(Watch video and listen to the audio below)
Day after day over the past six years or so, Aswell would break detailed articles and opinion pieces outlining Louisiana's life with Jindal, and, no, they were not flattering. While other bloggers defended the republican governor to the hilt, Aswell provided his reasons that the Jindal ship at the state capitol was not just corrupt, but sinking.
Towards the end of JIndal's second term in office, Aswell published an announcement that he would be writing a book about the governor. At the time, Jindal was finally willing to admit what everybody (and their dead brothers had known since he was first sworn into office), although Jindal kept denying, the Louisiana governor would be running for United States President. Yes, Governor Jindal, despite the state budget in its worst crises in memory, with healthcare and education still high on the laughable charts, with his own popularity frozen, below 32 points, felt he should be President of the United States.
Aswell's book, "Bobby Jindal: His Destiny and Obsession, is now available for purchase. Today, I spoke to Aswell to provide an overview of his book.
Below is a transcript of the first part of that interview. This segment focuses upon when did the author start to question the governor's motives, whether the Jindal administration had any real wins including those within the confines of economic development.
Here is part I of a multi-part series. Tomorrow, Part 2.
Regarding when he started to lose faith in the governor and began to question Jindal’s motives:
ASWELL: “Activity towards privatization, it looked like he was just moving too fast for a program that was untested and the results weren't in and he just took off with it, and ran with it. What I thought he should've done was privatize one agency and see how it went, then if that went well, do another agency. But he didn't do that. He tried to take them all at one time"
“Group Benefits, he rushed through his education reform, he tried to implement retirement reform without any real study or comprehension of what he was doing.”
“To give you an example, on his pension reform, I had a friend of mine who was an (state) employee and she was making, oh, i guess, around $50,000 a year and she was planning to retire at the end of thirty years. And at the, then current retirement plan, (still current because it didn't work), she would have retired with about 39,000 a year, under his retirement plan, she would've retired at 6000 a year. She was taking a $33,000 a year hit and there would have been no Social Security for state employees. So it was a terrible conceived plan from the outset--and seeing these things--I just had real uneasy feelings about what the administration was doing”
“And i guess predating all that, with the BP spill, he was just insistent on building those berms, the sand berms out in the Gulf. He said it would trap the oil. Every engineer who knew anything about it, was telling him no, you can't do that, it's not going to work, it's not going to work, you can't do it--its ill-advised--he did it anyway. $250 million that he spent on the berms, fortunately the money was provided by FEMA, but so what? Within a matter of, a less than a week, those berms had disappeared in the Gulf along with the road grader's, and the bulldozers and the cranes that were on the berms to build them. All that equipment disappeared in the Gulf. And he wouldn't listen to anybody and that just kinda gave me real uneasy qualms about this man.
SABLUDOWSKY: That was sort of late into the first part of his administration.
ASWELL: That's correct.
SABLUDOWSKY: So, prior to that, you sought of either gave him a pass, or a "wait-and-see"--were you bothered about the fact that every day, he would go on TV, National TV and talk about BP and the oil coming and then he's writing a book?
ASWELL: That was also a big give-away into the makeup of the man. He loved camera time. And that was evidenced itself, so much during the BP spill, and I could see what he was all about at that point
SABLUDOWSKY: So looking back, where you think his real successes were, where would you pinpoint and say, "well, he was successful here, there's no debate, he was successful".
ASWELL: I'm not sure I can point to any, because quite frankly, I don't know where he was successful.
QUESTION: OK, Okay well begun development, obviously he has--every week, every day, there had another plant opening, expansion. Press releases coming from his office--His economic development agency would say “we’re number one, three, five”--whatever?
ASWELL: I don't know where he got those figures, Of those high rankings because the rankings I would see didn't put us anything near those figures. And a lot of his ribbon cuttings never came to fruition...A lot of plants either never opened or shut down very quickly. And even more significant, the ones that did open--none of them even provided anywhere near employment that he had announced, initially. Where he would announce 1000 employees, but they might employ 300. And this was done consistently across the board. None of the plants generated the employment that he touted in his press releases
SABLUDOWSKY: There has been the argument that he has given away the store to big business?
ASWELL: No question about it. No question. He has literally given away the state to business and industry. And business industry is good, but when you bring in people like Walmart to employ people at minimum wage, are you really accomplishing anything? Are you really helping the economy? And those were enterprise zones, the Walmarts were enterprise zones projects and enterprise projects were supposed to be in areas of high unemployment in order to help alleviate unemployment. And he was giving Enterprise zones to Walmart for stores in St. Tammany Parish, which is certainly not an area of high unemployment