Filed Under:  Local, Politics, Regional

About Town…

24th March 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Krewe Politics… With St. Patrick’s Day parades just past this weekend, and Carnival less than two weeks gone, the issue of Krewe beads and Krewe fees has, ironically, persisted as one of the central driving subtexts of the Kenner mayor’s race.

Should a politician like Mike Yenni have the right to fund carnival expenses out of his campaign funds, or is that a step too far? His opponent Walt Bennetti has argued passionately that Yenni has broken the spirit, if not the letter of the law in funding Krewe membership and even bead purchases out of his campaign funds.

Yenni noted that the money goes to public outreach, for a purpose that few would argue could be described as personally enriching, so what’s the problem? It’s a similar argument used by several politicians this season, as their contributions to clubs from Metairie’s Argus to New Orleans’ Rex have been plastered across the media.

The question of the sacrosanct nature of Mardi Gras most crystalized in the Council At-Large race where Jason Williams went into the March 15th election day still plagued by charges from his opponent Cynthia Hedge-Morrell that he used his kingship of the Krewe of Freret improperly to promote his campaign. Williams defended himself (accurately) stating that he had not listed one political message on the doubloons listing his name or the signs promoting his reign.

Edwards to Run…But House or Senate?… The rumor mill has it that Louisiana’s most famous ex-con might announce his candidacy for the open 6th congressional race.

Legislators around the State Capitol spoke of little else last week. State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, one the candidates for the 6th, seeking to replace Dr. Bill Cassidy, went so far as to joke about Edwin Edwards entering the race during a campaign speech.

However, will it be the US House, or the U.S. Senate that meets Edwards’ fancy. At a gathering for Mike Huckabee, U.S. House candidate Paul Dietzel II tried to persuade Edwards that the rumor mill has him running for the U.S. Senate. Edwards was mum, but smiled.

One highly placed Republican told The Louisiana Weekly that he believes Edwards is more likely to run for the U.S. Senate, than the House. “What most people don’t realize is that Edwin had a chance to get out of prison early. Gov. Dave Treen convinced the President to commute his sentence, but the White House insisted that both U.S. Senators sign off on the deal.”

“Mary Landrieu wouldn’t sign, and Edwin has never forgiven her for that. He spent an extra two years in prison because of it. If he runs, he will run for the Senate.”
Another voice says that’s nonsense. Gov. Edwards would only run for an office that he could conceivably win, and a victory in the 6th District would provide the Octogenarian his “Earl Long” moment, a vindication that the people of Louisiana still love him.
State law prevents felons for running for office for 10 years, but once released, they are free to pursue Federal office.

The Legislative Session Opens To More of the Same… Governor Bobby Jindal kicked off the legislative session noting the ways that Louisiana now leads the country, in ethics, in budgeting…

“In hyperbole…” muttered one Republican member of the State House, knowing his own party’s frustration with the governor’s budget. In point of fact, it’s the fiscal hawks, of both political parties that complain of the governor’s fiscal roadmaps.

Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, who has fought higher education cuts for the last six years, took umbrage with the governor’s claim that he was restoring the funds to state colleges—through the method of raising tuition. Leger filed a bill to make sure that any tuition increases are not scored as budget increases to the higher ed budget. It’s a paperwork fiction. Colleges would still get the money, but Jindal would be denied the bragging points that he increased funding to colleges by over $100 million.

No ‘Death Panels’… State Representative Scott Simon and State Senator Ben Nevers introduced bipartisan “Right to Treatment” legislation.

According to a spokesman for Rep. Simon, “This legislation will ensure that no panel of government appointees can restrict access to medically appropriate treatment prescribed by a physician and agreed on by a fully informed patient or patient’s legal guardian. It will ensure that these entities cannot refuse to cover treatment provided to patients near the end of life that is consistent with the best practices for treatment of this disease or condition.”

Alberta Stoker, Executive Director of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society explained to The Louisiana Weekly, “A recent poll from the Louisiana State Medical Society found that nearly eight out of 10 Louisianans support implementing laws that require insurers and state health programs to provide health coverage to people who have been diagnosed with potentially terminal diseases. Patients fighting life-threatening cancer diagnoses already have limited options for care or treatment. If third party groups decide to further limit or even deny access to these options, it makes an already overwhelming time even more difficult for patients. It forces them to worry not only about fighting their disease, but also fighting the system to get access to the treatment they so desperately need.”

This article originally published in the March 17, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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