The Storm Calmer by liaoqinmei

VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 5

									                The Storm-Calmer
                                                   Bobby Jindal is leading Louisiana’s revival

                                                                    BY JIM GERAGHTY


                                               Baton Rouge, La.                Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s longtime chief of staff who is now
          HE Louisiana Democratic party has effectively con-                operating as a campaign aide, is half serious when he says he’s

T         ceded this year’s gubernatorial race. This does not
          mean merely that the party could not find a big-
          name challenger—though they couldn’t—or that they
could not even find a token state legislator to be the sacrificial
                                                                            disappointed that the governor won’t face a competitive race.
                                                                               Beyond Louisiana, GOP and conservative leaders gush
                                                                            about Jindal. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell calls him
                                                                            “transformational,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus labels
lamb, though they could not do that, either. Technically, four              him “a natural leader,” New Jersey governor Chris Christie
candidates ran as Democrats in the state’s nonpartisan “jungle              says he’s set an example for other GOP governors, and Rush
primary”; the best-known among them was a Haynesville, La.,                 Limbaugh says, “Far be it for me to choose veeps, but I like
middle-school teacher. No, what really stands out is that the               Jindal right where he is. I think he is perfectly suited for the job
Democratic State Central Committee declined to endorse any                  he has and in time I believe it will launch him to loftier
of them.                                                                    heights.”
   Such is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s record that almost                So how did one of the worst-run states end up with a gover-
no one in the Bayou State wants to challenge it. Somehow,                   nor doing so well that no opposition lawmaker wants to even
his achievements have triggered a complete implosion of                     try to run against him?
Democratic gubernatorial ambitions in a state that has had four                Perhaps only an event as catastrophic as Hurricane Katrina
Republican governors in 125 years, and that’s including Buddy               and its aftermath could get Louisianans to reevaluate every
Roemer, who was elected as a Democrat but switched parties                  aspect of their political and governmental life. The legacy of
while in office.                                                            Gov. Huey Long seems as far-reaching and ubiquitous in
                                                                                                                                                   ROMAN GENN




                                                                            Louisiana as that of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey. Even
Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE.            with his 70 percent job-approval rating, Jindal is careful to
32                  |   w w w. n a t i o n a l r e v i e w. c o m                                                             OCTOBER 31, 2011
begin every reference to his legendary predecessor with,             that those who grow up in Louisiana speak with nearly limit-
“There’s no denying that Huey Long did a lot of good things          less affection for the state’s people, and its culture, music,
for this state, but . . .”                                           food, and atmosphere. But if Louisianans can’t find a good job,
   It was another natural disaster that spurred the election of      they move away.
Long: the Great Flood of 1927, when the Mississippi River              With Katrina, the state learned a brutal lesson that entertain-
remained at flood stage for a record 153 days. Long castigated       ing and corrupt elected officials don’t make good leaders in a
the state government’s atrocious response to the disaster and        crisis. Only after hitting bottom, when the existing traditions
criticized “plutocrats” who had suffered the least from the          of governing, educating, managing, and developing had failed
flood, and his election launched a new era of leftist-populist       so spectacularly, would the state be ready to take a chance on
governance. Oil-and-gas companies—incapable of moving                a 36-year-old Indian-American congressman who went to
their operations away from the natural resources—were taxed          Oxford.
heavily, and the state government went on a spending binge,
setting up state-run charity hospitals that offered free care and
implementing enormous public-works projects, building
roads, bridges, and schools. After Long filled the state govern-
ment with patronage positions, he expected his employees to
kick back a portion of their wages into his campaign fund.
                                                                     J    InDAL’s    record has been exemplary: transforming the
                                                                           state’s reputation on ethics and corruption, enacting dra-
                                                                           matic cuts in spending without provoking much public
                                                                     outcry, implementing careful reforms to Louisiana’s unique
   Long’s larger-than-life persona and “a chicken in every pot”      traditional methods of providing health care, creating jobs,
spending policies set the standard for the state’s politics. For     overhauling the state’s schools, and, finally, knowing how to
decades, Louisiana’s governing class became synonymous               deal with crises.
with loud, colorful personalities and rampant, and largely tol-         When he took office in 2008, Jindal’s first order of business
erated, corruption. For the most part, voters concluded that         was reforming the state’s notoriously lax ethics laws. Both on
even if local officials were skimming money, the lawmakers           the stump and in conversations with the press, Jindal repeated-


     As a budget-cutter, Bobby Jindal puts most other
      Republican governors to shame, and has made
      choices that would spur Democratic apoplexy
                      in other states.
weren’t really stealing from them. Cajun congressman Billy           ly cites a Louisiana state University survey of business execu-
Tauzin used to joke that half of Louisiana was underwater, and       tives, conducted before he became governor, asking why they
the other half was under indictment.                                 were wary about the state as a site for investment. nearly 60
   so long as the oil-and-gas revenues continued, the shipping       percent said they considered “perceptions of government cor-
ports operated, the tourists came for Mardi Gras, and the food       ruption and unethical practices” an important factor. In 2007,
remained terrific, the state carried on. Michael Barone began        Forbes ranked Louisiana the second-worst state to do business
his description of the state in a recent edition of his Almanac of   in, better only than West Virginia, and the preceding year it had
American Politics by declaring that Louisiana “often seems to        been ranked dead last.
be America’s banana republic . . . with an economy increas-             Jindal called a special legislative session and pushed through
ingly dependent on businesses typical of picturesque Third           a package of tough ethics reforms and new limits on lobbyist
World countries.”                                                    gifts to lawmakers. Before the reforms, the Center for Public
   The atmosphere of corruption came with costs beyond the           Integrity ranked the state 44th in legislative disclosure require-
jokes about governors’ rarely visiting the state’s jails without     ments; now it ranks the state first.
wearing a prison uniform. After a while, businesses noticed             “For us to go from 44th to first place in ethics and disclo-
that they were often the tax target of choice, and new Orleans       sure—we were strict,” Jindal recalls. “You’re going to disclose
gradually slid down in the rankings of great American cities.        every income and asset and liability, and elected officials can-
As Jindal puts it, as he races to a ceremony at a reopened           not do any business with the state. People said, ‘Why do we
Ormet alumina-manufacturing plant in Ascension Parish, a             have to go this far? Most states don’t go that far.’ The point we
new Orleans resident of 50 years ago would have been                 were trying to make was, we were one of the worst states for
stunned to see Houston being the effective national capital of       corruption, and we have to clean that up and we’re going to go
the energy industry, to hear Atlanta called “the capital of the      above and beyond. Could you imagine me calling up a compa-
new south,” and to know that the nation’s banking industry is        ny and saying, ‘Hey, you have to move your company here! We
anchored to Charlotte, n.C.                                          were 44th in ethics last year, but this year we’re 39th!’”
    Jindal’s stump speech often begins with a high-school               The state government now attracts a different type of man-
reunion in Baton Rouge where he noticed how many of his              ager and leader. When Jindal headed the state’s Department of
classmates now lived and worked in Houston or Atlanta or             Health and Hospitals at the ripe old age of 24, he recalls, some-
other comparably booming cities across the south. He notes           one offered to set him up in the future with a high-paying
34                 |   w w w. n a t i o n a l r e v i e w. c o m                                                     OCTOBER 31, 2011
lobbyist job in exchange for a favor. Jindal wondered why the      Baton Rouge, a run-down monstrosity of a facility that evokes
would-be briber thought that, with all the possibilities Jindal    the worst aspects of Soviet architecture. Built in the 1960s, it
had before him, his interest would be in lobbying. Today, many     barely meets reaccreditation standards and was given several
of Jindal’s appointees come from the business world and            extensions and exemptions after Katrina. “Even apart from
take significant pay cuts in their new jobs, putting successful    a dollar perspective, it wasn’t really good for the patients,”
private-sector careers on hiatus for a few years. In the old       Jindal says. “For folks with chronic conditions—diabetes,
Louisiana, those appointed to state positions often saw their      asthma, high blood pressure—going to an emergency room
new jobs as pay increases and, most likely, perceived a bribe      wasn’t the best way to get your health care. At Earl K. Long, 63
offer as an unequaled financial opportunity.                       percent of the emergency-room visits are for non-emergency
   As a budget-cutter, Jindal puts most other Republican gov-      care.”
ernors to shame, and has made choices that would spur Dem-            Replacing Long would have cost the state $400 million;
ocratic apoplexy in other states. During his term, Louisiana’s     instead the state expanded a nearby urgent-care clinic, and is
state budget has become $9 billion smaller than when he start-     building on a model used in New Orleans after Katrina, open-
ed, a reduction of 26 percent.                                     ing and sustaining outpatient clinics that charge patients on an
   We know what happens on those rare occasions when GOP           income-based sliding scale, aiming to provide affordable care.
governors successfully cut a state’s spending: The opposition      (Jindal cites studies that indicate patients are more likely to fol-
spotlights hardworking, decent government employees sud-           low a doctor’s instructions and keep appointments when they
denly laid off and denounces the draconian cuts. While the four    pay any portion of the fee, even as little as $1.) Just down the
no-name Democrats have tried to play that card in the current      road, the state’s second-largest hospital, the private Our Lady
gubernatorial race, they have had no success.                      of the Lake, is completing a partnership with Louisiana State
   It’s tempting to believe that the pre-Jindal Louisiana state    University that Jindal’s administration helped shepherd, creat-
government was so astoundingly wasteful and corrupt that           ing a Level 1 trauma center with a new emergency room the
you could cut spending 26 percent without anyone’s notic-          size of two football fields and a nine-story building dedicated
ing, but a big chunk of Louisiana’s savings actually have          to heart and vascular treatment. LSU residents will train at Our
come from privatization: The state pays a smaller fee to an        Lady of the Lake instead of Earl K. Long. Instead of the $400
outside contractor, who, in many cases, offers to hire the old     million that would have been needed to replace Long, the state
workers, preventing tales of woe from laid-off employees.          is spending $14 million.
Jindal’s administration privatized the state’s Office of Risk         Jindal has been equally forthright in tackling the problem of
Management. The Department of Health and Hospitals priva-          joblessness. Even with the Obama administration’s moratori-
tized six in-patient residential-treatment programs around the     um on offshore drilling in the Gulf that lasted from May to
state, saving $2.5 million. Separately, patients were moved        October of 2010, the state’s unemployment rate has remained
from state-operated institutions that cost $600 or more per        below the national and southern averages since Jindal took
patient per day to community-based services and private group      office. Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in
homes that average $191 per day, saving another $23.8 mil-         August, almost two percentage points lower than the national
lion.                                                              average. Many jobs are being created beyond the state’s tradi-
   But some of Jindal’s cuts are the old-fashioned kind. The       tional industries of oil, gas, fishing, manufacturing, agricul-
state’s Department of Revenue shrank from eight offices            ture, and tourism. Louisiana now ranks third in film production,
statewide to three. There are 9,900 fewer state-government         after California and New York. According to the U.S. Bureau
employees than there were four years ago, and the state sold       of Labor Statistics, 95,000 Louisianans work in financial activ-
1,300 vehicles from its fleet of automobiles. Louisiana’s trans-   ities, and 191,800 work in professional and business services
portation department shut down a ferry that was used by only       (more than in the years before Katrina).
7,200 drivers per year, saving the state roughly three-quarters       Under Jindal, Louisiana launched a program called Fast-
of a million dollars.                                              Start, which seeks out any business that is relocating to
   In May 2011, Standard & Poor’s raised Louisiana’s credit        Louisiana or is expanding and set to create 15 non-service jobs
rating from AA-minus to AA, citing reduced spending. The           (manufacturing, distribution, R&D, etc.) or 50 service-industry
upgrade gave the state its first AA rating from S&P since 1984,    jobs. The state uses its job-training programs to find and pre-
and its sixth credit-rating upgrade among all three major          pare workers to fill all of those slots, and guarantees that every
credit-rating agencies since 2008.                                 trainee will be ready to work on the first day.
                                                                      One of the companies using FastStart is Ormet Inc., an Ohio-
                                                                   based aluminum producer. When Jindal visits the Ormet plant

J    INDAL’S   careful budget management is reflected in his
      handling of health care, a complicated topic that vexes
      many Republican governors. Louisiana’s health-care sys-
tem dates back to the 18th century, when Catholic religious
                                                                   in Ascension Parish, he and the company celebrate the re-
                                                                   opened facility’s creation of its 250th job, all at a plant that was
                                                                   closed from 2006 until May. Ormet has rehired 70 employees
                                                                   who had worked there before. Michael Tanchuk, the CEO
orders established a tradition of free hospital-based care. Huey   of Ormet, says, “The economic-development program in
Long expanded that through the state-operated charity hospi-       Louisiana is the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m sorry to tell you
tals; today there are ten. The system predates Medicaid and        I’ve had many years of experience. . . . Political and regulatory
Medicare, and any Louisianan can walk in and get free health       uncertainty, resulting in extended delays, can kill a project. In
care—if he or she is willing to endure the long wait times.        Louisiana, the answers are fast and clear. No hesitation about
   This model is well represented by Earl K. Long Hospital in      what can or cannot be done.”
                                                                                                                                     35
A        S  fundamental as job creation is during a long re-
          cession, Jindal is most passionate when discussing
          changes to his state’s schools.
   “The reality is, the New Orleans public-school system was
                                                                        Louisiana. We’re struggling in our business for what works.
                                                                        It’s going to take enormous political courage to create some-
                                                                        thing like that.”
                                                                           “For too many years,” says Jindal, “we measured education-
horrific before the storm—even the Ap commented that it was             al success by how many dollars we were spending. The reality
one of the worst of the worst of all the public-school systems          is, if you’re not measuring effectiveness, you have no idea if
in the country,” he says. “Over half were academically unac-            you’re spending it well.” This fall, parents will receive report
ceptable. You couldn’t get basic supplies, like toilet paper. The       cards on which every school gets a letter grade of A through F.
schools weren’t safe. The U.S. Attorney’s office had 20 differ-         Jindal explains: “The teachers’ unions went to the [board of
ent indictments related to the public-school system. In some            elementary and secondary education] and they said, ‘We think
schools it felt like the kids were coming out knowing less than         you should give letter grades based on if a school is trying to
when they started.”                                                     improve.’ Let’s say one of the worst schools in the state gets a
   The state made a couple of key decisions after Katrina. The          little better, they should get an A grade. I said, ‘Where in life
first was to put most of the New Orleans schools, all but its           does that ever happen? My kids play competitive sports. I’ve
best, into a “recovery school district” managed by the state and        never seen the score based upon whether they tried harder than
not the city’s school board. The existing collective-bargaining         last week.’ There are going to be a lot of surprised parents.
agreement for teachers and other school employees was nulli-            Though things have gotten better, there will be more low
fied, ending the practice of firing based on seniority (last in,        grades than people are expecting. This will empower parents.
first out). The state also set out to maximize the use of charter       They need to have choice, information, and an easy way to
schools. After Katrina, more than 70 percent of the students in         evaluate ‘How is my child’s school doing?’”
New Orleans were in charter schools. That number has fallen,
but a majority of students are still in charter schools, the largest
percentage of any large urban school system.
   The results at one of the charter schools, New Orleans
Charter Science and Math Academy, are a stunning rebuke to
those who think that insufficient spending is what holds back
                                                                        T       eepeLL and others on the governor’s staff are quick to
                                                                                admit that if Jindal had bobbled any of the state’s high-
                                                                                profile crises, few of his reforms would matter. But
                                                                        when a time of testing came, Jindal shone.
students. The school, located in east New Orleans and just                 In the summer of 2008, Hurricane Gustav formed in the Gulf
north of the Katrina-devastated Ninth Ward, is essentially a            of Mexico and appeared dead-set for New Orleans, threatening
series of pre-constructed pods connected by wooden decks—not            to reprise or even exceed the worst devastation of Katrina.
quite trailers, but only a step above. While the facilities are spot-   “We’ve never had to evacuate the entire state,” Jindal recalls,
less and completely functional, they clearly are minimal-cost           noting that Gustav’s path appeared to aim straight for the
compared with those of most other schools.                              center of Louisiana (Katrina hit its southeastern region the
   Inside, the walls are covered with posters and slogans               hardest). “We had to evacuate 1.8 million people, the largest
emphasizing that every student should achieve excellence and            evacuation in American history, including 11,000 medical
demonstrate discipline and drive at all times. Teachers are             cases.” Jindal canceled his appearance at the Republican
expected to be available by phone to their students until 9:30          National Convention in Saint paul, Minn.—ultimately, the
in the evening. When Jindal and his small entourage enter a             convention’s entire first night was canceled—and remained in
classroom, a teacher gently admonishes his students, who are            Baton Rouge, ensuring that the state’s response adapted to the
buzzing about the newcomers: “Ladies and gentlemen, we                  inevitable hitches and surprises. When FeMA assets were
often have visitors to this classroom. They are here to see your        unavailable to get hospital patients out of the state, Jindal
excellence—what you show me every day. When they come                   called Texas governor Rick perry, who promised that every
in, they see how hard you’re working. They don’t want to hear           Texas Air National Guard asset would be there in the morning,
your voices. You are not distracted.” The students’ heads return        before the airspace was scheduled to be shut down in the face
to the worksheets before them.                                          of the advancing hurricane.
   “At this school, 85 percent of the students qualify for free or         “On faith, we loaded up those ambulances,” Jindal said. “We
reduced[-cost] lunch, 97 percent are minority, 15 percent are           had to believe. We get to the airport and you’ve got these
special-ed,” Jindal says. “And 80 percent pass the english              ambulances there, and if the planes don’t come, there aren’t a
graduate-exit exam, and 90 percent of their kids in math. To            whole lot of options to get those people out on time. The most
give you a sense of where they’re starting from, among this             beautiful sights I saw were those planes. We ended up getting
year’s freshmen, a majority were reading at the fourth-grade            planes from Canada and everywhere else, but the first planes
level or below.” In September, Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Net-               that got here were the Texas planes.” Jindal endorsed perry for
work awarded Sci Academy $1 million as one of six schools               president on September 12.
nationwide that are doing well despite the odds.                           Then there was the Bp oil spill, an ordeal that commanded
   John C. White, former deputy chancellor of the New York              the national spotlight and played havoc with the lives of Lou-
City Department of education, is now the superintendent of              isianans from April 20 to July 15 of 2010. Jindal is, by nature,
the recovery school district. “There are other places that real-        affable and wonky, and while he can work a room with the best
ize this is what’s working, and are now saying, we’re going to          of Louisiana’s politicians, he is far from a fire-breather when
emulate that,” White says, walking through Sci Academy.                 giving speeches. But as the spill continued, his public state-
“Tennessee now has created a set of reforms entirely modeled            ments and criticism of the Obama administration became
on Louisiana. Detroit now wants to enact reforms modeled on             increasingly heated, as if the governor was struggling to
36                  |   w w w. n a t i o n a l r e v i e w. c o m                                                      OCTOBER 31, 2011
control his own highly pressurized leak of frustration.
   By mid-June, Louisiana was building sand berms without
the approval of the federal government, in an effort to prevent
the oil from hitting irreplaceable bayou ecosystems. The berms
are believed to have contained no more than 1,000 barrels (out
                                                                                     Thomas
of millions of barrels spilled), and the Obama administration
called them a waste of money. Jindal called the berm criticism,
from Obama’s oil-spill review commission, “partisan revision-
                                                                                    At Twenty
ist history at taxpayer expense.” Either way, most Louisianans                          Celebrating a remarkable
saluted their governor for trying something and standing up                              Supreme Court tenure
for them, as they deemed the administration and BP useless
ditherers for much of the crisis.
   Even today, Jindal criticizes the president in tones tame by                    BY CARRIE SEVERINO
tea-party standards but pretty disdainful by the standards of his
cheery personality: “One of my frustrations [during the BP                      was put on the Court to interpret the Constitution, not to
spill] was his inability or unwillingness to make quick deci-
sions. Our president had never really run anything, other than
his campaign, before he got elected president. He’s never had
to make that kind of an executive decision. when you’re a gov-
                                                                     ‘I        make stuff up.” If you can imagine those words filling
                                                                               the room with a deep baritone and coming from a man
                                                                               who is both confident in his thoughts and comfortable in
                                                                     his own skin, then you will have an accurate portrait of Justice
ernor, you’re going to have to make decisions. You’re going to       Clarence Thomas. as a law clerk to Justice Thomas for a year
be responsible for balancing the budget. You’re responsible in       starting in July of 2007, I was privileged to see firsthand how he
times of crisis—a hurricane, an oil spill, or something else,        has remained faithful to the Constitution despite enormous pres-
you’ve got to make the decisions. . . . Our president gives a        sure to abandon his principles. Because Justice Thomas will cel-
great speech and that’s fine, but you want somebody who’s            ebrate 20 years on the supreme Court come October 24, now is
been tested and who has that executive experience.”                  a fitting time to ask what he has achieved by steadfastly refusing
   This year, the Louisiana portion of the Gulf Coast enjoyed        to “make stuff up” when it comes to our nation’s laws. The an-
one of its better summer tourism seasons in recent memory,           swer is that he has furthered the cause of liberty so profoundly
and the oysters, shrimp, and fish collected from its waters are      that he has become a beacon for conservative jurists, has received
being widely consumed with no ill effects on health. There are       the grudging respect of his liberal detractors, and, what he con-
lingering fears about the spill’s effect on the reproductive         siders most important, has earned the thanks of ordinary amer-
habits of species key to the Gulf’s fisheries, a phenomenon that     icans. His tenure has been truly remarkable.
will have to be monitored for years to come. (Jindal notes that         along with Justice scalia, Justice Thomas has been an intel-
when discussing the health of the ecosystem, he habitually           lectual leader on the Court in advancing the jurisprudence of
refers to all of the Gulf’s creatures as “seafood,” whether or not   “originalism.” Thomas staked out his principles early in his
they’re meant to be eaten.)                                          career and often alone. Originalism entails a consistent fidelity
   Jindal spent almost every day last summer in coastal com-         to the text of the Constitution as the founders intended it to be
munities, and he has managed a breakneck travel pace during          read, and as it was understood in public discourse at the time it
his first term, usually doing at least two events each weekday       was adopted or amended. This commonsense approach was any-
and often more, the vast majority outside of Baton Rouge.            thing but common in academic circles when Justice Thomas
Many Louisianans in rural parishes respond to his first visit        came to the supreme Court. But in the ultimate sign of vindica-
pleasantly surprised and remarking that they hadn’t had a            tion, it is the supreme Court that has been moving in his direc-
gubernatorial visit in years—and then see Jindal return again        tion and not vice versa.
and again. Jindal and his staff believe his constant zipping            From his first term on the Court in 1991–92, Justice Thomas
around the state in his black sUV is a key element of his            has never shied away from controversial positions. Not that he
appeal, giving as many residents as possible a chance to tell        had the opportunity. although issues considered at the supreme
him their concerns face to face.                                     Court level are always important, that first term saw an impres-
   Jindal, who often seems over-caffeinated, cites a barrage of      sive number of landmark decisions. In a few short months,
facts and figures whenever he discusses the results of his poli-     Justice Thomas had the opportunity to weigh in on seminal cases
cies, but he often comes back to those childhood friends who         concerning abortion, school prayer, race-based redistricting,
moved out of state and the out-migration trend they represent-       hate speech, cruel and unusual punishment, regulatory takings,
ed. while much ink was spilled about the exodus after Katrina,       and constitutional standing.
the storm only briefly accelerated that trend: For the past four        Justice Thomas balances his respect for the institution of the
years, the state has actually added population, almost 10,000        Court with a humble view of his role on it. some justices walk
people in 2010.                                                      down the halls like VIPs, with security personnel clearing staff
   If Louisiana can rebound so robustly and comprehensively          out of their way. Justice Thomas befriends everyone he interacts
from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—and, perhaps even            with—from the marshals and the administrative staff to the
more significant, decades of corrupt mismanagement—then
perhaps no state is too far gone to salvage. It’s a sign of hope     Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network
for residents of Illinois, California—and america as a whole,        (judicialnetwork.com). She served as a clerk to Justice Thomas during the
under this presidency gone awry.                                     2007–08 term.
                                                                                                                                                        37

								
To top