Monday, April 17, 2006


Blanco facing attacks from the right and the left

By John Hill

This past week, they stalled the initial funding for housing, taking a couple of days before coming around to telling the governor to modify her housing plan to eliminate the penalty for those who lived within the floodplain and did not have insurance and to eliminate the deduction for insurance payments.

It was an alliance between the Republicans and the Legislative Black Caucus. This was just over the start-up funds, not the plan itself.

Baker came up with a study, conducted by the Lehrman Group of Washington, that pegged the net cost of his plan at $10.8 billion, $2 billion more than Blanco's grant program.

"Our rich uncle has passed away and there's only one will," Baker said, warning that Congress is wary of putting up more money for Louisiana.

Baker suggested Blanco and lawmakers could "take a couple or three weeks" to study the information in the study "to see if there is value" in his concept.

That's the attack on Blanco from the right.

This week, there's coming another attack from the left.

The Legislative Black Caucus is holding a public hearing Monday on the governor's housing plan, which is now up for a 10-day public comment period before it is submitted to federal authorities for approval.

State Sen. Lydia Jackson, a Shreveport Democrat who helped deliver votes for Blanco is 2003, is joining in the caucus's criticism of the Blanco housing plan.

Blanco, whose image already is gravely wounded, has to fight on both flanks, and in term-limited Legislature, two-thirds of which can't run for re-election next year.

The stakes are high: billions of federal dollars are at stake. As in many households, the fight is all about money.

Who will step up for Democrats?

With Blanco's negatives running two-to-one and Republicans seemingly settling on U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Metairie, the question is will there be an alternative Democrat. Two of them are considering it: former Attorney General Richard Ieyoub and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

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