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|Locals encouraged by Jindal inaugural|
When Gov. Bobby Jindal stepped before the podium Monday to deliver his inaugural speech, he did so under the watchful eyes of a number of representatives from northeast Louisiana.
One platform guest, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, said the large number of northeastern Louisiana residents and officials was further evidence of recent changes in the power structure in the state.
"I think Gov. Blanco made some tremendous strides on giving us some influence," Mayo said. "But with the committee chairmanships Gov. Jindal has put into place, he's off to a great start."
Under a cloudless sky, Jindal briefly outlined his vision for the next four years, including a commitment to ethics reform.
"In our past, too many politicians looked out for themselves," Jindal said. "Too many arms of state and local government did not get results. And the world took note."
Jindal also suggested perceived public corruption may have hindered the recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"Those stereotypes cost us credibility," Jindal said. "They cost us investment. They cost us jobs."
Jindal said his administration would also focus on strengthening Louisiana's economy, specifically targeting new businesses and attempting to get hurricane-displaced businesses and workers to return to Louisiana.
"Wherever you are today hearing my voice...to my fellow Louisianians...those gathered here at the capitol...to those inside our borders and outside...I ask you to come home," Jindal said. "Come home in person. Or send home your commitment. Make Louisiana's rebirth your own priority."
"If you're a Louisiana small business owner trying to get started, stick it out another year," Jindal said. "If you own companies in other states...grow your business here."
The new governor's economic message struck a chord with Mayo, who said he expected to work closely with administration officials to continue positive growth begun under the Blanco administration.
"We're in the process of setting up a meeting with the new governor while he is here for the chamber event," Mayo said.
Jindal is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday, Jan. 17.
Jindal took the oath of office shortly after noon from Louisiana Chief Justice Pascal Calogero.
Prior to Jindal taking his oath, Dr. John Avant, the new pastor of First Baptist Church of West Monroe led a prayer for the incoming administration.
Also, Jindal told the crowd of some 4,000 he had informed leaders in the Legislature of his intention to call the Legislature into special session on Feb. 10.
During that special session, Legislators will be asked to tackle an ethics reform package, which Jindal has not unveiled.
"We will come to this capitol to make a clean break with the past," Jindal said. "To give Louisiana the highest standards for accountability anywhere in the nation. To take our government 180 degrees from the darkest chapters of its past."
State Sen. Mike Walsworth called Jindal's inauguration "picture perfect," adding he thought the governor's speech provided a good foundation for the years ahead.
After Jindal's inaugural speech, the crowd was led in a rousing rendition of "God Bless America" by New Orleans singer Deacon John Moore. During the song's final chorus, four F-15 fighter jets from the 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard buzzed the capitol.
"The most memorable thing for me was those fighter jets flying over right at the end," Walsworth said. "They couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time."
Walsworth was not the only one impressed by the fly-over.
Jindal later recounted how his young son looked up and asked his father when the planes would return.
"In another four years," Jindal told him.