In the thought-this-was-settled department, the nominating committee for the main levee board in the New Orleans region is slated to vote again today on its picks for seats on the board. That’s a hotly contested issue, since the makeup of the board for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East could determine the fate of a controversial lawsuit the board filed against nearly 100 energy companies, claiming that industry is liable for increasing flooding problems near Louisiana’s coast.
The committee’s picks go to Gov. Bobby Jindal, a lawsuit opponent. But in the case of board seats based on professional qualifications, the governor is allowed only to approve or disapprove the single nominee backed by the nonpartisan community representatives on the nominating committee.
The nominating committee should not base its decisions on how prospective members might view the lawsuit. That’s not the nominating committee’s role.
A 5-4 vote on the key renomination of Paul Kemp, a coastal scientist holding one of those professional seats, lacked the six votes required in state law. If Kemp is renominated as the original majority intended, the governor would have to live with the vote, at least for a while. If the nominating committee deadlocks at its meeting today, Jindal will get to pick a replacement for Kemp.
We supported the 2006 constitutional amendment that created a nominating process to eliminate the old system of gubernatorial patronage on levee boards in the region that was most ravaged by flooding after Hurricane Katrina.
Jindal wants to derail the lawsuit, and Kemp supported it. But that is not the issue before the nominating committee.
We believe the nominating committee vote should be a straightforward judgment on qualifications, not how members might or might not vote on the lawsuit issue.