Jindal rejects forum hosted by teachers

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday one of the state’s largest teacher unions stands in the way of his education initiatives.

Jindal refused to participate in a candidate forum hosted by the Louisiana Association of Educators.

The LAE represents about 20,000 teachers and other school personnel.

“It’s no secret we tend to disagree on the need for reform, the speed of reform,” the governor said.

Jindal cited efforts to give schools a letter grade and to create a teacher’s bill of rights.

He said LAE, too many times, stood in front of changes.

LAE President Joyce Haynes said a chair will be saved for Jindal at the debate.

“We’ve been trying to have a conversation with the governor since he first stepped into office. To date, he has continued to refuse to meet about — or even discuss — the growing educational issues with professional educators,” Haynes said Friday in a prepared statement.

Fayard eyes races for Congress, PSC

Democrat Caroline Fayard, who lost a bid to become the state’s lieutenant governor last year in a runoff, said Tuesday she is considering running for the Public Service Commission or Congress next year.

Fayard said she would run against U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, if she jumps into that race.

She denied that an investigation into her campaign finances caused her not to run for secretary of state in the Oct. 22 primary. “The ethics investigation had zero influence on my decision not to run,” she said.

Complaints have been raised that Fayard’s family circumvented state campaign contribution limits by funneling money to her campaign through the Democratic Party.

Assistant secretary leaves post at DHH

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein is searching for a new assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health.

Clayton Williams has left the job.

Greenstein has tapped his chief of staff, J.T. Lane, to step into the job temporarily while a statewide and national search goes on for Williams’ successor.

Academy students’ artwork on display

Three Baton Rouge students’ artwork will be displayed at the Governor’s Mansion this month.

The students, who all attend Victory Academy, are fifth-grader Maggie Ashley, eighth-grader Dillon Dearman and fourth-grader Dawson Blair.

Schoolchildren’s art is displayed every month at the mansion.

“From our state’s celebrated symbols to the abundance of wildlife, Louisiana continues to serve as inspiration to its children and their artwork,” first lady Supriya Jindal said in a prepared statement.

Treasurer offers state officials’ goals

State Treasurer John Kennedy’s official job is to oversee the daily finances of state government.

Unofficially, Kennedy is casting himself as an unsolicited adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal and other state officials.

Kennedy suggested Wednesday that the state’s leaders should set for themselves five goals to meet during the next four years.

He advocated lowering taxes, finishing work on Interstate 49, reducing state government spending, raising teacher pay and reducing out-of-wedlock births.

“Louisiana’s political leaders need to acknowledge this problem. They need to end their embarrassed silence,” Kennedy said of babies born out of wedlock.

Political adviser: GOP course not set

Roy Fletcher, the political consultant who persuaded Mike Foster to switch parties and helped the little-known state senator into the Governor’s Mansion, said Thursday in an interview that it is too early to read the lay of the land under Louisiana’s new Republican majority.

Eventually, Fletcher said, the political marketplace, where the currency is votes, will force Republicans to seek competing positions on various issues. Some candidates will push more moderate lines, others more conservative, as individual candidates start courting votes, Fletcher said.

“I don’t know we’re there right now. We’re in new territory right now. It’ll take time,” he said.

Mansion spotlights cancer awareness

Pink lights bathed the Governor’s Mansion last week in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

First lady Supriya Jindal said in a prepared statement that breast cancer affects thousands of Louisiana families.

“In lighting the Mansion pink, we want to send a message to the mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends in Louisiana that together we can all fight breast cancer and do what it takes to keep our families safe, happy and healthy,” Jindal said.

Agency head wins technology award

State Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Ruth Johnson recently was honored for her use of technology in state government.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers, or NASCIO, gave Johnson the State Technology Innovator award.

“Her leadership has advanced citizen service, information sharing and good government, and we applaud her commitment to these efforts,” the organization’s president, Dugan Petty, said in a prepared statement.

Johnson recently launched a new, centralized hotline to report the abuse and neglect of children. The number is (855) 4LA-KIDS.

State retirement on Press Club slate

Cindy Rougeou, executive director of the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, will be the guest speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Rougeou will discuss the Oct. 22 vote on Constitutional Amendment No. 2, which, if passed, would apply a percentage of state surplus funds to retirement system debt.

Also, Rougeou will respond to the Blueprint Louisiana suggestions to “re-engineer public retirement benefits.”

The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St., downtown Baton Rouge. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and news media are allowed to ask questions.

Candidate forums host No. 2 hopefuls

Incumbent Jay Dardenne and challenger Billy Nungesser are scheduled to participate in the League of Women Voters lieutenant governor’s candidate forum Thursday.

Dardenne, a former secretary of state, was elected lieutenant governor in a special election last year. Nungesser, who is Plaquemines Parish president, is trying to stop Dardenne’s Oct. 22 re-election bid.

Dardenne and Nungesser are both Republicans.

The forum will be at Drusilla Seafood, 3482 Drusilla Lane. Doors open at 11:15 a.m. and the program begins at noon.

Lunch is $25 for nonmembers and $20 for members. Reservations are recommended. Email lwvbr@lwvbr.org or call (225) 334-9999 or (225) 927-2255.

Other joint appearances are on the horizon.

Dardenne and Nungesser have agreed to participate in televised debates-forums sponsored by two New Orleans television stations, WDSU and WWL, according to news producers.

The programs are scheduled to air in the week leading up to election day.

Obama jobs bill support rally set

The Capital City Council of MoveOn.org in Baton Rouge is hosting a “Jobs Not Cuts Rally,” at noon Saturday on the steps of the State Capitol.

A number of polls show that many Americans support passing President Barack Obama’s jobs bill, raising taxes on the very wealthy in our society, and better regulating the financial markets, said Ed Behan of the organization in a prepared statement.

For more information, go to http://civic.moveon.org/event/jncweekofaction/121856.

Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Contact email is mballard@ theadvocate.com.