Being a “worker” may be harder than you thought

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

In this world, I believe all the people are divided into two groups.

There are the workers, and there are….well, let’s just say they are the ones who really don’t work like the “workers.”

It’s pretty easy to know which category Bill Hubbard falls into.

“I wake up about 2:30 to three every morning, get to work by five or six, ride the parish streets for a while, and then hang outside talking to the parish workers some mornings at 6:30,” he said. “I’m sure at some point I will have to slow down.”

But that will be hard for Bill, our new St. John parish president who took office in January. After all, Bill is unquestionably, without a doubt—“a worker.”

I’m sure some of you folks are reading this getting a little miffed at me already. You know you work pretty hard. You get up and go to work each day. Or if you are like my wife, you take care of all the chores to keep a nice house for your wonderful husband, making sure to have supper on the table for him each evening, right? (I see a lot of shaking female heads out there right now.)

You do the yard work on Saturday, take care of your responsibilities, and even find time to play a little bit with the kids. But you DON’T get up at three in the morning and keep the kind of routine a Bill Hubbard is talking about.

I’ve got another friend who tells me he sleeps about three or four hours a night, max. He says he gets up about the same time as Bill, and has to work very hard to find things to keep himself amused before he gets to work by 6, even though he commutes from an hour away.

Still not identifying with the “worker,” even though you feel like you definitely are a good one?

OK, OK, I’ll modify this a little bit.

There actually is some middle ground between “the workers,” and those who aren’t that way. Personally I feel like I’m definitely a “worker,” but I’m not an early morning, crack-of-dawn guy.

But for the sake of this argument, I just wanted to make that distinction since Bill is one of those people who has trouble finding the “slow” button on his accelerator. He’s the kind of guy who has trouble being satisfied with the work performance of many around him, even though he dare not show it. And he’s just the kind of guy who sees something that needs to be done, and he does it—no matter if it is picking up a piece of paper that is laying in the hall of the parish building, or heading up a $20 million project for a movie to come to St. John Parish.

All that being said, starting in 2008, the work ethic of one 45-year-old Bill Hubbard is reaping amazing results for the people of St. John Parish.

As I visited with Bill this week, doing a little review of his first 100 days in office, I knew I would be given a pretty impressive list of accomplishments for his administration during that time period.

But even I was amazed as I read details for the page after page of projects this administration has tackled. I knew about almost all of them, but even as I read, I saw that there was more getting done in those projects than I thought. And in the end, the mere number of the many projects the administration had tackled had me shaking my head.

Bill took office in January after winning election in November, using his “businessman with a plan” approach to basically shock the St. John political world. He had never run for public office before and was almost unknown in St. John other than in business or his own personal circles. So imagine the amazement of some longtime politicos when Hubbard announced he was not just running for office, but he wanted to be parish president.

That should have been the first place we realized we had a “worker” on our hands. Bill took to the streets, organized his people, and got to work. Nine months later, he was the new parish president.

I asked Bill and his Public Information Officer Buddy Boe about where the slogan “businessman with a plan” came from, and they said it all happened at Bill’s house a year ago when they were discussing the upcoming campaign with reps from The Political Firm, a consulting company they contracted with.

“A light bulb went off in the head of one of the consultants, and he just said, ‘a businessman with a plan.’ We were talking about using the businessman approach somehow, and when he said it, I liked it,” Bill said.

Having mostly a construction background, including his own company that he built from the ground up, it hasn’t been a surprise to see Bill do much of what he said he would do as parish president.

I have wondered just how this former “on the street” kind of guy liked his new world, which now amounted to wearing a tie to work most of the time, and operating from a nice, large office everyday on Airline Highway.

Even though this is perhaps the furthest thing from what Bill Hubbard thought he would be doing for his line of work at age 45, it’s pretty clear that the guy is finding a new love in the political world.

Don’t be mistaken though. Bill is not a political guy, and probably never will be in the classic sense of the word. Whereas his predecessor Nickie Monica loved the part of the job that had him going to lunch everyday with somebody different, Bill only does it because it is a necessary part of the job.

And again, don’t think it’s that he doesn’t like mixing with the people. But Bill is mostly comfortable with his own people, and those he is already very friendly with.

Mostly, I think Bill just likes the challenge and the accomplishment of the job. He likes the fact that he is now at the helm of a big ship called “St. John Parish” and he gets to make all the twists and turns to see what direction he can take it in.

After 100 days, it’s pretty clear the ship is sailing quite nicely, thank you. And I don’t think you will see a lot change for as long as he stays behind the steering wheel. After all, Bill Hubbard is truly a “worker,” and after 100 days, he definitely has the track record to prove it.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at