Thursday, 20 December 2012 20:23

Louisiana Governor Jindal, Bayou Corne Sinkhole and Santa

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Ever-so-busy Governor Bobby Jindal, where are you?



For months, political watchers in Louisiana have wondered why Governor Jindal has failed to visit or speak out about a peculiar sinkhole in Bayou Corne which has received national attention for a variety of reasons including the evacuation of over 150 families.

His absence from Bayou Corne, a mere crow-fly from the Mansion, is puzzling. Puzzling, unless, perhaps, his very state administration over which he governs has been responsible, in part, for the development or worsening of this hole from hell affecting the lives of innocent people. Surely, the man who seems to hope to be President, would not want sinkhole slime on his shoes as he shoots out criticism at others while speaking or writing from the confines of his state or elsewhere.

I do recall publishing a quote from an environmental attorney, quite familiar in these parts of the swamps called Louisiana.

On August 5, 2002, (or many moons ago) and only days after news broke regarding the hole breaking ground, attorney Stuart Smith called the Jindal Administration an environmental train wreck. This is what Bayoubuuzz published at that time.

"One vocal environmental attorney who has been actively involved in the BP oil spill case has taken off the muzzle after officials closed down a four-mile section of highway near swampland that became sinkhole on Friday.

In effect, attorney Stuart Smith is accusing of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration for contributing, exacerbating and covering up the problems associated with the sudden 200x200 hole and the reported “shifting of some of the gas pipelines that that criss-cross the Bayou Corne area” which the lawyer said is “raising the risk of a catastrophic explosion”. In a blog post, Smith said, “So you might think that given the gravity of the crisis now, Louisiana officials would spring into action — especially when subsequent reports revealed that the sinkhole is also shifting some of the gas pipelines that criss-cross the Bayou Corne area, raising the risk of a catastrophic explosion. But if you think that, you haven’t been watching the environmental trainwreck that is the Jindal administration. Officials have been slow to divert traffic from the affected area, and now they’ve blocked the public from seeing real time information about possible methane hazards”

Smith also said, “I don’t believe a word they say about the environmental or human health risk of this mounting disaster. I’m sure this industry told the regulators and the public that these operations were perfectly safe. This is the same storyline that BP used for its Gulf of Mexico operations and the frackers are using today. The State of Louisiana approved these operations, negligently monitored them, and is now expected to be truthful about it. Fat chance — with the lawsuit bullseye squarely on the Jindal administration.”

Since that date, I often have wondered why has Governor Jindal not visited this festering hole?

I personally am not blaming the administration, nor the Governor for the causing or the worsening this eyesore that is becoming a “lifesore” to some residents immediately impacted. I know zero about Bayou Corne, sinkholes or factors going into the creation or expansion of these types of tragedies.

Nor am I knowledgeable about the potential health hazards associated with this unnatural disaster about which there has been much written.

But, I do know something about Governor Jindal and his schedule since I receive his press releases and media advisories.

I can unequivocally say that I am absolutely stunned that the Governor has not even taken a public tour over that site, now in over four months, or for those counting, at least 135 days since he declared a state of emergency.

The administration has absolutely blamed Texas Brine as culpable and has fought to make the company pay for this mess. If, in fact, the residents are happy with the state’s actions, whom am I to cast a stone or mud?

But, still, the governor’s absence from a site, very much Louisiana, that has uprooted his constituents for such a long breath of time is, at the minimum, awfully puzzling. Very puzzling, in fact.

So, let’s take a birds-eye view of the many Jindal appearances since Bayou Corne sink hole became a popular word on Google.

To his credit, Governor Jindal and the very capable Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, Stephen Moret, have been on an almost-daily tear making announcements that will bring hundreds (if not thousands) of jobs into the state and billions of dollars into our coffers.

The Deep South is “hot” not just in room temperature but in business expansion.

Louisiana has not only been a recipient of many of those projects in this region but has also landed some major future employers bringing in billions of dollars in infrastructure expansion.

One of the announcements he recently made could bring in over 21 billion dollars of investments by Sasol, a chemical company. The Lake Charles area will greatly benefit as will all of Louisiana.

While Sasol is the largest win, it surely is not the only. The governor has taken advantage of the efforts made by the prior administrations and legislators, has made Louisiana more business-friendly and should be given many thanks and applause for these wonderful improvements of which, hopefully, many of us will share in the bountiful of opportunities upon the state.

As busy as Governor Jindal has been cutting ribbons and making new business announcements, he has been occupied doing other stuff that many  throughout the state wonder how the Louisiana is directly benefited. Actually, many of those items on his agenda have obvious given him more personal political exposure but how they will help us down here, at best, is dubious.

Items such as the virtual daily appearances he made for Romney and the GOP before he blasted the Republican candidate for running an inept campaign and days after the November election when he called his political home “the stupid party”.

Items such as writing controversial op-ed pieces during this same period, most, if not all in national political publications, not the local variety. Recently, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that contraceptives should be bought over the counter. While that opinion has stirred up the cauldron we call talk radio and while it put Jindal’s name and face on the tube and front pages of our cities news organs, the public debate over the pill is not a topic that Louisiana folks have ever swallowed, either hole or in part.

While the times might be getting a little better for some, birth control access ranks not very high on the Christmas “to-do” or “must-get” totem pole.

Surely many of us have read his recent op-eds and his frequent interviews in Politico and CNN. He has become such a familiar face on my television and on google news, I have been wondering if CNN and/or FoxNews had hired him as their talk show host.

Unquestionably Jindal has a busy schedule since donning the robe of Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a position he recently assumed. I don’t know if any of the states governed by any of these GOP top executives have ever encountered sinkholes. Surely, our leader is a fast talker and even faster learner and will be able to aid those Governors at their time of needs should the earth begin to swallow homes, trees and spew toxics from underneath their feet.

Over the past few weeks, the Governor, who many of us call Bobby, has issued statements after his side won and lost important Court battles that have cut into his much promoted education reform. Many Americans are now familiar with this achievement he has spoken about it profusely at dinners, luncheons and on the national tube both inside and from the outer environs of the state.

I’m sure we could cite even more ways Jindal has improved Louisiana over the past months even if his frequent flyer miles has accumulated. But, don’t ask the media for help in creating this list. We have no clue where he is going when he boards upon a jet paid for by someone we do not know while he touts his achievements in ensuring the gold standards of government transparency.

You would think that Governor Jindal would want the recognition of showing he is handling another emergency. He surely appeared to crave it during those smoldering days of the BP war. Back then, he called daily press conferences to point out tar balls and other oil sightings trickling upon our delicate marshes. In fact, those in doubt, check out his book, "Leadership and Crises" which he wrote during the very days he told us he was not going to write a book because the BP crises was occupying too much of his attention. This was during the same period when he kept telling all of us that we did not have a moment to spare. Perhaps he is not just a speed-talker, but a speed writer for his heroics in beating back the black goo and the mollases-slow President Obama was on full display on the pages for all to read and to purchase.

For those ignorant about Governor Jindal’s daily complaints in front of national TV against the federal government and the administration for their “neglect” of duty during the days when oil kept gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Youtube is full of video snippets of moments when he excoriated the President. But, honestly, I am not so sure he said much after Obama reportedly “extorted” over $20 billion dollars for damages and for recovery from British Petroleum. My memory has faded.

No doubt those were most troubled days. While many in Florida wanted to shut down the rigs that were damaging their beaches, we, led by our able leader, wanted more oil drilling even if we could not afford another explosion off the intercontinental shelf. Our oil and seafood industry was being devasted but the President must not have cared. In his book, Jindal called the administration’s drilling moratorium decision, an act "The human element seemed invisible to the White House."

Another time, Jindal said in referring to the federal BP action or perhaps inaction, "We've been frustrated with the disjointed effort to date that has too often meant too little, too late for the oil hitting our coast”.

Even back then, the governor was in full swing as the TV cameras were in full motion. Another quote of hundreds during that period: "It is clear we don't have the resources we need to protect our coast," the Republican said. "We need more boom, more skimmers, more vacuums, more jack-up barges that are still in short supply. Let's be clear: Every day that this oil sits is one more day that more of our marsh dies."

And, our Governor’s moments in aiding the people in dire need was not limited to that infamous oil mess.

Fast forward. For a short period during this time of sink hole expansion, Jindal made daily media appearances fighting the ravages of Hurricane Isaac. He even met with then-GOP Presidential Mitt Romney in South Louisiana for fundraising and, of course, a photo op as they showed their concerns for those unfortunately impacted by the horrific storm.

So, perhaps I and others can fully understand how our Governor must have felt when he blasted the White House for “invisbility” or for their “too little” and “too late” actions or for the day-after-day splashing of oil on the dying marshes.

Then, I also understand the words of one man, who according to Bob Mann ‘s blog, posted these frustrated and anguished words as he likely hoped to get the attention of the new GOP sensation and the leader of the “non-stupid” wing of the GOP would ever be watching.

This from Bob Mann’s Blog:

I could comment on the outrage of Jindal’s neglect and indifference to the suffering of his constituents in Bayou Corne. Instead, I will share with you the passionate words (lightly edited) of a resident of Bayou Corne, John Achee, Jr., posted today on Facebook:
You were elected to be the leader of our State, and in case you forgot, being a leader is an obligation of the office you hold. Need I remind you there is a sinkhole in Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou, which was declared a State of Emergency by your office on August 3rd, where 150 households were forced to evacuate from the area and are living in campers, hotels, rent houses, etc. There are mini earthquakes, methane, benzene and hydrogen sulfide being released into the community. This community has been through hell and back and are still living a nightmare. In my opinion and many others you have completely turned your back on this community, and you have done absolutely nothing helpful to this community. You haven’t even had the decency to come visit the site, do a flyover and meet with residents to show your support and pledge accountability by all parties, Texas Brine and your agencies alike. Your inaction is very upsetting to many people. It is unacceptable and cannot and will not be tolerated. We all understand your aspiration to be president, but what you need to remember is that in the meantime you have a state to run and that is your responsibility, and you have people depending on your leadership. Mr. Jindal, I have asked twice on the news, myself and many others have sent countless emails and letters to your office and to no avail. Seems you are too busy. You simply cannot continue to ignore this disaster and turn your back on a community that is pleading for your help and leadership and you must get personally involved. We await your response, Sir.
To ALL my FB friends please copy and paste this to your wall and maybe just maybe it will get Mr. Jindal’s attention and force him to do what is right by the people that elected him to office.
Thanks, John Achee, Jr

Who knows? since we are approaching the Christmas holidays, perhaps Governor Jindal might find some time this week to pay a visit to Mr. Achee and to those suffering near the sinkhole at Bayou Corne. In fact, I have hear that, Santa, himself, will be make a welcomed, but brief appearance.

Youtube: Governor Jindal and BP oil spill


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Stephen Sabludowsky | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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