Tuesday, 15 October 2013 17:49

DC Disaster, Landrieu, Cassidy get help and a GOP Obamacare treat

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bloodWith Congress and the White House still negotiating over whether to keep government open, the public relations campaigns continue to attract the eyes and minds of the Louisiana voters.

 There are few niceties as all of the political sides are trying to extract whatever they can whenever they see a sight of blood.

Today, our Bayoubuzz inbox runneth over in red with political emails from the right and left, slashing republicans and democrats, respecively and unrespectfully, alike.  Who is getting the upper hand in this political PR world?  Let's see...

This from Ron Faucheux of Clarus:  

(among adults nationwide)
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way _______ is/are handling negotiations over the federal budget?"
Barack Obama
• Approve 42%
• Disapprove 53%
The Republicans in Congress
• Approve 21%
• Disapprove 74%
The Democrats in Congress
• Approve 33%
• Disapprove 61%
COMMENT: A majority of voters disapprove of the way everybody has handled the budget negotiations––but the Republicans in Congress have taken the brunt of the wrath with a 74% disapproval rating.

**** Washington Post/ABC News, Oct. 9-13


Louisiana Republicans get some learning

Well, it might be a little late, but better late than sorry.  When the Jindal education reform sped through the Louisiana legislature, opponents complained that the hearings were not only unfair but too short.

Jindal, SEnator Vitter and others blasted some of the teachers from around the state for taking off one day to rally at the legislature.   

But, there is always time to get some learning about reform.   Thus, an email today from the legislature so said:  

On Thursday, members of the Louisiana House Republican Delegation will be going into local public schools across the state to discuss matters of education reform with teachers, principals, and administrators.

"It's important for us to seek the opinions of those who are down in the trenches," said House Republican Delegation Chairman Representative Lance Harris. "We want to hear from them the problems they're facing and discuss viable solutions."

Republican legislators from across the state have signed up to spend part of the day in their local public schools.

"It's important for us to get into the community and talk with our constituents," Harris said. "We've made a lot of progress through our education reform efforts over the least few years, and we want to see firsthand how they are impacting teachers and students."

During the 2013 legislative session, Republican legislators were instrumental in securing an additional $69 million to be allocated to K - 12 education in the 2014 budget.

The additional funding appropriated to public education began as an amendment by Republican senators in the Senate Finance Committee. This action made it possible for the budget conference committee to work in a bipartisan effort to enhance the needed funding for K - 12 public schools and teacher pay raises.

"Republicans have fought tirelessly to ensure that Louisiana children have the opportunity to receive a quality education," Harris said. "Already we see the results and we are dedicated to further pursuing bold conservative reforms...because they work."

Little help from our friends

With Mary Landrieu well ahead of her major opponent Bill Cassidy in fundraising, she is still getting help from her party friends, as is Cassidy.  Well, not all of Cassidy's friends, actually.  Rob Maness of Tea Party fame bearing down on Cassidy's right flank while republican State Rep. Alan Seabaugh is debating whether to make the run.  None of that will stop the Democrats as they smell political blood in what is considered a blood-red republican state. Here is how the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is attempting to connect the republican challenger Cassidy to the Washington DC disaster: 

Republican Senate hopefuls like Bill Cassidy led the charge to a reckless government shutdown and now he’s held the government and the economy hostage for two full weeks. For thousands of Louisianians, and their families, the indefinite shutdown is having serious effects on their everyday lives.

• The Times-Picayune reported that the shutdown is affecting anglers who take advantage of national wildlife refuges in South Louisiana. The editorial board at the Baton Rouge Advocate added, “We hope the budget stalemate in Washington is resolved soon, and that business as usual in the sportsman’s paradise can resume.”
• Louisiana veterans are “troubled” by the government shutdown, the Daily Advertiser reported.
• The Town Talk reported that the government shutdown is affecting Louisiana craft beer brewers who cannot move forward with new beers without labels being approved from ATF workers who have been furloughed.

Over the last two weeks, Bill Cassidy’s government shutdown has significantly harmed the economy, endangered jobs, and resulted in devastating consequences for Louisiana’s small businesses, seniors, students, homeowners, and children as the GOP refuses to back down from their partisan political ultimatums.
“As Bill Cassidy’s partisan and reckless government shutdown continues, Louisianians are continuing to feel its devastating effects,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Bill Cassidy is putting his own partisanship and recklessness ahead of Louisiana and Louisianians will remember in 2014 he’s ensuring the shutdown continues for over two weeks. Bill Cassidy should immediately bring an end to his partisan political ultimatums, surrender his allegiance to Ted Cruz, and do the right thing for Louisiana.”
While reckless Republicans led the way towards a government shutdown, Democrats repeatedly warned of the devastating consequences a government shutdown would have on the economy and worked diligently to prevent such an occurrence. Now that the GOP has taken reckless and irresponsible steps to shut down the government, Democrats will hold Republicans accountable for their reckless government shutdown and the fact they blatantly ignored the danger their actions pose to the country. Polls continue to show that the American people are holding Republicans responsible for the shutdown they caused.
The DSCC’s “GOP Shutdown Watch” campaign highlights Republican Senate candidates across the country who were behind the push for a government shutdown and the devastating consequences it will have on voters in their home states. The DSCC’s sustained campaign will feature web-ads, online ads, Twitter and Facebook, and up to the minute “GOP Shutdown Watch” news alerts, highlighting the latest developments in the Republican government shutdown.
Five Times, Cassidy Voted For Extreme House Republican Plans That Would Shutdown Government. [HJ Res 59, Vote #478, 9/20/13; CNN, 9/20/13; CNN, 9/29/13; Vote #498, 9/29/13; Vote 502, 9/30/13; Vote 504, 9/30/13; Vote 505, 10/1/13]
Three Times, Cassidy Blocked Clean Vote to Re-Open the Government. [Vote #512, 10/2/13; TPM, 10/2/13; Vote #515, 10/3/13; Vote #517, 10/3/13]
Cassidy Signed A Letter Asking GOP House Leadership Not To Support Any Spending Bill Unless The Affordable Care Act Is Defunded. “U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy joined more than one-third of U.S. House Republicans in urging the leadership to threaten to force a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded… The letter that Cassidy signed onto includes 80 of the House’s 233 Republicans and asks the GOP House leadership not to support any spending bill — including a needed continuing resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown after Sept. 30 — unless the Affordable Care Act health care law is defunded.” [The Advocate, 8/25/13]

Political Real Estate

While the republicans might be losing politically nationally over the shutdown and quarrel over the debt ceiling, the National Republican Senatorial Committee are still trying to draw the dots between Landrieu and scandal.  Have they made any ground, or real political estate over her husband's profession?  Here's the latest...

Nearly seven weeks ago, news stories revealed that the most powerful Washington lobbyists with business before Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have paid potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to Landrieu's husband Frank Snellings forreal estate deals, raising significant ethical questions. After almost two months of hiding behind her taxpayer funded staff and continued stories that call into question potentially serious conflicts of interest, Senator Landrieu has finally broke the silence - in defense of her husband’s real estate company’s clients.

At a recent press conference, Landrieu said: "The Tea Party has to understand that they cannot hold government and our private partners --which are many from big companies like Boeing and Lockheed, to small companies that are represented here -- hostage over their inability to get a law that they don't like amended."
As the Washington Examiner notes: “That's an interesting choice of companies, considering that Lockheed and Boeing are both lobbying clients of Tony Podesta, who recently paid $50,000 to Landrieu's husband, realtor Frank Snellings.”

Landrieu’s latest outburst comes after multiple reports that make clear that Landrieu’s focus is on representing the interests of her husband's powerful lobbyist clients - not Louisianans:

  • The liberal Huffington Post reported: "mixing personal finances with political connections runs the risk that one party or the other could potentially have more than just real estate in mind. [Beltway super lobbyist Tony] Podesta, for instance, counts giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin and oil behemoth BP among his clients.Landrieu, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and comes from a state with a booming oil industry, is undoubtedly a key senator in the eyes of both of these corporations." Most notable, Podesta, "the veteran lobbyist rarely misses an opportunity to strengthen his network of powerful friends."
  • The National Review noted: "Tony Podesta isn’t the only BP lobbyist paying Senator Mary Landrieu’s husband for real-estate services. Jason Schendle, a BP lobbyist and former Landrieu staffer, also used Frank Snellings, Landrieu’s husband, to purchase a $687,500 Capitol Hill townhouse in March. Landrieu’s office did not disclose how much Schendle paid Snellings, but based on industry practices it was likely around $20,000. Snellings is being paid for services by lobbyists whose clients have business before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on which his wife,Landrieu, serves as a senior member, prompting questions about a conflict of interest." 
  • The Huffington Post lists several influential lobbyists who have a cozy relationship with Mary Landrieu and Snellings: Richard Zuschlag, a health care industry CEO andLandrieu donor; Melissa Maxfield, top lobbyist at Comcast; Former Louisiana Rep. Chris John (D) who now lobbies for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, in which "Later the same year, Landrieu made news in Washington when she cast a deciding vote with Republicans to maintain billions of dollars in subsidies for the oil industry"; among many others.

After details of the unfolding story continued to emerge, Frank Snellings' website still boasts of his marital and political ties to Landrieu, and features a large picture of the Capitol Building.  Landrieu has made clear that her husband's clients come first, but she still has many important questions to answer over the real estate scandal: 

  1. What issues did Tony Podesta personally lobby Mary Landrieu on? 
  2. What issues and clients did Heather Podesta have before Mary Landrieu?  
  3. What issues and clients have other lobbyists including Richard Zuchlag, Melissa Maxfield and Chris John lobbied Mary Landrieu on?
  4. Will Frank Snellings release a full list of his real estate clients? How many had business before Mary Landrieu? 
  5. How much did the Landrieu family profit from these real estate deals? 

"Actions speak louder than words. While Mary Landrieu has been tight lipped about the real estate scandal engulfing her campaign, her actions suggest a strong loyalty to her husband's powerful lobbyist clients who have potentially paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions to the Landrieu family," said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. "Landrieuhas made no effort to clear this up and shed light on the murky web of relationships between her, Frank Snellings and Washington's most powerful lobbyists. Instead, Landrieu seems more concerned with using her federal office to defend her husband’s clients. Louisianans deserve better"

To stay up to date on Landrieu’s wheeling and dealing, visit Landrieuforsale.com.


Lawsuit time

(Metairie – October 15, 2013) The Jefferson Federation of Teachers and 12 teachers filed suit today against the Jefferson Parish School Board, claiming that the board has breached individual contracts with employees by failing to maintain teachers’ level of benefits and planning time.
The lawsuit was filed in the 24th Judicial District Court by JFT and 13 teachers.
“After the school board refused to renew the collective bargaining agreement with the union, the school board devised individual contracts that teachers were required to sign,” Munch said. “The school board alone developed the contracts, and now they are breaking their word.”
The lawsuit quotes the teacher contract, which binds the board to “…maintain the current schedule of benefits for teachers…in the amounts contributed by the system that are in place at the date of the signing of this contract…”
The lawsuit lists four areas in which the school board violated the agreement that it imposed on teachers: The board reduced the promised level of dental, vision and life insurance benefits promised to teachers; it reduced the amount of money that the contract guarantees will be provided for teacher benefits; it denied daily planning time promised to some teachers by the contract; and it denied payment for accrued sick leave that is owed to some teachers under prior policy and the new contracts.
But instead of keeping the same benefits which teachers enjoyed under the JFT Health and Welfare Fund, the board contracted for supplemental insurance benefits that actually increase costs to teachers, reduce benefits and require some of them to find new health care providers.
“The deal that the board made saved Jefferson Parish two cents per month per teacher, but teachers receive fewer benefits at higher cost and cannot choose their own providers,” Munch said. “How can they claim that they are maintaining the current schedule of benefits?”
In the contracts that teachers were required to sign, the board promised to maintain its level of support for benefits, which was $400 per teacher at the time of signing. But last March the board unilaterally decided to reduce its contribution to $325 per teacher, which violates the individual contracts, according to the JFT lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the board is breaking its promise to provide teachers with “an uninterrupted planning and preparation time each day equal to the length of a class period.”
In spite of that contractual requirement, school administrators have told some teachers that they must supervise students while on their planning time, or that they could only have planning time on alternate days.
“The contract that the board wrote promises duty-free planning time every day,” Munch said. “It’s shameful that we have to sue them to make them keep their word.”
Since 1981, the lawsuit claims, Jefferson Parish has paid teachers for up to 25 days of accrued sick leave when they left the system “whether that termination was by resignation, involuntary termination, retirement or to their heirs upon death.”
But just last month, the board changed that policy. Under the new policy, teachers who resign or are terminated are no longer entitled to be paid for accrued sick leave that they accrued under the old policy.
“Once again,” Munch said, “the board seems to believe that a contract means nothing.”
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Nancy Picard and Larry Samuel, asks the court to declare the board’s contractual obligations to maintain the appropriate level of benefits, to continue contributing $400 per teacher per year for supplemental insurance benefits, to provide the promised duty-free planning time, and to recognize teachers’ vested rights to up to 25 days of accrued sick leave. The suit also asks that the board reimburse JFT for the cost of filing the lawsuit.

Maintaining the seat

During the Louisiana Democratic Party's most recent annual dinner, one of the major points being pushed was the Louisiana Democrats could take a Congressional seat, at last.  Well, not so fast.

According to Clyde Holloway's campaign, the rightful heir of the 5th Congressional District seat vacated by Rodney Alexander appears to be staying in the red.

Here's the latest:

Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway (R – Forest Hill) and State Senator Neil Riser (R - Columbia) appear headed for a runoff, according to Holloway pollster Dr. Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight.           

In a survey completed early last week, Holloway and Riser were just a few points apart, and within the poll’s margin of error, but 10 points ahead of the nearest candidate. All other candidates were grouped between 3% and 6%. Holloway showed his greatest strength across the parishes he has represented in both Congress and as Public Service Commissioner. But Holloway’s most impressive gains came from the Florida Parishes which were added to this district over the last reapportionment.

Said Holloway, “I am grateful to the many loyal and dedicated supporters who value my history as a true conservative, both fiscally and socially.  They know that I can reach across party lines to build bridges of understanding. Our campaign has won strong support from voters who believe candidates should be elected, not anointed.  People are tired of the divisive, politics-first/people-last shenanigans in Washington.” Added Holloway, “I’m eager to debate Neil on his positions, Louisiana’s future, America’s rights and independence. Louisiana can have influence on putting America back on track. But, we won’t do it with puppet politics.  The voters will get it right.”

 Dr. Dracula Obamacare, I presume

Nobody can doubt that the budget talks, the threat of worldwide economic collapse due to default is putting the scare into many of us.  The Democrats appear to be getting the better of the deal with the GOP on the ropes.  Many, including mainstream republicans will blame the Tea Party and Ted Cruz for the nightmare on Constitution and  Pennsylvania Avenues we have experienced lately.

But, you can bet the Democrats are going to make their victory somewhat short-lived.  Thanks to Obamacare's website catastrophe, it is only right to wonder how wrong the rest of the healthcare medicine might taste.

Below is a little video treat from our friends at the Republican Party: 


Stephen Sabludowsky



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