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Inside Jeff Parish 

Foster vs. Perkins, Round II
Louisiana State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Tony Perkins is engaged in continued verbal dueling with Gov. Mike Foster. The Republican governor, who previously announced his support for Republican Congressman John Cooksey in the Senate race, had already accused Perkins (also a Republican) of being "a tooth fairy" during the recent legislative session when Perkins opposed Foster on some of his tax legislation. Perkins took the insult as a badge of honor and used it to make the case to statewide conservatives that he is the most conservative candidate in the race.

Now, Foster is making another charge against Perkins, this time calling him a hypocrite in a recent edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report. Foster also labels Perkins "unrealistic." Both criticisms refer to Perkins' views on state government tax-and-spend policies. Perkins shot back that Foster is an expert in hypocrisy since he has not governed the state on the anti-tax, anti-gambling platform that he ran on. According to Perkins, "First it was the tooth fairy, now it's something else. I wish he would settle on one name to call me -- my kids are getting confused."

Once again, Foster is attacking a candidate and giving that person an elevated platform. It happened earlier in the year when Foster attacked Congressman David Vitter for opposing his plans to approve an Indian casino in Vinton. Vitter's name recognition grew significantly statewide after Foster attacked him -- and the same scenario could happen with Perkins.

Martiny for Congress?
Politicians in both political parties have approached Kenner State Rep. Danny Martiny to try to encourage him to run for Congress in the First Congressional District. Radio talk show host Robert Namer is challenging the incumbent, David Vitter. In addition, Dr. Monica Monica is considering the race and weighing an offer to switch parties from Republican to Democrat. Martiny, a Republican, does not relish the prospect of facing Vitter. "I would consider the race if circumstances presented themselves," he says. "Some people believe that Vitter will not make the race."

With Vitter conducting town hall meetings and neighborhood parties, it doesn't seem likely that he will drop from the race. Nonetheless, Namer insists that he possesses a "bombshell" about Vitter that will prevent the incumbent from being re-elected. With that explosive accusation floating around, other Jefferson Republicans have been approached about running, including State Reps. Tommy Capella and Steve Scalise. So far, no one except Namer is willing to directly challenge Vitter. "Vitter is unbeatable now," Martiny says, "but what develops down the road is another question." Qualifying for this position ends Aug 23.

Kenner Audit Controversy
State Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle has been demanding since December 2001 that Kenner select a new auditing firm, one of the largest recurring contracts that the city approves each year. Council President Terry McCarthy proposed legislation that would mandate the city contract with the auditing firm of Pailet, Meunier and LeBlanc, for between $200,000 and $300,000 per year. Some council members said they did not receive the information with enough advance notice to study the issue. The legislation was debated and approved at the council meeting on Aug. 1, but it was amended to have a committee negotiate a contract with the firm and then come back to the council for ratification.

New Councilmember-at-large Dominic Weilbaecher is clearly upset at the whole process. Weilbaecher outlined his objections in a memorandum to his fellow council members: "The Council should have been part of the evaluation process from the beginning. Furthermore, to be brought in at the eleventh hour to negotiate a price for this service engagement after the firm has been selected, without any initial consideration of cost, fails every rule of stewardship and contractual negotiations practiced by most all governments and every business organization throughout our country today."

In addition, Kenner resident Arthur Tudela asked McCarthy to recuse himself from the council vote due to his close ties to Rodney LeBlanc, a partner in the firm. Tudela says LeBlanc "through himself, his family and his firms" gave $16,250 in campaign contributions to McCarthy in a two-year period. McCarthy disputes that claim and accuses Tudela of lying at the council meeting. Plus, McCarthy notes that he had also received contributions from another firm that competed for the auditor's contract: Duplantier, Hrapmann, Hogan and Mahre. After McCarthy refused to recuse himself from the vote, Tudela followed up with a letter to Kyle asking him to reject Pailet, Meunier and LeBlanc as the auditors for the City of Kenner.

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