First it was a federal judge who threw out Piyush Jindal’s voucher plan in Tangipahoa Parish because it posed a major setback to the parish’s current desegregation consent decree.
Then, last Friday, a state district judge, Tim Kelley, whose wife once worked for Piyush, said the method of appropriations to fund the statewide voucher program is unconstitutional.
Fast on the heels of Kelley’s ruling, fellow Baton Rouge District Judge William Morvant refused to throw out a lawsuit challenging the only part of Piyush’s far-reaching retirement reform proposals that survived the legislative session earlier this year.
In case you’re counting, that’s oh-for-three—not a good batting average for the governor who would be president.
Keep in mind that Piyush is the incoming chairman of the National Republican Governors’ Association.
Remember, too, that he thought he would be moving into that position in the hope that it would be the launching pad for his presidential aspirations. To do so, he needed to bring something substantial to the table.
That something was to be sweeping education reform. That was to be the centerpiece of his list of grand accomplishments, the bold-face type on his curriculum vitae.
Now, the status of both education and retirement reform are suddenly in jeopardy.
Suddenly the star of the errand boy of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) doesn’t shine quite so brightly.
What to do?
The obvious answer would be to teague someone. That practice, after all, has served him well in the past. No college president, attorney, doctor, agency head, legislator or rank-and-file state employee will dare rebuke Piyush lest he or she be shown the door.
There was a time when we would have run a recap of those teagued by this peevish little man, but the list has grown so long that it would take up far too much space.
On reflection, however, one must ask just what are Piyush’s alternatives?
Well, normally he could campaign against the re-election of judges Kelley and Morvant—except he already did the anti-judge campaign thingy in Iowa.
He can’t teague the federal judge; he was appointed by the president.
He can’t teague either of the state judges—Kelley or Morvant—because they were elected by voters of the 19th Judicial District.
He can’t teague Jimmy Faircloth, the attorney who so expertly represented the interests of the state in arguing on behalf of the voucher program because Faircloth was working under a contract that ends when all appeals are exhausted—about $100,000 or so down the road.
He can’t teague Angéle Davis, wife of Judge Kelley because she already resigned her position as Commissioner of Administration.
He can’t teague the legislator who introduced the education bills because they were not written by any Louisiana elected official but by the corporate honchos at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
He might consider teaguing Superintendent of Education John White since there are already unconfirmed rumors floating around that he is leaving soon.
But there is a far better option open to Piyush:
He could take a page from the playbook of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
It’s such a simple solution we’re surprised no one has thought of it before.
All he has to do is first invoke that obscure nullification clause which several states unhappy with last month’s presidential election are bantering about—the one that says states can unilaterally ignore a federal law they don’t like. Or even opt out of the union itself. Some in Texas are talking about splitting off and breaking the state into five separate states (pure lunacy, but a philosophy that dovetails nicely with that of the Tea Party).
Then, like Morsi, Jindal can unilaterally decree greater authority for himself, including issuing a declaration that the wrong-headed courts are henceforth barred from challenging his decisions.
(Come to think of it, such a move is not exactly unprecedented. President Andrew Jackson said of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that the state of Georgia could not impose its laws on Cherokee tribal lands, “(Chief Justice) John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”)
After that, he could even take it a step further and, like North Korea’s late Kim Jong-il, bestow upon himself the title of “Dear Leader,” and, again like Kim Jong-il, commission a song of the same name in his honor.
Think about it. If he were to take that action, he could sell prisons, the old insurance building property, hospitals, roads, universities, the Saints and the Zephyrs, not to mention a few state-owned golf courses and state parks.
That water from Toledo Bend Reservoir? Sold. Gone to Texas and a few select political cronies are even richer than before.
And you only think you’ve seen a lot of corporate tax breaks, incentives and exemptions. Once he issues his decree, corporate taxes would disappear into that sink hole in Assumption Parish.
All state employees who aren’t fired outright (to be replaced by telecommuting administrative types from Florida, California, Alabama and elsewhere) would immediately forfeit all health and retirement benefits—except for friendly former legislators who, of course, would be elevated to six-figure salaries with full benefits.
The Department of Civil Service, public schools and the State Ethics Board would become distant memories for the nostalgic among us.
Of course, were he to take such action, he could always say his decision was predicated “by three things: one, to protect needed reform packages; two, to streamline government so at the end of the day, we can do more with less, and three, I have the job I want.”
Opponents could be expected to condemn his decrees as heavy-handed and dictatorial but what else would you expect from those who represent the coalition of the status quo?