Tuesday, October 10, 2006



“We’ve got a $26.7 billion budget and we’ve got a surplus on top of that. We don’t need to borrow money” -STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY


Minister backs off Blanco comment
The Rev. Raymond Brown says he apologized
Advocate Acadiana bureau

"The Rev. Raymond Brown said Monday he has apologized to Gov. Kathleen Blanco for his choice of words in describing her at a New Iberia news conference last week.

He said Blanco had ignored his call to intervene in the problems between west end residents and the Sheriff’s Department, referring to her as “a no-good bitch.”


Insurance rebate plan needs vote
Last-resort insurer hit with hurricane costs
Advocate Capitol News Bureau

"Republican lawmakers accused her of peddling a re-election campaign move veiled as public policy. State Treasurer John Kennedy disparaged her for suggesting that the state crack open a valuable nest egg.“I think it’s politics,” said Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown. “I think it’s terrible finance.”Tucker and Kennedy accused Blanco of trying to repay debt by incurring more debt.

Kennedy agrees, saying the state is flush with cash. “We’ve got a $26.7 billion budget and we’ve got a surplus on top of that. We don’t need to borrow money,” he said. Kennedy has a different idea for relieving property owners of the burden for bailing out Citizens. He wants to use the surplus, take even more out of the $150 million emergency fund than the governor is proposing and refinance the portion of the tobacco settlement that already has been sold."


Blanco: La. lacks funds for universal coverage
Advocate Capitol News Bureau

"Leavitt’s agency pays 70 percent of the health-care costs for the poor and uninsured in Louisiana. But state government has to pay the rest.

The Louisiana Healthcare Redesign Collaborative faces an Oct. 20 federal deadline to submit a plan for the devastated New Orleans region that could eventually be used statewide. Leavitt offered to change federal rules to allow innovative health-care initiatives."


Alleged fraud to void Washington election
Advocate Acadiana bureau

"OPELOUSAS — A man who missed forcing a runoff in the Washington mayoral race by 12 votes filed a lawsuit Monday to void the election, alleging voter fraud and intimidation of his poll watchers."


Prosecutors allege vote buying
Sheriff’s trial delayed

Advocate staff writer

"Two men convicted in the chop-shop case against St. Helena Parish Sheriff Ronald “Gun” Ficklin bought votes and illegally contributed as much as $10,000 in cash to his political campaign, federal prosecutors allege.

Prosecutor Patricia Jones wants to introduce evidence that Mitchell Tidwell bought votes for Ficklin in the election."


Rep. Pierre says he won’t seek Senate seat
Advocate Acadiana bureau

"LAFAYETTE — State Rep. Wilfred Pierre, D-Lafayette, issued a statement Monday saying he will not be running for the seat vacated by former state Sen. Don Cravins Sr., who was elected mayor of Opelousas last month."



Craig Romero: Art of the deal fuels career in politics
Veteran GOP legislator strives to build bonds
By Meghan Gordon

"Romero was born in New Iberia, where he got into politics at 19 in an unsuccessful race for mayor of the town. A decade later, the Iberia Parish Council appointed him parish president after the unexpected death of his father, who had been elected to the seat months earlier. The younger Romero then won a special election and ran the parish until he was elected to the state Senate in 1992."


Indicted councilman quits post
He cites obligations to his work, family
By Charlie Chapple

"St. Tammany Parish Councilman Joe Impastato of Lacombe, under federal indictment for allegedly using his elected office to extort kickbacks for a debris-disposal contract, has resigned from the council seat he has held since 2000."


Blanco: Give schools a chance
But governor acknowledges their problems
By Steve Ritea

"Responding to reports of overcrowded classrooms, not enough teachers, bathroom stalls without doors and students without books, Blanco added: "We know what the problems are, and we're trying to find solutions very quickly."

The governor also voiced her support for Recovery District Superintendent Robin Jarvis, who she said has "gone out of her way . . . to cure some of these problems."

Earlier in the day, about a dozen students in a group called the Fyre Youth Squad gathered on the steps of John McDonogh High School to voice their concerns about the condition of Recovery District schools. Several complained that they still need textbooks, teachers and better security."


Blanco takes rebate idea
Stephanie Grace

"She wasn't even part of the first wave of politicians proposing that the extra revenue be used to help bail out Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort that took a huge hit from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

State Treasurer John Kennedy, like Blanco a Democrat, proposed using some of the state's likely $600 million-plus surplus to pay down Citizens' debt. Legislative Republicans, often Blanco's fiercest adversaries, also seized on the idea, and started gathering support for a special session to address the issue.

Blanco, as usual, took longer to come around."



House vote-switching fools public

"Allowing a state representative to change his or her vote after a bill passes or fails borders on dishonesty. The Senate doesn't allow it. In the House, if a lawmaker votes against a bill that turns out to be a good bill and a popular one - and is approved - he can simply go to the clerk of the House and have his vote changed. It then appears that he was on the winning side when the original vote was taken.

A House member can cast a vote at the beginning of a session and ask to have it changed on the last day of the same session."


Judge cuts councilman Williams' sentence
Claire Taylor

"Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Marilyn Castle on Monday reduced the sentence of City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, who pleaded no contest to writing "Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive!" on the council credenza in July."


Commentary: Freedoms won by African-Americans carry obligations
John Winn Guest Columnist

"The dream started in the stinking hole of a slave ship leaving the shores of Africa bound for the American colonies. That dream continued throughout the decades, gaining in momentum, intensifying in the '50s and exploding throughout America in the '60s. This dream was freedom - to sit anywhere on a city bus, eat in any restaurant, vote in any election.

However, that hard-earned dream of freedom does not give us the right to allow our neighborhoods to be destroyed by drug dealers."



Groups announce absentee ballot campaign for evacuee voters

"ATLANTA (AP) — Members of the Atlanta black clergy and civil rights organizations met Monday to discuss plans to distribute absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 general election to thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees living here.

In addition to Atlanta, similar efforts are also being launched in Houston, Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., and Jackson, Miss. — cities that still have large evacuee populations, said Alaina Beverly of the Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization that is coordinating the campaign.

"We know that survivors are overwhelmed dealing with the everyday," Beverly said. "But there are things (on the ballot) that people care about that will dictate the rebuilding of New Orleans."


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