Jindal’s office caught lying about public records requests
When Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesman told The Advocate last week that the governor’s office played no role in a decision by the LSU Health System to deny public records requests regarding unprecedented changes and service reductions within the state’s public hospital system, he was being less than truthful.
The Advocate reports that it submitted a public records request in late September, seeking access to documents related to the system’s plan to strip more than $150 million from the operating budgets of seven charity hospitals in South Louisiana. The budget cuts will result in roughly 1,500 layoffs, a drastic reduction in the number of available beds and a push for public-private partnerships to cope with the loss in services for the state’s charity hospital patients.
The Baton Rouge newspaper noted last week that the records request was denied under the “deliberative process” clause so often used by the governor’s office when Jindal wants to shield communications from the public. The governor’s spokesman told The Advocate that Jindal’s office had no hand in the LSU System’s decision to deny the request, but a letter obtained by The Advocate tells a much different story:
The letter to LSU system President William Jenkins, obtained Friday by The Advocate, contradicts earlier assertions by Jindal administration officials that LSU decided on its own how to respond to requests to make the records available publicly. Jindal’s top lawyer, Executive Counsel Liz Murrill, reviewed the records before being released and suggested LSU use the “deliberative process privilege” as grounds to keep some records out of the public domain, the letter stated.
Deliberative process is a legal term that involves the internal agency mechanics of making a public policy decision. Supporters of the exemption argue that advisers would not feel as free to give unfettered advice if they knew their thoughts could be made public. Louisiana law protects deliberations in the Governor’s office and for agency officials’ recommendations to the governor.
When asked why, considering what the Jenkins letter stated, Plotkin said Friday that he was referring only to The Advocate’s request, not to the Jindal administration’s general stance of the release of public records.
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OCT 31 The National Journal posts another story from its visit to NOLA, this one about the struggling Vietnamese shrimpers in the area. The publication has been looking at how the state is recovering from Katrina, nine years later.
OCT 31 The New York Times posts this look at Louisiana politics, and how national issues are forcing out the old-time local politicking. Of course they mention EWE, aptly described as an old-time politician known for "charming one half of the state and mortifying the other."
OCT 31 Here's an AP story on the ABC site about Louisiana's chicken little response to an international medical conference planned in NOLA this weekend. Organizers (who are actual physicians, as opposed to the hand-wringing state officials who issued the edicts) say the orders are "unfortunate" given that a main focus of the meeting was Ebola.
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OCT 31 Us old folks are used to a two-party system, although most of us aren't sold on its success. But what if that system wasn't in place; what if politics reflected the true level of diversity among voters? That's what an LSU student is dreaming of in this editorial. He sees the two parties' control of our politics as limiting.
OCT 31 And you thought the Senate race was dirty. This post on the Forward Now blog tells the story of a Shreveport mayoral campaign worker who was paid to "infiltrate" and "sabotage" an opponent's campaign. Karma's a beeotch, though, because turns out the guy really liked the "enemy," and now he's supporting her. For real.
OCT 30 The National Journal offers this analysis of Bobby Jindal's willingness to stump in any Senate campaign that's not in Louisiana. Why is that? The Journal asks some GOPers and finds that the answer is one we already know: he's so unpopular here, because he's been so busy running for President, that his support might be "toxic."
OCT 30 Blogger Tom Aswell is still all over the OGB mess - and all by himself, apparently. In this post, he's revealing orders from the Jindal administration to destroy records from the state employee health insurance plan. Those orders (he's heard) have angered the Secretary of State and caused an administration lawyer to quit her job. Wow!
OCT 30 A NOLA lady has alleged she was drugged and raped at a Bywater club that had a clothing-optional policy until recently, and she's now become the victim of a smear campaign, columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes in this post. She chose to reveal her story and her name, and she's being punished for that now, he says.
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