You have to give Gov. Piyush Jindal credit—he has chutzpah.
Jindal, to paraphrase Bill Murray (Dr. Peter Venkman), Harold Ramis (Dr. Egon Spengler) and Dan Aykroyd (Dr. Raymond Stantz) of Ghostbusters fame, ain’t afraid of no state constitution.
And he ain’t afraid of throwing good taxpayer dollars after bad to prove it.
Last November, Baton Rouge District Judge Tim Kelley shot down Jindal’s far-ranging school voucher program when he ruled it was unconstitutional for the state to use funds—about $25 million this year—dedicated for public education to pay private-school tuition.
Then late last month, another Baton Rouge District Judge, William Morvant, ruled the administration’s 401 (k)-type pension plan scheduled to take effect July 1 for future state employees also was unconstitutional because it had passed the legislature by a simple majority vote and not by the necessary two-thirds majority.
Taking his cue from Admiral David Farragut at the Aug. 5, 1864, Battle of Mobile Bay, Jindal shouted to his minions on the fourth floor of the State Capitol something that sounded like, “Damn the Constitution, full speed ahead!”
Or maybe it was, “Damn the legal costs, full speed ahead!”
He said it kinda fast, so it was hard to understand, really.
It might have even been, “Damn those Republican judges, full appeal ahead!”
Kelley’s ruling was “wrong-headed” and “a travesty for parents across Louisiana,” Jindal sniffed after last November’s setback. We’re not sure of “wrong-headed” is an acceptable term in a court of law but hey, he’s the governor so who are we to quibble? After all, legend has it that a Texas cowboy in the old West successfully defended himself on a murder charge with the defense that his late adversary “needed killing.”
“We are optimistic this decision will be reversed,” said State Education Superintendent John White (An attempt by LouisianaVoice to determine from which law school White holds his juris doctorate was unsuccessful.)
“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling and we look forward to a successful appeal,” Piyush said of Morvant’s ruling on the pension plan. “We’re confident that the bill was constitutionally passed,” he added. (As with White, efforts to learn where the governor obtained his degree in constitutional law were fruitless.)
So, having already spent thousands of dollars at the district court level, he now will contract with outside counsel (eschewing the attorney general’s office right across the Lake from the Capitol) to take both cases to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Not only is he tossing good taxpayer money after bad, but he also is forcing the Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana, two teachers unions and dozens of local school boards to spend membership money and local tax dollars to continue the fight to uphold the lower court rulings.
Perhaps the governor should take a look at his latest poll numbers (37 percent approval rating) and try to understand that he can’t always get his way even though he and his $10 million campaign war chest did collect 66 percent of a 20 percent voter turnout in his re-election just over a year ago—against a field that included as his strongest opponent a school teacher with no money. And the teacher, Tara Hollis, still got 18 percent of the vote.
So what if 80 percent of the Louisiana voters stayed home? Sixty-six percent is a mandate!
A former middle school teacher said even as a child his mindset was such that he always had to have his way and that it was simply inconceivable that he might be wrong.
But this isn’t middle school and even by spending thousands more of taxpayer money, he still isn’t likely to get his way.
Ever see a governor throw a tantrum? Stand by. It might even qualify as a hissy fit.
Who you gonna call?
Constitution Busters, aka Bobby Jindal, Timmy Teepell and Jimmy Faircloth!