The meeting will now be closed to the public, and all participants will have to be members of EURO and local organizers. All attendees will have to pay a fee.
The EURO workshop will be held simultaneously with the International Conference on Human Rights in Italy, conducted by EURO president David Duke. Duke, a former Klan leader and Louisiana state representative, will address the Metairie group via telephone conference call, instead of the original plan for a video teleconference.
According to Vincent Breeding, EURO national director, the workshop has several major aims. "We are training and recruiting people to run for office, lobby their elected officials and put together community-based organizations," he says.
In response to rumors that protestors may try to disrupt the workshop, Breeding seems unconcerned. "For every person that complains, we have 10,000 supporters in the state," he says. "I am not a racist and neither is David Duke."
However, the Iowa Cubs seem to disagree ...
Iowa Cubs Move Due to EURO Workshop
The Iowa Cubs will be playing the New Orleans Zephyrs from May 16-19, the same time frame as the EURO workshop. Originally, the Cubs were slated to stay at the same hotel as EURO participants.
Normally, when playing the Zephyrs, the Iowa Cubs stay at the Best Western Landmark. Due to the controversial nature of EURO, the Cubs will move to a different hotel. "We would just as soon stay away from a group that will create controversy," says Iowa Cubs general manager Sam Bernabe.
The Best Western Landmark seems unhappy about the workshop as well. "A contract to book this event was made some time ago, and it is our practice to fulfill our contractual obligations," a company spokesperson says. "Our company does not share the views of this organization." In the past, David Duke has held campaign events at the hotel, and "we have never had any trouble there," claims EURO national director Vincent Breeding.
The Iowa Cubs travel with 30 players and coaches, including six African Americans. "I'm glad we're staying away from it," says Cubs hitting coach Pat Listach. "I wouldn't have been comfortable staying there."
The New Orleans Zephyrs organization, who pays for the hotel arrangements of visiting teams, will move the club to another hotel.
Insurance Commissioner Race Wide Open
In the midst of the 1999 election for insurance commissioner, incumbent Jim Brown received a multi-count federal indictment for a variety of offenses. Despite this setback, Brown was convincingly re-elected, defeating insurance executive Allen Boudreaux.
Since that time, Brown has been convicted for lying to the FBI and has had to take a leave of absence as he awaits a trial to appeal his conviction. Former Brown assistant Robert Wooley is serving as acting commissioner.
This elected position has had quite a checkered history. The past three insurance commissioners -- Sherman Bernard, Doug Green and Brown -- have each been indicted and convicted for offenses committed while in office. Bernard and Green have served jail time, and Brown faces that possibility. When the Louisiana Legislature decided to eliminate the elective office of elections commissioner in response to the conviction of Jerry Fowler, many expected the same fate for the insurance commissioner; however, the office survived.
With Brown damaged, the 2003 race for insurance commissioner is wide open. One potential candidate, Jim Donelon, is the deputy insurance commissioner, having resigned from the Louisiana Legislature after a long career. Donelon has run for the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress and is known statewide. Other candidates that may emerge include Boudreaux, the insurance executive who operates ABC Insurance and lost to Brown in 1999. Finally, State Sen. Ken Hollis has been mentioned as a potential candidate if he decides not to make the race for governor. Hollis claims to have no interest in the position, but he has a background in insurance and would be well-qualified for the post.
Whoever decides to run must face a distrustful electorate. Anyone who can finish their tenure in the insurance commissioner's office without a federal indictment would have to be given credit, breaking an infamous streak and ending a rather sorry chapter in Louisiana politics.