Who will stand up to Gov. Landry?

Rolfe McCollister Jr. is a contributing columnist. The viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Business Report or its staff.

I said Gov. Jeff Landry wants to be king. That’s wrong. What’s clear is he’s out to become dictator of our little banana republic, treating the rest of us as peasants.

Rolfe McCollister Jr. is a contributing columnist. The viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Business Report or its staff.

From his perch in the governor’s office, Landry and his puppet state legislators are consolidating power and eliminating anyone or anything that gets in his way through intimidation and retribution. And his ego loves the spotlight, especially on Fox News.

Landry, the self-proclaimed dictator, is, in effect, imposing his will and beliefs on every corner and citizen of Louisiana in his unfettered quest for power.

He wants authority over who gets appointed positions in state government—from higher ed boards to public defenders. He wants to cast darkness on the state’s sunshine laws so that he and his sycophants can operate in secret. And those who are supposed to be a check on this totalitarian quest are neutered, either by their agreement or fear of retaliation.

Set aside whether one voted for Landry or not. This isn’t about the election last fall. Every citizen should pay close attention to Landry’s actions because if you look beyond the superficial and think about the ramifications—if enacted—it’s clear these will not lead to a better-educated workforce, greater economic opportunity for entrepreneurs, business owners and workers, or produce a more diversified state economy.

It’s funny, but Louisiana loves to cherry-pick and claim it wants to be more like Texas. Yet Texas is a state with a decentralized government. Landry, on the other hand, is taking a state government that’s already the dominant force in our lives and trying to consolidate even more power—especially for himself.

Landry’s ego is out of control, and his priorities are out of order. Last month, our governor was on Fox News attacking LSU coach Kim Mulkey and her Lady Tigers after their Elite Eight game for being in the locker room—praying and doing final pregame activities as they did all season long—instead of being on the court for the national anthem. He even threatened to take away their scholarships.

Does Landry have a problem with prayer? And why didn’t he object while attending the LSU vs. Middle Tennessee game days earlier when the team was in the locker room during the anthem? Landry embarrassed himself, LSU and our state—and quickly found out who was more popular between him and Mulkey. Social media torched him, and he promptly started to crawfish.

Landry should focus on doing his job. In April, a report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, “Rich States, Poor States,” ranked Louisiana 50th in economic performance. That is the real issue Landry needs to worry about—but I guess that won’t get him on Fox.

Landry keeps crowing at legislative hearings that the people of Louisiana chose him, trust him, and want him to have absolute power to carry out his plans. Sadly, it seems most state legislators are blindly following the dictator because they fear him or have cut their own deals. Who has the guts to stand up to him?

Our governor failed to reveal or discuss during the campaign most of the “plans” and bills he is now ramming through. Surprise! Secondly, as I have shared, Landry received 52% of the vote from a turnout of 35.7%, or the support of just 18.44% of all registered voters. Winning the votes of less than 1 out of 5 is no mandate.

The governor now wants to revamp our state constitution, and there are arguments for improvements. He has told friends that if changes are made to make him the least powerful governor in the country, that is OK with him. But his recent comments, actions, and the bills he supports prove that statement is false. It may also be why folks vote against giving him and the Legislature more power to easily change our constitution. Who can they trust? Not Landry.

Mayor Broome in trouble

Our mayor is experiencing the phenomenon of “What goes around comes around,” meaning the consequences of one’s actions will have to be dealt with eventually. And with the Louisiana Supreme Court ruling approving the city of St. George, that time has come for her.

As I have previously written, while a state senator, Broome was a vocal opponent of the request to create an independent school district in southeast Baton Rouge. Parents were fed up with the EBR school system and wanted better for their children.

Who could blame them for wanting to exit a failing system controlled by the unions and a school board that wouldn’t embrace choice?

They falsely claimed only an incorporated city can form an ISD. Again, not true, but if that was the demand of Broome and her fellow north Baton Rouge state legislators, then a city it would become—like Central. And while it took two petition efforts to get on the ballot, these determined parents and residents did it—and won.

The response of Broome, who had since gone on to become mayor-president, was to sue them in court, along with Mayor Pro-Temp Lamont Cole, to stop the incorporation.

But finally, after a 13-year battle, St. George prevailed, and the fifth city in East Baton Rouge has become a reality. With 86,000 residents, it will be one of the largest in the state, comparable to Lake Charles.

Perhaps Broome now wishes that she had worked with the parents to set up the independent school district. She chose otherwise and will now work with them to start a new city, which will create many challenges for Baton Rouge. She lacked vision and empathy and failed to provide leadership back then. Now, the consequences of her actions have “come around.”

Besides helping to create the city of St. George, these residents will want to create a school district, too, just like Baker, Zachary and Central—and that is certainly reasonable. They should get the support of the mayor, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, BRAF, state legislators and the East Baton Rouge School Board. State Rep. Emily Chenevert of Baton Rouge has House Bill 6 to address this.

Mayor, don’t make the same mistake again.