Lawsuit against superintendent to move outside the session

Despite pleas to hold a hearing before the regular session ends, 19th Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant appears prepared to wait until August to address a lawsuit that questions the employment status of Education Superintendent John White.

The lawsuit was filed last week and is seeking a declaratory judgment on whether John White needs to be reconfirmed by the Senate before the end of the regular session on June 8.There are more than a dozen plaintiffs listed, including former state Rep. Brett Geymann and musician and educator Ganey Arsement. White is the defendant.

Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, is serving as counsel for the effort. He said he filed the suit “as a private Louisiana citizen on behalf of other Louisiana citizens.”

White was hired by the previous Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and was appointed and ratified during the last administration. He is continuing to serve as superintendent on a month-to-month basis.

“I’m going to continue to serve the children of Louisiana until BESE tells me not to,” White said in a statement.The lawsuit cites a provision in state law that states an “appointee may continue to serve until the end of the second regular session of the Legislature following the beginning of the legislative term at which time the position shall become vacant unless the appointee is reappointed to the position and has been confirmed by the Senate prior to the end of the second legislative session.”

In a recent interview Milkovich said the lawsuit was not a personal attack on White.

“However, we are very concerned and in sharp disagreement with the policies he has helped implement,” Milkovich said. “He pushed for the full scale implementation of Common Core, which is substantively flawed, academically inept and morally bankrupt.”

Arsement added, “BESE has a responsibility to appoint a superintendent which they have failed to do. It is widely agreed that thus far, they are within their rights to not appoint; however, that luxury is limited to the last day of the second regular session following the expiration of the term of appointment.”Landry: Sterling case waiting on fedsIt has been roughly one month since the U.S. Justice Department announced it would not charge the Baton Rouge officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.

That was also when federal officials said the investigation moves next to the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry.During a roughly one-hour interview on The LaPolitics Report podcast, Landry said that stateside investigation is still trying to find its footing.

“We still aren’t at day one,” Landry said on The LaPolitics Report. “We are working with the federal government to transfer the evidence over that is going to be housed by State Police and we will conduct a very thorough investigation.”Staffing changes for governorGov. John Bel Edwards’ communications office has a slightly new look.

The biggest change involves communications director Richard Carbo, who has been promoted to deputy chief of staff. He replaces Julie Baxter Payer and will be working directly under the new chief of staff, Mark Cooper.

Cooper’s appointment was actually confirmed by the Senate recently with very few questions coming from lawmakers.Press secretary Shauna Sanford gets an upgrade as well and is stepping in as the new communications director. Deputy press secretary Tucker Barry moves up a slot, too, replacing Sanford to become press secretary.

For now, no other major staffing changes are expected.EWE party updateAnother week brings another update on the 90th birthday party for former Gov. Edwin Edwards.

The shindig now has a website where tickets can be purchased:

Organizers, however, say every that cent will not be going to the former governor as his big gift, as reported in LaPolitics last month.

Expenses for the party are said to be significant and it’s meant to “commemorate his long and illustrious political career and recognize his important and meaningful contributions to the betterment of our state and people.”

Some of the party favors will include an official Edwards portrait, limited-number prints of original artwork for the event and a souvenir magazine.

Ads are even being sold inside the magazine as well, ranging from $75 to $500 depending on placement, and event sponsorships are available, from $3,000 to $5,000.

Short of that it’s $250 per ticket.

Lobbyists at the Capitol say they started receiving their invites and sponsorship pitches last week.Political History: Teddy Roosevelt and hippos on the bayouIn 1910 Congressman Robert Broussard, who referred to himself as “Cousin Bob” because he was supposedly related to at least 25 percent of Iberia Parish, introduced H.R. 23261.

At the time there was a meat shortage in America, and back home in Louisiana there was likewise a growing problem with invasive hyacinth clogging waterways.

Broussard’s legislation was straightforward. He wanted the feds to pony up $250,000 for hippopotamuses to be imported from Africa so they could be raised in the marshy bayous of Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast — and harvested for their meat.

Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times both endorsed the idea, according to American Hippopotamus, an Atavist magazine podcast led by Jon Mooallem.

Based on what recent generations of Louisianans have enjoyed for regular meals, you probably already know that this concept never gained favor in Congress, or with the American people.

But the story of hippo farming down the bayou takes a stranger turn when you consider the experts that Broussard cobbled together for his unique campaign — Frederick Russell Burnham and Fritz Duquesne — were at one time foreign spies who were actively trying to murder each other during the African conflicts involving British colonialists.They Said It“I’m so tired of hearing about the toolbox for economic development… This tool in the toolbox, I’ll tell you what my vision is, and this is my last statement. It’s a screwdriver. And guess who’s getting screwed?”

—Edgar Cage of Together Louisiana, to the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic and so am I.”

—Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston


About Jeremy Alford 211 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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