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|It will be a fierce fight|
In a number of public statements, including his speech to open the special session of the Legislature which convened Sunday, Gov. Bobby Jindal warned that opposition has surfaced and will continue to surface to thwart his plans to implement ethics reform in Louisiana.
Jindal wasn't telling us anything we didn't already know.
Instead, his public airing of efforts to stop his move to help remake Louisiana's image was part of a concerted effort of his own. That effort entails drumming up support among the people for the ethics reform package that's plodding along in the bowels of the capitol in Baton Rouge.
We should expect Jindal to continue speaking publicly in every nook and cranny in Louisiana to prompt the people to lean on their representatives and senators to sign off on the Jindal plan. There's nothing like a grassroots movement.
Like any astute observer of the political process, Jindal likely knows that anytime a new governor embarks on a course of action that's certain to rattle the apple cart, so to speak, the folks who stand to loose the most will howl the most.
Or fight the most.
Visibly or behind the scenes.
They will oppose the man—in this case, the new governor—who initiated the proposed change, or changes. Opposition will hone in on the plans the new governor utilizes to bring about the change, or changes, too.
That's human nature.
It's also human nature to fight like hell against anyone and anything that threatens one's money, or one's ability to make money.
Or one's ability, especially among some elected officials, to hide the manner in which he or she makes their money.
Legally or not.
That, my friends, is at the heart of the opposition to Jindal's ethics reform package, which lawmakers are scheduled to discuss and vote on over the next three weeks.
For as long as we can remember, there existed a practice in Louisiana to make money off government, using one's political connections to do it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as the practice is carried out by a private citizen and executed legally.
Yet, along the way, or since it became fashionable during the Huey Long era, some elected officials took it upon themselves to use their stations in life as public servants to manipulate the system for their own personal gain.
Or for the benefit of their friends and family members.
Over time, that behavior grew like cancer; it spread throughout all levels of government in Louisiana.
Over time as well, Louisiana earned a reputation for being the most corrupt state in America. You had to pay to play.
That reputation has harmed Louisiana whether we want to admit or not.
When Jindal talks about the urgent need to remake the state's image in the eyes of the people and the business community from coast to coast, he's speaking specifically about elected officials and the like manipulating the system to line their pockets with money at the expense of the people or the business community.
It must come to an end.
Yet, it won't end without a fight.
A fierce fight.
When we read or hear of an elected official or a special interest group opposing the Jindal ethics reform package let's ask ourselves one simple question.
Better put, let's ask ourselves why there exists opposition to prohibiting elected officials from conducting business with the state.
Let's ask ourselves as well why some elected officials oppose revealing their sources of income and who they owe.
Furthermore, let's ask ourselves why some elected officials balk at disclosing the members of their families who make money off government and whether the elected officials in question benefit from it.
In a word, transparency.
In the meantime, arguments are being peddled by some elected officials, claiming the aforementioned questions are an invasion of privacy.
As we would say out in the country, that dog won't hunt.
For you city folks, we would say that argument does not possess one ounce of validity.
It could be, though, that the people who oppose the Jindal plan know the day is fast approaching in which they will no longer be allowed—legally—to make money freely off government or use their positions of influence over government to enrich their families and friends.
It could be true, too, that the politicians who fear transparency simply don't want the people knowing the truth about their various financial relationships with the government they represent.