LEBLANCS' LIBEL SUIT AGAINST SAN ANTONIO PAPER DISMISSED The libel suit filed by Premier Management Enterprises and its principals Patrick LeBlanc, Michael LeBlanc and Ian Williamson against the San Antonio Express-News has been dismissed. In February 2006, Premier sued the Express-News and claimed the paper published two stories and one editorial on Premier's Texas jail contracts containing false and misleading statements. Both parties agreed to dismiss the suit with prejudice, preventing Premier from reviving the lawsuit at any time in the future. (Williamson no longer works for Premier.) As part of the agreement, the Express-News acknowledged three errors: LCS Correction Services is not Premier's parent company; Michael LeBlanc had no past legal problems at the time the articles were printed; and charges against Patrick LeBlanc in connection with a charitable bingo operation on an American Indian reservation were dismissed.
During his recent failed bid for District 43 state representative, Patrick LeBlanc and his supporters waged an aggressive pushback campaign against local media outlets ' including The Independent Weekly and KVOL 1330 AM ' that reported on Premier's Texas contracts. Former Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez pled no contest to three misdemeanor charges as a result of his dealings with Premier, which gave Lopez an all-expenses paid fishing and golfing trip to Costa Rica last year while it was being considered for the Bexar County jail commissary contract. Patrick LeBlanc and Premier have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to the contract. ... WILL DAVIS OVERHAUL LOUISIANA'S $29 BILLION BUDGET? Few others already in the throes of state government fit into Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal's reform program like Angèle Davis. Maybe that's why Jindal selected her as his commissioner of administration last week, replacing Acadiana's Jerry Luke LeBlanc. At 39, Davis is a youngster by most standards. She's also proven over the years ' holding the No. 2 spot in the Division of Administration under former Gov. Mike Foster and most recently as tourism secretary ' that she can be aggressive and innovative without being politically hostile.
There are high hopes for what Davis can do with the state's booming $29 billion budget. If her previous administrative style is any indicator, expect big changes. Davis has already been at the helm of a major reform movement that almost seeped into every corner of state government. At the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, she oversaw a dramatic overhaul she referred to as a "budgeting for outcomes" process. Division heads inside the department had to make "offers" and "counter-offers" for their budgets and programs, competing against other division heads for funding. In short, she halted the department's practice of balancing its budget by across-the-board cuts. The operational overhaul involved much more than budgeting. A new management plan was put into place with the goal of boosting accountability, establishing result-oriented performance and changing the overall culture of the department.
At one point last year, there was even chatter of implementing the system in other state departments, but we all know how much bureaucracy loves change and progress. But now that Davis is in line to become one of the most powerful people in state government, who knows what might happen? ... FORMER LED CHIEF OLIVIER JUMPS SHIP After four years of rhetoric about supporting Louisiana's economy, bolstering local companies and strengthening the Bayou State's job market, the first thing Michael Olivier did upon being passed over for economic development secretary this week was to take a gig with an overseas company that operates primarily in Mississippi and Texas.
So much for loyalty.
Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal announced last Wednesday that Baton Rouge Area Chamber Director Stephen Moret would be taking over the department. Olivier, less than 24 hours later, was named Future Pipe Group's regional president of the Americas. The company is based in the United Arab Emirates, alongside the Persian Gulf. The company has offices in Houston and Gulfport, which is where Olivier will reportedly split his time.
Olivier, who previously ran the Lafayette Harbor and Terminal District (now LEDA), first came in contact with Future Pipe as director of the Harrison County Development Commission, when he heavily recruited the company to move to Mississippi. It's obviously a contact that has since paid off. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime," Olivier told The Advocate. ... LOUISIANA CONGRESSMEN HOPE TO EXTEND GO ZONE A bill introduced last week by Louisiana Congressmen Charles Boustany and Richard Baker aims to extend the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act through 2010. Passed in 2005, the Go Zone Act provides significant tax credits and incentives for new construction and renovation in the areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many of the provisions in the bill are set to expire at the end of this year.
A total of 31 parishes, including Lafayette, are covered in the Go Zone, and the legislation has been widely credited with helping to spur the ongoing building boom across south Louisiana. In a press release, Boustany says, "In the aftermath of both hurricanes, the GO Zone Program encouraged business investment to help the Louisiana coast get back on its feet. The GO Zone has been successful, but it needs more time because of the slow pace rebuilding has taken."
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs