Thursday, 07 March 2013 21:30

As Jindal dodges Bayou Corne sinkhole, his credibility sinks

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Jindal-Meet-the-pressI was not surprised when I discovered that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal “dodged” questions about the ever-expanding Bayou Corne sinkhole.



 Yesterday, at a rare news conference, he failed to respond to questions posed directly about his failure to appear at that site which has been evacuated by roughly 350 people who have been a-wishing and a-hoping and even a-screaming that the Governor would pay them a visit.

Here is an accounting courtesy of Channel 33, NBC in Baton Rouge

Governor Bobby Jindal is dodging questions about whether or not he's ever going to go down to Bayou Corne to address the community there in person. Jindal refused to give a straight answer three times in a row.

After the question of visiting the area in person he responded: “Again we'll continue to work with those agencies to make sure that we hold the company accountable. That we make sure we make the situation right. We hope to make Texas Brine do what they are obligated to do under the permits under state law to compensate those folks.”

He then responded to a third request for an answer: “Look, again I will continue to work with those agencies to hold Texas Brine accountable.”

For roughly seven months, I have been openly puzzled about the reason he refuses to appear.  After all, around the same time that the sinkhole became news, he went to visit the victims of Isaac when President Obama and Mitt Romney did photo ops.  

But those type of high-profile media appearances are easy for him as we all well know by now. 

So, why in the world has Jindal, now for roughly two-hundred plus days, refused to make an appearance when there would not have been national TV cameras and when Bayou Corne and the talk of dodging the questions would not have been on anyone’s radar?

I have publicly asked whether he has been embarrassed about the involvement of his own agency, the Department of Natural Resources, in granting permits or perhaps in supervising the site and operations? 

Is he concerned about environmentalist getting more up in arms, especially since he has successfully brought in a number of companies who are engaged in operations in which toxic conditions develop and other types of failures are now more possible?

Perhaps, but I doubt it.

We know that shortly after the initial Bayou Corne ground drop, his Secretary of the DNR quit and became a candidate for Public Service.  While that event seemed curious then, now, it is just part of the entire drama as to what the governor is  refusing to tell us.

I also have openly wondered whether there are secrets related to relevant campaign contributors.   

The real problem for the governor with this latest case of Jindal mystery, is the longer he evades, the more we wonder.  The more he hides from the media and the more he fails to adequately respond, the more his “gold-standard” ethics and transparency which he touts nationally become at issue.

Now, it’s taking upon the look, the form and the smell of a cover-up of some sort.  But what type and for whom, and why?

I am not saying that Jindal has anything to hide.  Nor am I saying that anyone has engaged in wrongdoing.  

However, there are a few things we do know.  

Governor Jindal has always been very accessible.  He had allowed media to ask all types of questions at every event, ever since he began to occupy the 4th floor of the Capitol.

Yet, roughly during the same time that the Bayou Corne sinkhole became its own event, he began to stop fielding questions from the local media.  Perhaps he did not want to talk about his repeated campaigning for national office or for promoting Iowa judges or republican candidates whose names Louisiana voters have never heard.  

I do not know.  Nonetheless, there is a connection between his silence about Bayou Corne and his shutting down the local media, at least in terms of time.  Perhaps it is a coincidence, perhaps not.

Months ago, when I first started to ask questions about the sinkhole, some of the local media did also.  Most did not.

Now that his refusal to visit innocent Louisiana citizens who have lost their homes and their dignities, the curiosities and media questions are beginning to mount.

After yesterday’s event, his refusals became a “dodge”.

When I learned about yesterday’s type of questioning of Governor Jindal and his responses, my mind flipped to another Jindal dodge.  That one occurred during the legislative pay raise debate.  At that time, his popularity dropped dramatically because the public was furious that he would not veto legislation and would not explain why he was committed to supporting the legislators.  I remember that media conference that was about a totally different issue--helping New Orleans.  Why?  Because the dodge occurred and I was involved.  The questions were mine.

At the bottom of this page the video of the event (I asked the questions while trying to hold a hand-held video camera in place.

Shortly after that news conference, I became extremely frustrated and I decided to mount a rally in Baton Rouge hoping that perhaps in doing so, we would know the truth regarding his position. 

 After the announcement and a day or so prior to the rally, he caved in.  He opted to veto the legislation announcing his decision during a press conference.  Instead of making a major announcement about this legislative controversy, he mentioned his veto by bill number as if it was of no importance at all.  Some members of the media wondered if he was trying to hide this veto decision since it appeared as if the governor's legislation was perfunctory, of little importance and simply an afterthought.

Which all raises serious questions, at least in my mind:  What will it take for Governor Jindal to spill the beans about a matter which much of the public has little appetite? Will it take more questions? A rally? National media asking questions?   What?

Now, back to the story.  Roughly a week after Jindal vetoed that controversial pay raise legislation, he also vetoed money for dozens of not-for-profit organizations or NGO's. His decision was extremely popular.  His poll numbers suddenly shot up like a rocket.

With Governor Jindal’s favorables in the tank and his negatives at dangerous levels, with the legislative-session-from-ell soon to begin, with the courts hammering his nationally-discussed education law, perhaps he should stop being the un-artful dodger  

The one thing he needs with so much on the legislative plate, with his legacy and future political career teetering, is credibility.

Perhaps the governor should learn a valuable lesson from his own history.

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