Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand called former Gov. Bobby Jindal an “idiot” and likened him to notorious cult leader Jim Jones, excoriating the former Louisiana governor and presidential candidate this week for leading the state off a fiscal cliff.
Normand called on his fellow Republicans to clean up the state budget “mess” he said they largely created by going along with Jindal’s unyielding anti-tax orthodoxy.
“Bobby Jindal was a better cult leader than Jim Jones,” Normand said during his speech Tuesday at the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s annual awards banquet. “We drank the elixir for eight years. We remained in a conscious state; we walked to the edge of the cliff, and he watched. And guess what? Unlike Jim Jones, he did not swallow the poison. What a shame.”
Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, site of a mass murder-suicide in November 1978 of 918 people in Jonestown, Guyana. Jones apparently killed himself.
According to a transcript of the speech, which was posted by political blogger Lamar White, Normand urged Louisiana Republicans to take responsibility for the “mess” that remains and work as “intellectual individuals, void of a party, void of an overarching philosophy, working together.”
“I’m a Republican, but I’m not a hypocrite,” said Normand, who supported Democrat John Bel Edwards over fellow Republican David Vitter — a bitter political enemy of Normand’s — in the November governor’s election. “We have to look at ourselves critically as a party and figure out where we are, what we’re going to be about.”
Jindal is waging a dishonest campaign to rewrite history while state leaders try to plug the $2 billion budget hole he left behind, Normand said. Claims that the state’s problems can be solved by cutting spending aren’t helping, he said.
“We cannot cut our way to a balanced budget because some of the programs that are on the chopping block are the ones that are going to affect everyone of us up here,” he said. “And we do not have the assets or the resources necessary to make up for it.”
Normand said Republicans should resist the notion that partisan politics will lead the state back to fiscal health, and he ridiculed the idea of trying to please national groups such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
“Come on, folks; we have to wake up. Let us be honest about what we’re doing,” he said. “We did this to ourselves, myself included, because I endorsed that idiot (Jindal).”
Normand echoed concerns raised by Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro about cuts to mental health funding, which he said will have a major effect on criminal justice.
“We’re talking about shutting down five state prisons that house 8,000 inmates. I think it’s just under a third that come from our region,” Normand said. “You think they’re going home to Bunkie?”
Normand said expanding Medicaid in the state, backed by Edwards but reviled by conservatives because of its connection to President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act, would help law enforcement by covering inmates who need health care.
“We are the folks that are seeing the degradating situations out on the streets of this state, each and every day,” he said. “Seven officers shot and killed last year. Officers getting hurt every day. And the few and little resources we have and the services that try to deal with the illnesses of drug addiction and others, they are going to be cut, (and that) is absolutely incredulous to me.
“And I have to sit there and listen to my Republican counterparts talk about gobbledygook — blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — and I’m so sick and tired of hearing, ‘Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama.’ You know how much intellect it takes to blame something on somebody else? This much,” he said, making a “zero” with his fingers, according to the transcript.
“Propose a solution. Let’s work together and collaboratively toward an outcome that’s going to make sense for us as a society. That is what we need to do, and that needs to be the call of action in this state.”