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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AUG 22 Blogger Robert Mann is writing about the so-called Edmonson Amendment in this post, and he's not a fan. If Bobby Jindal really does support a "gold standard" of ethics he would have done something - or even said something - and yet he has not, Mann says.
AUG 22 Crazy Crawfish is blogging about the (interesting) incident of the state Education Department's website being out of commission earlier this week. It was reported (with heavy implications) in two local media outlets, and Crawfish feels the stories would have been better had the reporters done a little investigation instead of just printing what they were told.
AUG 22 Blogger Tom Aswell has some advice for state troopers who plan on making any public comments or challenges to the Jindal administration: don't do it. He's telling the story of one trooper who dared to challenge Commander Mike Edmonson's buddy and paid the price for it.
AUG 22 Columnist Clancy DuBos is writing about the upcoming elections in this post on Gambit. The field for local and federal offices has its share of old guys, he tells us, although mostly he's talking about Edwin Edwards.
AUG 22 Columnist Jim Beam is talking about the Office of Group Benefits in this post; that's the office that handles the money collected from state employees to pay their benefits. The OGB reserve fund has been reduced by half in the last year, and the Jindal administration keeps saying that's a good thing - but that's like telling a kid that castor oil is good, Beam says.
AUG 22 Columnist James Gill is writing about dueling efforts over the killing of animals; on one side is a lady trying to avoid the euthanizing of stray cats and on the other is a camp of folk who feel that there are enough black bears in Louisiana for us to start killing them for fun.
AUG 22 One could assume that nobody (teachers included) likes it when politicians tell them how to do their job. So what do teachers think about Common Core? Blogger Michael Deshotels is examining some responses from teachers who were asked. (Spoiler alert: none of these comments will be used in a Common Core marketing campaign.)
AUG 22 This post on The Hill is commenting upon the latest round of "that candidate is the worst person in the world" ads that are running in Louisiana's Senate race. This round takes aim at Bill Cassidy, the physician/Congressman who is challenging Mary Landrieu, and lists all the votes he has cast that hurt veterans.
AUG 21 Tom Aswell is telling us about another "efficiency" contract the state has signed. This one is paying a consultant (i.e. someone with a briefcase from out of town) $140 an hour, plus tens of thousands in air fare. The agency on the receiving end of this tender care? The DMV. Well -- that's working great, then.
AUG 21 Columnist Stephanie Riegel is writing about the scandal that has rocked the LSU Alumni Association (to wit, the executive director's "girlfriend" also was his employee; when they "broke up" he started paying her, with alumni money, to keep her mouth shut). In particular, she's looking for some lessons to learn from the mishigas.
AUG 21 This post on The Lens brings us up to date on the ongoing process of populating the levee board that will decide if the so-called Big Oil lawsuit will move forward. Gov. Jindal has done his best to put the kibosh on the suit by removing pro-suit members, but the process of replacing them is not simple, Bob Marshall tells us.
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