Gov. Bobby Jindal has only been in office for roughly two years, but his administration has already suffered scores of high-profile resignations and departures.
What gives? During Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 25 months in office, more than a dozen cabinet officials and staffers have left his administration. If ever there were a political bandwagon worth hitching onto, this would seem to be it, given Jindal’s national profile and the amount of action coming from the Fourth Floor.
The latest to bite the dust is Tammie McDaniel, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who questioned certain budget decisions and who had been asked by the Jindal administration to resign as early as last July. (McDaniel stood her ground initially, but resigned from BESE last week.)
Another recent defection was William Ankner, who resigned from his post as secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development earlier this month. By many accounts, Anker had little choice. DOTD has been under fire for awarding a controversial $60 million highway contract to the highest bidder. Apparently, someone had to fall on his sword — and it wasn’t going to be the governor.
For now, Jindal & Co. are staying mum, but this isn’t the first time that a sacrificial lamb has been offered up. After complications with assistance programs in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, Department of Social Services Secretary Ann Williamson “resigned” as well. If anything, it was an early sign that Jindal was willing to roll heads in a businesslike way, as in his way or the highway.
Last October, Melody Teague, a DSS grants reviewer, was terminated and told it involved her poor performance during Hurricane Katrina four years earlier. (Side note: The day before Teague was fired, she publicly opposed the administration’s plans to privatize state services.)
And who could forget Jim Champagne, who had served as the executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission for 12 years before Jindal gave him the boot. In March 2008, Champagne disagreed with Jindal’s plan to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law. He was promptly shown the door.
Others simply couldn’t operate within the political climate that Jindal and his top aides created. In June 2008, after serving only six months, Tommy Williams, a respected veteran lobbyist, gave up his legislative liaison post. A year later, Richard Sherburne shelved his title as ethics administrator — after Jindal gutted the Ethics Board’s adjudicatory authority and gave it to a set of administrative law judges.
Then there’s politics. Some folks became free agents because they wanted their own share of the action. So far this year, Office of Community Programs Director Natalie Robottom quit to run for St. John the Baptist Parish President, and Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Harold Leggett has said he wouldn’t mind being a member of the Legislature. Both resigned in January. Executive Counsel Jimmy Faircloth stepped down last July to make an unsuccessful bid for the state Supreme Court.
The private sector has been a draw as well. Tim Barfield, the labor chief who succeeded Faircloth as executive counsel, resigned in December to chase corporate dollars. Luke Letlow, special assistant and director of intergovernmental affairs, followed suit in January.
When you bring it all to a boil, these folks left the Jindal administration either because they were incompetent, thrown under the bus, had a political agenda, wanted more than public service could provide, or couldn’t work within the administration’s rigid framework.
Overall, the departures speak volumes about Jindal’s managerial style — sometimes it’s easier to kill a problem than fix it. No doubt the governor’s supporters will paint most of the departures as voluntary and not reflective of any administration turmoil. Others speculate that it’s a sign Jindal may not seek a second term, on the theory that some of the departed insiders know something we don’t — and they want to cash in on their connections while they can. Given the amount of money Jindal has been raising out of state, you never know when or if he might decide he’s tired of being governor — or that he’s ready for a higher calling.
Whatever the causes of the many departures his administration has seen, Jindal cannot deny that he hired the former staffers amid great promise and high expectations. Now he must account for their collective record as well as his own.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.