State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said 800 people turned out for a gathering on Common Core on Sept. 29 in Moss Bluff.

“Just real people with real concerns,” Geymann said in a text message about the gathering’s attendees.

Geymann is one of the Legislature’s top critics of the new academic standards in reading, writing and math.

Lt. Gov. gets Mounds of candy for replica

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has a scaled-down replica of Poverty Point made out of candy bars in his office.

Dardenne, a Republican who is running for governor next year, posted photos of the homage to the West Carroll Parish earthworks on his Facebook page Thursday and announced that Hershey’s had donated 1,001 Mounds candy bars to celebrate Poverty Point’s designation as the 1,001st site inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Dardenne plans to hand out the candy bars at the site’s inscription ceremony Oct. 11 in Epps.

Report: 50K Senate race ads have aired

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, has updated its monthly analysis of political ads and found that candidates, parties and groups have run at least 50,100 TV ads in the Louisiana U.S. Senate race through September.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is locked in a heated re-election battle against Republicans Bill Cassidy, currently a congressman, and Rob Maness, a retired military colonel. Recent polls haven’t been favorable to Landrieu, and the seat frequently has been cited as one that Republicans can grab this cycle. The election is Nov. 4, and a runoff will be Dec. 6 if no one gets 50 percent of the vote the first time around.

The Center for Public Integrity has ranked Louisiana sixth in the country for the amount that has been spent on TV ads in the race — at least $17.9 million, so far.

Three of the states that ranked higher than Louisiana by dollar amount — Georgia, Michigan and Colorado — actually had fewer ads appear on TV, the center’s data shows.

In Louisiana, 32,800 of the television ads this cycle have come from Democrats, the center’s analysis found. That comes out to about $3.44 spent per every eligible voter.

Meanwhile, about 17,200 have come from Republicans — the equivalent of about $1.93 per eligible voter.

Find the complete breakdown and how it compares to other states at the Center for Public Integrity’s website, www.publicintegrity.org.

Seniors boo health care law opponents

Usually the eight Republican candidates bash the Affordable Care Act to great applause from most audiences in the overwhelmingly GOP 6th Congressional District.

Polls show the president and his signature program are not particularly popular among many Louisiana voters. Not so with this crowd of Baton Rouge elderly.

To be fair, the 400 or so grandmas and grandpas who frequent the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging, which sponsored the forum for candidates, cheered long and loud for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, one of the Democrats running for the seat. That could be why only four of the eight Republican candidates showed up for the forum.

Republican candidate Garret Graves started by talking up some of the good things about the Affordable Care Act. The elderly crowd started grumbling loudly. Graves switched directions and flat-out announced his opposition to Obamacare, saying, “I don’t think the government is the solution.”

He was booed, and moderator Clay Young stepped in, saying, “This is not Friday night at the juke joint. This is a forum. We’re all adults; let’s act like adults.”

GOP candidate Dan Claitor said, “I am for the repeal of the president’s program.” Only a person or two clapped.

Cassidy criticizes charter funding lawsuit

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, criticized a lawsuit filed last week by a teachers union that contends some charter schools are getting improper state aid.

The legal challenge was filed by the Louisiana Association of Educators and claims that certain charter schools should not be getting state aid through the Minimum Foundation Program.

“I oppose this lawsuit because it’s apparent that the Louisiana Association of Educators does not have students’ best interests at heart,” Cassidy said in a prepared statement.

“We should be focused on encouraging our children’s success, not discouraging it by catering to bureaucracy,” the statement said.

Charter schools are public schools run by nongovernmental boards.

Cassidy’s wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, is cofounder of the Louisiana Key Academy, a charter school in Baton Rouge for students with dyslexia.

The school is one of those targeted in the lawsuit.

Rep.: Citizens need to be convinced to spend

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, who is running for governor in 2015, told a task force studying state road needs that part of the problem is convincing Louisiana residents they need to spend more.

“We have always promised people they could get something for nothing,” Edwards said.

He said the state could spend $100 million per year repairing bad bridges, and 30 years later, a new round of repairs would be needed.

“All options should be on the table,” Edwards said of efforts to find answers to road and bridge problems.

LSU attorney: Funding issue led to deal review

LSU private contract attorney John Murrill said the stripping of financial guarantees in hospital privatization contracts drove revisions of the pacts.

Murrill said the absence of the Medicaid funding guarantees led to hospital officials’ insistence on “a right to terminate (the contracts) for convenience with a 60-day notice.”

“We sought a reciprocal right for LSU,” Murrill said. “The partners resisted that.”

LSU lost that battle.

The funding issue also led to a provision that reduced private partner obligations to provide the same level of health care services LSU had provided, Murrill said.

LSU’s private partners argued, “If there’s no commitment to us to be paid, then we should not be obligated to continue those core services at the same level,” Murrill told the LSU Board of Supervisors.

The partners said they needed “some flexibility,” he said.

The LSU board approved the altered agreements without objection.

LSU and state health officials hope the new pact will allay the state’s problems with getting the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to go along with a change in the state Medicaid financing that’s key to their operations. CMS, which provides the major share of Medicaid funding, did not like the financial guarantees inserted in the contracts.

Now the issue is back in CMS’s shop.

Jindal reappoints Graphia to tax board

Gov. Bobby Jindal reappointed retired East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court Judge Tony Graphia to the state Board of Tax Appeals.

Graphia will continue to serve as the board’s chairman.

Jindal also named Kerry Hand, an attorney from Metairie, to the three-member panel.

State treasurer to address BR Press Club

State Treasurer John Kennedy will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Kennedy is expected to challenge the Louisiana Legislature to exert its oversight authority on state employee health plan changes.

The Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. 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 the news media are allowed to ask questions.

Jindal to unveil foreign policy plan Monday

Gov. Bobby Jindal will unveil on Monday his latest national plan through his nonprofit America Next — this time dealing with foreign policy.

According to a news release from America Next, Jindal’s defense plan, which was co-authored by former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, of Missouri, calls for the country “to rebuild America’s military strength and reaffirm the United States as a force for freedom and stability around the world.”

Jindal, who continues to inch toward a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 despite no formal announcement, will be at the American Enterprise Institute in D.C. on Monday to discuss the proposal and follow that up with a speech in South Carolina at The Citadel military college on Tuesday.

Plaquemines president candidates to debate

Plaquemines Parish President candidates are set to debate Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Belle Chasse High School auditorium.

Candidates for councilmen will introduce themselves and answer a short series of questions.

The debates will air on the parish cable station and will be posted to YouTube.