Friday, October 29, 2010

Our Culture and Tourism Can't Afford Jay Dardenne as Lieutenant Governor. Elect Caroline Fayard!

Just because Jay Dardenne is a poor Secretary of State is no reason to promote him to the position of Lieutenant Governor.

Dardenne has made a mess of Louisiana's election return system, centralizing precinct reporting in Baton Rouge, making local Clerks of Court personnel little more than equipment collectors, and creating bottlenecks in reporting that have actually slowed the reporting of election returns at the local level. He's also allowed a private contractor (GCR and Associates) with extensive ties to Republican political organizations (like the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority) to manage the state's registered voter database while at the same time providing voter database services to those partisan organizations. It is a situation fraught with ethical questions in view of repeated Republican efforts focused on voter suppression.

The solution for cleaning up Jay Dardenne's mess is not to promote him, but to defeat him at the polls in 2011 when he has to seek a full term.

The state's tourism industry is too valuable to this state to be put into the unimaginative hands of a political plodder like Dardenne. If he follows the path he's taken as Secretary of State, the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT) will be turned into little more than a cash stream for some private company that Dardenne would designate to run the show.

Crony capitalism is the Republican business model and, as Secretary of State, Jay Dardenne has shown himself to be a devotee. Applying that business model to CRT would be the death knell for Louisiana's tourism industry that is already suffering under budget cuts imposed by the Jindal administration. The last thing that department and that industry needs is a sycophant trying to win the favor of our distracted governor.

What CRT needs is a champion. We will have that with Caroline Fayard as Lieutenant Governor.

Democrats have shown that they know how to run this department effectively and efficiently. Kathleen Blanco helped build tourism into an economic powerhouse while serving as Lieutenant Governor for eight years under Governor Mike Foster. When she became Governor in 2004, Mitch Landrieu took over the department and continued to build on Blanco's success, even in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Caroline Fayard gets it. She's seen our state from the inside and from the outside. She's already had a career that has given her extensive connections in the public and private sectors that she can translate into new opportunities for our state. She's bright, articulate, and attractive. She'd be a great 'face' for our state in the tourism industry.

At a time when Louisiana is served by a cynical governor who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing, this state needs an independent thinker in the Lieutenant Governor's office. We need someone who will not only work to champion our tourism industry, but will fight to reverse the damage being done to our cultural institutions by the short-sighted policies of the Jindal administration.

As Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated, they are the party of the locked-step. They punish those who break with party orthodoxy or who express any kind of independence.

Jay Dardenne is a Republican by choice and by temperament. He will not stand against more cuts, he will stand with Bobby Jindal. He will not object to closing more museums, canceling more festivals, reducing library services, or eliminating more programs. He will fall in line. He will meekly follow. He will obey.

Louisiana's culture and our tourism industry can't afford that attitude. It can't afford Jay Dardenne.

Elect Caroline Fayard Lieutenant Governor in order to save our culture from the mindlessly destructive policies of Bobby Jindal and his fellow Republican cynics.

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