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15.1.08

Jindal puts money where mouth is, at least as a start

The right way to do things by executive fiat Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered today in executive orders that force beginning next year from Louisiana cabinet members financial disclosure and compels their resignation henceforth if indicted, public listing by state website of what entities get state contracts and grants and for what purposes, and freezing hiring in most parts of Louisiana government (excepting essentially the Legislature and judiciary) and requiring the responsible officers to demonstrate the savings achieved (but also allowing them to ask for exceptions to be made) at risk of losing their salaries.

Hopefully, these actions will begin to put to rest the fiction, embraced by some in the state despite so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that we don’t know what Jindal is going to do as governor and/or he’s being too vague with his agenda. As of his first full day in office, he’s doing exactly the specific things he generally promised way before, during, and after his campaign – bringing more transparency and efficiency to government.

Now it is only the first day, these aren’t that far-reaching of policy changes, and the true cynics included in the deluded described above will say they are for show. But the fact is he did these things that could have been done just as easily by the likes of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Yet she chose not to take even these easy, elementary steps while Jindal delivered.

The wrong way to do things by executive power, by great contrast, comes as a suggestion from former Gov. Dave Treen – to commute the sentence of felon ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards. To do so would signal that if you are slick enough to avoid being caught until and/or commit felonies in your later years against the people of the state from a position of their trust, you’ll get a reduced sentence. That’s a message hopefully Pres. George W. Bush will not want to send despite pleadings potentially from his father and Treen. Unlike Jindal’s approach, that won’t reduce the temptation for public officials to do mischief in the state.

Jindal’s off to a good start that, especially with the contracts and grants order that will show exactly what organizations are getting what, will anger members of the existing power structure in the state who have shuttled in the shadows money to certain beneficiaries of these contracts and grants. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

1 comment:

baton rouge du nord said...

The hiring freeze seems like a good idea. At a minimum, agency heads must justify new hires by convincing the Commissioner of Administration that they are needed.

But until Jindal revamps the classified civil service, he is making bricks with no straw. The Civil Service Commission, as it exists today, will be a serious obstacle in Jindal's quest for more efficient government. He will have to keep milking a lot of dry cows.

Why do we even have classified employees any more? Civil Service was created to counteract the "spoil system."

These days, the government looks a lot more like a big corporation than the old state government that spawned the "spoil system" Unless a new governor wants to be completely ineffective, he would not replace good, experienced people with his cronies. At least not among the worker bees. So civil service is a relic of the past that has outlived its utility.

Classified civil service should be scrapped. That would be a good step toward efficiency in state government.