Showing posts with label pay raise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pay raise. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

'Tell 'em I lied!'

At least Uncle Earl was honest about lying to voters.

OF COURSE, "Uncle Earl" is the late Gov. Earl Long, little brother of Huey and his heir to the Long dynasty in Louisiana politics.

Ol' Earl
was not a "reform governor," and he made no bones about that. Ask Blaze Starr.

That being what it was, doesn't
this sound pretty familiar still? From "I Remember Earl" in the late, lamented Baton Rouge "alternative" paper, Gris-Gris (June 15-21, 1976):
[Then-Attorney General Jack] Gremillion was walking by the governor's office when he recognized a contingent from Pearl River waiting to see Long.

He went into Long's office. "Governor, those people from Pearl River who you had me promise a road to are here."

"What the hell road are you talking about?" asked Earl.

Gremillion reminded Earl that he had specifically ordered him to promise the Pearl River folk a road during the recent campaign.

"Hell, I don't have time for them. Send them away."

Gremillion pleaded, "But Governor, what can I tell them?"

"Tell them I lied!"

NOW THAT my home state has "progressed" so much since the 1950s, and now that "reform" has taken hold, how shall we measure how far Louisiana has advanced?

Well, I certainly think we can say everything's bigger in the Bayou State now. The gub'na has reformed the whole game of lying to the voters, for one thing, introducing the idea of "economies of scale."

So instead of lying to a little group of piss-ant voters from a little piss-ant town about building them a little piss-ant road, the modern "reform" governor efficiently (and more effectively) tells great big lies to all the state's voters about how he would "prohibit Legislators from giving themselves pay raises that take effect before the subsequent election."

And then Gov. Bobby Jindal smartly leverages his "reform" image to deny that he's lied at all:
Asked if the campaign promise mirrors the governor’s current stance, press secretary Melissa Sellers responded in the affirmative, saying the governor still maintains the same position. “(Jindal) said this again at a press conference last week after the House's vote and continues to point out that not only is the Legislature's move to double their pay completely unreasonable, but it should not take effect until after the next election," Sellers says.
ADMITTING TO LIES can be counterproductive, the modern "reform" governor realizes, compromising his political capital and rendering him less effective in bringing honesty to state government.

Progress. You've got to love it . . . right, Louisiana?

Yep. It's official. Jindal's toast.

Well, that didn't take long. Another "reformist" Louisiana governor has been eaten by the natives.

IN THIS CASE, the "natives" would be the Louisiana Legislature. The poverty-stricken public servants -- who surely must be underpaid and underappreciated if sheer repetition of a sob story has the power to make it true -- have voted to pull themselves up by the taxpayers' bootstraps. And some struck a "let them eat cake" pose toward those who object to paying more for the same old dysfunctional policymaking:
Sen. Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans, asked colleagues to go along with House changes in her Senate Bill 672 that reduced the proposed legislative pay from $50,700 a year to $37,500. Lawmakers currently get a base salary of $16,800 a year.

Although floor debate was almost nonexistent in both houses, Duplessis suggested that people -- many of whom have jammed radio talk shows, Internet blogs and the Capitol switchboard -- just don't understand how much time lawmakers put in to the part-time job.

"We will not let a few radio (talk show) people dictate what we know is important," Duplessis said after the vote. She said lawmakers have been in session off and on since February and will probably be called back for one or two special sessions before a regular fiscal session next year.

She said the pay raise is needed to help lawmakers offset pay lost from their regular jobs.

"We should be focusing now on moving forward with the people's business," she said. "Once people understand what we do, what our schedules are like . . . they will understand."
RIIIIIIIIGHT. Do you think the Times-Picayune reporter kept a straight face writing that one up?

The "people's business" -- like once-again trying to sneak creationism through the back door of the high-school science lab. And passing pay raises for themselves . . . while health-care, social services and higher education get the business.

"Fiscal restraint" ain't for you and it ain't for me, it's for those sick people and eggheads behind the tree.

And what does the Great Reformer, Gov. Buddy Roemer Gov. Bobby Jindal, propose to do about that "Marie Antoinette meets the Dukes of Hazzard" orgy at the capitol, a mere three floors below his office?

Same as the last time we checked in -- nothing. Here's the gub'na's statement after Monday's Senate vote for final passage:
"I'm very sorry to see the legislature do this. More than doubling legislative pay is not reasonable, and the public has been very clear on that.

"I will keep my pledge to let them govern themselves and make their own decisions as a separate branch of government. I will not let anything, even this clearly excessive pay raise, stop us from moving Louisiana forward with a clear plan for reform."

THERE ARE TWO possibilities here. Either Jindal was in cahoots with the Legislature all along and is blowing smoke up the voters' butts, or a governor who wields near-dictatorial powers just got rolled by a body that strives for color coordination, lest its fairer members become "hormonal."

And once you get rolled by the Legislature once, it's going to happen one more time . . . and one more once . . . and one more twice. . . .

In fact, by caving in the face of extortion -- and, really, that's the most charitable explanation for Jindal's non-action -- the new governor didn't salvage his "clear plan for reform" at all. What he did was kill it -- such as it was.

No, the only agenda on the table now is the Louisiana Legislature's. Because, as Jindal has made clear, whatever crazy-ass thing its members want, they are apt to get.

Let me know how that "reform" works out for you, Louisiana.

Me, I'm going to crack open a cold one, sit back and enjoy the show (from a safe distance . . . like Nebraska). It's Roemertime.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rebels without a cause? Or a clue?

Who'd a thunk Louisianians would get upset over something besides California baseball coaches suggesting they didn't know the Civil War was over? (It's over???)

BUT IT'S TRUE! The Louisiana Senate wants to triple legislators' base pay, while the House of Representatives -- overcome by modesty, it seems -- voted to merely double it. And the angry voters of the Gret Stet are having none of it.

L'étendard sanglant est levé, y'all.

Blog posts and newspaper accounts are filled with talk that les citoyens are rallying aux armes. Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

Naturellement, this isn't a case of people rising up in favor of something -- you know . . . liberté, egalité, fraternité -- but instead, people rising up against lawmakers who have the abject nerve to raise their own pay when they've accomplished precious little of late.

As in forever.

Bad schools, bad roads, bad ethics, bad economy, bad government and a receding coastline are just fine so long as taxpayers don't have to pay too much out of pocket for it. But if they think they're getting overcharged for doodly squat . . . formez vos bataillons!

Well, at least until the next crawfish boil . . . or until somebody restocks the icebox with Abita. Laissez les bon temps rouler, cher!

SEE, THIS IS the kind of stuff that happens every time Louisiana gets a "reform" governor. Fella rides into Baton Rouge talking the messiah talk, but voters soon find out he can't walk the messiah walk. Or even walk, period, and chew gum at the same time.

When Gov. Bobby Jindal was on the campaign trail slinging around 31-point action plans, you wanted to think things could be different this time. I mean, what was the alternative?

Vote for the non-reform good ol' boys?

Still, in the back of your mind was the spectre of Buddy Roemer. Big talk, no walk. In politics, messiahs don't happen -- pretenders do. And really, if you're depending on a state politician to save your butt, one has to wonder whether that's a gluteus maximus worth saving.

The only thing that has surprised me is the sheer speed with which Jindal has morphed into Roemer. This incompetent ideologue, this cynical "reformer," this press-ducking, Legislature-bullied gutless wonder has been reduced to wimpering "Stop, or I'll tell the voters on you!"

Well, Baby Bobby Blunderbuss didn't need to, as reported in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate:
Reacting to public outcry and threats of recall, members of the House approved a legislative pay raise plan Friday that more than doubles — instead of triples — their base salary.

The amended plan, passed on a close vote, proposes a $20,700 increase in lawmakers’ base pay — putting it at $37,500 effective July 1. Lawmakers’ total compensation package would hit nearly $60,000.

Legislators would still be guaranteed annual increases in their base pay — without future votes. Future raises would be tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The original plan, approved by the Senate, would have translated to a compensation package of some $70,000 annually for rank-and-file lawmakers. It had tied legislative pay to that of U.S. congressmen with increases in those salaries triggering one for state lawmakers.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said after the vote he remains opposed but will do nothing to stop the raise from going into effect if approved by the Legislature.
[Emphasis mine -- R21]

“Even though they reduced it, I still think it’s too much,” Jindal told reporters who questioned him at a Lake Charles appearance.

“There is still time for them to turn back. They will have to answer directly to the people,” Jindal added in statement issued by his office.
I DIDN'T DO IT, nobody saw me do it, and I won't veto anything. Or, to quote the late Freddie Prinze on the '70s sitcom "Chico and the Man," "Ees not my yob, man!"

The hell it isn't.

But it's not like we didn't see this coming. Well, at least I did. In 1987, I voted for Roemer.

So now Louisiana voters know what they're agin' . . . or one of the things they're agin', at least. That's not important now.

What's important is this: What are Louisianians for? Until voters in the Gret Stet can answer that one, what they have -- assuming they can maintain their outrage, which is debatable -- is a revolution without a rudder.

And a rudderless "revolution" will drift no place good.