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|Jindal took care of the rednecks|
Literally from the moment Bobby Jindal was certified the winner of the governor's race in the October elections, the governor-in-waiting has been roundly criticized by many of the people who played a significant role in helping him get elected.
That includes our friend, talk radio show host Moon Griffon.
Griffon and others on the hard Right took issue—and remain upset to this day to some degree—with a host of the decisions Jindal made in naming the folks who will hold key positions in his administration, which officially will take the reigns of state government Jan. 14.
It is understandable Griffon and some of his loyal followers are a bit perturbed with Jindal over the number of "holdovers" from the current governor's administration, meaning Jindal has turned to some of Kathleen Blanco's employees to work in the Jindal camp. As Griffon has suggested, the "holdovers" are the same people who played a role in an administration whose performance was somewhat lacking at best. Thus, why would Jindal hire people who have a track record that was less than stellar over the past four years?
Griffon's observations certainly warrant an open debate, or at least an appearance by the governor-elect on Griffon's radio program to explain the appointments. Yet, it is within reason to state Griffon and company have not given Jindal enough credit for taking care of our own here in northeast Louisiana.
When we speak of our own, we're talking about legislators from northeast Louisiana, or rednecks, who have been tapped to chair or sit on powerful committees in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate for the next four years.
Officially, legislative committee assignments are doled out by the Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate. In this case, that would be two men from the New Orleans area. They are Rep. Jim Tucker, a Republican, and Sen. Joel Chaisson, a Democrat, who have been tagged publicly as the next leaders of their respective legislative bodies.
Though Jindal did his best to paint a picture that he had little to do with tapping Tucker and Chaisson for their coveted posts, even a casual observer of Louisiana politics knows it is the newly elected governor who ultimately makes the call on who will ride herd over the House and Senate during the new administration's tenure in office.
That also means Jindal had more than a casual opinion or two in deciding which committees a legislator would be assigned to serve on or preside over.
Plainly spoken, Sen. Bob Kostelka and Sens.-elect Francis Thompson and Mike Walsworth—all of northeast Louisiana—can thank Jindal, in part, for ensuring they were not forgotten when Chaisson "decided" on which senators would serve on which committees.
As we all know, Kostelka, R-Monroe, was handed the chairmanship of the influential Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, while Thompson, D-Delhi, will chair a committee that's probably the most important committee in the Legislature as far as the interests of northeast Louisiana are concerned—the agriculture committee. Walsworth, R-West Monroe, will serve as Thompson's vice chairman on ag. Walsworth also picked up the chairmanship of the little-known Homeland Security Committee.
Though at least one editorial writer opined that Walsworth would not secure any committee assignments worth having in light of allegations he misused his legislative district office as a member of the House, that point was rendered mute when word surfaced Walsworth garnered a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, or the committee in the Senate that tinkers with the state's tax code.
Walsworth's appointment to the finance committee was a reward for his loyal support of Jindal, which dates to Jindal's first gubernatorial campaign. It also was a bouquet, if you will, for Walsworth agreeing to back Chaisson's bid to become Senate president. Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, arranged that one.
Over in the House, northeast Louisiana hit a home run in Rep. Jim Fannin landing the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, or better known as the committee that spends our tax dollars on those all-important infrastructure projects of local interest. Some people refer to it as pork barrel spending.
Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Anders, D-Ferriday, will oversee the House Agriculture Committee, while Rep. Kay Katz, R-Monroe, got the nod to chair the House Health and Welfare Committee.
The committees Anders and Katz will chair are not what we would describe as glamorous in scope, but they are important.
Politely stated, chairing any committee in the Legislature is a plum assignment for it is the chairman or chairwoman who decides if and when a piece of legislation is debated and/or offered for a vote.
That brings us back to our friend Moon Griffon.
Griffon has not been exactly ecstatic over the committee assignments and the like for lawmakers from north Louisiana in general. He also has been less than giddy over the number of Republicans who were named chairmen or chairwomen of the various committees in the Legislature.
Maybe it's time we reminded ourselves that the Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House and the Senate, yet a Republican will serve as House speaker.
We should remind ourselves as well that roughly two-thirds of the state's population resides south of Interstate 10. Thus, it should be expected that lawmakers from southern Louisiana dominate each and every committee in the Legislature.
So it goes without saying; Jindal took care of his base of support, meaning he took care of the rednecks.
A few weeks ago, yours truly observed that Rep.-elect Noble Ellington would be named chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Ellington, D-Winnsboro, who is vacating the Senate due to term limits, can thank Tucker, the soon-to-be House speaker, for derailing his appointment as chair at appropriations. From most accounts, Jindal pushed hard for Ellington to get the appropriations chairmanship, but Tucker held firm in his opposition to it.
Tucker's hard line on Ellington may have something to do with returning members of the House resenting state senators moving to the so-called "lower chamber" in light of that bone-headed state statute concerning term limits.
As a compromise to hand northeast Louisiana the chair of at least one "money" committee in the House, Fannin, D-Ruston, surfaced as an alternative to Ellington to head appropriations.
All was not lost, though, for Ellington; he secured a seat on the committee.