Jindal meets the locals at the Bull’s Corner
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008
By ROBIN SHANNON
LAPLACE — A hastily scheduled town hall meeting with Gov. Bobby Jindal in LaPlace Friday afternoon managed to attract about 200 attendants, including numerous local elected officials.
An automated telephone message alerted residents of the meeting, which took place just after 3 p.m. Friday at a small banquet hall inside Bull’s Corner Restaurant. The standing room only crowd was treated to a cash bar, along with an appearance by “Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Jindal Press Secretary Kyle Plotkin said the meeting was originally supposed to be an opportunity for residents to ask questions of the governor, but a late arrival prompted a slight change of plans.
Jindal spoke to the receptive crowd for about 40 minutes, then stayed behind to pose for pictures with nearly everyone resident in the room.
“We figured that this would allow everyone to have a minute or two with Gov. Jindal,” Plotkin said. “Everyone got a picture and a chance to say a few words.”
Jindal’s speech focused mainly on myriad state issues and a commitment to promises made during his political campaign. The bulk of the time was spent on what the Governor has been doing to keep the younger generation from leaving the state.
Jindal touched on tax cuts, ethics reform and job training, which have all resulted in the creation of thousands of new jobs within the state and an employment rate above the national average. He spoke of industrial expansions at refineries such as Marathon Oil in Garyville and Valero Inc. in St. Charles. He also mentioned new investments, like video game giant Electronic Arts, which has built a digital media facility in Baton Rouge, and the possibility for future jobs from Nucor Corp. He said Louisiana is still in the running for the company’s 4,000-acre pig iron plant, which would bring jobs to St. James Parish.
“We’ve done everything we can to attract this plant to our state,” Jindal said. “The (Environmental Protection Agency) and the (Department of Environmental Quality) are reviewing the permits. All that is left is a green light from Nucor and their decision should come by the first of the year and we are cautiously optimistic.”
Jindal also talked up progress the state has made in creating some of the nations toughest laws regarding the abuse of children, including chemical castration for convicted molesters. He added that he was disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Louisiana’s death penalty for child rapists.
“In their decision, they said that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” said Jindal. “I couldn’t disagree more. To me, if there’s any crime that deserves the death penalty other than capital murder, clearly it’s those monsters who go after our children.”
In between serious talking points, Jindal interjected numerous lighthearted stories about his experiences as governor and father of three children. He said it has been tough explaining to his kids that his power has limits.
“During my inauguration speech, there was a spectacular singing of “God Bless America” by Deacon John and an F-15 flyover that peaked the interest of my son,” said Jindal. “When the ceremony was over, my son kept staring at the sky. When I went over to him he asked me ‘when can you make them do that again?’”
On the local front, Parish President Bill Hubbard said he got a few minutes alone with the governor, and he was able to tout a few St. John projects that would require the governor’s attention.
“He spoke to the governor about traffic on Airline Highway and the proposal of flapper gates for flood protection,” said St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe. “We are hoping the state can finance these projects, which are good quick fix of major issues within the parish.”
Hubbard had proposed the idea of “flapper gates” on parish flood drains, which would prevent back flow of water during a period of flooding, to Jindal when the governor visited following Hurricane’s Gustav and Ike. Hubbard said the governor liked the idea and would support the initiative.