Consolidation of power or rats deserting sinking ship?
Gov. Bobby Jindal appears to be consolidating his power base as he moves toward his final two years in office by positioning key allies as caretakers to watch the store in his four-year hiatus—a break he will no doubt us to seek higher office of latch on with some right wing think tank.
What Jindal is doing in the placement of former Chief of Staff Steve Waguespack as president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and Division of Administration spokesman Michael DiResto with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) as senior vice president for economic competitiveness is eerily similar to Huey Long’s lining up all his toadies before moving from the governor’s office to the U.S. Senate.
He earlier had helped get Scott Angelle, who almost certainly would have been replaced as Secretary of Natural Resources by Jindal’s successor, elected to the Public Service Commission and only recently he orchestrated the “retirement” of Congressman Rodney Alexander by placing him in a $130,000-a-year job as head of Veterans Affairs, a job, which if he remains three years, will boost his state retirement from about $7,500 to $82,000 per year.
By convincing Alexander to hang up his congressional spurs, Jindal opened the door (he hopes) for State Sen. Neil Riser to move into Alexander’s former Fifth District slot. That little coup may yet backfire as there has already been considerable pushback to that blatant back room deal.
Though BRAC did not say so, an additional duty for DiResto might be to help identify and sanction “legitimate” news media representatives. Nearly two years ago, DiResto arbitrarily decided that our sister organization, Capitol News Service, was not “legitimate.” That was the reason he gave—before relenting more than an hour later—for denying a copy of Jindal’s executive budget to CNS.
More lucrative work for Faircloth?
Jindal and Superintendent of Education John White’s ill-fated voucher plan has run into another obstacle in the form of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to block vouchers in 22 of 34 parish school systems currently under federal desegregation orders.
It’s not the first time this issue has come up but the filing of the lawsuit adds a new dimension to the voucher controversy and it could be a new opportunity for Jindal’s favorite lawyer Jimmy Faircloth.
Financial windfalls don’t come along very often—unless you are Faircloth, who has already received some $1.1 million in fees while unsuccessfully defending the administration on a number of issues ranging from vouchers to retirement to lack of transparency in the selection of a new LSU president.
Now he has a golden opportunity to once again start the legal meter running.
At this rate, he could retire when Jindal leaves office.
Jindal invests in state retirement system even as he trashes its stability
You may remember all the hoopla about the state’s busted retirement systems. Jindal paraded administrative appointive officials before legislative committees to sound the alarm that the retirement systems were broke, kaput, bankrupt, broken and otherwise unsalvageable—unless the legislature approved Jindal’s radical program for state pension reform. That the “reforms” would have been devastating to state employees and would violate employee contracts was besides the point.
This was one of the dogs that Faircloth was asked to defend in state court. And it was one of several cases in which Faircloth was shot down in flames.
But wait! Even as the retirement systems were circling the drain (according to Jindal), Jindal was surreptitiously buying back his retirement from his prior service with the state in order to increase his own state pension.
Kinda makes you wonder if he really believed his own Chicken Little falling sky rhetoric, doesn’t it?
Republican indignation over voucher suit
Hayride blog columnist Kevin Kane dutifully parroted the administration line that it was such a shame to trap kids in lousy schools.
Jindal called the lawsuit “shameful,” and said it was imperative to give every child, “no matter their race or their income, the opportunity to get a great education.”
It certainly is interesting to see these elitist types become so concerned with the education of black children so late in the day.
Katrina Obama’s fault, Louisiana GOP poll shows
A recent poll, admittedly conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, is one of those surveys that Jindal has chosen not to trumpet as proof that he’s doing a “heckuva job.”
The poll showed that 29 percent of state Republicans said that President Obama was responsible for the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans eight years ago tomorrow (Aug. 29).
Obama may be many things—indecisive, weak, occasionally confused—but one thing he was not, was president. He was a freshman in the U.S. Senate, still three years away from being elected president.
At least Timmy Teepell didn’t try to saddle Obama with the Katrina debacle in his infamous tweet exchange with Baton Rouge blogger Bob Mann recently.