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|Jindal's move on LSU raises eyebrows|
Is Gov. Bobby Jindal at odds with LSU?
Better put, does Jindal have a beef with LSU system president John V. Lombardi, or vice versa?
Those are fair questions to ask in light of the governor's recent appointments to the LSU Board of Supervisors, a powerful board that's responsible for setting the direction of the state's flagship university.
The new men on the block, or Jindal's appointments, are R. Blake Chatelain of Alexandria and James W. Moore of Monroe. If confirmed by the state Senate, Chatelain and Moore will represent the 5th District on the LSU board, or the two members who hail from the 5th congressional district. Every congressional district in the state is represented by two individuals on the board, while one member serves at-large.
Chatelin, president of Red River Bank, will replace Alexandria attorney Charlie Weems. Moore, a former oil company owner who builds and operates hotels these days, will replace Hal Hinchliffe, a Monroe banker.
Weems has served on the LSU board for the past 17 years. A died-in-the-wool LSU Tiger, Weems played a pivotal role in hiring Mark Emmert to serve as chancellor.
Though Emmert should be remembered for the progress he made at LSU on the academic front before moving on to the University of Washington system, he will always be known as the man who hired Nick Saban, the football coach who won the first national championship at LSU in more than 40 years.
Hinchliffe was appointed to the LSU board by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco. His appointment was a compromise, meaning Blanco settled on Hinchliffe because she was faced with having to choose one of three well-heeled Monroe men to replace Kent Anderson. The three were Bill Boles Jr. and brothers Mark and Scott Anderson, sons of Kent Anderson.
In typical Blanco fashion, she ran from controversy, fearing she would offend Boles and the Anderson boys. So she tapped Hinchliffe, who, it could be argued, had no idea he was in the running to be appointed to the LSU board until shortly before it occurred.
Hinchliffe and Weems, though, are gone.
Chatelin and Moore are on their way in, barring the Senate blocking their appointments in the confirmation process. That's not likely, but it's certainly possible.
While it's common for a governor to appoint his friends and political allies to the various boards and commissions whose members serve at a governor's discretion, the removal of Weems was a shocker for the obvious reasons.
Hinchliffe's dethroning wasn't a surprise. He was a Blanco appointee. Hinchliffe also didn't earn any brownie points when he wouldn't return Jindal's telephone calls when Jindal was a candidate for governor.
While one would think appointing a bank president to the LSU board is a safe move, Chatelain will have to work extremely hard in his new position if he harbors any intentions of filling the void created by Weems' departure. Weems was extremely popular among board members, too.
That brings us to Moore.
A successful businessman who has given tirelessly of his time and money to a host of causes throughout northeast Louisiana, Moore is a first-class gentleman in every sense of the word.
He's not an LSU man, though. He's a graduate of then-Northeast Louisiana University, known today as the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
And there exist an opinion or two among LSU alumnus—myself included—who feel every member of the LSU Board of Supervisors should have graduated from LSU or the university's law school or its medical school.
No ifs, ands or buts.
Yet, there's more to Jindal's decision in naming Chatelain and Moore to the LSU board.
It could be payback for Lombardi, who publicly criticized Jindal and the Legislature over their insistence to cut business taxes in lieu of pumping more money into higher education. Thus, with a grain of salt did Jindal listen to Lombardi, who made it known that he wanted Weems to remain on the board. Jindal also paid lip service to Lombardi's suggestion that Monroe attorney Guy Campbell III should replace Hinchliffe.
Jindal's recent appointments also could have something to do with the governor's plans to revamp health care in Louisiana, including the direction the Charity hospital system will take in the future.
While it is not known what Jindal has in mind for Charity, the governor's plans could conflict with LSU, which currently carries a big stick in governing Charity. After all, the governor can't revamp Charity unless the LSU Board of Supervisors goes along with it.
That means Jindal will need appointees on the LSU board who are open to his suggestions, or carry his water when called upon to act. Apparently, Jindal feels Chatelain and Moore will do what they're told to do.
Regardless of what prompted Jindal to do what he did in making the changes on the LSU board, no winner will emerge if it is the case that Jindal is at odds with LSU or Lombardi.
The last thing Jindal needs in his life is a confrontational relationship with LSU. That's a fight he'll lose every single day of the week.
And Lombardi has no business publicly criticizing the governor or the Legislature.
Unless he doesn't value his job.