Bobby Jindal as a reform governor in favor of transparency, accountability, integrity, honesty, and ethics, is a joke. A cruel joke.
There, we’ve said it. The man is a chameleon. If you threw him into a big box of crayons, he would explode from system overload.
He says he is for transparency but then he hides behind the deliberative process that he pushed through the legislature shortly after taking office.
Apparently, he also is now hiding behind Troy Hebert, director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Control Agency.
Jindal claims he will not tolerate any compromise of ethics.
To put it bluntly, he lies.
Take House Bill 387 by Rep. John Schroder (R-Covington) for example.
It passed the House unanimously, 100-0 with five members not voting.
On Wednesday, the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee unceremoniously deferred the bill without objection and with virtually no discussion.
All HB 387 would have done was protect state whistleblowers from reprisals.
The bill said, in part:
• Any public employee who provides information to a legislator or to a legislative committee upon request of a legislator or legislative committee shall be free from discipline, reprisal or threats of discipline or reprisal by the public employer for providing such information;
• No public employee with authority to hire, fire, or discipline employees, supervisor, agency head, nor any elected official shall subject to reprisal or threaten to subject to reprisal any public employee because of the employee’s disclosure of information to a legislator or legislative committee upon request of a legislator or legislative committee;
• If any public employee is suspended, demoted, dismissed, or threatened with suspension, demotion, or dismissal as an act of reprisal in violation of this Section, such employee shall report such action to the Board (of Governmental Ethics);
• An employee who is wrongfully suspended, demoted, or dismissed shall be entitled to reinstatement of his employment and entitled to receive any lost income and benefits for the period of any suspension, demotion, or dismissal;
The bill also provided for punishment of any supervisor who attempted to discipline, demote or fire a whistleblower.
The Jindal administration had opposed the bill as being “too broad,” claiming it could create “unintended consequences” that would inhibit the ability of agency leaders to manage their departments.
The bill was introduced after some state officials who disagreed with the Jindal administration lost their positions (“teagued”) and lawmakers subsequently experienced difficulty in obtaining information from agencies.
Perhaps it was “unintended consequences” that Jindal feared last year when he vetoed Senate Bill 629 by Sen. Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles).
SB 629, for those of you who don’t remember, would have provided “’transparency’ reporting to the legislature by the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) concerning the Louisiana Medicaid Bayou Health program and the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership and Coordinated System of Care programs.”
SB 629 was approved unanimously in the House, by a 102-0 vote with three absences. Then it went to the Senate where is was again approved unanimously, 38-0 with one absence.
Jindal promptly vetoed the bill.
Fast forward six months and the FBI issues a subpoena for all records in the possession of the Division of Administration relative to the $184 million CNSI contract with DHH.
Bruce Greenstein, who was DHH secretary at the time the contract was awarded, had once worked for CNSI and it was learned that he had tweaked the bid requirements in order that CNSI might qualify as a bidder on the contract.
Embarrassed, Jindal cancelled the CNSI contract and Greenstein resigned.
In an unrelated incident, Greenstein eliminated the position of internal auditor at DHH and some months later, a DHH employee was arrested for embezzling funds from the agency. With no internal auditor, how was it that the employee was discovered?
A private investigator.
That’s right, a private investigator. That’s indictment enough of this administration, but to allow the continued intimidation of state employees who know of illegal or unethical activity is to encourage the continued abuse of power by supervisory personnel even as the state treasury is looted.
But Jindal vetoed SB 629 as being unnecessary, perhaps even burdensome.
So now, the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, at the urging of Hebert, deferred without objection HB 387.
Sen. Bob Kostelka (R-Monroe), who sits on the committee, said Hebert had contacted every member of the committee to convey the message that the administration was opposed to the bill.
So why is Hebert carrying the water for Jindal? He has enough troubles running his own agency.
Who knows? Perhaps he fancies himself as Jindal’s heir apparent. He has about as much chance of achieving that objective as Jindal has of becoming president.
Kostelka described Schroder as “pissed” at the Senate committee’s deferral of his bill. “I see what’s happening here,” he was quoted by Kostelka as saying as he got up from the witness table to exit the committee room.
So now Jindal has won his version of transparency, accountability, integrity, honesty, and ethics. State employees may now continue to fear leaking information to legislators or the media. Only the bravest will dare come forward now and then only with total confidence that their names will never be divulged—a standing guarantee from LouisianaVoice.
Kostelka said he did not object to the motion by Shreveport Democrat Greg Tarver to defer the bill “because I saw the handwriting on the wall. The governor had gotten to the committee members through Hebert.”
Here are the other Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee members and their email addresses:
• Jody Amedee (R-Gonzales, chairman): firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe, vice-chairman): email@example.com
• Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville): firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jean-Paul Morrell (D-New Orleans): email@example.com
• Ed Murray (D-New Orleans): firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jonathan Perry (R-Kaplan): email@example.com
• Neil Riser (R-Columbia): firstname.lastname@example.org
• Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport): email@example.com
If you are predisposed to do so, shoot them an email and ask 1): what they’re trying to hide; 2): why they knuckle under to a lame duck, dishonest, self-absorbed, politically ambitious excuse of a governor, and 3): if they always check their manhood at the door.
The time is long past for the electorate of this state to stand together and call an end to politicians pimping out the state’s resources and contracts to political cronies and campaign contributors.
The only reason to send errand boys like Troy Hebert to massage legislators is to ensure that state government works only for the perpetuation of political corruption and not for the benefit of the governed.