This week, it was reported that our state legislators will be receiving six tickets to the January 9, 2012 BCS championship game between LSU and Alabama at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Thanks to the generosity of the Sugar Bowl Committee and LSU, 141 current legislators will receive the six-pack of tickets at the discounted rate of $350.00 each. While this is the “face” value, the real market value is approximately $1,850.00 per ticket.
In effect, our legislators are getting a $7,500 gift due to their position as Louisiana politicians. This is another outrageous deal which sends the wrong image about our state and our politicians.
Our legislators can give the discounted tickets to their top donors in exchange for more donations. They can use it for their family and friends or they can even sell them online. Even though, we supposedly have the “gold standard” of ethics in this state, it would not be illegal for our legislators to sell these tickets for a huge profit. Instead of the “gold standard,” of ethics, Louisiana really has the “fool’s gold” ethics standard.
As fans struggle to find tickets to buy on the Internet, legislators and other statewide politicians enjoy treatment as a special privileged class.
According to Herb Vincent, associate vice chancellor for communications at LSU, the university “makes these tickets available for purchase to these offices because they play a vital role in the continued success of Louisiana State University.”
In effect, because legislators control the purse strings, they are getting this gift, compliments of LSU.
The university should be more grateful to the fans that support the team each week, the parents who pay the tuition costs and the taxpayers who fund all of the major programs at LSU.
Their gratitude is directed toward the wrong people for everything the legislators give to LSU is provided by the hard working taxpayers of the state.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if the school had set aside all of these tickets for parents, students, fans or regular taxpayers instead of politicians? These misplaced priorities are nothing new.
Ideally, our legislators should act like public servants, making a sacrifice to serve their constituents. This job should not be an opportunity to receive perks and benefits not available to the average citizen.
Once again, Louisiana is exposed as a political banana republic with a governing political class lording over a bunch of citizen serfs.
We need to change this dynamic in our state. It is essential that we not only demand more of our politicians, but expect more.
This offer was made to only the current group of legislators and not any of the freshman class that was just elected. Not surprisingly, only three of the current legislators rejected this generous gift.
Hopefully, some of the newly elected legislators are getting tired of this image of political greed. Maybe one of the new legislators will have the courage to propose legislation outlawing this type of outrageous benefit.
For our state to grow and prosper and actually recruit new business to our state, we need to change our political image. It has been this way since the days of Huey Long and it is getting old.
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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].