Our governor seems to see himself more as a plantation owner of old than an elected official of a democratic state in the 21st century. With a completely pliant Legislature, school and university boards stacked with rubber stamps rather than men with backbones who should at least make arguments regardless of what finally transpires, he is ravaging institutions built over decades whether in health care or education.

The latest example is the way a merger of the LSU system and the main LSU campus is being steam-rollered through with no discussion and no involvement of the faculty in examining the wisdom of these steps. The university has lost sight of in what is clearly the governor’s main focus, the hospitals and health care in this state that he would like to remake in his ideological image.

University administrators who had only recently pointed to the different roles and aspects of the two jobs of president and chancellor are simply falling into line for fear of the loss of patronage (“Merger options inducing anxieties,” The Advocate, Oct. 30) that has already cowed legislators and board members, nearly all appointed by him.

The chancellor of a flagship campus, in particular, must be an academic and a scholar/researcher as pointed out, among others, by the current occupant. It should not be filled by one member of the governor’s cabinet who has no such credentials, but who might be installed only to ensure the changes in health care in our state that the governor wants, changes to the detriment of the poor but to advance powerful private interests.

As in his actions in the past of appointing highly paid yes men, the creation of a president-chancellor with umpteen vice presidents, all no doubt with several hundred thousand dollar salaries and perks to boot, is not even going to save any money, the excuse often advanced to lull the public. The governor was himself so appointed to head a university system some years ago, even though he lacked the credentials, by a previous governor who at least had the honesty to say that the main reason was that there were few such high-salaried jobs in our state.

What we are seeing played out may be little more than a similar effort to put in outgoing officials of his administration to feed at the public trough — just as he has throughout his career even while badmouthing government.

A.R.P. Rau


Baton Rouge