Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snakes at the Capitol

The Real Threat in Baton Rouge 

Dayne Sherman
Column published in the Daily Star and elsewhere.
Words: 650

Recent reports have detailed a dangerous snake infestation at the Louisiana State Capitol. This has been the fodder for jokes, but the fact remains that the slithering serpents of the Garden of Eden have invaded Huey Long’s Art Deco skyscraper (1).

On Memorial Day, my day off, I decided to go to the Capitol. My goal was to say a few words related to HB 1, the state budget bill, which will destroy universities in Louisiana by cutting funding to levels somewhere just north of zero. The Senate Finance Committee had the bill on the agenda.

As I waited in the hallway for the room to open, I heard many comments and backslaps about the snakes, but I never saw a single reptile that moved without feet. All of the reptiles I saw wore loafers.

Inside the committee room, Chair Senator Jack “I’ve Always Got Bobby Jindal’s Back” Donahue (R-Mandeville) called for a moment of silence for the MEN who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the country. Obviously, he does not know that women bleed and die for our country.

After another senator corrected him about the women who did indeed die in war, he quickly said HB 1 would not be heard until later in the week.

I immediately realized my trip was a goose chase. Thanks, Senator Donahue.

For my little drive to Baton Rouge, I did get to see the Senate committee kamikaze Representative Kenny Havard’s (R-St. Francisville) HB 240, a bill that would have required legislative oversight for privatization of state services over $5 million dollars. It had passed the House with 93 votes in favor. Not bad.

But it became clear from the senators' questions that the bill was dead on arrival.

During the testimony for and against the bill, I saw Steven Procopio, a Jindal administration lackey, bloviating about the governor’s wishes. In short, he called Havard’s fiscally responsible bill a Massachusetts-based liberal union-loving leftist agenda sent from Karl Marx himself.

I was waiting for Procopio to use the words Benghazi, IRS, Solyndra, and Nancy Pelosi, but I’m certain he knew he didn’t need to bring out the big guns to defeat the bill.

Havard’s good government proposal was shot down with only two senators voting for it. I should note that Senator Mack “Bodi” White (R-Central) offered a courtesy vote in favor of his neighboring legislator’s bill—after he saw that it was dead in the roll call. How charitable of him, and Havard noted this in his banter with White.

I learned something from my Memorial Day goose chase at the Capitol. Our greatest problem is not a few snakes sliding through the building. No, our real problem is a Senate full of men and women who are invertebrates, backbones optional for all but a few.

Speaking of invertebrates, Senator Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) changed his party affiliation on Friday from Democrat to Republican. Guillory, a man who recently said he consulted a witch doctor for an ailment, is perhaps the American Legislative Exchange Council’s most valuable member. ALEC thinks he’s grand, so much so that they gave him plenty of campaign cash. According to reporter Tom Aswell, Guillory received “$45,200 from ALEC member corporations, $7500 from Jindal.” 

Several reports confirm that he switched from Republican to Democrat, and now he’s back to the GOP. I had a Republican House member tell me off the record that Guillory became a Democrat just to win office. 

I should start an annual award for legislative sorriness. During this session there are many good examples of breath-taking awfulness, but I think Senator Guillory deserves a lifetime achievement award.

Are there snakes at the Capitol? Maybe. But watch out for the ones wearing suits. There is no antivenom for their bite. Our only hope is to throw them out of office as soon as possible.

Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula and is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is
1.  Yes, I know water snakes aren't venomous, but stay with me.
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media:
Talk About the South Blog:
Tweet the South - Twitter:
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***