which is only compounded when the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S. are granted automatic citizenship," Vitter said in a news release. "Closing this loophole will not prevent them from becoming citizens, but will ensure that they have to go through the same process as anyone else who wants to become an American citizen."

Plan targets recidivism
by Mike Hasten - The Daily Advertiser (excerpt)

BATON ROUGE — When almost half of the people who get out of prison are back within five years — many within 18 months — it's not hard to see what should be done to stop the revolving door, says Thomas Bickham, assistant secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Bickham told a legislative review panel Thursday that's why his boss, DPSC Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, is focusing so much attention on a new "Re-entry Program" that aims at better preparing inmates for life on the outside.

Topping the list of challenges facing the department, Bickham said, is "we're No. 1 in the world in per capita imprisonment. And 1 in 26 citizens is in some type of supervision," either in prison or on probation or parole.

Bickham said Louisiana has tough sentencing laws, but the state is still in the top 25 of all serious crimes committed each year.
"Ninety-five percent of our people are coming back into society, most to the communities where they lived," he said.

LA Institute of Public Policy & Politics Offers Seminar Series In March

The Louisiana Institute of Public Policy & Politics offers a new seminar series beginning in March.

Topics will include Intergovernmental Relations, the State Budget, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure and more.

The classes will be held each Tuesday night in March from 6-9 pm in the Board Room of Business First Bank on Jefferson Highway.

Picture: (Left to Right) Former Governors Buddy Roemer, Mike Foster, Institute Director Pat Bergeron, State Representative Steve Carter at the Institute's Political Campaign School this past fall.

For more information email your request to: [email protected]

Bayoubuzz Staff

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