|An interesting news release appeared in our email inbox on Thursday (Sept. 1).
The headline beneath the official portrait of Attorney General Jeff Landry proclaimed:
Attorney General Jeff Landry Makes Louisiana Public Corruption Arrest
After Bobby Jindal cut funding for DCFS, case workers were laid off and those remaining found themselves with impossible caseloads and no transportation for field work after repairs went undone. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/13/dcfs-funding-slashed-necessitating-driveway-visits-but-overworked-caseworker-is-arrested-for-falsifying-records/
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, LouisianaVoice continues to ask the unanswered question:
How is that the Attorney General and the Inspector General can be so vigilant in pursuing low-level employees while turning a blind eye to those with political clout who are equally guilty of abusing their office for financial gain?
Quite frankly, we have little patience for and even less confidence in those who are in a position to accomplish meaningful reform but choose to pick low-hanging fruit, i.e. rank and file employees with neither the financial means nor the political pull to mount an aggressive defense.
Take the lingering—and obviously ignored—case of Jill Boudreaux.
In April of 2010, the Jindal administration, in an offer to implement across the board savings, made a one-time incentive package offer to various state agencies as a means to encourage state employees to take early retirement.
Handled properly, it appeared at the time—and still does appear—to have been an economical and compassionate way to nudge employees who wanted out but who could not afford to retire, into making the decision to walk away, thus reducing the number of state employees which in turn translated to long-term savings in salaries and benefits paid by the state.
On April 23 of that year, DPS Deputy Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux sent an email to all personnel informing them that the Department of Civil Service and the Louisiana State Police Commission had approved the retirement incentive as a “Layoff Avoidance Plan.”
In legal-speak, under the incentive eligible applicants would receive a payment of 50 percent of the savings realized by DPS for one year from the effective date of the employee’s retirement.
Boudreaux, by what many in DPS feel was more than mere happenstance, managed to be the first person to sign up on the date the internet link opened up for applications.
In Boudreaux’s case, her incentive payment was based on an annual salary of about $92,000 so her incentive payment was around $46,000. In addition, she was also entitled to payment of up to 300 hours of unused annual leave which came to another $13,000 or so for a total of about $59,000 in walk-around money.
Her retirement date was April 28 but the day before, on April 27, she double encumbered herself into the classified (Civil Service) Deputy Undersecretary position because another employee was promoted into her old position on April 26.
A double incumbency is when an employee is appointed to a position that is already occupied by an incumbent, in this case, Boudreaux’s successor. Double incumbencies are mostly used for smooth succession planning initiatives when the incumbent of a position (Boudreaux, in this case) is planning to retire, according to the Louisiana Department of Civil Service.
On April 30, under the little-known retire-rehire policy, Boudreaux was rehired two days after her “retirement,” but this time at the higher paying position of Undersecretary, an unclassified, or appointive position.
What’s more, though she “retired” as Deputy Undersecretary on April 28, her “retirement” was inexplicably calculated based on the higher Undersecretary position’s salary, a position she did not assume until April 30—two days after her “retirement,” sources inside DPS told LouisianaVoice.
Following her maneuver, then-Commissioner of Administration Angelé Davis apparently saw through the ruse and reportedly ordered Boudreaux to repay her incentive payment as well as the payment for her 300 hours of annual leave, according to those same DPS sources.
It was about this time, however, that Davis left Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to take a position in the private sector. Paul Rainwater, Jindal’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, was named to succeed Davis on June 24, 2010, and the matter of Boudreaux’s payment quickly slipped through the cracks and was never repaid.
Six years later, in February of this year, Boudreaux finally retired for real, reportedly at the insistence of Gov. John Bel Edwards, who considered Boudreaux and the duplicitous maneuver and her accompanying financial windfall as something of an embarrassment.
When considering how Boudreaux successfully milked the system for what would appear to be a less than legitimate financial gain, one has to wonder how she manages to escape the self-serving law and order diligence of Landry and Street.
Or are their efforts to rid the state of official corruption a case study in selective justice?