Maginnis: Boss Jindal vs. state workers
Martha Manuel is not the first political appointee to be fired for criticizing a governor's policies. Bobby Jindal is not the first governor to be unpopular with state workers. But the combination of issues affecting state employees and teachers, including pay, privatization, retirement and tenure, has the legislative session starting with the most contentious and soured relationship between a governor and the state workforce in memory. Manuel's complaint went beyond personnel issues to the administration's planned transfer of the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs, which she headed, to the Department of Health and Hospitals. The budget item already had caused an uproar among councils on aging across the state. Manuel claims she was not consulted on the move and doubted that it would improve services to seniors, as claimed by the administration. She would have been fired that afternoon had she not waited until the next morning to answer her phone. The dismissal of Manuel has been criticized for the chilling effect it will have on agency heads testifying before the Legislature. But, then, political appointees already know to chill in expressing policy views different from the governor's. Manuel knew, too, but figured she was a short-timer anyway and didn't care. Classified workers and teachers meanwhile are reviewing their own rights to express their opposition toward administration proposals to lawmakers and the general public. Read the full column here.
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)
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