A Tale of Three Libraries: Bobby Jindal’s misplaced priorities

Blue tarps cover maps at LSU Cartographic Information Center. (WBRZ screen shot)

Blue tarps cover maps at LSU Cartographic Information Center. (WBRZ screen shot)

By Robert Mann

It’s the best of times, it’s worst of times.

It’s great times, in fact, for former Gov. Mike Foster. His protegé and former aide is the current governor, Bobby Jindal. So, he gets almost $2 million to create a library and museum in Franklin for his gubernatorial papers and artifacts.

Never mind that several existing libraries, staffed by professional archivists, could easily handle Foster’s papers. That’s why Louisiana has a State Archives. And LSU’s Hill Memorial Library holds the papers of many former state officials, including U.S. senators Russell Long, John Breaux, and Bennett Johnston.

No, we can’t have those papers tainted by resting on shelves next to Democratic papers. So, Foster gets almost $2 million in taxpayer money to show off his knickknacks and catalog his papers at his own facility in Franklin.

Meanwhile, it’s the worst of times for LSU.

The state’s broke, we’re told. There’s little money for repairs and maintenance. All across campus, buildings are in disrepair, and Jindal and legislators are unable to find the money to do much about it. It’s the same sad story on every campus in the state.

If you’re interested in time travel — back to, say, the 1960s — you should visit the Middleton Library on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus. It’s a creaky, musty old building in dire need of an upgrade. Don’t step into one of the bathrooms unless you’ve lost your sense of smell. And don’t open your eyes. You’ll be appalled. I’ve seen gas station bathrooms in better shape.

Then, take a stroll over to the Department of Geography and Anthropology’s Cartographic Information Center. There, you will see blue tarps draping much of the center’s collection of rare maps, protecting them from the water that sometimes pours into the building because of the building’s leaky roof.

“Not being able to access the collection underneath the tarps as readily and quickly as possible, the constant shifting from one place to another, sometimes I liken it to one of those Chinese tile puzzles, where you move things around until you get to where you want,” center director John Anderson told WBRZ-TV for a report last August.

Jindal can’t find the money to protect the state’s collection of priceless maps. But $1.8 million for his patron’s library is no problem. (No other former governor has ever been awarded such a generous arrangement.)

Blogger Tom Aswell helpfully notes in a post on Thursday some of the spending Jindal has recently vetoed after arguing that the state lacks the money:

Has anyone taken a look at some Jindal’s veto messages?

  • He killed a $190,000 appropriation for support services to the elderly;
  • He slashed $500,000 for the arts;
  • Appropriations for individuals with development disabilities in Jefferson Parish ($50,000), the Florida Parishes ($200,000), Capital Area ($200,000), the Metropolitan Human Services District ($50,000), the Northeast Delta ($50,000), Acadiana ($200,000), Calcasieu ($50,000), Central Louisiana ($50,000), Northwest Louisiana ($50,000): all vetoed because of a reduction to Medicaid utilization;
  • Continued operation of the Children’s Special Health Services Clinics across the state ($794,000);
  • Prevention and Intervention Services Program for the Family Violence Program ($1.17 million);

There’s so much we could say about this rotten library deal and the misplaced priorities it represents.

No one, however, said it better and more succinctly than a commenter, using the pseudonym “fauxpaws,” who posted the following below Tuesday’s Times-Picayune | NOLA.com story: “He’s sucking up to his old benefactor…..with our money.”

Follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/RTMannJr

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9 Responses to A Tale of Three Libraries: Bobby Jindal’s misplaced priorities

  1. Milford Fryer says:

    Is it true that the last library in Franklin burned, and destroyed all three books? And two of them hadn’t even been colored in?
    I mean, really, who is going to go to Franklin to see a bunch of old papers and artifacts from a fairly decent but rather dull governor? Having the papers stored with those of other prominent people would possibly allow some meaningful research and use of the papers.
    Why would anyone want a shrine no one will visit? Wouldn’t the old fart be better served by just giving him the $2M and a roadside plaque?

    And we would be better served if we just gave him the plaque.


  2. Stephen Winham says:

    Very funny post, Mr. Fryer. Governor Jindal and former Governor Foster are truly legends in their own minds, though in different ways. My favorite Times-Pic commenter was CinnamonGirl, who wondered whether it is October or April since this story seemes to be an April Fool’s joke. Unfortunately, the joke is at others’ expenses.


  3. marycorky says:

    Next question: is there anything we, the people, can do to effectively protest this misallocation of funds?


  4. Butch Gautreaux says:

    After insulting Gov. Foster, Gov. Blanco, Gov. Treen and Gov. Romer in his inaugural address by saying, “Louisiana is not a poor state but a state that has lacked leadership”. I was sitting a few rows behind the governors and watched as they first cast blank looks at each other and then stared at Jindal in disdain. I guess he is still trying to make up for that misstatement.


  5. G. V. Foreman says:

    Dr. Mann, among the list of state and university staffed archives, you failed to mention the LOUISIANA ROOM on the third floor of the Dupree Library on the UL/Lafayette campus. It would be more appropriate location for housing Foster’s gubernatorial records than Franklin, LA.


  6. davidgrouchy says:

    There you go making sense again, Bob. Obviously you don’t see the BIG picture. I hope you never do. Dave Grouchy


  7. Patrick Robinson says:

    Did Bobby Jindal hire a new Press Secretary? Please read today’s online editorial in The Lake Charles American Press. The editors neglect to mention this expenditure. In fact, The Lake Charles American Press was probably the only newspaper in the state to not report on the funding of Foster’s Library when it was announced last week.


  8. Seems to me while naming and faulting Gov. Jindal, you would also need to name and fault the 100 State Reps and all 39 State Senators who gave their final approval for HB2.

    If there is improper/needless spending lined in these Capitol Outlay bills, then it’s time for our legislators to start speaking out DURING the process, not after and blaming someone else. Executive and Legislative branches are both responsible for this, Republicans and Democrats alike.


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