Saturday, January 15, 2005

Adding to our Watch List...

Today�s political story, courtesy of the T-P, has a provocative lead-in: "BATON ROUGE -- Largely unknown to the general public a little more than a year ago, Shaw Group Inc. founder and Chairman Jim Bernhard Jr. has suddenly become a major force in Louisiana politics, stirring both praise and controversy in his rise to the head of the state Democratic Party."

Bernhard�s Fortune 500 company is a worldwide industrial construction and engineering company with 18,000 employees and more than $3 billion in annual revenue. While Bernhard heads the Dems, the Shaw Group is one of the largest contributors to the Louisiana Republican Party, according to party Chairman Roger Villere who adds that two top Shaw executives are active GOP members.

The source of the controversy relates to Bernhard�s connections, especially his relationship with Gov. Kathleen Blanco, at a time when his company is interested in winning some of Louisiana's multibillion-dollar coastal restoration work and other contracts in the state. Bernhard dismisses complaints that he is using his political influence to win contracts for his company, saying that they are untrue and wildly overstate Shaw's reliance on a single state for business.

We will add Bernhard to our watch list, and start out by giving him the benefit of any doubt.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference denounced the killing of a Georgia college student outside a French Quarter nightclub, saying racism is to blame.

At a press conference yesterday Dr. Charles Steele, President of the SCLC, said that �Racism is alive and well in New Orleans,� referring to the death of Levon Jones as nothing short of murder. In addition to condemning employees of the nightclub, Steele questioned the actions of police who responded to the call that night. We will report back to you when the police announce the results of their investigation of the incident.

Meanwhile, we would welcome feedback on these issues.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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