“Scopena: A Memoir of Home” derives its name from the Roemer family homestead in north Louisiana — Scopena. “Scopena is a place,” Roemer writes in the prologue. “You can see it from Highway 71 South … But the heart of Scopena — the life of Scopena, the magic of Scopena, the uniqueness of Scopena — was Mom and Dad, raising five kids under a philosophy that ignored what the rest of the world thought and that emphasized individual effort.”
Roemer offers readers personal reflections on the influential people and events that taught him life lessons he held on to when he left the farm in 1960, at age 16, to attend Harvard University, and that eventually helped shape his political career, from the U.S. House and the Governor’s Mansion to his 2012 run for president.
The first chapter, “Running Away From School,” opens with a few words about Roemer visiting his father at a federal penitentiary in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1983. Roemer was a congressman at the time, while his father was serving a “three-year sentence for bribery in dealings with alleged gangster Carlos Marcello for a state contract according to the federal prosecutor.”
You can read the entire first chapter by visiting the LaPolitics website at lapolitics.com/2017/09/roemer/.
GOP Won’t Fiddle With Ballot For Now
Members of the Republican State Central Committee decided recently that now is not the time for a new party rule that would allow the Louisiana GOP to disavow certain candidates on the ballot.
The most used example of this proposed practice involves David Duke, a former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard and one-time Louisiana legislator, who ran for the U.S. Senate last year as a Republican.
“He would have never been the party’s candidate for governor (in 1991) if we had this tool,” said Chairman Roger Villere, who supported a disassociation resolution. “I think we should be able to decide who gets to run under the Republican banner and we should be able to exercise that right as so many other states do.”
While anyone has the right to register with any party of their choosing, the policy discussion that was being had by some in the Louisiana GOP involved a kind of authorization process similar to the ones which other states have implemented.
In theory, a candidate who would be denied the right to run as a Republican in this process could still appear on the ballot as a non-party candidate or even a Democrat if they switch parties in time.
But for now, the conversation has come to an end. The RSCC, which is the guiding body of the Louisiana Republican Party, decided to indefinitely postpone any other related votes on the matter.
Governor Continues Statewide Tour
Gov. John Bel Edwards was in Alexandria recently for another round of meetings with business leaders to discuss the state’s budget and the “quickly approaching fiscal cliff.”
It was the third of several similar meetings. It focused heavily on what the state can do to address a more than $1-billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018.
The governor met with local elected officials from the Alexandria region for a “bipartisan discussion on ways the state can partner with local governments to stabilize the budget and promote economic development and job creation.” Edwards described this meeting as productive. But he hasn’t yet offered any concrete policy proposals he’d like to see move through the Legislature next year.
“We are searching for ideas, and whether we all agree or not, input from everyone is invaluable in this process,” he said.
The governor previously met with business and civic leaders in Baton Rouge and Monroe. He is planning similar roundtable discussions in New Orleans and Shreveport in the coming weeks.
Political History: New Orleans’ First Elected Mayor
Nicolas Girod becoming the seventh mayor of New Orleans isn’t much of a historical footnote until you realize he was also the first elected mayor of the city.
It’s a timely topic, what with the Crescent City preparing to vote this fall on a replacement for current Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
A Protestant in a Catholic stronghold, Girod was quite the businessman. He owned property across what is today the Central Business District. Just find Girod Street in the city and you’ll find the heart of where those holdings were.
Girod served until 1815, when he resigned just a year after being re-elected. He had the misfortune of being mayor when General Andrew Jackson declared martial law and took over the city as the British prepared to invade.
Later in his life, in 1821, Girod helped hatch a plan to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from exile, and the former mayor upgraded his home on Chartres Street to prepare for Napoleon’s arrival. Napoleon, of course, died before he got here.
Girod himself died in that home on Chartres and St. Louis in 1840. It was preserved over time as an important part of the French Quarter — a historic structure that we all now know as the Napoleon House.
They Said It
“There’s a handful of us in the middle and we all get squooshed there sometimes.”
— Senate President John Alario, on members of the Louisiana Legislature
“Most of us were potty trained in the House.”
— Alario, explaining how many state senators got their political start in the Legislature’s lower chamber.
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.