‘LaPolitics’: DOTD reorganization will be privately funded

(Don Kadair)

The Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads, an advocacy group of contractors, concrete firms and others, has been asked by Gov. Jeff Landry to “privately fund, procure and manage a national consulting firm to assess the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and make actionable recommendations,” according to a letter sent to the coalition’s membership.

The DOTD has long been atop Landry’s list for an overhaul, and its sheer size has made it a streamlining target for lawmakers for the past several terms of state government. There also appears to be a side quest to this reorg effort: new revenue sources for transportation.

“We expect the initial engagement to be for a term of 6-9 months,” LCFOR President Erich Ponti writes in the letter. “Certainly, implementing all of the recommendations will take more time. However, it is our objective to move as quickly as possible and to get DOTD into a position where the Legislature will see fit to raise substantial revenue for roads and bridges soon.”

LCFOR is expected to spend somewhere between $500,000 and $700,000 to hire a national consulting firm to perform the task at hand, which was described in the letter as a “deep dive into the operations of DOTD.”

Meanwhile, DOTD Secretary Joe Donahue is in the process of creating teams on his side of things to react to the recommendations that should arrive before the end of the year. 

—EXXON DISPUTE: Treasurer John Fleming is urging board members of the state retirement systems to support ExxonMobil’s directors following news that CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund, plans to vote against all of the company’s directors and its CEO at next week’s shareholder meeting. “Exxon has provided shareholders with healthy returns for years and is positioned to do so for years to come,” he said, claiming that “left-wing activists” were trying to “wrest control of the company from the current leadership.” Exxon sued two activist investors who had submitted (and have now withdrawn) proposals for emissions reductions. CalPERS argues that Exxon’s “reckless” suit threatens “the rules of shareholder democracy” on any issue, urging other shareholders to “send a message that our voices will not be silenced.” 

—THEY SAID IT: “They are the only two higher education systems in the country that are in the pot business right now, and it is my belief that it’s time we get them out of that business and let them focus on higher education.” –Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair Patrick McMath, on his legislation to take medical marijuana growing licenses from LSU and Southern University, in Louisiana Illuminator

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.