The nominating committee voted that it has no obligation to submit new people for the levee authority board if the governor rejects a qualified nominee, like he did with current board President Tim Doody. But the committee agreed that it does have to find another nominee to replace Michael Gorbaty, who became ineligible after he took a job with St. Bernard Parish. They plan to select someone by April 10; it’s unclear whether pending legislation will complicate those plans.
The battle over the political independence of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East continues Thursday when a nominating committee, composed by law of non-politicians, will meet to discuss whether to follow instructions from the Jindal administration to send the governor new nominees.
The meeting will take place at 5307 Toler St. in Harahan at noon. I’ll live-blog it here.
According to the revised agenda, the committee will first discuss the legal issues and background for the Jindal administration’s request for the meeting. The committee then will decide if it will take any action “or adopt procedures related to [the] nominations process.”*
The nominating committee, composed of engineering professionals, academics and government watchdogs, had spurred no headlines since given birth by the Legislature in 2006.
Last year it became a focal point in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to a lawsuit over coastal erosion, filed by the Flood Protection Authority against oil and gas companies.
In addition to promising legislation to derail the suit, the Jindal administration has attempted to change the membership of the authority’s nine-member board, which voted unanimously to file the lawsuit last July.
In October, Jindal filled three of four open seats with people opposed to the lawsuit. Garret Graves, then head of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, had said the governor would veto any pro-suit nominees.
The governor’s determination to gain that fourth seat became evident in January when Graves sent a letter to the committee claiming that it had to meet again because its two nominees for one seat were ineligible.
One of those nominees was Tim Doody, sitting board president and suit supporter. Nominating committee members have said they are uncertain if Doody is ineligible and if state law requires them to resend nominees.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, has filed a bill to change the nominating process, a move opposed by environmental groups.
*This story was updated to reflect the committee’s revised agenda, which was released Wednesday. It added language about adopting procedures related to the nominations process. (March 5, 2014)