Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Here’s a novel idea recently embraced by New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux: post the monthly credit card statements of a government office online for public inspection. Quatrevaux announced the new policy recently, to the understandable cheers of good-government advocates and The Times-Picayune’s editorial page. The online data tracks Quatravaux’s office expenditures beginning in May of this year and even itemizes the purchases so taxpayers know exactly where and how their money is being spent. Imagine if all government agencies embraced such transparency. We would especially like to see the credit card statements for Lafayette Consolidated Government, in particular those of the City-Parish Council, individual members of which have the option of having their own charge cards and, as an Independent investigation revealed in March of this year, may not be using them in the most prudent way. For the antithesis of this, jump right down to Couillon.

We’ve long been under the mistaken impression that tenure protected an educator from termination and, at its core, was designed to shield employees from being ground up in the gears of political patronage and payback. Citing low graduation rates, UL Lafayette acknowledged last week that it will phase out the doctoral degree program in cognitive science. Consequently, two tenured professors in the program received their pink slips effective May 2013, according to The Daily Advertiser. This unfortunate move is attendant to state cuts to higher education over the last few years. But some within the professorial ranks see it as a whittling away at fundamental principles of tenure by the larger University of Louisiana System. Istvan Berkely, a philosophy and cognitive science prof at UL and president of the local university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professor — Berkely is not being canned — put it well in the pages of the The Advertiser: “This is a classic case of sinking the ship to save a pittance of tar.”

At the other end of the light spectrum from the translucent inspector general in New Orleans is Gov. Bobby Jindal, who last week continued his campaign to keep a big, honking umbrella over his office, shielding it from the sunshine. Jindal vetoed a bill that would have required him to make public and to preserve for a decade all his office’s documents pertaining to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and aftermath. Jindal offered a variation on the argument he uses every time he opposes the public’s right to know about operations on the fourth floor at the Capitol: it would jeopardize the state’s position in future litigation, essentially showing the state’s hand. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, told the Associated Press he wasn’t surprised by the veto. Nor are we. And, like Adley, we won’t be stunned if our timid Legislature declines to challenge Jindal and call for an override session.

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