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Looks like Blanco got hand caught in tollhouse cookie jar

As with how Floyd Landis could have registered too high of a ratio of testosterone in one isolated blood test, something doesn’t add up concerning the idea to put tolls on Interstates 10 and 12 in Louisiana. And the surface evidence points to Gov. Kathleen Blanco being less than forthcoming about an attempt to raise fees on Louisianans.

If you believe the story spun by her Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny Bradberry, in March the state made a preliminary indication of interest to join in a pilot program that would allow state greater latitude in conversion of federal interstate highways into toll highways. In June, Bradberry alleged that he briefly informed Sen. David Vitter, and left information pertaining to the request, of that request.

However, earlier this week Vitter claimed he had just learned the previous week that the state for a fact was pursuing this alternative, and that Bradberry never had informed him of the fact the state wanted in on the toll program, leading him to denounce the idea publicly. For her part, Blanco remained mum until the end of the week, refusing to have media comments made, until she launched into a blistering, not-entirely-coherent tirade on the syndicated Moon Griffon radio program accusing Vitter of making misleading statements.

Somebody’s not telling the full truth. First, let’s imagine what Vitter’s motivation could be for suddenly launching a public relations offensive against Blanco on a contrived issue. And that is … none. There’s no election coming up that could help him, no event for him to try to distract the public from. There’s little reason to believe he woke up one day and said to himself, “Let’s see what mud I could sling at Blanco today.” It’s very credible that some contact of his at the federal level, or the state level, or constituent, or somebody who knew something about this only alerted him last week, and he sensed that sending a letter (with copies to other officials) to Blanco was his best bet of stopping this.

By contrast, Blanco and Bradberry’s stories sound implausible at best. Bradberry claims he’s the one pursuing the notion (but Blanco therefore gave him the order), and it is conceivable that he told and left the pertinent information with Vitter – but highly improbable as this would mean Vitter and/or his entire staff (that’s what his staffers are there for, so he catches these things) missed the importance of what Bradberry communicated in both word and document, something that you’ll seldom see a senator and his staff do.

And why would Blanco lash out at Vitter so publicly and with such vitriol unless she was trying to distract the public from the real issue – that she had been deliberately keeping obscurant the request because of what Vitter essentially said about it, that it would be injurious to Louisiana as well as she knows she is building a reputation as a governor who would rather spend and squeeze more money out Louisianans than do to the things necessary to reduce state spending and to redirect existing spending to more sensible purposes. This perception will forfeit any chance she has for reelection next year.

No doubt the state’s citizens increasingly are restless with the state pouring more and more money into roads with sub-optimal results. The last thing Blanco needed was revelation of this plan to feed this discontent, either because she eventually would have decided not to pursue it and it wouldn’t ever have become public knowledge, or because she needed more time to engage in a public relations campaign to make it appear more acceptable to the public. Now it’s what Vitter intended to make it with his remarks – dead, and Blanco brought into disrepute instead of her being able to use it to create a more positive perception of her leadership (along the lines of, “these are desperate times and Gov. Blanco has a solution”).

Landis says one thing, a lab says another, and maybe the Court of Arbitration in Sport will figure it all out. But we don’t have a formal court of arbitration of testimonies in political disputes. Instead, we have public opinion, and, from the looks of this controversy, a majority of the public probably will think it was Blanco caught with her hand in an embarrassing tollhouse cookie jar.


Unknown said...

Yeah, the whole thing does smell fishy. However, I'm trying to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt, everyone but Bradberry, that is. I've been doing a string of posts since the story broke yesterday morning. I've retracted original criticism of Blanco from when I blasted her for being part of and supporting this idea. However, Bradberry is obviously a snake, and if Blanco has any sense, she will fire his ass.

Pondering American said...

Helo there
I am putting you on myu blogroll tomorrow so I thought I should say hi.

By the way if you get a chance I commented on the Congressional race we are having. Can you tell me who is this Chester T. Kelley is. I referenced two possibilties on my blog. I wasnt able to get to Shreveport this week and ask around and I saw nothing in the Times.