By Robert Mann
In my most recent column in NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, I offered a tribute to Louisiana’s politicians and public officials for remarkable achievements in 10 categories during 2014.
Here are the runners-up in the various categories. Please feel free to suggest additions to this list in the comments section below:
- State Rep. Karen St. Germaine for introducing the “Employment Non-Discrimination Acts” (ENDA), which would prevent Louisianans from being denied equal opportunity in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- State Education Superintendent John White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for standing up to Gov. Bobby Jindal in the fight over the Common Core education standards.
- State Treasurer John Kennedy for challenging the Jindal administration’s fiscal irresponsibility.
- Mary Landrieu, who needed white votes to have any chance of winning re-election, dared to state the obvious fact that racism has an ugly history in Louisiana. Also for refusing to renounce her vote for the Affordable Care Act.
- David Vitter, for joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren to oppose the repeal of Dodd-Frank bank oversight legislation.
- Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter, both of whom once strongly supported Common Core, but who reversed their positions for political reasons.
- Attorney General Buddy Caldwell who testified in committee (on a medical marijuana bill he hadn’t read and didn’t know anything about) that pot was tied to “some of the most vicious, brutal murders (and) rapes.”
- House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin – and most of the rest of the Louisiana legislature throughout the Jindal administration – who would not attempt to fix the budget or challenge Jindal’s spending recommendations.
- There was no runner-up to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Most Embarrassing Statement
- “It’s going to be a great event worshipping the Lord and praying for our nation.” –Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesperson, Shannon Bates, about his prayer rally, scheduled for Jan. 24 on the LSU campus.
- “I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.” –Bobby Jindal, keynote address at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, June 2014.
Villain of the Year
- Rep. “Double Bill” Cassidy, who submitted inaccurate (or falsified) time sheets to LSU. Some people call this payroll fraud.
- Louisiana’s film industry. As Inspector General Stephen Street told The Advocate, “If a person is determined to steal from these programs, the way it’s set up right now, it’s not that hard to do.”
- Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed.
- The Republican Senatorial Committee, which programmed Rep. Bill Cassidy to repeat 250 times a day, “Mary Landrieu voted with Obama 97% of the time.” As one reader observed, “The RSC bottled up Cassidy the week of the runoff. Witness protection programs could learn something from the RSC on how to make a Senate candidate disappear from public view.”
- Congressman-elect Garrett Graves, for distancing himself from Bobby Jindal and persuading the public that he was a reformer.
- Bobby Jindal’s embarrassing flip-flop on Common Core. To quote an astute reader, Jindal’s move “won’t gain him nearly as much currency with the Glenn Beck crowd as he’ll lose with the mainstream conservatives whose financial support he desperately needs to have a prayer in the primaries.”
- The Robertson’s of Duck Dynasty fame. As a reader observed, the family ran “a relative with no previous political experience for Congress after having pushed Vance McCalister on voters of the 5th Congressional district.”
- Mary Landrieu’s decision to attack Cassidy ad nauseam on one topic (attempting to portray him as weird) rather than accentuate her positives.
Dissembler of the Year
- “President Obama has chosen to bypass Congress and the Constitution to grant citizenship to over five million illegal immigrants.” –State Elbert Guillory.
- Bobby Jindal, who has said he is “thinking and praying” about whether he should run for president.
Most Innovative Idea
- The Governmental Accounting Standards Board, forproposing new rules that would require state and local governments to report how much revenue they lose to business tax breaks granted for economic development.
Best in Show
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for winning overwhelming reelection in February against significant opposition and for bringing back an almost ungovernable city just by being there, knowing the details of governing and giving hope.