Gov. Bobby Jindal, who promised a gold standard for ethics reform, has delivered anything but — and as a consequence landed a spot on the list of worst governors in the country. On Wednesday, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington noted Jindal’s poor record in ethics and government transparency — especially when it comes to his own office — as primary reasons for placing him on the list of the 11 worst governors in the U.S.
CREW noted that Jindal, who was elected governor in 2007 and is running for re-election in 2011: • Prevented the public release of government records and has fought legislation to make government more transparent • Weakened the authority of the state ethics board • Refused to accept federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment insurance and to fund other important programs • Rewarded campaign donors with government jobs and contracts • Has been fined for ethics violations
The report could be the ammunition Republican state Sen. Robert Adley and Republican state Rep. Wayne Waddell of Shreveport need in their fight to open up more of the governor’s records. “Just remember the country is looking at us,” Adley told his colleagues Wednesday, according to today’s Advocate. “Sometimes we need to show enough independence so our state will be looked at in a favorable fashion.”
Also on the list were Republican Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi (No. 1); Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Rick Perry of Texas; and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. And the left-leaning watchdog group didn’t discriminate, including New Mexico’s Gov. Bill Richardson and New York’s David Patterson on the list.
CREW, which says its purpose is to “promote ethics and accountability in government and public life,” reviewed the job performance of all 50 governors to determine which are the worst. “We considered whether governors had violated ethics, campaign finance and personal financial disclosure rules as well as whether they had complied with state transparency laws,” the group noted in releasing the list. “It is nearly impossible to compare governors’ adherence to the laws because state rules and laws vary so widely. Each state has its own ethical rules and standards. Requirements regarding disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and personal finances differ significantly as do state open records laws. Some states make much more information publicly available than others.”
CREW specifically noted Jindal’s hypocrisy is rejecting federal stimulus money. While Jindal declined $98 million in federal stimulus funds intended to help the state expand unemployment insurance, rejected $9.5 million in stimulus funds to temporarily expand Medicaid to families who left welfare for a job, turned back $55.3 million to provide health care for people without insurance and refused to apply for $300 million in stimulus money to potentially fund a high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, he nonetheless accepted and dispersed one billion in stimulus money to shore up Louisiana’s budget, CREW pointed out. “The governor also publicly presented a $521,000 check he signed personally to the First Baptist Church in Anacoco, but failed to disclose its source: the much maligned federal stimulus law.”
Read the Jindal report here and the full report here.
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OCT 22 This entertaining short (15 minutes) film on Munchies is all about Boudin. Thank goodness it's just a documentary-style piece filled with the voices and faces of south Louisiana, as opposed to outsiders waxing poetic about our regional specialties. But be warned, there is some pretty graphic pig butchery going on here, so if you're squeamish it may not be for you.
OCT 22 A state judge threw out the lawsuit of a former employee of the LSU Alumni Association, the Advocate reports here. The employee had claimed the former director of the group gave her a job so she'd have sex with him, and after she left agreed to continue to pay her -- so she'd have sex with him. Apparently you get no points for hutzpah.
OCT 22 Education blogger Mike Deshotels writes about the retraction of the Cowen report in this post. However you slice it, the Recovery School District is still failing, he says. (But Mike, doesn't that depend on what the intention was? If no one ever meant the RSD to fix public education, it's working perfectly, isn't it?)
OCT 22 A major Jindal donor was allowed to avoid the competitive bid process in the purchase of a state office building in Monroe, blogger Tom Aswell reports in this post on Louisiana Voice. The circumstances he lays out here are pretty stinky.
OCT 22 While Govs. Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry attempt to fan the flames of Fox Newsian hysteria into viable presidential hopes with talk of building walls to keep out the Ebola, LA Times columnist Mike Hiltzik gives them some national press they probably don't want: if you want to save lives, he says, try accepting Medicaid expansion. Wups!
OCT 22 It's hard to pick out the most interesting part of this post on Mother Jones about Texas lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick (His claim that migrant workers will bring leprosy to Texas? That Connie Chung's show should be called "Slanted Eye to Eye"?) But of course we must go with the comments about our very own Duck people, and how they are the spokesmen for God.
OCT 22 Advocate owner (and rich guy) John Georges must be doing a little happy dance today. As his paper reports here, the Times Picayune is further reducing its footprint in NOLA, by laying off 100 people and moving their printing operations to Mobile. (Yes, Alabama.) Does this mean the Advocate won?
OCT 22 Baton Rouge's downtown is now starting to show significant growth, this post on DIG Baton Rouge reports. With new construction, new restaurants and new housing units popping up, the downtown area is finally starting to look like a capital city, the story says.
OCT 21 Two St. John Parish employees were indicted in connection with the amoeba found in the parish water supply, WVUE reports in this post. They are accused of lying about testing the water for proper chlorine levels, the story says, claims that were contradicted by their government vehicles' GPS records.
OCT 21 The McClatchy DC blog posts this fascinating view of Louisiana's political landscape. It's a little heavy on the cliches, and also a little heavy on the quaint Cajun/Creole shtick, but it's still good reading -- if only for the outside view of our insides.
OCT 21 Here's an interesting story from the National Journal about New Orleans almost 10 years post-Katrina. There are demographic information and charts, as well as some commentary about the corresponding changes in the way the city looks and works.
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