We go to the polls Saturday and casting a ballot for me should be old hat by now.
Then why do I feel like I’ll be whistling in the dark while walking through a cemetery when I’ll step behind that voting-booth veil?
Maybe it’s because I remember “Bubbas for Bobby,” the slogan then candidate Bobby Jindal used four years ago to gain support from Louisiana’s hunters and fishers.
Maybe it’s because the Jindal administration turned aside near-unanimous support from our state representatives and senators for a pittance from the state’s General Fund to help fund the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
That bill in the Legislature wasn’t asking for a handout: It was for recognition. It was a request to return to the LDWF one-twentieth of one cent of the state sales tax from the $480-plus millions in state taxes they pay for hunting-and fishing-related expenditures annually.
Maybe it was too presumptuous for the sportsmen of Louisiana to believe they should be able to reap from what they’ve sown.
That was the start: In the past two years, the Jindal administration has raided the LDWF’s Artificial Reef Program for more than $40 million (with the help of the State Legislature).
To that, you can add the millions past administrations have taken - or owe - to the LDWF for things like taking its valuable Vieux Carre-Royal Street (New Orleans) state headquarters building decades ago, stripping mineral royalties from wildlife management areas and other LDWF-managed lands, and exacting funds to help the state pay for Hurricane Katrina operations (when the state should have supplemented LDWF’s budget for that agency’s post-Katrina and post-Hurricane Rita lifesaving rescue operations).
While the promises of rectifying any - certainly not all - of these rebuffs, maybe it’s time the sportsmen of Louisiana demand our governor acknowledge that we’re more than just hunters and fishermen.
While the Jindal administration and the Committee to Reelect same touted our governor’s positive economic strides in our state during the past four years, the same folks have ignored that outdoors activity has been a consistent economic engine for Louisiana.
What has me worried even more is that Jindal has endorsed so many candidates in this election - and those candidates have touted that endorsement - that it looks like we’re headed for four more years of the same snubs.
Maybe in those next four years, the hunters and fishers in our state will demand more from our next governor and other elected officials in terms of improved infrastructure, access in the form of better boat landings across the state and money for the LDWF so that we don’t have to send Enforcement Division agents out alone in the middle of any night.
That’s not too much to ask.