It is disappointing that intense lobbying influence by the Governor’s Office prevailed again to block from public view records of that office relative to the conduct of public business.
Many Louisianians applaud continued efforts by state Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and other legislators who support giving the people increased disclosure of public records affecting their lives and welfare.
Gov. Bobby Jindal came into office voicing a “breath of fresh air” in a state with a legendary track record of behind-the-scenes activities of fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayers’ monies. The governor assured Louisianians access to public records in his office on state dealings affecting their lives and welfare. Since his election, though, the governor’s actions continue to emit stale air.
SB57 would have removed rigid barriers blocking gubernatorial office records from public view and would have mandated preservation and archival of such records, although allowing some to remain secret for 10 years, with an amendment extending the statute of limitations on anything criminal in those records. Currently, the governor can select records to destroy or preserve.
Recent events show glaringly that passage of SB57 was paramount. The Department of Health and Hospitals’ secretary evaded repeated requests by elected officials to give a legislative committee the name of the company to which the department wanted to award a Medicaid contract worth more than a quarter billion dollars, only to learn later that the contract recommendation went to the secretary’s former employer.
The Governor’s Office pursued, despite a vociferous statewide public protest, efforts to privatize the Office of Group Benefits, a program managed efficiently and operating at a surplus for participants in the state employees’ health-care plan.
Many Louisianians also felt the governor obfuscated clarity needed for justifying privatization of three state prisons.
To distress residents further, we learned the administration shrouded in secrecy millions of dollars from state lawmakers needing such essential information for resourceful budget planning.
Government undertakings cloaked in secrecy from the public domain create needless controversies. No other governor exercises such privacy of public documents.
A significant predicate for democratic institutions is for the people to have ready access to information about the activities of their government. History has shown poignantly to Louisianians that the record of accomplishment of their government officials is not a track record void of potential behind-the-scene activities unfavorable to public trust.
Many Louisianians continue to take notice of the continuous failures by this governor to live up to his many political promises. His failure on this critical subject is another in a long series that leaves an indelible impression in the minds of many citizens who demand and expect more from their elected officials in their accountability to us that business in the Governor’s Office is not the same as usual.