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.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.