Even Tulane alum Allan Katz thinks that Mike Perlstein of WWL and Gordon Russell of the Advocate certainly did a bang up job on their first-rate investigation regarding Tulane’s century-old scholarship program. Like many old habits in New Orleans, there is an aversion to change. But change is definitely necessary for this program.
There is little doubt that the thousands of students who received the scholarships benefited from their Tulane education. But the university has benefited even more from strong relationships with state and local government. Although the program probably was set up to give legislators and the New Orleans mayor the opportunity to bestow blessings on their friends, times have changed. We think the scholarships now should be given strictly to students who have real financial need and could not otherwise afford to receive the high-quality education Tulane has always provided. We think all of this should have been settled at least 20 years ago when the issue first became public.
State Rep. Patrick Connick has the right idea by vetting his potential recipients through the Jefferson Dollars for Scholars program. We think Connick should introduce a bill at the Legislature next year that would require each legislator (and the New Orleans mayor) to rely on a established non-profit to review candidates’ financial needs and scholastic standings. This would insure not only the best and the brightest get a quality Tulane education but also one that his or her parents could not afford. If the Legislature is too stubborn to reform the process, then Tulane should step up.
By the way, Allan, a financial supporter of Tulane athletics who attends every home football game, has no objections to using the scholarships to help academically qualified athletes. In baseball, for example, only 11.7 scholarships exist which definitely has cut down the once great Tulane baseball program. Many Tulane athletes earn 3-point grade averages and they are as entitled to compete for a legislative scholarship as any other good student. In fact, several have received scholarships in the past and some currently hold scholarships.
The Tulane scholarship program is desperately in need of greater transparency and much needed reform. Thanks again to WWL and The Advocate for bringing this story back to the limelight.
Early voting begins for Orleans Parish judicial races
Starting this Saturday, chronic voters will be headed toward City Hall to early vote for their favorite judicial candidates. By the look of the recent campaign finance reports, it’s been a lackluster traffic court race. In the last report filed two weeks ago, none of the candidates reported raising much more than $5,000 during that reporting period.
Richard Perque has raised the most money by far using his family connections. With that money he has sent a mail piece that highlights his strongly-held beliefs about the excesses of our courts. Chances are he will continue with more mail and voter ID efforts leading up to election day.
Clint Smith also has the money needed to better reach voters but has been holding back waiting for the best time to invest the funds available. It certainly helps that his wife is a prominent Ochsner physician and both have broad contacts in the community. We also haven’t heard much yet from Patrick Giraud, son of the late traffic court judge, who also has access to funds.
Nanik Rai distributed a catchy mail piece citywide that told voters they shouldn’t be ATMs for the City’s coffers, highlighting the millions New Orleans government receives annually through traffic fines and fees. And we can’t forget Marie Bookman or Nicole Shephard who are both vying to be the first woman in that court.
But the sleeper in this race is probably Steven Jupiter, brother of Judge Clare Jupiter. Though not well funded, we expect Jupiter to mount a substantive grassroots campaign to get out his vote.
In the Magistrate race, Harry Cantrell received major endorsements this week from the New Orleans Coalition as well as from Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro. Mark Vicknair has done a good job of making the rounds under the direction of his campaign manager Angele Wilson. Former judge Morris Reed is still putting his campaign together.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.