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Facing Down the Louisiana Legislature

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Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Baton Rouge, Louisiana




 Is Governor Bobby Jindal “missing in action” when it comes to the give and take in  the current session of the Louisiana legislature?  Observers around the state capital express what they see as a sharp contrast from former governors when it comes to dealing with state legislators.  No public arm twisting going on.  This seems to be the new Governor’s style.  But is it in the public interest for any governor to have a direct “give and take” with the legislative branch?  Here’s a good idea Jindal might want to seize.

 So far, Jindal has announced his legislative agenda through press conferences, and has left the lobbying with legislators to his key staff members.  House Speaker Jim Tucker has no problem with Jindal’s lack of presence. “The Governor proposes and we legislate.  Louisiana is not used to having an equal branch of government.”Â  He called Jindal’s style “refreshing” and says the Governor is active behind the scenes.

 But perhaps now is the time for Jindal to become much more publicly involved with the legislature.  Senator John McCain, who has Jindal on his short list as a potential running mate, told the Reuters’ new service last week that if he is elected president, he would like to adopt the hallowed British tradition of the Prime Minister weekly facing questions in Parliament.

 The British practice of regularly asking the Prime Minister questions is a tradition that dates back to the 1950s.  Every Wednesday, when the House of Commons is sitting, the Prime Minister spends an hour answering questions from various members of Parliament (“MPs”).  In actuality, the questions are generally known in advance and answers are certainly scripted.  But there is an active and competitive give-and-take by the members and the country’s leader that turns out to be informative, often funny, and a solid marketplace of ideas for debate.  Many of us here in the US regularly watch the tradition, known as Prime Ministers Questions, on C-Span.

 A number of countries have a similar “Question Period” that applies both to the head of the country, as well as in provincial legislatures.  You can find such give-and-take debate in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, India, Israel, and Sweden.  Not just in the country’s legislative body, but at the state government level as well. 

 If Senator John McCain is proposing the notion, Jindal has an opportunity to seize the mantle, and put this creative idea in place right here in Louisiana.  Once a week during a legislative session, Jindal could come down to the floor of the House of Representatives to have a face-off with members of both the House and Senate. The Governor has proven to be quick and effective on his feet while speaking extemporaneously, and could do quite well facing both tough questions and softballs that he should be able handle with candor and wit.

 The House gallery would be packed, he would dominate the evening news, and YouTube would place his more candid comments on the internet for the whole world to see.   It would be a gutsy call for the new Louisiana Governor, and just might impress the Republican standard-bearer enough to make the difference in putting Jindal on the ticket.

 And speaking of YouTube,   how about the Governor taking questions via direct internet links to the public?  Louisianans could submit questions, and Jindal could answer via YouTube each week to a regular number of participants. No, it’s not another original Brown idea.  Well actually it is.  The current British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, began just this month answering questions from the public via YouTube.  If Jindal is the politics of the future, he needs to be perceptive enough to access the newly created tools in order to communicate in new and different ways.

 So go for it Governor. If John McCain wants to institute such a procedure nationally, you have a window; an opportunity to “show your stuff” and let the nation see you in action.  Start the experiment in Louisiana.  You will do well, and it just might get you a ticket on the Straight Talk Express this fall.



            “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” Harry Truman

Peace and Justice.

 Jim Brown

9 Responses
  1. James

    The pay raise issue in SB 672 has become a direct challenge to Jindal by Tucker. If Jindal doesn’t crush him, we have a repeat of Blanco and Don Hines rendering Jindal impotent hereafter.

  2. Jimmy Hollingsworth

    Governor Jindal should fine the fortitude to veto the crazy pay raise. If he does not, he will be a lame duck governor and hopefully he will never be elected to any public office again. Govenor’s Treen and Roemer had Edwin Edwards shadow over their administrations. Govenor Foster was a RINO. Jindal is the only republican governor with a clear path to govenoring unless he is letting Foster call his shots. Please Governor Jindal be a man and call Tucker’s challenge. The people will back you.

  3. Brian

    I don’t think the pay raise is excessive. I wouldn’t do the job for less. I couldn’t afford to maintain a residence in Baton Rouge on the current salary structure. It is a full time job and I know many fine individuals who won’t consider running for represenative because they aren’t positioned financially to make it on the current salary.

    I do agree that for Tucker to throw down the gauntlet (if this is true) would give reason enough for Jindal to veto.

  4. Gerald

    Are you completely insane, Brian? These clowns work, excuse me, are supposed to work, approx. 120-150 days and have managed over the course of my lifetime to drag this beautiful state to the bottom in every catagory that’s good and to the top of every list we don’t want to be on. They fully understood the pay scale when they qualified for office and have the audacity to tell us they deserve a 300% increase when there is no tangible evidence of them doing anything to improve our living standards, our education results, our job growth or opportunities, or even to improve the roads upon which we have to travel. No, their pay should reflect our state rankings and move up or down accordingly. Jindal, veto the bill or else!

  5. Martha Kane

    As soon as Gov. Jindal selected his cabinet,and picked his floor leaders, I knew that he wasn’t up to the task. I had lost all confidence in him. He and his staff have handled everything very badly. No matter how he runs and hides behind his “buldogs”, it has become very clear that he doesn’t intend to keep his word to the citizen’s of this state. Surely he is smart enough to realize that we know that he doesn’t have the b—s to stand up to the legisature and veto this obscene pay raise. He can either strap on a pair, and veto this,or lose all credability Everyone is angry, and he is well on his way to becoming a one time governor. People would support him if he could find his internal fortitude and do what is right. Letting this become law violates everything he told us he would do. Reform, my hind toe! Just the same old political tricks and evasions. I, for one, and hundreds of others who supported him, will do our all to defeat and humilatate him in every way we can. He lied to us, and became a rock star. With 80 to 90% of his supporters angry and think he is wrong. He is arrogant, and wants to pretend he wants to stay out the political fray. Well, hate to inform him he is wrong. Our memories are not that short. Just to spit in our faces, and cave in to bad laws is not why he was elected. My bet is that he will learn too late, that he will be just another one time governor who did not do his job. I have more respect for Edwin Edwards, than this cowardly lion. All hat and no cattle. How could anyone be given such a wide mandate and then think he could just give us such a performance! He still has one more day to do the right thing. Otherwise the legislature owns him and richly deserves what he gets. The people of LA don’t. I guess we just drank the Koolaid one more time.

  6. Brian

    No, I’m not insane but I make more than the current legislators and so do many of the people who are employed offshore with only a high school education. My point is that, very few common folks could afford to quit their current job and represent us in Baton Rouge. At least with term limits, we won’t have to worry about lifetime legislators feeding forever from the trough. Set the pay where a working person could afford to take the role as legislator and serve without starving for a few years. Look at the bigger picture. In years past, this low pay encouraged many legislators to engage in practices to put their family or friends in positions to make money from state contracts. Now that we have some movement towards ethics reform, a decent pay rate should give some encouragement for decent folks from working backgrounds to consider serving and be able support their family without questionable deal making. Yes, it is true that these guys knew the pay structure when they ran for office, but that also forces them to scratch for revenue sources that might not be best in the interest of the state residents. This proposed pay increase is minute, relative to the responsibility they are charge with.

  7. William Walsh


    Mr Tucker,

    How dare you not listen to the Citizens(electorate) of this state. It is your job as an elected official to listen and vote on behalf of your constituents. This is a travesty that you propose a raise of this proportion, when most citizens in this state and country are struggling. This is a travesty that you have the audacity to tie your raises to US Congress but not abide by the 27 amendment of the United States Constitution where ” No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened”.

    French Revolution philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said:
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, The State is not far from its fall”

    You need to wake up!

    Bill Walsh
    New Orleans

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