Politics 11.05.2008

Jindal's favorable ratings drop and more JINDAL’S FAVORABLE RATINGS DROPPING 
When you’re at the top, as they say, there’s nowhere to go but down. Just ask GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose superstar poll numbers are finally beginning to reveal that he’s human and not some unstoppable, robotic machine capable of political supremacy. Well, at least a little bit.

In a poll released last week by WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, 66 percent of voters surveyed had a favorable opinion of Jindal. That’s down from an August poll conducted by OnMessage and commissioned by the Louisiana Republican Party that showed Jindal’s favorable rating at 76 percent.

Ed Renwick, a New Orleans pollster who carried out the WAFB survey, says Jindal’s on-again/off-again support for a legislative pay raise earlier this year is one of the likely culprits for the fall. But he adds that Jindal is still enjoying a “strangely unusual” popularity for any sitting governor, despite the numerical dip. So, for now, Jindal is safe and still the state’s top Republican. “Nobody ever lost an election with 66 percent,” Renwick says.


Last week, Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, fired off a letter to FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison after attempting for weeks to get the federal agency to send temporary housing to residents of coastal parishes. FEMA has responded to the state, precisely laying out what the agency can and cannot do, and has detailed what has been provided to those whose homes were damaged or lost in hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In Cameron Parish, the eye of the state’s complaint, FEMA has, to date, provided $6,237,460 in grants for home repair, given 749 households rental assistance and placed 144 families in hotels. The sticking point is sending “park model travel trailers” (not the travel trailers that had formaldehyde contamination) to provide temporary housing on private property in low lying Cameron Parish. The LRA wants homeowners who live and work in coastal Cameron to be able to put FEMA mobile homes at their homesites. Whether FEMA wants to satisfy the state is not the issue. By law, it cannot.

According to FEMA public affairs lead Manuel Broussard:  “Executive Order 11988 (Floodplain Management), as implemented at 44 Code of Federal Regulation Part 9, FEMA is not permitted to place federal assets in a V Zone or Coastal High Hazard Areas (V, V1-V30, or VE zones). Placing units in these high risk areas will jeopardize the health and safety of families residing in these temporary homes and send a false sense of safety.” Broussard, who is from Vermilion Parish and well acquainted with the people and terrain of coastal Louisiana, says the agency is working hard to find housing solutions for people impacted by the storms. “We will maximize the placement of temporary housing units in non–V zones within Cameron Parish. We also plan to place families in temporary housing units in commercial sites outside of the V-zone.”

However, Rainwater argues that FEMA is making decisions on flood zones using brand new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which have not yet been published, nor has the parish had time to appeal them. Instead he requests that FEMA use the parish’s already adopted Advisory Base Flood Elevation requirements, which are currently in use in Cameron Parish.

The impasse, according to Rainwater, is that FEMA is being unreasonable in expecting the parish to adopt a new code that has not been analyzed. He says forcing vital oil and gas and seafood industry workers to commute long distances is not conducive to helping Louisiana recover from the storms.


Last week, on the final day of early voting, a long line snaked out of the Iberia Parish Registrar of Voters office, curled around the rotunda and stretched as far as the art deco doors of the Iberia Parish Courthouse. Everybody was talking about how surprised they were that there was about a 45-minute wait, but nobody seemed to mind. “I brought my mother,” said one voter, who declined to give her name. “I might be busy on voting day, and I didn’t want to miss it. This vote is too important.”

That seemed to be the attitude statewide, where early voting numbers exploded past records by over 50 percent. In the 2007 statewide race for governor, 140,933 voters turned out early to cast their ballot. According to Secretary of State Jay Dardenne’s office, this year’s total early vote count came in at 266,880. Of the early votes cast statewide, 58 percent were by registered Democrats, 28 percent Republican and 13 percent other.

Lafayette Parish cast 9,194 votes, 4,994 more than in 2007. Of those, 4,709 were by Democrats, 3,021 by Republicans and 1,468 by those registered as other. The voting numbers were also broken down by race; whites cast 5,736 votes, blacks cast 3,134 votes, and those who listed themselves as other cast 328. Women out voted men by 489.

Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Mary Tutwiler