When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Boasso, a state senator from Arabi, dropped his TV bomb last week on GOP frontrunner Bobby Jindal, the Kenner congressman returned fire not with one but two ads hitting Boasso. No doubt the responses were meant to refute Boasso's charges and take him down a notch, but they may have had another effect: framing the primary as a two-person race, which is exactly what Boasso's camp wants. Boasso's ad, titled 'Shame On You," features a Slidell woman who sued Jindal when he was head of the state Department of Health and Hospitals " and won. Mental health services had been cut during Jindal's tenure and her brother wound up on the street. Jindal fired off two ads defending his record and depicting Boasso first as a 'clown" and then as a friend to 'old corrupt politicians." Jindal's policy of responding to every charge levied against him represents a major strategy shift from his failed 2003 bid for governor. Boasso campaign insiders promise more personal accounts of Jindal's alleged shortcomings. Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge Advocate described the latest exchange in terms that had to please the senator: 'Two top candidates for governor tore into each other's records in television ads airing across the state." " Alford

Pay to Play
A relatively new state law has helped state ethics officials collect thousands of dollars in overdue fines for past violations of campaign finance laws. State lawyers last week used Act 896 of 2004 to challenge the qualifications of two candidates in court. The same law also may have forced some politicos with hefty fines to watch the fall elections from the sidelines. Authored by state Rep. Carla Dartez, D-Morgan City, the law took effect in 2005 and requires candidates qualifying for office to certify that they do not owe any 'fines, fees or penalties" for previous campaign finance law violations. The law also allows state lawyers to challenge the candidacies of suspected violators in court. Adverse rulings may result in candidates being removed from the ballot. 'A week prior to qualifying (Sept. 4-6), the (ethics) board collected over $50,000 from candidates wishing to clear the fines so that they would be able to qualify," said ethics board attorney Alesia Ardoin. " Johnson

CamPAIN in Court
It's no fun campaigning in a courtroom, especially if you're a defendant. On Oct. 9, District 2 BESE Board incumbent Louella Givens, whose district includes New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish, is scheduled to appear before state Judge Tim Kelley in Baton Rouge to defend charges against her by the Louisiana Ethics Commission. The commission wants Givens to pay more than $14,000 in late fees and penalties for tardy filings of campaign reports from previous campaigns, says ethics board attorney Alesia Ardoin. In addition, Givens faces penalties under state law if she spends any of her campaign funds on the Oct. 20 primary election before paying off her ethics board fines. 'The penalty is an amount not to exceed 200 percent of the expenditure or $1,000, whichever is greater," Ardoin says. 'And that is per expenditure." Givens did not attend a Sept. 13 rehearing of the ethics board charges against her, even though she requested the rehearing. Her fines stem from filings for her 2003 election to BESE and a race for City Council District D last year against Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Givens did not return calls for comment. " Johnson

Alliance Fined $1,600 By Ethics Panel
The Alliance for Good Government is fighting to live up to its name. The Alliance, an influential political endorsement organization with chapters in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany and St. Bernard parishes, has been hit with $1,600 in fines for an alleged violation of state campaign finance disclosure laws. The Louisiana Ethics Commission alleges the group filed its annual report eight days late. 'It is our belief that the $1,600 fine was assessed in error," Alliance chair Charles J. Imbornone said. He plans to appeal the fine at an Oct. 11 hearing before the ethics board in Baton Rouge. " Johnson

Ethics Check
Candidates in the fall elections are not the only ones getting an 'ethics check." Our review of Mayor Ray Nagin's recent appointments to local boards and commissions turned up one nominee who owed the state ethics board $2,619.94 in fines, legal interest and court costs " after his appointment had already been reviewed by a City Council committee. Wesley T. Bishop, a vice chancellor and assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern University at New Orleans, last week acknowledged the outstanding debt from his 1999 race for House District 101. 'Please be advised that the matter regarding the 1999 campaign fine has been satisfied," said Bishop, the mayor's appointment to the Criminal Justice Council, in an email. The same day we contacted Bishop, he called both the ethics board and the state Attorney General and paid the old debt in full. It is unclear how the professor's ethics violation, a civil penalty, escaped the notice of the council Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by District A Council member Shelley Midura. Bishop's fines from the 1999 race (won by Cedric Richmond) were posted on the Louisiana Ethics Commission Web site for years. The fine, originally assessed in 2000, remained unpaid after the board won a judgment against Bishop in court on Oct. 18, 2004. " Johnson

Presidential Timber
Louisiana will soon lose some of its oldest 'presidential timber." Monday (Oct. 1) is the deadline for applications to replace retiring University of Louisiana-Lafayette President Ray Authement, the longest-serving president of a public university with 34 years at the helm. Authement, the head of ULL since 1974, announced earlier this year that he will retire in 2008. Meanwhile, Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University at New Orleans and the longest-sitting college president of any American university, remains as busy as ever. In July, Francis marked 40 years as president of the nation's only black Roman Catholic university, and he continues to chair the Louisiana Recovery Authority, tasked by Gov. Kathleen Blanco in October 2006 with creating a rebuilding plan for the state after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. LRA spokesperson Melissa Landry says Francis, 76, 'has no plans for stepping down anytime soon" from either top job. On Dec. 15, President George W. Bush honored Francis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House. 'Dr. Francis is known across Louisiana and throughout our country as a man of deep intellect and compassion and character," Bush said. The son of a barber, Francis was born in Lafayette. State segregation laws at the time precluded him from attending his community's local university " now headed by Authement. " Johnson

Corps Going to BR?
State officials have been meeting with the feds in recent weeks in an effort to change the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from the inside out. For starters, the state wants the feds to integrate coastal restoration, hurricane protection and flood control into the Corps' mission and evaluation process. By forming the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Legislature brought all those issues under one umbrella on the state level. Sidney Coffee, the governor's advisor on coastal issues and chair of the CPRA, says that would mean, for instance, the design of a levee's alignment would take into account a nearby restoration project. More importantly, though, state officials are lobbying to have the corps set up a Baton Rouge office. Presently, district operations are run out of New Orleans. With recovery starting to accelerate, Coffee and others argue that a 'permanent presence" needs to be established in the heart of state government. 'I've been seeing some movement in all of these talks," Coffee says. 'I see progress, and we're continuing to meet with federal agencies." " Alford

DNR Official Leaving
Attention lawmakers and lobbyists: If you are working a project through Randy Hanchey over at the Department of Natural Resources, better find a new workhorse to carry your water. The longtime deputy secretary has served his last official day and will exhaust his leave by the end of December. Hanchey came to the DNR from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and developed a name for himself by taking all comers and speaking bluntly, even to the press. Hanchey's exit, however, doesn't mean the DNR is losing its edge. One of Hanchey's final responsibilities was to help the department draft its legislative agenda for the 2008 session " and it could be a doozy. Since Katrina made landfall, it's been an accepted fact that land (no one knows how much, still) will need to be seized by the state to continue the post-storm recovery. Monique Edwards, the DNR's executive counsel, says land rights will be on tap for the new Legislature, but she provided no further details. 'We'll keep pushing the envelope," she says. " Alford

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