Another week brings another update on the 90th birthday party for former Gov. Edwin Edwards.
The shindig now has a website where tickets can be purchased: EWE90th.com.
Expenses for the party are said to be significant. The event is meant to “commemorate [Edwards’] long and illustrious political career and recognize his important and meaningful contributions to the betterment of our state and people.”
Some of the party favors will include an official Edwards portrait, limited-number prints of original artwork for the event and a souvenir magazine.
Ads are being sold for the magazine; they range from $75 to $500. Event sponsorships are available from $3,000 to $5,000.
Short of that, it’s $250 per ticket.
Lobbyists at the Capitol say they’ve started receiving their invites and sponsorship pitches.
Big Changes In The House
Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, recently announced he was resigning from the state House to focus on his bid for treasurer. He gave his farewell speech on the floor.
“Treat every penny like a dollar; save for a rainy day; [remember] everything is on the table when balancing the budget and everyone should have skin in the game,” he told his soon-to-be former colleagues.
The ongoing special session altered those plans, however, and Schroder plans to stay in his seat until the Legislature passes a budget.
Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, likewise made it known that he intends to back away from his gig as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. “I’m not going anywhere,” he declared, adding that he wants to remain in the House. “I just like working more behind the scenes.”
An internal election to replace Reynolds has not yet been scheduled.
Finally, after 30 years as the House chaplain, Pastor Ken Ward announced his exit on the floor.
Lawsuit Moves Outside The Session
Despite pleas to hold a hearing before the regular session ends, 19th Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant appears prepared to wait until August to address a lawsuit that questions the employment status of Education Superintendent John White.
The lawsuit is seeking a declaratory judgment on whether John White needs to be reconfirmed by the Senate.
There are more than a dozen plaintiffs, including former state Rep. Brett Geymann and musician and educator Ganey Arsement. White is the defendant.
Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, is serving as counsel for the effort. He said he filed the suit “as a private Louisiana citizen on behalf of other Louisiana citizens.”
White was hired by the previous Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and was appointed and ratified during the last administration. He is continuing to serve as superintendent on a month-to-month basis. “I’m going to continue to serve the children of Louisiana until BESE tells me not to,” White said in a statement.
The lawsuit cites a provision in state law that states an “appointee may continue to serve until the end of the second regular session of the Legislature following the beginning of the legislative term at which time the position shall become vacant unless the appointee is reappointed to the position and has been confirmed by the Senate prior to the end of the second legislative session.”
In a recent interview, Milkovich said the lawsuit was not a personal attack on White. “However, we are very concerned and in sharp disagreement with the policies he has helped implement,” Milkovich said. “He pushed for the full scale implementation of Common Core, which is substantively flawed, academically inept and morally bankrupt.”
Arsement added, “BESE has a responsibility to appoint a superintendent, which they have failed to do. It is widely agreed that thus far, they are within their rights to not appoint; however, that luxury is limited to the last day of the second regular session following the expiration of the term of appointment.”
Landry: Sterling Case Waiting On Feds
It’s been more than a month since the U.S. Justice Dept. announced it would not charge the Baton Rouge officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.
Federal officials said the investigation would next move to the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry.
During a one-hour interview on the LaPolitics Report podcast, Landry said that the stateside investigation is still trying to find its footing.
“We still aren’t at day one,” Landry said. “We are working with the federal government to transfer the evidence over that is going to be housed by State Police and we will conduct a very thorough investigation.”
Staffing Changes For Governor’s Office
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ communications office has a slightly new look.
The biggest change involves communications director Richard Carbo, who has been promoted to deputy chief of staff. He replaces Julie Baxter Payer, and will be working directly under the new chief of staff, Mark Cooper.
Cooper’s appointment was confirmed by the Senate recently, with very few questions coming from lawmakers.
Press secretary Shauna Sanford gets an upgrade and is stepping in as the new communications director. Deputy press secretary Tucker Barry moves up a slot, too, replacing Sanford to become press secretary.
For now, no other major staffing changes are expected.
Political History: Teddy Roosevelt And Hippos On The Bayou
In 1910, Congressman Robert Broussard, who referred to himself as “Cousin Bob” because he was supposedly related to at least 25 percent of Iberia Parish, introduced H.R. 23261.
At the time, there was a meat shortage in America, and back home in Louisiana there was a growing problem with invasive hyacinth clogging waterways.
Broussard’s legislation was straightforward. He wanted the feds to pony up $250,000 for hippopotamuses to be imported from Africa so they could be raised in the marshy bayous of Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast — and harvested for their meat.
Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times both endorsed the idea, according to American Hippopotamus, an Atavist magazine podcast led by Jon Mooallem.
Based on what recent generations of Louisianans have enjoyed for regular meals, you probably already know that this concept never gained favor in Congress, or with the American people.
But the story of hippo farming down the bayou takes a stranger turn when you consider the experts Broussard cobbled together for his unique campaign — Frederick Russell Burnham and Fritz Duquesne — were at one time foreign spies who were actively trying to murder each other during the African conflicts involving British colonialists.
Judicial Races To Pepper Fall Ballot
With the possibility of elections for treasurer, the Public Service Commission and the state House all appearing on the Oct. 14 ballot, judicial enthusiasts are hoping voters don’t forget about the races already underway for those coveted robes and gavels.
Half a dozen high-profile judicial contests will be voted on this fall around the state — all with the likelihood of placing new personalities on benches.
Right now on the October ballot, there’s only one Court of Appeal race out of the Orleans portion of the 4th Circuit (1st District, Division B) to replace Judge Paul Bonin. But another special election in the same circuit (for Division F) is expected to be added. The latter becomes vacant this summer when Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu steps down to lead Loyola’s law school. Running for his sister’s seat will be New Orleans attorney Martin Landrieu, who is also the brother of the mayor.
Among others rumored to be considering one of the two seats are Criminal Court Judge Robin Pittman and Criminal Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier.
With Judge Jeff Cox moving to the Court of Appeal, a vacancy in the 26th Judicial District has political watchers in northwest Louisiana calculating the odds ahead of qualifying in July and the actual vote in the fall.
Lane Pittard, an assistant district attorney, has been running for a few months already, and is ahead of the curve. Most district judges elected in recent years in the 26th had been an ADA. Also being mentioned as a possibility is family law attorney Cynthia L. Carroll-Bridges. With such a fast start, and institutional support starting to coalesce behind him, Pittard may be able to keep the developing field to a minimum.
The retirement of 18th Judicial District Court Judge James Best has produced a race in the New Roads area that’s expected to stay very competitive. Of the three names out there so far, local officials suspect all have an equal chance of making it to a Nov. 18 runoff.
Steve Marionneaux certainly looks like a candidate. The cousin of former state Sen. Rob Marionneaux, he’s an assistant district attorney who has a turnkey campaign operation, should he qualify.
Signs can already be seen around the district for Kevin Kimball, an assistant indigent defender. Like Marionneaux, his family name has deep roots in the region. He counts as a cousin to former legislator Clyde Kimball, the husband of former Chief Justice Kitty Kimball.
There’s also Lonny Guidroz, an assistant district attorney who’s said to be looking at the race. He’s well known in the False River area.
The LaPolitics News Service will be reporting on other judicial races around the state in the coming weeks.
Adams Eyed For Seafood Gig
Former Rep. Bryan Adams of Jefferson Parish left the Legislature last fall and transitioned into a new position as assistant state fire marshal. Now, it looks like he could make another move.
Adams is said to be among the likely candidates for the position of executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
Nominations will be made by the board and sent to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who has the authority to hire someone and set the salary for the job.
Karen Profita vacated the post recently to take over as the new executive director of Audubon Louisiana.
No other names for the job have surfaced, but various stakeholders involved with the board and its mission say they’ve met with Adams or heard from him about the position.
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.