What’s on the ballot across the state Dec. 5 is one, and mercifully only one, constitutional amendment. Our normal recommendation is a default “no” on all of those amendments, though there have been a decent number of exceptions to that rule in the last few batches of amendments the Legislature has left on our doorstep.
This amendment returns to the rule. It’s a dog with fleas and it shouldn’t be let inside.
Here’s what the amendment will say when you see it at the polls…
This came from a bill authored by Sen. Cleo Fields, SB 44 of the 2nd Special Session which took place in October. It passed with zero opposition in either house. The House of Representatives was 97-0 for it, the Senate 35-0.
It exists for one reason – Lod Cook, who was a very substantial donor to LSU but who moved away to Texas some years ago, wanted to serve on LSU’s Board of Supervisors. He couldn’t. When he died, somehow in the Legislature there was a sudden move to open up two of the three at-large seats on the LSU Board for out-of-state money men like Cook, who made a fortune in oil and did very well with other investments, to serve.
It’s billed as a chance to attract “expertise” to post-secondary boards. That isn’t what it really is.
What this really does is give politicians like Gov. John Bel Edwards the ability to expand the universe of big-dollar political fundraising and to escape the consequences of running a lousy state economy that chases off our best and brightest.
Because when you can dangle an LSU Board of Supervisors appointment in front of somebody you’re trying to shake down for a max-out donation (and not just the mark himself; he’s almost certainly got to throw fundraisers and get all of his people to write checks as well), it’s like having access to the honey pot. They come across with all kinds of goodies if they think they can get one of those seats. Democrats will fall in love with Republican governors, and Republicans will fall in love with Democrat governors. It’s embarrassing.
Expertise? Please. Go look at who’s on LSU’s Board of Supervisors right now and see if you can figure out what any of them know about running a college. They’re there because they wrote checks, or because they delivered votes. It’s always been that way.
That’s not something which is going to change, by the way. It is what it is. What you don’t want to do is to turbocharge that seedy reality by opening it up to expatriate Louisianans with money to participate on the same level as people who have stayed here.
But it’s even worse than that. There’s a reason people like Lod Cook and Jim Flores, who apparently is the current guy being looked at as a potential BOS member, don’t live in Louisiana. They don’t live here anymore because the very politicians who want this amendment to pass have built and sustained some of the worst governance and economic policies in America, and you can’t make money in Louisiana like you can in Florida, or Texas, or practically anywhere else.
So we’ll open the government of Louisiana up to people who have already left and are no longer invested in how we do. Not really. Jim Flores undoubtedly loves Louisiana, but he’s domiciled across the Sabine. He might want to see LSU do well, but it’s not like he thinks it’s the end of the world if LSU pumps out graduates he hires in Texas every year. And exactly what good does that do for Louisiana’s taxpayers who are funding LSU?
No, thanks. Kill this amendment as dead as you can on Dec. 5. If we want great people on the LSU Board of Supervisors we ought to elect politicians who will find them here and appoint them – or, if that can’t be done, then maybe those politicians can reform this place enough to attract those supermen to come and live here.