Pin It


FBI Election Warning
Jim Bernazzani, the tough-talking special agent-in-charge of the local FBI office, offered a warning to political candidates and a message to voters in the Oct. 20 primary: FBI agents do not endorse candidates. 'It is a fundamental breach of FBI ethics," Bernazzani says. The agent's image and the FBI seal were posted on a campaign Web site for Senate District 7 candidate Paul Richard, who hopes to succeed term-limited state Sen. Francis Heitmeier in the West Bank district. Other candidates include Heitmeier's brother, David Heitmeier, and Jonathan Bolar. Bernazzani says Richard should expect a call from FBI lawyers in Washington. 'This was done obviously without my knowledge and I was surprised," Bernazzani says. 'The general counsel in Washington, D.C., has been notified and they will take immediate steps tomorrow morning to get my image and the FBI seal removed." Richard's Web site last week featured televised images of Bernazzani over a campaign message attacking Francis Heitmeier and, separately, quotes from a recent press conference in which Bernazzani decried 'brazen" corruption in Louisiana. " Johnson

GOP Neutrality
The Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee has taken a neutral position in several races in which there are GOP candidates on the Oct. 20 ballot, including the race for lieutenant governor. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, apparently has a base of GOP support in New Orleans for his re-election effort, even though many Republicans helped re-elect Mayor Ray Nagin last year over Landrieu. Landrieu faces two Republican challengers " Baton Rouge state Rep. Gary Beard and country singer Sammy Kershaw. In other races, the local GOP committee has issued 'no endorsement" in the following legislative races: Senate District 4, where incumbent Democrat Ed Murray has one GOP challenger, Thomas Kennedy; Senate District 5, an open seat where perennial candidate Andrew Gressett, a Republican, is again running; and House District 95, an open seat where Erin Anderson is the lone Republican candidate in a field of eight. Meanwhile, in House District 98, where three GOP candidates have qualified, the local committee has endorsed Murray Nelson; and in House District 94, the committee has endorsed Republican challenger Adrian Bruneau over Republican incumbent Rep. Nick Lorusso. In the New Orleans at-large City Council race, the committee endorsed Democrat Jackie Clarkson. No Republican qualified in that contest. " DuBos

The Word on WRDA
By now we all know how important the Water Resources Development Act could be for Louisiana. Everyone from the governor down to the state senator from Bourg is touting the measure as the key to coastal restoration, hurricane protection and flood control (there's also a sprinkling of pork in the bill for bridges and local programs). The bill has at least $3.6 billion, or 17 percent of its total, set aside for Louisiana. Congress passed the legislation overwhelmingly, but President George Bush has threatened a veto even in the face of a promised override by lawmakers. Congress hasn't passed a WRDA bill in seven years. The latest buzz on Capitol Hill is that 'W" may have the last word on WRDA after all " sort of " by using a pocket veto, or taking no action on the bill within 10 days of receiving it, thus making it an official law or act without his official blessing. 'Things are looking up," says state Sen. Reggie Dupre, who spoke via phone from Washington. 'Either way, I think we have a bill." Stephanie Allen, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, says the president has given no indication that he won't veto the bill. 'Given the strong, bi-partisan votes on the conference report in the House and Senate, it would make sense that he might reconsider and not have the fight with Congress," Allen says. When a bill is passed, technical corrections and other work begin to make the bill absolutely perfect before it's actually sent to the president, Allen adds. While it is unclear as to exactly when the 10-day countdown will begin, it should be very soon. " Alford

13 Choices, Little Time
Thirteen candidates for the New Orleans City Council At-Large seat " recently vacated by the admitted corruption of Oliver Thomas " are scheduled to face off at a two-hour forum beginning at 7 p.m. next Thursday (Oct. 11) at Xavier University. The Xavier forum will be co-hosted by the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the Committee for a Better New Orleans/Metropolitan Area Committee and the local League of Women Voters. 'This is the most important race in New Orleans," says Keith Twitchell, president of the CBNO/MAC. 'Clearly, the need for leadership in the city is great and council at-large is a significant position. So, we really need to make a choice." Twitchell says despite a recent reconciliation, tensions between Mayor Ray Nagin's administration and the council have 'reached an all-time high." Attorney Scott Shea, who served as a District A City Council member (2000-2002), agrees. 'The current council is under enormous pressure because of crime and the recovery." Shea says. " Johnson

Picking Horses
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo has endorsed gubernatorial candidate Walter Boasso, a state senator from Arabi who is running as a Democrat. It's proof that Boasso has been working the black community as promised, but more endorsements will need to come out " and fast " if Boasso wants to build momentum in the black community. Statewide, many black leaders are caucusing to determine whom to support in the governor's race. Our sources say the contest is between Democrat Boasso and Independent John Georges. To no one's surprise, those are also the two candidates with the most money. Meanwhile, Congressman Bobby Jindal, the GOP contender from Kenner, got the nod from Louisiana Independent Pharmacies Association this week, which represents more than 600 independent pharmacists. " Alford

Following Cleo
As veteran state Sen. Cleo Fields, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, waited to hear from the Louisiana Supreme Court as to whether he can legally dodge term limits and seek a fourth term in the Senate, other candidates for his job took their shots. The most aggressive is Jason DeCuir, a fellow Democrat whom Fields blames for the lawsuit challenging his candidacy. Fields was able to make a case for his candidacy because of a 2006 law authored by " get this " conservative Republican then-Rep. Peppi Bruneau, who pushed the bill to help fellow Republican state Rep. Wayne Waddell of Shreveport. Both Waddell and Fields were elected mid-term in special elections, and the bill sought to clarify when they officially took office for purposes of constitutionally imposed term limits. After the measure passed the House, it was discovered that it would benefit Fields as well as Waddell, but that did not stop GOP lawmakers from supporting it. Bruneau, in fact, showed up at the Supreme Court hearing in a show of support for Fields' cause. In case Fields doesn't make the cut, he has already chosen a successor who will benefit from his legendary GOTV operation: Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Dorsey, the speaker pro tem of the House, who is term-limited herself in the House. Fields told reporters last week in New Orleans that he would have her back. Others running in Senate District 14 include Republicans Scott Lemoine and Willis Reed and Democrat Steven K. Shilling. " Alford

Tough Ordinance
The recent spat between Mayor Ray Nagin and the City Council over the availability of a city department head could have been worse than the council's issuance of a few subpoenas and some hurt feelings. The City Charter allows the council to remove city department heads and other 'unclassified appointees" who do not enjoy full civil service protection. Section 3-125 of the Charter states: 'The Council may bring charges against any person appointed to the unclassified service for lack of qualifications, incompetence, neglect of duty" or job-related 'gross misconduct." An unclassified appointee also may be removed for failure to comply with a lawful directive of the Civil Service Commission or the new Inspector General. If the mayor or department head does not remove the accused, the council may order a public hearing with lawyers, the calling of witnesses and the presentation of evidence. If 'found guilty as charged," the council may then suspend or fire the unclassifed appointee, after a majority vote of its seven members, the charter states. No one at City Hall could recall the draconian measure being used. " Johnson

Back on the Road
Driving Louisiana Forward, a well-heeled coalition of local chambers and construction and engineering interests, is launching a statewide media campaign this week to garner support from legislative and statewide candidates. The campaign consists of more than 1,000 radio spots and online banner ads. The radio spots will run on statewide news-talk stations and the banner ads will appear on select newspaper Web sites. 'It's imperative that the next Legislature and the next governor address our transportation funding crisis by providing additional, recurring funds to our roads, bridges and port infrastructure," says Jennifer Marusak, communications director for Driving Louisiana Forward. The group proposes shifting transportation-related fees (such as vehicle sales taxes) from the general fund to the Transportation Trust Fund, as well as shifting nontransportation-related expenses currently in the trust fund (such as state police traffic control and DOTD retirement and health benefits) to the general fund. "Alford

You Man Enough?
The New Orleans League of Women Voters is looking for a few more good men. The nonpartisan voter information organization has lost 40 percent of its 173 members since Hurricane Katrina hit two years ago. The League, which now has 15 male members, is emphasizing diversity as it tries to meet increased demand for voter information. 'We welcome men," says League president Lea Young. 'Our main focus is voter information, good government." Young says her boss, Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau, is a member of the League, and past League presidents include community activist Jim Segreto. But the majority of the League's membership consists of determined, strong-willed women. 'It is intimidating," past-president Linda Walker warns. Members must be U.S. citizens and dues are $60 a year. Visit for more information. " Johnson

Morgan City Muck
Republicans don't have it tied up just yet, but House District 51 in Morgan City is looking like an easy flip for the GOP. Incumbent state Rep. Carla Dartez, a Democrat, has become an easy target. Her husband, Lenny J. Dartez, a member of the Democratic Party's State Central Committee, was arrested Tuesday for harboring illegal aliens through his construction business. Last month, Rep. Dartez was given a summons for improper lane usage after hitting a pedestrian with her vehicle. That conjured memories of other incidents. In 2003, she suffered four skull fractures and a dislocated shoulder from a motorcycle accident during Mardi Gras. In 1998, she was booked with a first-offense DWI in addition to driving without headlights, improper lane use and speeding. The attack ads should write themselves in this race, and GOP sources claim Dartez's re-elect numbers had already dropped below 30 percent before the immigrant issue surfaced. " Alford


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Pin It
Submit an event Jump to date

© 2018 Gambit
Powered by Foundation