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23.3.05

In a better world Rombach stays while Wooley goes

If it’s not a double standard, it should be. Witness the treatment afforded to state Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley in his annual purchase of a luxury vehicle at taxpayer expense compared to that of the officer of the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office, Johnny Rombach.

Wooley barely bats an eyebrow over the statewide outrage (here, and here, and here again, and here yet again, and here one more time, let’s keep going, here, here, and here) and there’s nothing I can add about the arrogance and audacity of Wooley except that it is Odom-esque in nature.

It’s politicians like Wooley who think the taxpayers’ monies are their own who need to be driven out of state government, but instead it’s Rombach who was forced out of his job. Rombach’s tenure in office not only ensured that somebody providing information to lawmakers would tell the facts, but he also was not shy about exploring and publicizing the facts as they related to the state’s fiscal situation.

And because the facts weren’t flattering, Rombach became a marked man among those who enjoyed and prospered from the “business-as-usual” attitude which has sent the state spiraling downwards in terms of economic development. Or, as Rombach’s office noted in perhaps the finest data-driven explanation of the causes and consequences of this, into a vortex. The inconvenience he posed to these politicians led to move to his ouster when they found something they could hang on him.

True, Rombach did bend rules – the same rules bent by others including legislators for which they never suffered consequences, the same people who then hypocritically called for his head (and who make it legal for their allies to enjoy the very same benefits for which Rombach gets investigated). And Wooley legally could do what he asked (although “luxury” items were not supposed to be part of the deal).

But this episode precisely points out the very ethos Rombach long warned about. For so long some political elites in this state found ways to follow the letter of the law (although some didn’t and went to jail for it, and others like Wooley's former boss blame the FBI for their crimes) while still enriching themselves financially and/or politically. Actions like Wooley’s demonstrate the contempt they have for the people, instead of carrying the attitude that they are there to serve the people and to be good stewards of the resources they take from the people to operate the government on the citizenry’s behalf.

Rombach’s work argued for living up to this vision, the spirit of the laws that lay behind our ideas of governance in America, not the faux version too many elites have tried to inflict upon this state. It’s bad enough the likes of Wooley stay in power, but worse that Rombach gets run out of a meaningful role in state government

1 comment:

PJ said...

We get the government we deserve!!!!!!!!!!!Its nothing more than a protection racket,which is why nothing ever changes.Each politican has his on scam to protect which is why they never do the right thing.