Dear Gov. Jindal,
As a Republican who works in the news media, I have followed your tenure as governor of our great state. In fact, I was excited when you took office in 2008. Many of us were weary from the previous administration’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and looked forward to your sensible approach to government.
In the months that followed, you held a special session to address ethics and accountability — and you saw fit to push legislation that eliminated the Stelly Tax, which immediately improved the bottom lines of many taxpayers.
New business was looking to Louisiana and it seemed your agenda would put our state on the map — in a good way. Your star was certainly rising.
But then something happened. You forgot you were governor of Louisiana and tried to become the national mouthpiece for conservatives and the GOP. Unfortunately, your policies did not line up with your rhetoric. Our state began to face some real fiscal difficulties, while you traveled the nation touting how you were refusing to raise taxes. Might I remind you, Governor, that you were hired to be a problem solver, not a public relations agent.
On occasion, we have caught glimpses of the governor we thought we were getting, especially in the economic development realm. We are left wondering what could have been if we had that governor full time.
As we entered this year’s legislative session, I watched for leadership from “the 4th floor.” Facing perhaps the greatest budget deficit of our lifetimes, you took the podium and outlined your priorities. I was shocked to learn that near the top of the list was House Bill 707, The Marriage and Conscience Act by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City.
Grabbing national headlines, this legislation merely rattled a saber, bringing undue attention to our state. Time and resources were dispatched to consider HB 707, a measure that many felt was unnecessary in Louisiana. Attention was diverted from “real” problems at hand and was, at the least, a distraction.
As a result, HB 707 met a sound defeat in committee. But that wasn’t good enough for you.
Almost immediately, you issued an executive order to make the provisions of HB 707 the law of the land in Louisiana. I am sure the courts will decide if you exceeded your authority.
Over the past 7 years, I have heard conservatives lament the fact President Obama would often circumvent Congress with executive orders. Yet, in this case, it would appear you have done the exact same thing. What is the point of the three branches of government, if we fail to honor the role of each?
In the coming days, you will be deciding whether or not you will seek the office of President of the United States. Might I remind you there are still solutions needed in your home state. We could use true leadership in these days, not an absentee governor.
However, should you decide to throw your hat into the presidential ring, I would hope you would visit a high school civics class and become reacquainted with the checks and balances of our system of government. In 2016, we will elect a new president — not a king.
David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org