The Advocate’s Capitol Buzz political notebook from Sunday informs us that John Bel Edwards has a 55 percent approval rating so far. So says last week’s Mason Dixon poll, which also said Donald Trump is drubbing Hillary Clinton by 20 points in Louisiana and that John Kennedy and Foster Campbell are your likely runoff participants in the Senate race.
It also recounts an interesting tidbit about Edwards’ leisure time…
For his first vacation since taking office, Gov. John Bel Edwards went on a four-day elk-hunting trip in Colorado.
Among the group of five hunters was Taylor Townsend, a major Edwards fundraiser whom the governor tapped to head a team of lawyers planning to sue the oil and gas industry on behalf of the state — a move that has stirred controversy.
“He’s a friend,” said Edwards, who returned Tuesday. “This is a trip that he makes every year and has for, I don’t know, the last 15 or 20 years. It was an opportunity to go on a hunt. He knows that I like to hunt, and so I got an invitation.”
Edwards said he is paying for his share of the expenses — about $2,700 for the hunting, including the license — and his portion of the cost of the private plane they took. He doesn’t know how much the plane costs because it hasn’t been billed yet, Edwards said.
“Would it be improper if someone did pay for my trip? The answer is yes. So you know damn well I paid for it,” Edwards said.
Townsend, a trial attorney and former state House member from Natchitoches, said he didn’t pay for any portion of Edwards’ trip.
Accompanying Townsend and the governor were Daniel Edwards, his brother and Tangipahoa Parish sheriff; state Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria and vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary A Committee, which oversees legislation concerning the attorney general and civil litigation; and Bryant Hammett, a former state House member from Ferriday who also was the secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries during former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration.
On Monday, Gov. Edwards bagged an elk with a 260-yard shot across a canyon from one ridge to another in a light snow.
He said once the meat arrives from the processor, he plans to hold a dinner party at the Governor’s Mansion.
“I am paying for the processing of my meat,” the governor said. “I intend to invite the entire hunting party, plus their spouses, to come and eat. So Taylor Townsend will be coming to the mansion, as well, to eat elk with me because he’s a friend.”
That trip might have been Edwards’ first vacation, but it wasn’t his first Colorado excursion while in office. Here’s a little-known fact – when heavy rains pelted South Louisiana in mid-August and put about half of the state under water, Edwards was nowhere near Baton Rouge. Instead he was in Aspen for the Democrat Governors’ Association conference. Edwards announced at the time that he was returning to Louisiana on Friday, August 12 – the first day of three in which historic rain fell on the area – but he was scheduled to speak that afternoon.
We don’t know when Edwards actually made it back to Louisiana, but he wasn’t on the scene to work the disaster until some time on Saturday. By that point it had been private individuals, rather than government, which took the lead in rescuing and sheltering people from the flood.
Why does this matter? Well, here’s something to consider – there was no evacuation order given. This wasn’t a hurricane, so there is some reason to doubt the necessity of one, but on the other hand the weather services had been predicting a massive rain event for a whole week prior to it getting started.
Furthermore, there had been a sizable flooding in the Baton Rouge area in 1983, so it was already known what parts of the area were most likely to go under water if there had been huge rains. How difficult would it have been to order an evacuation of all the parts of Baton Rouge which had flooded in 1983?
There is an estimate that the flood caused some $8 billion in property damage to South Louisiana. A not-insignificant proportion of that damage was flooded cars. Cars are movable – in an evacuation they can be removed from danger of flooding.
Edwards was in Colorado and didn’t order the evacuation. Perhaps the car dealers in Baton Rouge thank him for it. He’s lucky the Cajun Navy and Cajun Army were around to bail him out as well, because otherwise he would have been the second coming of Kathleen Blanco.
And if he was a Republican the Advocate wouldn’t have extolled his marksmanship – they’d be screaming about all the time he spends outside Louisiana when his constituents need him.
For our part, he can spend as much time in Colorado as he wants. He does less damage when he’s there, and we’re beyond expecting leadership from politicians. That’s a quaint 20th century notion without much application to current times.
David Vitter is leaving the Senate in January to become a private citizen again. Before he goes, though, he’s giving out a guidebook to all of the candidates vying to replace him.
The Republican incumbent, who isn’t seeking re-election on the Nov. 8 ballot, sent major candidates in the Senate race the comprehensive, 102-page guidebook .
The document includes information about how he handled town hall meetings, flag and tour requests, satellite office hours and constituent communications.
It outlines how to connect people to government agencies that handle individual problems, like issues with Social Security payments and veterans’ affairs. Vitter’s guide offers tips for using social media and Senate rules for mass mailings.
One chapter describes types of federal grant programs. Another walks through the nomination process for the U.S. Military, Naval and Air Force academies. The guide includes sample media advisories and town hall notices.
Some might poo-pooh this, but the fact remains that for whatever faults Vitter may have had he built an unquestionably good constituent services program. Many said it was that aspect of his performance as a Senator which saved his 2010 re-election following the 2007 revelations of his “hooker problem.”
Whoever wins that Senate race would do well to follow as much of that guidebook, and perhaps even retain as much of Vitter’s staff, as possible.
Here’s some hopeful news…
The river diversion projects work. And they disprove a narrative we’re constantly told – which is that sea level is rising and Louisiana’s coast is being submerged.
That’s true perhaps as far as it goes – the coast, where it’s composed of marshland, gets submerged by the Gulf of Mexico when it’s not replenished by the Mississippi River every spring. But the decision to levee the Mississippi to its mouth and deny the marshland all that river silt, made nearly 100 years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers, is what caused the loss of the coast.
This needs to be understood and remembered as we watch the governor, his hunting pal and their private cabal of attorneys attempt to do to the oil and gas industry what he did to that elk with those coastal lawsuits. Service canals cut through the marshes are not the cause of coastal loss. It’s the river, stupid.
For today’s last thing, we can’t provide any better entertainment than this.
Seriously. How can it get better than this?