Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
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|Snubbin' the Guv|
When Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed Tammie McDaniel to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shortly after he took office some 16 months ago, it was assumed in some corners McDaniel was a safe pick.
A Republican who hails from Oak Ridge in conservative Morehouse Parish, McDaniel says she was a Jindal supporter early on, though a published report that labeled McDaniel as Jindal's point person in northeastern Louisiana in the 2007 gubernatorial campaign was not accurate. That job belonged to then-campaign consultant Lee Fletcher who, albeit very quietly, spearheaded Jindal's campaign in God's country in the '07 governor's race. He delivered, too.
Regardless, McDaniel uneventfully settled into her seat on BESE early last year, and from the onset, it appeared McDaniel would faithfully execute Jindal's proposals to remake education throughout the state. That would include faithfully carrying out the state's new policy to take over public schools that failed year after year on the academic front. There's plenty of them.
The state's efforts to shape up failing schools are driven by the Recovery School District. The Recovery School District is Paul Pastorek's pet project. As we all know, Pastorek is Louisiana's state superintendent of education. He is an attorney from New Orleans, and it could be argued Pastorek has a difficult time communicating with country people, or rednecks. That could help explain why Pastorek and McDaniel have developed a strained relationship over time.
He talks over my head, too.
Ironically, McDaniel was one of the members of BESE who advocated for Pastorek to receive a new contract, along with a pay raise, from BESE not long after McDaniel took her seat on the board. Remember, the state superintendent of education answers to BESE, not the governor.
Something or some things happened along the way, though, that created a rift between the Jindal administration and McDaniel as well as between McDaniel and Pastorek. The rift is such that Jindal called on McDaniel to resign from BESE about two weeks ago. McDaniel refused, claiming the state constitution gives her cover, or allows her to ignore the governor's wishes.
That may be the way the world works in a political science class, but in state government in Louisiana where the governor has the authority to appoint individuals to boards and commissions, it is incumbent upon the person who is appointed to serve at the governor's discretion. In other words, if the governor appoints you, you should step aside when the governor becomes unhappy with you.
It's crystal clear.
Yet, like any ugly divorce, there's his side of the story and there's hers. In this case, I've listened to the administration's complaints about McDaniel, and I've listened to McDaniel defend her decision to ignore the governor's call for her to resign.
Needless to say, the evidence is weighted heavily in the administration's favor. To surmise, McDaniel should save face and resign.
At the very least, we would do well to reflect for a moment at what transpired late last week.
Early last week, McDaniel requested a meeting with Jindal. It was scheduled for late Friday afternoon, July 10.
McDaniel arrived at the Governor's Mansion where Jindal awaited. Stephen Waguespack, Jindal's executive counsel, was on hand for the meeting as well. It's Jindal's practice to have a staff member present for every meeting the governor attends.
McDaniel apparently didn't appreciate Waguespack's presence. She questioned why Waguespack was there, and apparently upon hearing Jindal's explanation, she walked out.
For all practical purposes, no meeting took place.
One day later, McDaniel released a prepared statement, saying she would remain a member of BESE.
I don't know about you, but I was a raised a bit differently.
You don't walk out on a governor.
In this case, McDaniel's actions told us everything we needed to know.