Monday, January 31, 2005

Power and Politics…

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has been married for 39 years to Raymond Blanco, or “Coach” as he is known to friends. Bayou Buzz reports that “His role in her political life was debated in her 2003 race for governor. The state’s last Governor, Mike Foster, claimed that Coach Blanco ‘would be the most powerful man in the state’ if Kathleen Blanco won.”

We found several media references to this quote that related to the Coach’s recent transportation choices. John Maginnis put his junket in perspective: “When the governor's husband flew to a football game on a Shaw Group jet along with officials of a Japanese company considering building a plant in Louisiana, it was no scandal but only an eyebrow-raiser compared to escapades of past Governor's Mansion residents.”

Coach’s benefactor on this trip, Shaw Group, is headed by CEO Jim Bernhard, of whom Maginnis said “if we're taking nominations for ‘most powerful man in Louisiana,’ Bernhard would get his share of votes… One needed only to read about the Mansion reception the governor held to introduce Bernhard to members of the Democratic State Central Committee or to see her seated next to him when he was elected as its new state chairman.” Running a Fortune 500 company can’t hurt his reputation either.

Our fellow political watchdog C.B. Forgotston suggests another candidate, Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom. As is often the Louisiana way, Odom awaits trial on a variety of charges, ranging from bribery to obstruction of justice.

Despite his indictment, Odom was re-elected as Agriculture Commissioner with only marginal opposition. The T-P reports that Odom controls a $12 million “slush fund” coming from gambling operations in the state. He was on his way to using the money to build an $85 million sugar cane syrup mill, when the Governor spoke up, getting the State Bond Commission to back off the project until a feasibility study can be completed. The project appeared to have overwhelming support from the Bond Commission until the Governor asserted herself.

Looks like the most powerful man in Louisiana, whoever he is, is still just in second place overall.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Blogger oyster said...

Well put!

I'm not the only one who vastly underestimated Blanco's assertiveness and activity level. A fist of iron under that velvet glove.

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