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Well, there is bad news and there is worse news and thrown into the mix is an incredulous ethics ruling about lobbyists, hookers, and legislators in, of all places, North Carolina. We’ll get to that last one later but first, the bad news:

Gov. Bobby thinks he is qualified to run for President of the U.S. and continues to bob up anywhere there are Bible totin’, flag wavin’ patriotic crowds of more than three people—mainly in Iowa but more recently (as in just this past week) in Washington, D.C.

The worse news is that with each passing day, he appears as qualified as any of the other Ignoranuses (candidates who are both stupid and a–holes) seeking the Republican nomination.

The Washington Post offered up ignoranus as one of the winning entries from its annual Mensa Invitational in which readers are invited to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter to supply a new word and definition. Perhaps it was mere coincidence that the winners were announced around the same time as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was being held in the nation’s capital.

But perhaps not. After all, several prominent Republican wannabe candidates made their cases at the event and came away looking not so much foolish as downright scary at the prospect one of them may be chosen to lead the free world in 2016.

The CPAC event gave us the opportunity to employ a few more of the Mensa Invitational entries:

Bozone (n.)—the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The Bozone layer showed no signs of breaking down at CPAC.

Dopeler Effect (n.)—The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly (see any Gov. Bobby speech).

Glibido (n.)—All talk and no action.

Of course there were a couple applicable to the early odds-on favorite to be Louisiana’s next governor: Osteopornosis (a degenerate disease) and Foreploy (any misrepresentation about oneself for the purpose of getting laid).

But that’s another story for another day.

Let us return to the subject at hand which is to present some of the highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be) from the CPAC and a Saturday’s Club for Growth event in Palm Beach, Florida.

Just to get him out of the way early, we’ll take our own Gov. Bobby, who once again failed to even register in the straw poll following the CPAC meeting.

Gov. Bobby stood (on a chair, no less) and told the crowd that his dad came to this country 40 years ago “in search of freedom and an opportunity,” and then he told the whopper of all whoppers when he said his father told him and his brother to “get on your knees and thank God almighty that you were blessed to be born in the greatest country in the history of the world.”

The only problem with that little story, as our mystery cartoonist accurately noted in the strip below this story, is that Jindal’s dad (and his mother) are Hindu.

Writing for The Blaze, Mike Opelka said Gov. Bobby, who was speaking Wednesday night before the CPAC event actually got underway, “had a room filled with young conservatives cheering and applauding his brief presentation.” Opelka also described Gov. Bobby as “surrounded by cheering supporters.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/25/bobby-jindal-fires-up-young-conservatives-in-this-200-preview-of-his-upcoming-cpac-speech/

For sheer stupidity and audacity, though, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker probably eclipses the other candidates.

It was enough that he had no clue as to whether the Dodd-Frank financial reform law should be amended or repealed, but in giving his qualifications to deal with foreign policy, he was downright astonishing.

Walker said he was equipped to deal with complicated foreign policy issues because he once had breakfast with Henry Kissinger.

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/02/walker-performs-poorly-big-money-base?utm_source=Crooks+and+Liars+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d022c9ad94-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4904be7bc-d022c9ad94-330138269

We’re not joking. He actually said that. Well, I once caught a pass from Terry Bradshaw in a gym on a rainy day when there was no one else to throw to but that hardly makes me a threat to break Jerry Rice’s NFL pass reception records. (For the record, the pass was thrown behind me and I did make a spectacular one-handed catch that nearly dislocated my shoulder from the sheer force of Terry’s throw. Actually, the ball was thrown so hard it simply stuck to my palm and had to be peeled off.)

But if you think that comment was pretty amazing, consider what came next. Walker said he was thoroughly prepared to deal with ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists because “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

He was referring, of course, to those ever-dangerous public employee unions who protested to his successful right to work legislation. Quite a stretch there, Scotty, boy. It’s hardly a valid comparison to lump public employees in with the likes of ISIS but hey, when you’re trying to appeal to rabid, shallow thinking conservatism, anything goes, right? http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cpac-speech-scott-walker-isis/story?id=29257020

Even The Donald was on hand to tout his pseudo-candidacy by calling for boots on the ground for an all-out war on everything Islamic.

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/02/donald-trump-my-superior-negotiating?utm_source=Crooks+and+Liars+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d022c9ad94-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4904be7bc-d022c9ad94-330138269

Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t perform like the others at CPAC but he did send out a tweet about the recently “Net Neutrality” regulations passed by the FCC, a move interpreted by everyone but Cruz as being good for the consumer and bad news for internet providers who wanted to charge premium prices for fast broadband internet. He subsequently got his come-uppance from a barrage of comments to his tweet.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/13/1344716/-After-nonsensical-comments-on-Net-Neutrality-conservatives-rage-against-Ted-Cruz?detail=email

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won the CPAC straw poll for the third year in a row but may have some problems surviving an earlier interview with Rachel Maddow.

Maddow attempted to interview a dodging, bobbing and weaving Rand Paul on his views about civil rights and businesses’ right to discriminate.

http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/rachel-maddow-corners-rand-paul-his-e

And, as if the comedy of the absurd at CPAC was not sufficiently nonsensical, along comes Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame to pour just a bit more humiliation over the State of Louisiana.

That’s right. The guy who quit the Louisiana Tech football team because Bradshaw was going to get his starting job actually shared his vast knowledge of the world with the good folks at CPAC, telling them that hippies were responsible for 110 million Americans having sexually transmitted diseases (STD). http://deadline.com/2015/02/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-video-cpac-speech-hippies-stds-1201383630/

“Sex, drugs and rock& roll have come back to haunt us!” he said. Just where all this fits into the scheme of things for the Republican Party is uncertain. The hippies have been gone from the scene for a few decades now and the ones I knew back in the day were peaceful kids who wanted us out of an ill-advised war that cost the lives of 58,000 Americans as well as millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians—all to no discernable purpose.

And just what were Phil Robertson’s qualifications to speak of the other topics he touched upon—Nazis, Shintoists, communists, ISIS, President Obama, the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education?

We’re glad you asked. He was on hand to accept the 2015 Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award, named for a conservative writer who died in 2012.

And after all that, we’ve saved the best until last.

Apparently, in North Carolina at least, consensual sexual relationships have no monetary value and thus are not reportable as gifts or “reportable expenditures made for lobbying” for purposes of the state’s lobbying law’s expenditure reporting provisions. TAR HEEL HOOKERS

In other words, politicians don’t have to report the services of a hooker provided by a lobbyist. But the downside, for lobbyists, at least, is that they cannot claim the cost of a hooker for the politician as a legitimate business expense. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/02/27/gifts-for-politicians/

Can it possibly get any weirder?

Well, yes. The North Carolina Ethics Commission, in an opinion described as “almost romantic,” said that fostering sexual relationships with a government official does not qualify as a form of “goodwill lobbying,” which the Raleigh News & Observer described as “an indirect attempt to influence legislation or executive action, such as the building of relationships.”

So what we have here is hookers having relationships with politicians with lobbyists serving as the pimps—and the taxpayers getting screwed.

Some things never change.

(Note: an earlier version incorrectly identified The Blaze writer Mike Opelka as a member of Gov. Bobby’s staff. That Opelka is Frank Opelka who serves as an advisor to Gov. Bobby on health care policy. He is the son of Dr. Frank Opelka, who spearheaded the giveaway of the state’s charity hospital system and is not relation to the writer.)

 OUR MASTER OF SATIRE STRIKES AGAIN!

JINDAL, BRIAN WILLIAMS(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

http://transparentpiyjay.com/

In the seven-plus years of his administration, Gov. Bobby has pretty much had his way with the legislature in passing his so-called reform programs. The lone exception is his aborted effort to abolish the state income tax a couple of years ago.

Everything else—education reform, state employee retirement reform, privatization of the Office of Risk Management, the Office of Group Benefits, the state’s charity hospital system, rejection of Medicaid expansion, cutting funding for higher education, the sell-off of state property, and of course, all those generous corporate tax exemptions, credits and incentives for—sailed through the legislature, to borrow a phrase from my formative years, like crap through a goose.

Only the courts were able to restore some degree of sanity to the education and retirement changes.

So how has all that change worked out for the state?

Well, according to Marsha Shuler, writing in today’s Baton Rouge Advocate, the OGB reserve fund, which was already largely depleted since the privatization of that agency, has now fallen below that financial advisers believe to be a “safe” level. Those reserve funds, which were more than $500 million before Gov. Bobby’s meddling, are now at a dismal $102.8 million and at a burn rate (paying out more than it’s taking in) of $14.9 million a month (spending $1.14 for every dollar in revenue), the fund is on a trajectory of hitting less than $30 million by June 30. http://theadvocate.com/news/11705445-123/group-benefits-reserves-continue-to

The privatization of the state’s charity hospital system has resulted in a $190 million state liability to Medicaid even after the privatization deal was approved in part by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/01/11/hospital-decision-good-jindal-less-others/21538739/

The ripple effect of the hospital privatization has also resulted in the decision by Baton Rouge General Mid-City to close its emergency room facilities next month because of operating losses generated by the closure of Earl K. Long Medical Center which served the poor community of Baton Rouge.

But never one to pass up an opportunity to put a positive spin on bad decisions, Gov. Bobby, while taking pot shots at the Obama administration for everything from Obamacare to his Mideast policies to the threat of an imminent Islamic coup in Europe, keeps telling us (on those rare occasions when he is in the state) how wonderful things are and how Louisiana continues to outpace the rest of the nation in economic growth and business climate. http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&articleID=4156

His head cheerleader, Rolfe McCollister is right behind him, lending the influence of his publication, the Baton Rouge Business Report, to augment Gov. Bobby’s rosy proclamations.

http://www.businessreport.com/business/columns/la-makes-biggest-leap-in-forbes-rankings

But one should keep uppermost in mind that McCollister was treasurer of Gov. Bobby’s re-election campaign and as Bobby’s appointee to the LSU Board of Stuporvisors, was instrumental in securing the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for that prayer rally attended by about 3,500 people in the spacious 18,000-seat arena.

But let’s look at the latest survey, one which Gov. Bobby undoubtedly will ignore as he traipses about Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in search of enough commitments to get him to even register in polls of likely Republican presidential contenders.

24/7 Wall St. is a corporation which runs a financial news and opinion company. The company publishes up to 30 articles per day which are published throughout the world.

Its latest survey, issued today (Feb. 27) puts Louisiana at the very bottom of its list of the Best and Worst States for Business. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/02/26/the-best-and-worst-states-for-business/?utm_source=247WallStDailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FEB272015A&utm_campaign=DailyNewsletter

That’s right, Mississippi no longer owns the anchor spot in 24/7 Wall St.’s multitudinous surveys of things good and bad. This one belongs to Louisiana.

Here’s what the survey says about Louisiana:

  • No state fared worse on 24/7 Wall St.’s business climate Index than Louisiana. The state is not the worst place to run all businesses, however. The manufacturing sector accounted for more than 20% of Louisiana’s economic output in 2013, the fourth highest such contribution in the country. Despite the strong sector, Louisiana generally provides poor conditions for business.
  • Nearly one in five residents lived in poverty in 2013 — nearly the worst rate in the nation — contributing to both the low quality of the labor force as well as a low quality of life in the state. The working-age population was projected to decline by 3.2% from 2010 through 2020, one of the worst declines in the nation. While nearly 30% of Americans had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, only 22.5% of Louisiana adults had at least such a degree, also nearly the lowest rate. Poor education contributed to poor scores in innovation. The state was one of only a handful of states where the average venture capital investment was less than $1 million.

There were several factors that went into the evaluation of the state’s lowly status as a place to do business:

  • The state’s gross domestic product growth of 1.3 percent was 17th lowest in the nation;
  • Average wages and salaries of $44,828 were 23rd lowest;
  • The percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees was 5th lowest at 22.5 percent;
  • The 395 patents issued to residents were 13th lowest;
  • The negative 3.2 percent projected working-age population growth was 13th lowest.

The survey also noted that Louisiana ranked:

  • 47th in infrastructure;
  • 48th in the quality of life (the lack of adequate health care for many could be a factor in that statistic);
  • 49th in labor and human capital

Mississippi? As far as Louisiana and Gov. Bobby are concerned, that state is up there in the stratosphere at only the 4th worst in the nation.

Rounding out the bottom five were West Virginia (49th), Kentucky (48th), and Alabama (46th).

The five best, in order, were Utah, Massachusetts, Wyoming, South Dakota and Delaware, according to the survey.

Iowa and New Hampshire ranked 12th and 14th, respectively, which may help explain why Gov. Bobby spends so much time in those places instead of the state that he was elected to govern.

Nah.

“They’re still negotiating with the terrorists.”

That gem, said in a private email to LouisianaVoice, came from a blogger who is relative new on the scene but who is very perceptive about what the Bobby administration is trying to do to higher education. https://lahigheredconfessions.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/open-letter-to-higher-education-leaders-the-time-for-negotiating-is-over/

A two-page letter today (Feb. 26) from five higher education leaders lobbed fluffy white marshmallows at Gov. Bobby and an anticipated $400 million (or more) cut to the state’s public colleges and universities. Joint Higher Education Letter 2-26-15

The letter was signed by LSU President F. King Alexander, Southern University System President Ronald Mason, Jr., Louisiana Community & Technical College System President Monty Sullivan, University of Louisiana System President Sandra K. Woodley, and Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo.

Rather than digging their collective heels in and shouting “Enough!” the higher education officials attempted to appeal to Gov. Bobby’s well concealed humanitarian instincts which has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball.

The letter comes about as close as possible to the prediction of one of our readers who said the college presidents in the end would thank Gov. Bobby for not cutting them more.

The letter began, predictably, with the education officials thanking Gov. Bobby “for your support during last year’s legislative session and the creation of the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund,” calling it an “unprecedented statewide collaboration across higher education.”

The pandering continued when the letter practically pleaded with Gov. Bobby to not lose “the momentum that began last year to raise the level of educational attainment in Louisiana.”

Have these educational leaders lost their collective minds? Have they forgotten that this governor’s policies of lavishing tax exemptions and incentives on corporations like Wal-Mart, chicken plucking plants and other corporations that offer little in the way of gainful employment are directly responsible for the fiscal mess we find ourselves in today?

And while Gov. Bobby did eventually support the move, it was the legislature that repealed the Stelly Plan, one of the most progressive tax programs in the history of this state, so we’re not giving lawmakers a pass on this.

“The need for college graduates, particularly in high demand fields such as engineering, computer science, business and industrial trades, is fundamental to meeting workforce goals and ensuring Louisiana graduates are prepared to reap the economic benefits Louisiana has realized,” the shameless communication said.

“Economic benefits Louisiana has realized”? Give us a freaking break! The only economic benefits realized by this state has been realized by Gov. Bobby’s campaign contributors. Why don’t these higher education officials just go on and kiss Gov. Bobby’s ring (yeah, we cleaned that up) and get it over with?

“Commissioner (of Administration) Kristy Nichols has informed us of the impending budget shortfall and the funding impacts on higher education,” the letter continued. “We want to partner with you and our legislative leaders to craft both a short-term approach to address the immediate budget shortfall and offer long-term recommendations that fundamentally change the higher education funding model. In both instances, budget stability is the overarching goal,” it said.

First of all, the use of the word “partner” scares the hell out of us. The last time “partner” was used by this administration, it gave away an entire system of public hospitals that resulted in such an overbearing spillover to Baton Rouge General Mid-City that it is closing its emergency room, thus making it even more difficult for the poor in north Baton Rouge to obtain needed medical care.

“In the long term, higher education is requesting budget stability and increasing state supported investments in higher education,” the letter said.

“The economic stability of Louisiana hinges on our collective ability to find both a short-term solution in the budget for next year and a long-term solution to sustain and increase investments in Louisiana’s higher education system.”

If the economic stability of Louisiana hinges on the ability of this administration, we’re in for a long, hard winter of economic—and intellectual—instability.

In addition to sending the letter to Gov. Bobby, copies also were sent to Gov. Bobby’s various lap dogs in the House and Senate where it will be promptly ignored as legislators turn their attention to getting re-elected while dealing with a $1.6 billion distraction.

To paraphrase H. Ross Perot, “That giant sucking sound you hear is Louisiana college-bound students headed out of state.”

There is more damage control awaiting the most ethical administration in Louisiana history and just as with the Bruce Greenstein saga, the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is front and center.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics last Thursday (Feb. 19) voted to file ethics charges against Galen Schum, DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert’s brother-in-law, because of his failure to comply with state law requiring him to report income he received from a company under contract to DHH. ETHICS CHARGES

On Nov. 17, 2011, while Schum was serving as Director of Regional Operations for the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), Magellan Health Services signed a two-year contract with OBH to administer behavioral health managed care services for children and adults.

That contract, approved on Jan. 23, 2012, and which went into effect on Mar. 1, 2012, was originally in the amount of $354 million for two years, but was amended to a three-year contract for $547.78 million and is scheduled to expire on Saturday.

On Feb. 13, 2012, just three weeks after the contract was approved and just over two weeks before it went into effect, Schum submitted a job application to Magellan and was hired on Feb. 27, only two days before the contract took effect.

He resigned from Magellan on Jan. 31, 2014 but during the time he was employed there, he earned more than $146,000 in salary, according to documents obtained by LouisianaVoice.

Kliebert was serving as Deputy Secretary of DHH when the Magellan contract was approved on Nov. 17, 2011, and remained in that capacity until April 1, 2013, when she was elevated to her current position of Secretary.

State law (R.S. 42:1114) provides with respect to the filing of financial disclosure statements, “…that each public servant and each member of his immediate family who derives anything of economic value, directly, through any transaction involving the agency of such public servant or who derives anything of economic value of which he may be reasonably expected to know through a person which (1) is regulated by the agency of such public servant, or (2) has bid on or entered into or is in any way financially interested in any contract, subcontract, or any transaction under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such public servant shall disclose the following:

  • The amount of income or value of any thing of economic value derived;
  • The nature of the business activity;
  • Name and address, and relationship to the public servant, if applicable, and
  • The name and business address of the legal entity, if applicable.

The disclosure statement is required to be filed each year by May 1 and shall include such information for the previous calendar year.

R.S. 42:1102 defines “immediate family” as the children of the public servant, spouses of his children, his siblings and their spouses, his parents, spouse and the spouse’s parents.

“Galen Schum violated …the Code of Governmental Ethics by failing to file a financial disclosure statement on or before May 1, 2013, disclosing income received during 2012 from Magellan Health Services, Inc., and on or before May 1, 2014…at a time when Magellan Health Services, Inc. had a contract with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals—Office of Behavioral Health and while his sister-in-law, Kathy Kliebert, served as the Deputy Secretary and Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals,” the Board of Ethics document says.

The board issued a formal request that the Ethics Adjudicatory Board:

  • Conduct a hearing on the foregoing charges;
  • Determine that Galen Schum has violated (state law) with respect to the foregoing counts, and
  • Assess an appropriate penalty in accordance with the recommendation of the Louisiana Board of Ethics to be submitted at the hearing.

Other documents obtained by LouisianaVoice indicate that Schum, on Jan. 18, 2011, in his capacity as Director of Regional Operations for OBH, presented a report to the Louisiana Commission on Addictive Disorders on the status of OBH’s ongoing privatization efforts—efforts which led directly to the awarding of the Magellan contract.

It was at that same Jan. 18 meeting that Kliebert announced to the commission that she had been selected as the new DHH Deputy Secretary and would be leaving her position at OBH.

Schum also participated in a commission meeting on Oct. 11, 2011, at which time he gave the commission “a brief update on the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership,” according to commission minutes of that meeting.

Schum said that the selection of the Statewide Management Organization (SMO) had been completed and that Magellan Health Services “was the vendor selected to be the Louisiana SMO, and that the Office of Behavioral Health was currently involved in the contract negotiation process with Magellan.”

Finally, the minutes of a Magellan Governance Board meeting of June 20, 2012, indicate that Schum was employed as a Reporting Analyst for the company.

Magellan had come under sharp criticism from the Legislative Auditor’s office in August of 2013 in a report that said the administration’s privatization of mental health and addictive disorder treatment programs had created confusion and added costs for local human services district that provide the care. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/08/audit_shows_privatization_of_m.html

That audit report, which examined privatization results at human services districts in Baton Rouge, Houma, New Orleans and Amite, said privatization had caused problems with claims payments which increased costs for the districts and made it more difficult for the districts to receive reimbursement for services. The report also said the districts lost money under a requirement that they use Magellan’s electronic health records system.

The Capital Area Human Services District in Baton Rouge, for example, told auditors that its administrative costs for billing claims had increased $270,000 a year since the privatization took effect. That cost was attributed to problems with claims reconciliation and collection, the audit said.

Meanwhile, the report said, DHH failed to ensure that Magellan processed claims in a timely manner, often taking weeks or months to process claims. The report also said DHH failed to penalize the company when it did not meet planning and technical benchmarks. “No sanctions have been imposed on Magellan for not meeting all required contract provisions,” it said.

Just another Jindaled state agency headed for yet another privatized train wreck.

But don’t say we never warned you.

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