Saturday, July 26, 2008

John Maginnis on the governor

Louisiana Gov Jindal, Legislature Playing To Different Drummers
Yet what really bugs legislators is not the lost projects but the lack of communication from the governor's office. Had legislators known the governor's predisposition against fun they would have addressed other local priorities and not gone home empty-handed. Two sentences of gubernatorial guidelines on funding local government items would have spared 90 percent of the angst. But full clarity, apparently, was not the administration's goal.

As with the funding for non-profit groups, he left enough ambiguity to cloak rewards to allies--such as $550,000 requested for a community organization by Sen. Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans, who sponsored his top priority education voucher bill--and punishment to dissidents--such as Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, who passed a disclosure bill linking the governor's campaign contributors to subsequent job appointments. The governor vetoed that bill and, for good measure, Abramson's amendment of $50,000 to a non-profit group that is actually doing something about homelessness.

What addles legislators is a governor who very selectively plays quid-pro-quo politics when it suits him, but not enough for more than a handful to join the game. That's why he and his top aides don't return phone calls or mix much with politicians outside of very controlled circumstances, usually in which any substantial communication is one way. Legislators rarely want to talk to the governor about what they can do for him; he doesn't have to say no to their entreaties if he can avoid being asked.

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