New Day for Louisiana?

Bobby Jindal is the first governor of any state in the union of Indian descent. His parents came to America, settled in Baton Rouge, and Bobby was born there. He converted from Hinduism as a teenager and became a Catholic. He lives in Kenner and is the brainiest person on the planet. Monday, he was sworn in as Louisiana’s new governor, replacing Kathleen Babineaux Blanco who carries her Katrina-related scars with her into retirement. Jindal is 36 years old, making him the youngest sitting governor in the land.

What does “sitting governor” mean? And why do they express it like that? Is there any other kind of governor.

Tuesday, Jindal confirmed our faith in him. In his first full day in office, he spoke to the legislature and announced that everyone in his administration will file annual financial reports and that he will be asking the legislature to do that too. He said, “We are going to be transparent!”

Uh, Bobby, some of them aren’t going to like that. But good for you. Now, make it stick.

One of the ways our state is unique is that the governor has substantial power over the legislature. I’ve lived in states where the chief executive had zero authority over the state senate and house of representatives and the citizens paid dearly for the weakness of the office. In Louisiana, if you get the right governor, things can happen quickly.

One thing our governor does is to select the speaker of the house and the leader of the senate. It still has to be confirmed by the actual vote of the members, but the governor has such power in other ways they don’t dare cross him. That’s how Jim Tucker of Algiers became our new speaker.

Jim Tucker belongs to Oak Park Baptist Church on the West Bank of New Orleans, and sings in the choir. He’s a great guy, and we’re excited to have him in this crucial slot.

I couldn’t help but notice that a number of other key leaders Jindal chose are also from this part of the state. The northerners are not real happy about it, but we can all remember times when we felt under-represented, so perhaps it will even out.

The real issue is not where the person lives but what he does. Governor Jindal vows and declares that we are going to establish a new direction for Louisiana and that the old shady deals of the past will not be done, not be tolerated, and not be ignored.

Speaking of shady deals, former 4-term Governor Edwin Edwards is halfway through his ten-year prison term for racketeering. He resides in the Oakdale Prison in our state and is now 80 years old. Former Governor Dave Treen is campaigning to get President Bush to pardon Edwards due to his advanced age. This week, he has announced that President Bush senior is on board with his campaign and says he will request this of junior.

Personally, I think Edwin Edwards has single-handedly brought more shame upon the State of Louisiana than any living person and that he ought to serve every day of his term. But, if Bush follows the usual pattern of presidents and issues a lot of pardons just before he leaves office, that will still be a year from now, so I’m not going to protest.

I can guarantee you that if he does pardon Edwards, though, the ex-con will walk out of the prison with a swagger and a wisecrack. From interviews and articles, there’s not the slightest evidence he has been humbled or has learned anything from it.

He reminds me of what someone once said of Mayor Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., who was caught on tape dealing drugs, then denied it. “The man has no sense of shame.”

Thankfully and finally, we have elected a leader with a strong moral center.

Let us pray for him now and support him. He has chosen an uphill path and the going will not be easy.

A number of our pastors were in Baton Rouge Monday for prayer services and the inauguration. I’m glad they went, and thankful I didn’t have to. I taught Romans at Oak Park Monday morning, then Tuesday morning, and will end Wednesday morning. That’s my cup of tea.

2 thoughts on “New Day for Louisiana?

  1. “Once a governor, always a governor.” A sitting governor is one currently serving. Once he leaves “the seat of government”, he’ll still be referred to as governor as are Treen, Rohmer and the others. The same way we speak of President Carter or Bush, Sr. – the idea is the same. Thanks again for your insights and humor. Ed

  2. “The man has no sense of shame.”

    A true statement of our times. Too many people are actually PROUD (some even have parades) of things that are downright Shameful!

    Yes, it’s your “civil right” to be a schmuck. But it’s nothing to be proud of — have you no shame?

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