Jindal hired former St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis as the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. This plum position comes with a salary of $165,000 per year. Davis was term limited and lost the 2010 election for Lt. Governor.
Craig Taffaro, who is the outgoing St. Bernard Parish President, and lost a bid for re-election, was hired by the Governor to be the new Director of Hazard Mitigation and Recovery. This new position comes with a nice salary of $150,000 per year.
Former State Representative Jane Smith (R-Bossier City), who lost a race for State Senate, was hired by Governor Jindal as the new Deputy Secretary of the Department of Revenue. Her salary has not been announced, but as noted by political watchdog C.B. Forgotston, if “previous political hirings are any indication it will be six-figures. All will be getting increases from their previous feedings at the public trough.”
Combining her new salary with a $64,000 annual retirement check she receives from her teaching position and her husband’s $94,000 annual salary as the Assistant Superintendent of the Bossier Parish school system, the Smith household will be legally pocketing over a quarter of a million dollars a year in public funds. According to Forgotston, this is “not too shabby for a couple of school teachers.”
This week, the political gravy train continued as three former House members, Ricky Hardy of Lafayette, Henry “Tank” Powell of Ponchatoula and M.J. “Mert” Smiley of St. Amant were selected by the Governor as new members of the State Board of Pardons. These supposedly full-time positions come with a salary of $36,000 per year.
Hardy lost a bid for re-election and will now have an even larger retirement check thanks to Governor Jindal. Smiley is only able to take the job for a year, since he will be assuming the position of Assessor of Ascension Parish in January of 2013. Powell, who was term limited in 2008, will continue in a position that he has served in for one term.
For Team Jindal, insiders profit as well as politicians. While Timmy Teepell is no longer Jindal’s Chief of Staff, his family members and colleagues are certainly prospering. Teepell’s brother-in-law, Matt Parker, was selected as the Governor’s Intergovernmental Affairs Director. Teepell’s brother, Taylor Teepell, will be the new Deputy Legislative Affairs Director for the Governor. Finally, Teepell’s former Executive Assistant, Melissa Mann, will be the Governor’s new Legislative Liaison for the Department of Transportation and Development.
In total, all of these political selections are rather typical of Louisiana politics. In Forgotston’s view, “these appointments are examples of the same-old-same-old.”
By recycling old politicians, Governor Jindal has shut the door to new ideas. He has precluded the possibility of someone from outside of the political system contributing to state government. It is doubtful that the Governor publicized these positions and solicited resumes from the best and brightest around the state. All he seemingly did was call out of work politicians.
Hurry all politicians in need of a job, call Bobby, he’ll find one for you.
Voters would have expected this in an Edwin Edwards administration, but not in the administration of supposedly reform oriented Bobby Jindal.
It seems the more things change in Louisiana, the more they stay the same.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].