Friday, August 23, 2013

Everybody hates Bobby... and he hates them too

Pass the popcorn.

America's most unpopular governor and his officials are digging in their heels against the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority- East (SLFPA-E) and its lawsuit against the oil and gas industry. 

Over the course of the past week or so, SLFPA-E Vice President John Barry has been on a public relations tour of sorts.  He has written op-eds for the Times-Picayune and The Lens,. He spoke Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club and has made several pointed statements to the media about the lawsuit.  His comments have been firm but measured with obvious invitations to the Governor, and to the industry to sit down and negotiate a resolution.

The Governor, through his officials, has... not so politely.. declined.  Instead they began looking for ways to gut the Authority's.. um.. authority.. and to remove Barry as soon as possible.
But ever since the offer was tendered, Garret Graves, the head of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, has done a thorough job of showing the Flood Protection Authority that the olive branch won’t bear fruit.

Central to the levee authority’s offer was a willingness to consider a 45-day “pause” in some aspects of the lawsuit if the administration convened a task force with representatives of the oil and gas industry.

Graves quickly made it clear that the administration wasn’t going to “let the tail wag the dog.” Since then, the dog has been busy.

On Monday, Graves said that the administration would use the annual process of replacing expired seats on the levee authority board to seat new members who agree with its position.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Graves led the group to a unanimous vote opposing the suit and promised more aggressive court action soon.

He seemed to shred the last leaves from the olive branch with this comment about the future of the Flood Protection Authority: “I don’t see any scenario where this levee district doesn’t get gutted — or, say, ‘reformed’ — in the next legislative session.”

And then it got worse.  Today the Attorney General's office sent out an official rebuke of Barry.  Meaning they wrote up a press release saying explicitly that they were rebuking him.
The state Attorney General’s Office issued a press release entitled “AG’s Office Rebukes John Barry in Levee Board Lawsuit.”  The rebuke was for statements by Barry that the AG’s office had told the flood authority’s attorney, Gladstone Jones, that the oil and gas law suit “did not negatively impact the state’s efforts to collect damages from B.P. in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation.” The AG’s office said that never happened. However, the release did not say the office thinks the flood authority suit is interfering with the state’s case against BP.
In other words, the AG's office doesn't necessarily disagree with this thing they are alleged to have said.  But they do not want people going around saying that they said it. Anyway it merits a "rebuke," I suppose.

Not that that means anything, especially in Louisiana political circles.  The most famous "rebuke" I can recall happened in a 2006 mayoral primary debate.  I'm sure if I dug around I could find video but, for now, we'll just have to settle for my description of it at the time.
The classic moment of the campaign came later when Rev. Tom Watson challenged Nagin to explain his "double talk" meaning his tendency to contradict his own statements depending upon the make up (race) of his audience. Watson admonished Nagin not to "apologize for being a black man." Watson also challenged Nagin's assertion that the state is "holding up" reconstruction funds and let fly at Nagin with all of the fire and brimstone he could muster here declaring, "Ray Nagin is the problem! Ray you are lying! You are a liar!" At one point in this exchange Watson actually used the words "I rebuke you." Nagin's response to all of this was even better. During the reverend's tirade Nagin affected to bless Watson making the sign of the cross and shouting, "Pastor! God bless you!"
That was on April 19.  By May 11, Watson had endorsed Nagin in the runoff.  Here's how Watson described the "rebuke" then.
But at a joint press conference Thursday at Li'l Dizzy's Cafe on Esplanade Avenue, Watson said his past criticism of Nagin was "heated, emotional fellowship."
I'm not sure we can describe the rift between the SLFPA-E and the Jindal administration in those same terms but, since we do know that un-rebukes do exist, we'll hold out hope that one is still possible in this case.  Maybe the Governor can issue an un-rebuking when he appears on Meet The Press this Sunday. On the other hand, all the questions will probably be about Chris Christie.

I suppose, there could also be one or two questions about what it's like to be America's most unpopular Governor. But, as Clancy Dubos correctly points out in this strange but amusing column, that's likely to be met with a rebuke of its own. 
Team Jind cautioned against putting faith in so-called “independent” polls that show Our Beloved Supreme Leader’s popularity dropped from 37 percent to the mid-20s. Such numbers are “pure fiction,” Team Jind says, because they are the work of Democrats, liberals, bloggers and other undesirables.

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