EDITORIAL: Farewell to Gov. Edwards

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards is headed Monday for federal prison and for many in Louisiana, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

Edwards heads for prison, convicted of racketeering and fraud charges, to serve a 10-year sentence. Colorful, quick-witted, oozing with charm, no matter the size of the audience, his personality couldn’t save him this time.

Friends and supporters of Edwards call his conviction the conclusion of a “witch-hunt,” making the former four-time governor a fall-guy for the indiscretions of others.

What the investigation accomplished, though, was the vindication of Louisiana. It demonstrated to anyone that no matter who the person is, wrongdoing will be sought out and justice will be served.

Louisiana has not had that reputation in past years. Between the Edwards conviction and the overhaul of New Orleans City Hall by big-broomed Mayor Ray Nagin, the image of Louisiana is slowly being transformed.

Once, not long ago, the laisseze-faire image was fact. Bribery, intimidation and coercion was common in order to do business in this state. That view is changing, and Louisiana will benefit.

Edwards, when first elected in 1971, was a “reformer” who would help the state step forward with the rest of the country and shed its view as a “Third World” state. He succeeded in reinforcing that image, and Louisiana will be the better without him.

The last time Louisiana truly needed Edwin Edwards was to head off the disastrous potential of a governorship of white supremist David Duke. The popular bumper sticker read: “Vote for the Crook – It’s Important.”

We all knew Edwards was a rascal. Now, he’s a convicted felon. We can hope Louisiana can seek out and select quality leadership for our future, with the next election right around the corner.