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If you are a school teacher in Louisiana or if you have a teacher in your family, here are nine names you should remember next October when voters march to the polls to elect a governor, 39 state senators and 105 state representatives:

These are the nine members of the House Education Committee who yanked $39 million from local school districts—money that could have gone to supplement an already insulting pay raise for teachers, provide classroom supplies and help absorb increases in health insurance premiums.

Oh, and just in case you’d like to thank them, here are the five who voted to keep the $39 million in the Minimum Foundation Plan as adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE):

The $101 million for teacher pay raises (safe, for the moment) and the $39 million for local school districts were pat of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plan to move Louisiana back to the Southern Regional Average.

Instead, the nine Republicans, led by committee chairperson Landry voted to send the MFP back to BESE with a request to cut the $39 million for local school districts.

Landry, who has been less than a friend to public education throughout her legislative career, was steadfast, stating from the start she was going to make the recommendation to send the MFP plan back to BESE.

Edmonds, in an attempt to give credence to Landry’s position, raised the point that Louisiana spends $12,153 per student which he said was $3,000 more than Texas and $2,000 more than Florida. He managed to get Superintendent of Education John White to acknowledge that the state ranks 46th in efficiency of funds spent on students.

And while saying there will likely be no new funds for early childhood education, Edmonds somehow managed to overlook the fact that Texas pays its state legislators $7,200 per year, less than ONE-THIRD of the $22,800 for Louisiana legislators.

That’s right: Louisiana spends $10,000 more per year on legislators to come to Baton Rouge to hobnob with lobbyists, to enjoy sumptuous meals at Sullivan’s and Ruth’s Chris than it does to education our children.

Let that sink in: $22,800 per legislator for a part-time job (and if they have to travel to Baton Rouge or anywhere else on state business, they get $164 per diem, plus travel expenses).

At the same time, we spend $12,153 per student.

It’d be pretty interesting to find a ranking of the state’s “efficiency of funds spent” on legislators.

Louisiana’s students are the second-poorest in the nation, White said, ahead of only Mississippi.

But what’s important is the tons of additional REVENUE many legislators earn as attorneys, accountants, etc., representing state and local governments. There are literally more hidden perks to being a legislator than could be listed here—and I have unlimited space.

But I digress. Landry, in order to bolster her disdain for public education in general and Gov. Edwards in particular, even called on Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) to address her committee on the $39 million proposal.

In case you might not be aware, if Henry had an alias, it would be: “Dedicated political enemy of John Bel Edwards, no matter what Edwards might propose.”

So, what it all boiled down to was the Republicans in the legislator led by Henry and Speaker Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia), unable to block the pay raises of $1,000 per year for teachers and $500 per year for support staff, were damn sure going to throw up as many roadblocks as they could for any additional funding for teachers—even at the cost of depriving local school districts desperately needed funds for resources and salaries.

At a press conference at the conclusion of Tuesday’s committee meeting, the Louisiana Public School Coalition urged BESE to stand firm on its MFP proposal and to push legislators approve it as is.

White showed how political loyalties can shift, even at full throttle. First appointed by Bobby Jindal and reappointed during the Edwards administration, he said, “The previous administration swung and missed badly” at early childhood education.

Even more revealing that the fate of the $39 million was sealed well in advance was the participation—or lack thereof—of committee members. Each of the five Democrats asked several relevant questions and made valid points while fewer than half of the nine Republicans had a word to say during discussion of a pretty important piece of legislation. And those who did speak, like Edmonds, did so only as a means of supporting Landry’s motion.

The others were strangely mute—almost as if they already had their marching orders from Landry, Henry and Barras.

And that’s how democracy in the gret stet of Looziana works.

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LSU basketball coach Will Wade has been REINSTATED and all those Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) supporters can breathe a sigh of relief.

But does anyone even remember the shabby treatment of STEVEN HATFIELD by LSU? Did anyone ever protest the disgraceful manner in which he was shown the door? Well, a handful of SCIENTISTS did protest Hatfield’s firing, but who listens to scientists anyway? Certainly not Donald Trump.

Hatfield, for those who may not remember, was an expert on biological warfare who, along with about 30 others, found themselves on the FBI’s list of “persons of interest” in connection with its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Apparently, this honor was bestowed upon him because he had once passed through Fredrick, Maryland, where the anthrax envelopes were mailed from. Actually, he worked as a biodefense researcher for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick—enough to make him a “person of interest.”

Even though the FBI repeatedly said that Hatfill was not a suspect in the case, it nevertheless directed the university to prohibit Hatfill from participating in any projects financed by the Justice Department.

LSU meekly complied without asking the FBI for a shred of evidence. The university denied that its decision was influenced by the fact that LSU received substantial funds from the Justice Department for programs that trained law-enforcement and public health officials to handle bioterrorism attacks and similar crises.

Not satisfied with firing Hatfield, LSU went a step further in firing his boss, STEPHEN GUILLOT, director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.

And our legislators wonder why so many professors are looking at Louisiana in their rear-view mirrors.

Can you say “extortion”?

Hatfill had the last laugh, however, settling his LAWSUIT against LSU and the federal government for $4.6 million.

The odyssey of a former LSU BAND DIRECTOR got more ink than the injustices inflicted upon Hatfield.

The Baton Rouge SUNDAY ADVOCATE was liberally PEPPERED with stories SPECULATING with breathless anticipation the next steps for Wade and LSU. The gnashing of hands and wringing of teeth even carried over to Monday with yet another story that DICK VITALE had returned to a Baton Rouge radio show to discuss the monumental ongoing saga that, to rabid LSU fans at least, carries all the weight of say, the selection of a new Pope.

Yet, only minimal coverage was given to the manner in which LSU canned hurricane scientist IVOR VAN HEERDEN following his criticism of the U.S. Corps of Engineers because his public statements were “hurting LSU’s quest for federal funding across the board.”

Now that’s the humanitarian approach: go right for the bottom line.

The fact that van Heerden’s criticism was vindicated when tests of steel pilings revealed the very deficiencies, he had described that led to the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina did nothing to prompt LSU to rush to reinstatement.

So, he did the obvious: he FILED SUIT filed suit against LSU in 2010 for wrongful termination.

LSU, if nothing else, is consistent. It doggedly defended the lawsuit, even after losing one key ruling after another until Jed Horne, a columnist for THE LENS, a New Orleans online news service, wrote:

Journalists and members of the LSU community who are aware of the ongoing persecution are disgusted and somewhat mystified that the university has chosen to go after van Heerden, rather than quietly settle this shameful case. It seems especially odd in light of the state’s increasing vulnerability to catastrophic storms and van Heerden’s proven expertise in anticipating their wrath—not to mention the high cost of protracted litigation as Gov. Bobby Jindal makes devastating cuts to the university’s budget.

Finally, after throwing $435,000 of taxpayer funds down a rat hole to defend the suit (benefiting no one but the state’s defense attorneys) LSU finally decided to settle in February 2013 for an undisclosed amount. Again, taxpayer dollars but this time the court concealed from public view the amount of the settlement, itself a disturbing trend when public dollars are involved.

While the local media in Baton Rouge have given extensive coverage to the travails of poor Will Wade (six-year, $15 million contract), not a nano-second of air time nor a single sentence has been devoted to the manner in which the LSU Dental School swept a multi-million-dollar scandal under the rug by firing the whistleblower who revealed that a joint replacement device developed by Dr. John Kent, head of the LSU School of Dentistry’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, was defective. That the deficiencies resulted in excruciating pain and at least eight suicides wasn’t enough to prevent the department from ruining the career of DR. RANDALL SCHAFFER.

But thank God Will Wade has been reinstated.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI  John Lombardi had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

One of the things that sealed Lombardi’s fate was his hesitancy to endorse the surrender of the LSU Medical Center via a contract containing 55 blank pages. The beneficiary of Jindal’s generosity, by the way, was a sitting member of the LSU Board of Supervisors who headed the outfit that took over University Medical Center in Shreveport. But no conflict there, apparently.

Also loath to approve the giveaway of one of the finest teaching hospital systems in America were LSU Health Care System head Dr. Fred Cerise and Interim Louisiana Public Hospital CEO Dr. Roxanne Townsend. On July 17, 2013, there was a meeting at which the privatization of the state’s system of LSU medical centers was pitched.

Both Cerise and Townsend were present at that meeting and both EXPRESSED THEIR RESERVATIONS. Members of the Board of Supervisors who were at the meeting “indicated they want LSU’s management to pursue this strategy,” according to a two-page summary of the meeting prepared by Cerise.

With days, two of the most respected members of the LSU medical community were gone. Fired.

But LSU has Will Wade back in the fold and all is well.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

And who could ever forget the humiliation the LSU Board heaped upon legendary football coach Charles McClendon by making the man wait in his car back in 1979 while the board decided his fate? He was canned because he couldn’t beat Bear Bryant. Well, guess what? No one else was beating the Bear either. If that is the barometer for a coach’s survival at LSU, then no coach’s job is safe as long at Nick what’s-his-name is at ‘Bama.

And the ham-fisted manner in which Athletic Director Joe (Duke lacrosse death angel) Alleva handled the LES MILES firing had all the delicacy and subtlety of Jack the Ripper.

But Will Wade is back and that makes everything okay.

Until the other shoe drops from the ongoing FBI investigation, as it almost surely will.

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You want to know how politicians skew their poll data?

A poll commissioned by Candidate A, for example may contain loaded questions like:

If you were asked to choose between Candidate A, who believes in the sanctity of life, and Candidate B, who believes in killing babies, would you vote for Candidate A or Candidate B?

Or:

If you were asked to choose between Candidate A, who believes people who rape and kill should be given stiff jail sentences and Candidate B, who believes we should open the prison doors, would you vote for Candidate A or Candidate B?

Candidate B, of course, actually stands for a woman’s right to choose and he believes our prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders, but Candidate A doesn’t couch his poll questions in that manner. Instead, Candidate B is a baby-killer who wants to turn hardened criminals loose on an unsuspecting public.

Or maybe, in Candidate A’s poll, Candidate A wants to bring jobs to the people of Louisiana while Candidate B, by tightening restrictions on tax giveaways to greedy corporations who don’t really produce that many jobs anyway, is cast as one who wants to drive business and industry from the state.

You may even be asked something like, “If you were told that Candidate A loves his family and teaches Sunday School and Candidate B beats his wife and kids, would you vote for Candidate A or Candidate B?”

Candidate A may be a womanizer who never sets foot in a church and Candidate B may be a devoted husband and father. No one has claimed that Candidate B beats his wife and kids, but you were asked a hypothetical question that implies that he does and phrased in that manner, you are naturally prone to support Candidate A even though you may know zilch about either candidate.

It’s really easy. And just because I’m using an example provided by the Trump campaign, don’t for a moment believe that the practice is limited to Republicans.

It’s not. They all do it.

But this one is especially egregious.

The Trump campaign, which somehow has me on its mailing list, sent this poll before the Mueller report was released. But to submit your response, you’re taken to another page which gives me the choice of contributing to his campaign in amounts ranging from $35 to $2,700.

“At this critical moment, we’re asking our strongest supporters:

“Do you think it’s time for this WITCH HUNT to conclude once and for all?

YES

NO

“This is the most important survey we’ve sent you this year.”

TAKE THE POLL

I tried to vote but without pledging a contribution, my poll response was blocked. In one attempt, I even received a text from the campaign informing me that I had entered an incorrect response.

So, by accepting responses only from those who contribute (and if one is prone to contribute to the campaign, it’s a pretty good bet the poll response would be sympathetic to Trump), the poll results necessarily showed heavy support for Trump, a fact he trumpeted in his tweets as “overwhelming evidence of a witch hunt.”

As pointed out earlier, this practice is by no means the exclusive tactic of Trump.

All candidates do it.

So, the next time you are polled about your political preference in the upcoming election cycle, be careful to listen to how the questions are phrased in order to get a good read as to how the poll is tilted in favor of a certain candidate.

And the next time you read about some candidate is doing well in his privately-commissioned poll, take it as biased—because it is. It’s going to be a poll tailored to the individual candidate and not an accurate reading of the electorate.

That’s just the way the game is played—by both sides.

And we are the losers.

 

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Watching former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, it was impossible to ignore the grandstanding by Democrats out for blood and Republicans just as determined to protect the damaged goods personified in Donald Trump.

But it was the brief appearance of 3rd District U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins that provided a brief moment of unintended comedy.

During his five minutes in attempting to defend Trump from Cohen’s bombshell charges, Higgins managed to allude to “the many arrests” he had made in his law enforcement career.

Following is an excerpt from a chapter on Higgins included in my manuscript for Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption, a book about corrupt sheriffs and law enforcement officers of Louisiana that puts that law enforcement record in perspective:

If ever there was a living caricature of the Barney Fife character from the old Andy Griffith Show, it would have to be Clay Higgins, aka the self-anointed “Cajun John Wayne,” a Dirty Harry wannabe.

Originally a patrolman and a member of the Opelousas Police Department’s SWAT team, Higgins, a former used car salesman, resigned from the OPD on May 18, 2007, in lieu of accepting disciplinary action from Police Chief Perry Gallow.

“Pfc. Clay Higgins used unnecessary force on a subject during the execution of a warrant and later gave false statements during an internal investigation. Although he later recanted his story and admitted to striking a suspect in handcuffs and later releasing him …” read the minutes of the Opelousas Police Department’s Discipline Review Board concerning the March 14, 2007, incident.

Among the actions that had been recommended by the review board:

  • Demotion from Patrolman First Class to Patrolman;
  • Reassignment to a patrol shift for more direct supervision and training;
  • Immediate removal from the SWAT Team;
  • 160 hours suspension from duty without pay.

Rather than be subjected to the disciplinary action, Higgins turned in his equipment and resigned, although his version of events varies somewhat with the official account.

The incident in question occurred, he said, when he and fellow SWAT Team members were guarding the perimeter of a drug bust and a car breached the perimeter. The driver claimed to have cash in the suspected drug house and wanted to retrieve it, according to Higgins. The man was detained and handcuffed, Higgins claimed, and threatened the officers and Higgins slapped a cigarette out of the man’s mouth.

The man, who was subsequently released, filed a complaint and Higgins admittedly lied about slapping the man but later confessed to slapping him. While awaiting a determination of his punishment, he said he jokingly referred to Gallow as a peacock. “I decided right then, on that day, that my career was over at OPD—that I would never, ever recover from this peacock thing. He was infuriated by it. So, because of that I went into the chief’s office the following week and I turned in my badge and my gear and I resigned.”

That’s not the way it happened, according to Captain Craig Thomas, who headed up Internal Affairs for the OPD. He said Higgins lied in saying that the driver of the vehicle, Andre Richard, committed a battery upon Higgins and that Higgins only came forward to tell the truth after learning that Sergeant Bill Ortego did not go along with the story told by Higgins and another officer. Ortego said that he, Higgins and a third officer were standing outside the home where the warrant was being executed when a young black man pulled up in a red vehicle, got out and approached the three officers, but did not breach a perimeter as claimed by Higgins because “there was no perimeter set up for Richard to see,” Thomas said. “He was parked in the street.”

When Higgins walked to the driver’s side of the vehicle and started looking in the car through the open door, Richard attempted to close the door while Higgins was still standing in the doorway, at which time Higgins and the second officer threw Richard to the ground, Ortego wrote in his statement. Ortego made it clear that the driver had not placed his hands on Higgins before trying to close his car door.

Once the man was on the ground, Higgins asked for handcuffs and when the cuffs were on, Higgins grabbed him by the hair and told him to contact his lawyer, Ortego said, adding that the two officers began searching Richard’s vehicle, which they did not have permission to do, and noted that Ortego himself and Lieutenant Craig Leblanc, who was also present, helped the man off the ground, at which time Richard told Higgins, “It’s all right, everybody got to die someday.” Higgins took it as an implied threat and it really pissed Higgins off, prompting him to remove the cuffs and push the man onto the car, then put his hand around his neck before slapping him in the face and telling him to leave, according to Ortego’s statement. Higgins then pulled the cigarette out of Richard’s mouth and pushed him toward his vehicle, Ortego said.

Following his departure from the OPD, Higgins next showed up as a public information officer for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. His career there took an even more bizarre turn and established him as something of a pseudo folk hero in what he perceived as the mold of some kind of super cop, or better yet, the reincarnation of John Wayne himself. But his blatant—and oddly comical—self-parody bathed him more in the light of Deputy Fife than the Duke.

While employed by the SLP Sheriff’s Office, Higgins took it upon himself to make a series of macho videos of himself in full battle garb and armed to the teeth. With a full contingent of law enforcement personnel, armaments and a police dog standing alertly in the background, Higgins embarked on a rant against thugs, gang members, and assorted criminals, promising them there was no safe haven for them as long as he was on the job.

The videos gained him instant notoriety on YouTube, garnering thousands of hits. That only encouraged Higgins to branch out and to begin offering commemorative cups, caps and T-shirts to an adoring public. Soon, he was appearing as a paid guest on talk shows, giving paid speeches and doing paid advertisements, all of which naturally, in today’s media-dominated society, morphed into a TV reality show. Saying he had his reasons for preferring payment in cash, he charged $1500 for a television production, a thousand dollars for a radio production and one hundred fifty dollars an hour in travel time and another thousand for a photo session.

It also prompted swift action on the part of St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz. After Higgins’s forced resignation, Guidroz said, “Clay Higgins formed a personal business venture to raise money by selling mugs, T-shirts and other trinkets using department badge and uniform.” Explaining that using the sheriff’s office to promote his businesses was against departmental policy, Guidroz said, “I reined Higgins in.” He said that Higgins needed to take his own advice to not be disrespectful and to “follow the law.” Guidroz said he never authorized Higgins to appear on mugs, T-shirts or any other paraphernalia.

The personal business to which Guidroz referred, Captain Higgins Gear Company, LLC, was incorporated on October 15, 2015.

Guidroz related an incident in which Higgins requested extra body armor and an AR-15. He also asked to take the sheriff’s department decals off his car because, Higgins said, “My wife is home alone a lot and I don’t want them (those he had targeted in his videos) to see that I’m a policeman living in this area with the decals on my car.”

Guidroz said he told Higgins, “No, and I’ll tell you why: You put a target on fifty-five other deputies in this parish that have marked units. By calling these guys (gang members) out on the street, claiming to be a bad-ass, you put that target on them. Why should I grant you that request to unmark your car?”

As his supersized ego continued to grow, so, too, did his dream of a TV reality show in which he would out-Seagal actor Steven Seagal who at one time had his own TV reality cop show in which he did ride-alongs with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department. Higgins, expanding on that theme, actually envisioned himself popping in on various police department SWAT teams around the country and inviting himself to raids where he would personally arrest perps and then exact confessions from them during on-camera interrogations. Left unexplained was just how he intended to convince local police departments to allow him to swoop in and claim the glory after what may have been months of investigation and surveillance on their part.

Only after he left the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office was it learned that Higgins had not paid federal income taxes for several years, and his salary there was being garnished by the IRS. Moreover, it was also learned belatedly that Higgins was being sued by one of his ex-wives for one hundred thousand dollars after falling behind on child support payments a decade earlier.

Higgins, who denied an accusation by another ex-wife (not the one who sued him for child support) that he put a gun to her head during an argument in 1991, landed on his feet, this time as a reserve deputy for Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope who was himself indicted by a grand jury in August of 2016.

Meanwhile, Higgins was seeking the seat previously held by Rep. Charles Boustany who ran and lost in his race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring David Vitter. Higgins, running as an unabashed supporter of Donald Trump, was pitted in the runoff against Scott Angelle, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission who finished third in a four-man race for Louisiana Governor in 2015. In the November primary, Angelle led with 29 percent of the vote to Higgins’s 26 percent. But in the December 10 runoff, Higgins, with 77,671 votes (56 percent), swamped Angelle, who pulled but 60,762 (44 percent). After having lost two major races within a year’s time, Angelle was likely through running for elective office though Trump later hired him to head up the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Days before his runoff victory, Higgins was taped by ex-wife Rosemary Rothkamm-Hambrice as they discussed his delinquent child support payments. “…I really don’t know how much we should talk about this on the phone,” Higgins said. “I’m just learning really about campaign laws but there’s going to be a lot of money floating around…”

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In 2016, her first year as a member of the Louisiana Legislature, Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) successfully sponsored Senate Bill 466 which provided a procedure for the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Commissioner of Administration to seek approval from the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget and the legislature to proceed with the sale of a state hospital.

The bill, which may have stymied Bobby Jindal’s privatization blitz had it been in effect at the time he jettisoned state hospitals to private contractors, passed the House, 97-0 but met resistance in the Senate before passing by a 25-11 vote.

That same year, Hewitt sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 84 which, in a classic example of bureaucratic redundancy, requested the Division of Administration “to provide a report of all the reports required of the executive branch by statute and resolution.”

Inexplicably, in 2018, she voted against SB 117 by Sen. J.P. Morrell that would have required any state contractor to comply with the Louisiana Equal Pay for Women Act.

Typical of the backwater mentality of the Louisiana Republican Party and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) that has kept this state from entering the 21st Century, the bill failed by an 18-20 vote.

The resistance to legislating equal pay for women parallels the Louisiana Legislature’s stubborn insistence on beating back repeated efforts to raise the minimum wage in Louisiana. Even Arkansas has recognized that a person simply cannot subsist on $7.50 an hour.

But now Louisiana. I wonder if it has ever occurred to our political leaders that the determination to keep wages low might just have a little to do with the state’s perpetual bottom ranking in everything but poverty, obesity, crime and football?

That vote probably contributed in large part to her selection as “National Legislator of the Year” by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization noted for its rigidly conservative political positions that favor the privileged over those who actually get the work done.

ALEC has long been in lockstep with the Republican Party that promotes tax breaks for the wealthy and valuable incentives and exemptions for corporations while placing the tax burden on the working class.

ALEC likes to describe itself as non-partisan but that description is about as far from the truth as possible. The organization has a long and sordid history of supporting big oil, big pharma, banking and insurance companies over the rights of injured workers, minorities, the environment, affordable prescription drugs and public education.

And it opposes equal pay for women.

Was I being overly harsh in describing LABI and the Republican Party of obstructing progress in Louisiana? Perhaps, but consider this: In Louisiana, the earnings gap between men and women just happens to be the largest in the nation.

Progressive? Hardly.

Women in this state make 69 cents for every dollar earned by men in the same job, according to the Association of American University Women (AAUW).

But Hewitt apparently navigates on a level that puts her out of touch with reality. She holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from LSU and put that degree to good use managing major deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico for Shell Oil.

Chances are she received comparable pay as male engineers at Shell and I can only say good for her. She earned it.

But she seems to forget that not everyone can be so fortunate. Perhaps it never occurred to her as her career advanced that other women deserve equal pay for equal work as well.

There can be no rationalization for not recognizing that fact.

It reminds me of an old television commercial by Eddie Chiles who said, “If you don’t have an oil well, get one.” Which is just a cute way of saying, “I got mine; it’s too bad if you didn’t get yours.”

Just a touch of arrogance there. Personally, I’d rather own the Boston Red Sox or the New York Times. But you see, lofty aspirations like that are simply out of reach for the unwashed masses.

Equal pay should not be.

ALEC, which bestowed its “National Legislator of the Year” honors upon Hewitt, has among its membership corporations hit hardest with penalties for employment discrimination. ALEC member CSX Transportation was recently fined $3.2 million for employing unfair and unnecessary tests designed to steer women into lower-paying occupation. In 2005, ALEC member Federal Express was fined $3.4 million fir discrimination against a woman.

But be proud, Louisiana. A woman legislator just got a national award from ALEC.

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