pigs at the trough

Louisiana Politics – Career Public Servants (?)

Career politicians in Washington begin feathering their nests long before they leave office. Our Louisiana politicians work a little bit different. Once upon a time, their “long-term” goal was to die in office! With term limits, they’ve changed their goals to “retire on a state a government pension and lifetime healthcare benefits!” Wow, they’ve found the key to all of our fears – a secure pension & no fear for loss of healthcare benefits!

For an example, we can look at our current Secretary of State Tom Schedler. Schedler got on the public payroll as a Slidell Councilman from 1990-1996 (6 years). He then became the State Louisiana Secretary of State Doesn't Like Being QuestionedSenator from St. Tammy Parish from 1996-2008 (12 years when he was term-limited). Now term-limited, about to get kicked off the public’s payroll for the first time in 18 years (fearing loss of healthcare benefits & public pension), in 2009 his good friend Secretary of State Jay Dardenne brought him on as his deputy assistant.

You guessed it, Jay Dardenne shuffled over to Lieutenant Governor and named Schedler the acting Secretary of State. We all know what happened next, the “Good Old Boys,” having anointed Scheduler with the acting title got together to make certain he was jay-dardenne-pay-raise-screen-grabjpg-85eab4e6a56c3b4belected as full-time Secretary of State in 2010. Now he, along with Dardeene and many, many other Louisiana politicians are in a position to help their other term-limited, pension seeking ex-legislators find lifetime employment and healthcare benefits.

The Louisiana state pension and healthcare plans are full of  these “term-limited” politicians! Whether it’s a local politician like former St. Bernard Parish president Craig Taffaro who is now making $150,000 as head of the state’s Hazard-Mitigation department or others like Schedler & Dardenne, they all continue to “eat at the public trough!” Just like crab grass, misquotes, and roaches, there doesn’t seem to be a cure for them and they just won’t go away!

Together, we can make a difference. One call, letter, or email to an elected official can and will make a difference. Take that first step today. As I often tell my students, “if you don’t do anything, nothing will happen!” My breakfast crew for 35 years, Friday morning after Friday morning has been meeting and bitching about Louisiana politics. Finally, in two recent elections we all took an active role that included contributions, emails & phone calls to friends, and signs in our yards and businesses.

Did we make a difference? We think so. But, our job is not done. Now we have to follow those newly elected officials (neither had previously held office & weren’t endorsed by local officials) to ensure that they don’t fall into the traditional Louisiana political trap.

Only we as voters can stop this insidious behavior. Why should these career politicians be able to continue their “retirement nests” as we all struggle with our own personal futures? Isn’t it about time we all hold them accountable?

Please pass this on to your friends, and perhaps even better, forward it to your state representatives and senators. This is the link to their email addresses to your senators and representatives. Do it now! Our future depends on it. We can make a difference one email, one call, one vote at a time!

College Entrepreneurship Professor, Serial Entrepreneur, Social Media Expert, & True Lover of the State of Louisiana