Louisiana political commentator C.B. Forgotston, a longtime critic of Gov. Bobby Voucher, has some strong words for the man who bested Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux for House speaker gig early this year, characterizing Lake Charles Rep. Chuck Kleckley, Bobby Voucher’s hand-picked choice for the post, as a puppet of the governor who was ill-prepared for and has been unimpressive in arguably the most powerful position in the Legislature.
With Forgotston’s permission, the column is reproduced below. Read more at his website, forgotston.com.
House speaker or dummy
House Speaker Chuck “Chuckle” Kleckley has hitched his wagon to Bobby Jindal.
Kleckley does exactly as ordered by Bobby though it serves to aggravate most of the members of the body that Jindal selected him to lead.
Kleckley has not made an important decision without consulting with Jindal. In fact, Kleckley has shown no ability to think for himself. He is the worst Speakers in my memory.
Is it a dummy?
If one has taken the time to watch Kleckley preside, one might conclude that Kleckley is merely a dummy for which long-time House Clerk, Butch Speer is the ventriloquist.
Kleckley hasn’t bothered to learn the House Rules or even the basics pronouncements that he must routinely make over and over in the course of a daily session.
Kleckley appears to be asleep most of the time waiting for Butch to alert him to activity on the House Floor.
Second-term, Speaker Pro Tem, Rep. Walt Leger, has taken the time to understand the House process and is always alert to the House activity. The contrast between Leger and Kleckley even makes me embarrassed for Kleckley.
House “Dean” (longest serving member) Rep. Jeff Arnold does an excellent job when he presides (which is often) and knows how to maintain order with a sense of humor like the good Speakers of the past.
Future of Kleckley
Which brings me to the point of this rant — Kleckley’s future.
Conventional wisdom in Baton Rouge is that if Mitt Romney wins the Presidency in November, Bobby Jindal, while he won’t be the Vice President, will follow Romney to D.C. in a possible cabinet post.
If the conventional wisdom is correct, then Jay Dardenne as Lt. Governor will become governor before the 2013 Regular Session. Being a former lege himself, one would expect Dardenne to name his own lege leadership team.
Dardenne has no reason to want to retain Kleckley as Speaker. Kleckley brings nothing to the position except blind loyalty to Jindal on whose team Dardenne is not.
On the Senate side, where John Alario is very popular and well-respected among his fellow Senators and is more than capable for handling Dardenne’s legislation.
Kleckley is not exactly the most popular member of the House. In fact, one could make the argument that Kleckley is one of least liked and least-respected Speakers in recent memory.
Being such a shallow thinker (I’m being kind), Kleckley has unlikely given much thought to his future as Speaker. However, he could have the shortest tenure of any Speaker in the last 50 years.
Kleckley should, but won’t thank me for doing the thinking for him.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.