When I began reading Mark Ballard's "Political Horizons" column this morning, I simultaneously smiled and braced; smiled that Mark chose the Tucker vs. Gallot dust-up as his subject - I would have won a bet in guessing his subject this week - and braced for yet more evidence of why Louisiana remains ever more deeply stuck in its bad governance ditch.
Here's Mark's column: http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/93857774.html?showAll=y&c=y
As I read the close of Mark's work, I could only think how the hogwash between these two is precisely the way our state's and nation's "Tea Party" upheaval came about:
"Committee members have a depth of knowledge now that will make the process fair, Gallot said. “For him to have no respect for the personal investment I have made is an insult,” he said.
If Gallot is fired by Tucker, Gallot said he has little recourse.' But I won’t hesitate to share whatever I have to share with the Justice Department on the corruption of this process,' Gallot said."
According to several sources who were - embarrassingly enough for them - present in key meetings as Bobby Jindal's bogus ethics reform claptrap was designed, no two people in addition to Gov. Jindal were more responsible for the birth of that lie than Jim Tucker and Rick Gallot. Tucker had both an axe to grind from a previous ethics complaint action and exposure to yet another ethics complaint, and Gallot had an ethics complaint filed against him that ultimately grew to seven individual charges. They, of course, knew of their violations, but the people of Louisiana didn't, and couldn't, thanks to laws passed previously by just such legislators as they. Tucker, I am told by a source I consider impeccable, went so far as to devise the insertion of the Division of Administrative Law (DAL) where the real Ethics Board had been back when Louisiana had ethics enforcement, and went so far as to recruit DAL Administrator Ann Wise for her duty as ringmaster of Louisiana's present circus of everything-poison-to-ethics-enforcement.
Both of these enemies of good government beat all of their respective raps, thanks to their first-hand pre-design of precisely the system which guaranteed that outcome.
Gallot, whose ox is now being gored, would have Mark Ballard and his readers believe that he will protect Louisianans from Jim Tucker's abuse(s) of power by ratting him out to the Obama Justice Department! Right.
Tucker, no doubt trembling in fear that such an outcome awaits, is considering "firing" Gallot as chair of House & Governmental Affairs. Sure.
For what it's worth, here's my alternate analysis:
1) Rick Gallot's ego is writing checks his reality can't cash. I know that inside the Baton Rouge (legislators') Bubble, he thinks no one knows him from and for his handiwork, but he's wrong; many of us do. The chance of Gallot helping Louisianans with abuses such as those he's "suffering" at the hands of his often partner in bad
governance is, yep, zero ... zilch ... nada. For Rick Gallot to lecture anyone on what he calls "corruption," or on being disrespected by a legislator, is truly - stunningly! - outrageous.
2) As to the substance of this supposed fight, both Tucker and Gallot are doing precisely what was predictable from the jump of their "leadership": each man leads a different and opposed coalition devoted to a bad-governance outcome in the very important business of post-census reapportionment and redistricting. We the People of Louisiana will pay for their "leadership" of that process ... again.
3) Given how much stuff these guys have participated in together, I don't see a firing in Gallot's future, though I fervently hope for all of our sakes I'm wrong.
4) When anyone wonders how long-time incumbent U. S. Senator Bob Bennett recently lost the Republican Party nomination for re-election in Utah, or how 30-year veteran U. S. Senator Arlen Specter is fighting for his political lives (one as a Republican and one as a Democrat) in next week's primary, I recommend bringing the story back home with this Louisiana chapter. When something in our process goes wrong enough that Rick Gallot is covered by the media as he preaches about "corruption," and/or Jim Tucker surprises anyone by stacking a committee with his (and, thus, the Governor's) water-carriers, things have gone way past too far.
(Yes, yes, I know, and I can just hear the admonition from my friends inside the aforementioned Bubble, "Elliott, it's just how things work, man, you know that! It's just politics. This is nothing new. He's a good Republican / Democrat. You expect something impossible. He's really a good guy, and I like him. It'll never change. If not Jim / Rick, it'll be someone just like them. You're just being negative." (Yadayadayadayada.)
It's at least a year too early to tell if the Tea Party movement portends real change in our practice of politics, but it's certainly not too early to tell how a vanguard of just-plain-folks have surfaced to call b.s. on this Baton Rouge and DC, insanity.
Oh, and yes: all of those things I often hear and reported paragraph-before-last are true about me. If they were true about even a tenth of us, Mark would never have written this column, many of our kids living out of state would be here, and Louisiana would be out of its self-designed, constructed and feverishly-maintained ditch.
Thank you for your time and consideration.