Gubernatorial gadfly C.B. Forgotston is characterizing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s prompt firing of a department head who offered a candid — and contrary to the administration’s party line — assessment to a legislative committee as sending “a chilling message to any public servant who may find themselves before a lege committee.” Forgotston is dead on, by the way.
As it was widely reported this week, Jindal on Wednesday canned Martha Manuel, the head of the state Office of Elderly Affairs, one day after Manuel was publicly critical of the administration’s plan to merge her office with another department within the uber-bureaucratic Department of Health and Hospitals. The administration touts the reorganization as a streamlining move that will promote efficiency and eliminate duplication. Manuel believes it will erode services for the state’s elderly. That was her honest opinion, evidently, and a fire-able offense in the eyes of Team Jindal.
But as Forgotston points out, Manuel’s ouster will do nothing to promote honest testimony and candid assessments of state operations by officials who serve at the whim of the executive branch:
If leges want candor from state public servants they should address this matter of summarily firing Manuel. Otherwise, there is no need to ask them to testify before the committees.
The failure to address this type of action by the governor will result in testimony before the lege committee that is not to be believed or merely a regurgitation of the governor’s position. The leges would do better to simply contact the governor’s press office and get a statement on any manner dealing with state government. At least that won’t jeopardize a public employee’s livelihood.
Overall, this action of Bobby Jindal will result in less transparency into how our government operates.
Let us now hold our breath and wait for state lawmakers to call Jindal on this action. And then let us all turn blue.