The Louisiana Board of Regents in May estimated there was a $1.7 billion backlog in repairing and renovating campus facilities in colleges and universities across the state.
But even with sewer systems that backed up into classrooms, leaky roofs, outdated laboratories and even mold among the deficiencies cited by the Regents, it’s certainly good to know that Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature could scrape together $1.2 million to make improvements to athletic facilities at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux in order to make life easier for the Manning family.
Don’t get us wrong. We have nothing against the Mannings. We were not among those who got up in arms when Peyton and Eli opted to ply their trade for the University of Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively. In fact, Eli’s gravitation to Oxford was just natural, given that Dad Archie played there. But didn’t our Bert Jones embarrass Archie and the Rebels 61-17 back in 1970? And two years later, Jones somehow managed to get off two passes in the final four seconds, the second one to Brad Davis for a 10-yard touchdown and a 17-16 win (We know, set your watches back two seconds…).
No, this is not about Archie, Eli, Peyton and Cooper and their football camp at Nicholls.
This is about priorities.
Jindal somehow can’t find money to help the developmentally disabled in this state but he can find $1.2 million (with the assistance of State Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, and State Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma), to make improvements to the 25 football fields on which the Manning Passing Academy teaches some 1200 football campers—campers who, we are reasonably certain, pay a hefty fee for the privilege of receiving tutelage from the quarterbacking legends.
Pardon us for not fawning all over the Mannings and praising Jindal’s efforts to keep the passing camp at Nicholls (even though Archie Manning said he had no intentions of moving the camp). So what if they were to move the camp? Where would they take it? In all likelihood, they’d simply go to another Louisiana city.
“The improvements are good for the academy (no kidding?) but it is good for Nicholls (which classroom or professor benefits from this?) and I want to thank the folks here and the people at the South Louisiana Economic Council for working to get this done,” Jindal said, apparently forgetting for the moment the pressing need for better classroom facilities at institutions of higher education all over the state.
And did it slip his mind that he has slashed the higher education budget by 80 percent since he became governor?
“This academy has a $1.8 million impact to our state,” the governor said.
Wait. What? Did anyone at that staged announcement in the John L. Guidry Stadium’s Century Club Room on July 12 have the presence of mind to challenge that statement? Did anyone asked the governor to quantify those numbers?
If not, we will. Right here. Right now.
How does Jindal and/or the South Louisiana Economic Council calculate the economic impact of this event? Campers who stay overnight pay the Mannings, not local hotels or eateries. We love the way in which political leaders, for the sake of political expedience, pluck such numbers out of thin air.
The biggest economic impact, we would guess, would be the fees charged by the Mannings for their “academy.” And that money goes into their bank accounts, not the Lafourche Parish economy. Does anyone seriously believe the Mannings stage their annual academy for free?
Based on the academy’s fee schedule (see comments by GJD), the Mannings take in something between $500,000 and $700,000 for the four-day camp.
We let our civic proud show through when Peyton won his one Super Bowl and Eli his two. Okay, we were also thrilled when Peyton lost that one special Super Bowl to the Saints. And we were a little smug when he had that great comeback season for Denver last year. But to take funding away from needed projects and lavish it on these millionaires who are promoting…football? A game?
“They don’t have to spend their summers here,” Jindal said of Daddy Archie and sons. “They don’t have to rearrange their schedules to be here. They choose to do that.”
Wow. Talk about gooneybabble. Talk about mindless spin. Talk about convoluted logic.
Spend their summers here? Try four days. Rearrange their schedules? What the hell is Jindal talking about? They specifically arrange their schedules around this annual event to rake in a small fortune—far more than the average state employee earns in a year—even more than some of Jindal’s non-classified appointive positions (readers’ collective gasps would go here). You’re damn right they choose to do that, Governor. Anyone in his right mind would choose to do that for the money they get.
Come to think of it, though, they probably spend more days at their passing academy each year than you do in Louisiana, Governor.
It’s one thing to turn your back on those in need in order to help your wealthy friends, Guv, but don’t blow smoke up our togas while you’re doing it.