Thursday, 24 March 2011 15:09

Headline: Jindal Does Not Support Kostelka Map Plan For Louisiana

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Stephen Sabludowsky--Bayoubuzz PublisherIf you’re not confused as to Governor Bobby Jindal’s position on redistricting of the U.S. Congressional seat, try this:


On Tuesday, The Monroe News Star, other publications and even elected officials said that Jindal was supporting the “Kostelka map plan”.  In particular, the Monroe story said, “Jindal supports Kostelka map plan”.

The plan, which removes a Congressman from South Louisiana and keeps two Congressmen in North Louisiana, has been receiving very bad reviews in these lower Parishes.   Then, yesterday, Congressman Jeff Landry of the 3rd Congressional district, the Louisiana U.S. representative with the most to lose in the redistricting food fight went public. His campaign email from Tuesday night said:

“Landry: Governor Bobby Jindal Assures He Has NOT Endorsed the Kostelka Redistricting Plan


BATON ROUGE, LA – Yesterday evening Governor Bobby Jindal spoke with Congressman Jeff Landry and confirmed with Congressman Landry that he has not endorsed the Kostelka Congressional redistricting plan. This is in contrast to news reports assuming otherwise.

“The Governor and I spoke and he assured me that he is not endorsing the Kostelka redistricting plan,” said Jeff Landry.

The Kostelka plan has raised serious questions, most importantly the splitting of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. Local leaders from Terrebonne and Lafourche have spoken out strongly in favor of keeping the Parishes together. In addition, the two Parishes had the largest number of concerned citizens at their regional redistricting hearings than in any other location in the state.

Governor Jindal has stated he prefers two north Louisiana districts. The Kostelka plan does this - but also splits Terrebonne and Lafourche..

“The Governor also understands the concerns of the local people who do not want Terrebonne and Lafourche split. It is a concern I share and something I pledged to oppose during my campaign last year,” said Congressman Landry.”


Which led many to think that Governor Jindal heard the ground move and the heavens shake in South Louisiana and was crawling from his prior position like a cajun crawfish.


Now, despite these contradictions, I believe there was no change of positions at all.


Instead, I believe the entire conflict occurred due to an inaccurate newspaper headline which started the storm of anger from “down under Louisiana”.  This was an article that other media repeated (including Bayoubuzz).  So did other key legislators.  And, unfortunately, the Jindal administration did not take the horn and clearly refute the story.


Amid this confusion, here’s how the story continued..

On Wednesday morning, those watching this mess (including yours truly) did not know whether Governor Jindal supported or did not back the Kostelka map plan as previously reported.


Then, mid-Wednesday, another e-missive came out of the Landry camp, which said:


 “From an article by Jeremy Alford just published in the Houma Courier:



“He told me that he hadn’t endorsed Kostelka’s plan, but he basically supports any plan that preserves two north Louisiana districts,” Landry said. “He said he doesn’t advocate splitting up Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.”

Asked if the statements are accurate, Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s press secretary, supplied a two-sentence response: “We’re not opposed to keeping Terrebonne and Lafourche together. The only thing we have committed to is to have two north Louisiana districts that run north-south.”


Note the Kostelka plan separates Terrebonne and Lafourche


So, after this second Landry e-mail some of us were asking--how could Governor Jindal support the Kostelka plan, yet not support the plan?


After all, the Monroe News Star article said something totally different.  


Here’s what the article said, in relevant parts:

“Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday he will actively support a congressional map retaining two districts in northern Louisiana that includes Monroe as one population hub and Shreveport as the other.

"It makes sense for north Louisiana to have two districts," Jindal said in an interview with The News-Star before he spoke here during a Catahoula Parish town hall meeting. "Both are important communities with their own interests."

The current 5th Congressional District also includes Alexandria as a population center.

When asked if his administration is lobbying lawmakers to support the concept, he said yes.

The article also stated, “Third District U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, opposes the plan, which would throw him into the same district with U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who would be considered the favorite in an election.

"We asked the delegation, and this was the consensus plan," Jindal said. "It wasn't unanimous, but it's almost impossible to get unanimous support. The delegation has traditionally had a say in the new map."



After reading the emails, the Monroe article, I began to write this column to say the confusion appeared to emanate from that Monroe newspaper headline.






So, this morning, I was ready to publish the story with my theory when I decided to call Kyle Plotkin, Governor Jindal’s press secretary once again to see if I could find the missing piece to this puzzle.


To my luck, I was able to reach Plotkin.


So, I asked him how did the Kostelka confusion occur?


And he said without my prompting that that headline said one thing “but if you read the story the governor said something different”.  Plotkin said the Governor does not support the Kostelka plan per se but as he has said before, Jindal backs the principle of two north Louisiana Congressional districts.


No matter how the story started and changed, as it is currently written might diffuse some angers down in Terrebonne and Lafourche but it certainly has not allayed the concerns of many in South Louisiana who see North Louisiana keeping a Congressional seat that many southerners believe they don’t need or at least, don’t need compared to the southern part of the state.  


The new Jindal landscape could be good news for Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes but not so good news for other southern Parishes who are loathe to the idea that region would be losing congressional clout while keeping seats for the North which has been losing population.


Which means the special session which started out with the shortest speech in governor Jindal’s history is turning out to be a protracted mystery full confusions and diffusions.


So gang, get your popcorn and your coke. This redistricting fun has just begun.

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