Lawmakers seek to limit Jindal's records exemption
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Two lawmakers want to open more of the Louisiana governor's office to scrutiny, proposing a bill that would limit the expansive public records exemption used by Gov. Bobby Jindal to hide nearly all documents in his office.
Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, an independent from Thibodaux, and Sen. Rick Gallot, a Democrat from Ruston, filed the measure this week to be considered in the legislative session that begins in April.
"It doesn't really make a lot of sense that the governor's records are shielded the way they are. And considering this is the 'governor of transparency,' I don't understand why there would be attempts year after year after year to avoid the transparency that he's run on," Gallot said.
Under existing law, most of the documents and emails in the governor's office are shielded from public view, with a broad exemption that hides anything considered part of the governor's "deliberative process." The argument is that internal decision-making is protected to allow for the free flow of ideas.
Richard's and Gallot's bill would strip that deliberative process exemption and shield only internal communication between the governor, his chief of staff and his executive counsel, for a period of up to 10 years. Security records and transportation details could be confidential for up to seven days. Records would be required to be maintained and archived.
A spokesman for Jindal didn't respond to a question about whether the governor would support or oppose the public records legislation.
But Gallot, a lawmaker for more than a decade, acknowledged similar bills seeking to expand public access to governor's office records have failed in past years with opposition from Jindal and his predecessors. He doesn't necessarily expect improved chances this time.
"The reality is it probably doesn't stand much of a chance of even making it out of committee, let alone out of the House and through the Senate," Gallot said. "If nothing else it gives us the opportunity to have the conversation, and who's to say that there might not be some version that is a compromise."
When running for office in 2007, Jindal campaigned on improving government transparency in a state with a reputation for backroom political deals and public corruption.
Since then, the Republican governor has opposed attempts to open more of his office's records. Jindal backed legislation in 2009 that rewrote the governor's office public records exemption to assert the deliberative process privilege, and that language has been broadly interpreted and used to expand what can be kept from public view.
Records in departments outside the governor's office have been withheld, and other agencies overseen by Jindal allies have started shielding documents by claiming the privilege and asserting it is established in federal and state case law.
The legal claim has been used to avoid turning over documents about controversial and politically sensitive topics, including the governor's school voucher program, disagreements over the handling of a controversial tax credit program and budget cuts to the LSU health care system and privatization efforts at university-run hospitals.
Gallot said lawmakers didn't intend for the deliberative process exemption written in 2009 to extend to agencies outside the governor's immediate office. He called that "definitely a stretch."
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.