Gov. Bobby Jindal has only been in office for roughly two years, but his administration has already suffered scores of high-profile resignations and departures.
What gives? During Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 25 months in office, more than a dozen cabinet officials and staffers have left his administration. If ever there were a political bandwagon worth hitching onto, this would seem to be it, given Jindal’s national profile and the amount of action coming from the Fourth Floor.
The latest to bite the dust is Tammie McDaniel, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who questioned certain budget decisions and who had been asked by the Jindal administration to resign as early as last July. (McDaniel stood her ground initially, but resigned from BESE last week.)
Another recent defection was William Ankner, who resigned from his post as secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development earlier this month. By many accounts, Anker had little choice. DOTD has been under fire for awarding a controversial $60 million highway contract to the highest bidder. Apparently, someone had to fall on his sword — and it wasn’t going to be the governor.
For now, Jindal & Co. are staying mum, but this isn’t the first time that a sacrificial lamb has been offered up. After complications with assistance programs in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, Department of Social Services Secretary Ann Williamson “resigned” as well. If anything, it was an early sign that Jindal was willing to roll heads in a businesslike way, as in his way or the highway.
Last October, Melody Teague, a DSS grants reviewer, was terminated and told it involved her poor performance during Hurricane Katrina four years earlier. (Side note: The day before Teague was fired, she publicly opposed the administration’s plans to privatize state services.)
And who could forget Jim Champagne, who had served as the executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission for 12 years before Jindal gave him the boot. In March 2008, Champagne disagreed with Jindal’s plan to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law. He was promptly shown the door.
Others simply couldn’t operate within the political climate that Jindal and his top aides created. In June 2008, after serving only six months, Tommy Williams, a respected veteran lobbyist, gave up his legislative liaison post. A year later, Richard Sherburne shelved his title as ethics administrator — after Jindal gutted the Ethics Board’s adjudicatory authority and gave it to a set of administrative law judges.
Then there’s politics. Some folks became free agents because they wanted their own share of the action. So far this year, Office of Community Programs Director Natalie Robottom quit to run for St. John the Baptist Parish President, and Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Harold Leggett has said he wouldn’t mind being a member of the Legislature. Both resigned in January. Executive Counsel Jimmy Faircloth stepped down last July to make an unsuccessful bid for the state Supreme Court.
The private sector has been a draw as well. Tim Barfield, the labor chief who succeeded Faircloth as executive counsel, resigned in December to chase corporate dollars. Luke Letlow, special assistant and director of intergovernmental affairs, followed suit in January.
When you bring it all to a boil, these folks left the Jindal administration either because they were incompetent, thrown under the bus, had a political agenda, wanted more than public service could provide, or couldn’t work within the administration’s rigid framework.
Overall, the departures speak volumes about Jindal’s managerial style — sometimes it’s easier to kill a problem than fix it. No doubt the governor’s supporters will paint most of the departures as voluntary and not reflective of any administration turmoil. Others speculate that it’s a sign Jindal may not seek a second term, on the theory that some of the departed insiders know something we don’t — and they want to cash in on their connections while they can. Given the amount of money Jindal has been raising out of state, you never know when or if he might decide he’s tired of being governor — or that he’s ready for a higher calling.
Whatever the causes of the many departures his administration has seen, Jindal cannot deny that he hired the former staffers amid great promise and high expectations. Now he must account for their collective record as well as his own.
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Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)