A week or so ago we had a post giving a thumbs-down on Amendment 1, the constitutional amendment on Saturday’s Louisiana statewide ballot. The amendment would, most notably, open up a couple of at-large spots on the LSU Board of Supervisors for out-of-state people to be eligible to serve.
This is billed as providing the chance to bring “expertise” onto the LSU Board. We thought very little of that.
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?
Our sentiments are echoed in a message put out by the Republican Party of Louisiana today…
The LAGOP’s Executive Committee recommends voting “NO” on Constitutional Amendment #1 for the December 5th election. While several run-off elections and sixty-seven Republican State Central Committee races will be decided on December 5th, the only statewide item on the ballot is this constitutional amendment.
Constitutional Amendment #1 will allow up to two of the at-large members on state college and university boards to be out-of-state residents. These boards currently consist of two members from the six congressional districts and three at-large members who must reside in Louisiana.
We believe that people in who live in Louisiana should sit on the boards of Louisiana’s colleges and universities, not rich outsiders who would do political favors to obtain such appointments from governors. Having a big pocketbook does not make one qualified to sit on the governing board of a college or university system charged with the responsibility of educating our children!
Please vote “NO” on Constitutional Amendment #1 on Election Day, December 5th!
It’s been said that allowing out-of-state representation on some of these boards is a “best practice.” Here’s the thing – not a whole lot of what’s considered “best practices” in collegiate administration these days deserves to be unreservedly accepted as such. Modern American universities are far better recognized as money sinks and indoctrination centers than they are true educational institutions, and if something is recognized as a “best practice” the instinctive reaction should be to interpret that as “a good way to put the arm on rich donors.”
We’re conditioned to think that it’s awesome for Louisiana if we can successfully kowtow to out-of-state moneybags types to support various institutions. But those are always retail sales, when what’s needed is a wholesale effort.
Attracting Jim Flores’ money in donations to LSU, when what that money is going to pay for is funding the chemical and petroleum engineering departments so as to produce better future employees for oil companies based in Houston, to the exclusion of taxpayers who live in Louisiana does not further the interests of our people. Jim Flores lives in Texas and he’s for Texas. That isn’t a criticism of Jim Flores; we can’t blame anybody, much less a productive citizen like Jim Flores for whom the tax and economic climate of this state is overtly hostile, for choosing the Lone Star State over this place without unprecedented, colossal reform.
But when Flores chooses Texas, that means Louisiana should choose somebody else for the LSU Board of Supervisors. Let him join the Tiger Athletic Foundation board, or the Alumni Association board, or some other foundation’s board that benefits LSU. LSU isn’t a private university, it’s the flagship university of Louisiana – and its primary mission is to benefit the taxpayers and people of Louisiana.
Not to mention that if Jim Flores was to buy a house in the Country Club of Louisiana that he stayed in for the weekends of LSU’s seven home games, and John Bel Edwards was to appoint him to the LSU Board of Supervisors as a representative of Baton Rouge, or as an at-large representative and billed Flores as a Baton Rouge resident, nobody would begrudge him that lie. Nobody would care that he really lives in Texas.
Putting this in the state constitution is an outrage. It’s asinine. The bill inflicting this ballot item on Louisiana’s voters got no opposition because it simply sneaked through a legislature preoccupied with budgets and COVID policy, and now many of the people voting for it are already souring on it.
Vote no. Please.