Observations a Week Later – I Had Dinner with the Governor Too

April 3, 2008

As seemingly everyone in the Louisiana blogging world now knows, Governor Bobby Jindal hosted a small dinner for bloggers, six of us in fact, and everyone from pro and anti-Jindal bloggers to talk-show host Moon Griffon have discussed that news bit. The dinner was set up by bloggers from Red State.com, whom apparently had already met with Jindal in the same capacity before.

However, this time it was a bit different, as actual Louisiana bloggers were also invited.4Union Parish already gave his account of the meeting, as have the other national bloggers who attended. Their accounts are all about praise and excitement for Governor Jindal and his potential to accomplish great things both on a state and national level. I already promoted the Governor during his campaign, so this account will not take the same course as the other attendees.

First off, I do appreciate the Governor having us over as guests. I wasn’t invited until the evening before by 4Union Parish, so don’t fret Chad! The Red State guys had no intention of initially including me either. Make no mistake about it. Despite what Moon Griffon said on his show yesterday (yes, I caught it, one of the few workdays I’ve spent in Louisiana over the last year), having dinner with the Governor in such an intimate setting was a big deal…at least for me. The experience alone was pretty neat.

Yes, the Governor is a person just like the rest of us, but my wife and I live in the very small town of Iota, not even a traffic light, so I was sent with a digital camera and orders to take pictures of the mansion. The wife loves home modeling and makeover shows, so I knew the request for pictures was going to happen. She ironed my best clothes and made sure to dress me up, because Lord knows she wasn’t letting me go to the mansion in my normal work attire of jeans and a polo shirt.

But moving on, despite the discussion being open to any topic, Governor Jindal didn’t say anything that I didn’t expect. He promoted the “ethics overhaul” from the first special session, which the Red State and Town Hall bloggers seemed to eat up. He talked about reforming education but never gave a real indication that he would promote or reject a state-wide voucher system. He did support the current bill to give tax breaks to parents who pay for private school.

He talked about bringing businesses to Louisiana and eliminating many unnecessary taxes they currently have to shoulder, but never talked about simply giving money back to taxpayers and businesses currently here.

I’m still waiting for Governor Jindal to take the first REAL BIG step. At some point, our Governor, who campaigned on fiscal conservative policies and cutting back the growth of state government, will have to piss off somebody. He can’t remain everybody’s friend. The honeymoon is over.

Governor Jindal needs to tell legislators that we are eliminating their pet projects, their slush funds. That way, the Governor doesn’t have to dedicate the one-time surplus to one-time highway and coastal restoration projects. Instead, reoccurring moneys can be spent on those two funds, and more of the surplus can be given back to the very people who pay the damn bills, the TAXPAYERS.

Governor Jindal needs to tell the teacher unions and government school board officials that the current government education system is failing our children. Too many of our kids are stuck in failing government school districts. We need to try something NEW, and that involves a state-wide school voucher system. Give the parents a voucher each year, and let them decide whether to send their children to the local government school or to use that voucher to pay for part or all of a private school education.
Some may ask, “Well, why didn’t you tell the Governor that last week at the dinner?”

My answer, it just didn’t seem like the proper setting. At one point, I did try to correct, or clarify, something with Governor Jindal. He was explaining to Mary Katharine Hamm, of Townhall and Fox News “fame,” that Louisiana finally passed term-limits for legislators, and this past election season was the first time they came into effect. I simply felt the need to interject and state the point that we don’t have real term-limits in our legislature, as legislators can remain in the state legislature until they die by simply switching chambers every 12 years. I mentioned that a small group of us in Iota started calling those people “chamber-jumpers.”

Other than that, when I received an opportunity to speak, I discussed coastal restoration with pushing for more offshore royalties from the federal government, and I talked about how the national GOP push to fast-track free trade deals is hurting Southwest Louisiana. The Governor said that free trade is good, but agreed that we do need to look at the current policies again, especially the one with China, and make sure everything is on a level playing field, which is not the case with Communist China.

To be honest, I just did not feel that being combative with the Governor on spending and tax reform was a good idea while a guest in his home. But make no mistake about it, as much as I appreciate the opportunity to visit with Governor Jindal, I have problems with some of the things he is currently doing. He campaigned on reforming and cutting back government, and other than a couple bills passed during the Ethics Session, I have yet to see any evidence of real reform and change.

I want Governor Jindal to be successful. He has the potential to go down as the best governor in the history of our state, but he needs to seize this chance. The people of Louisiana gave him a mandate. Let’s use it, Governor. You can’t make everyone happy, nor should you waste time and tax dollars trying.

One last note, Governor Jindal’s Chief of Staff, Timmy Teeple, seems like a cool, laid back guy. The hacks at Daily Kingfish need to stick to issues instead of trying to degrade the guy for his traditional upbringing.


Nick, This is an excellent account of the evening and I shared your feelings of decorum. I suspect that we both would have been a little harder on the Governor, if his son had not been scooting around on his “Big Wheel”. ;) Despite your excellent manners, the crawfish farmers and commercial fisherman of Louisiana owe you a debt of gratitude for your well-spoken defense of their trade and the threat to their livelihood by foreign entities, particularly China. I am hopeful the Governor will support legislation requiring restaurants to disclose to customers where those mudbugs, catfish, and seafood actually originated. Since “my turn” to speak was the issue of education, in particularly the Governor’s support of D’Arbonne Woods Charter School here in Union Parish and the desperate need to rescue our children from failing schools being destroyed by the Minimum Foundation Program grossly unfair to rural parishes, I appreciate and support your calls for a statewide voucher program. I believe all voters should get behind our Governor’s plan to provide a "scholarshp" plan for New Orleans private schools as setting the groundwork to install a similar program statewide. This will likely be the biggest fight before him in this Regular Session and to answer your calls to “piss someone off”, I think the teacher unions, who have failed this state in the worst ways, are the best choice. It was a great dinner, you did your wife and neighbors proud, and, as your fellow blogger, I hope I did you as proud as you did me. You are certainly a credit to this website.

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