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Louisiana Sheriff Accuses Ex-Gov. Jindal and the GOP of Impoverishing His State

Conservative Louisiana Sheriff Newell Normand last month publicly criticized “that idiot,” former Gov. Bobby Jindal, saying he had led his state off a fiscal cliff, and the law enforcement official went on to admonish his fellow Republicans for following obstructionist leaders and resisting tax increases aimed at covering budget problems the Republican governor left behind.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Louisiana faces a $943 million budget shortfall between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30. “The state is also estimated to face a $2 billion shortfall in the 2016-17 budget year,” the paper states.

Normand, the sheriff of Jefferson Parish, accused Jindal, whom he once endorsed, of “trying to rewrite history” since leaving office earlier this year.

“What a mess,” Normand said at the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s annual awards luncheon. “Bobby Jindal was a better cult leader than Jim Jones. We drank the elixir for eight years. We remained in a conscious state; we walked to the edge of the cliff, and he watched. And guess what? Unlike Jim Jones, he did not swallow the poison. What a shame.”

Normand assaulted his party’s support of austerity economics and its obedience to Grover Norquist, president of the lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform and one of austerity’s chief proponents. Before the 2012 elections, Norquist got 95 percent of congressional Republicans to sign a pledge not to increase income taxes on businesses and individuals.

“We cannot cut our way to a balanced budget, because some of the programs that are on the chopping block are the ones that are going to affect everyone of us up here,” Normand continued. “And we do not have the assets or the resources necessary to make up for it. We’re facing enough challenges today. We do not need to face the stupidity of our leadership as it relates to how we’re going to balance this budget and talking about these silly issues because we’re worried about what Grover Norquist thinks. To hell with Grover Norquist!”

Normand urged his listeners to abandon obstructionist leaders and pursue compromise with their political colleagues.

“We have some systemic, fundamental issues that need to be addressed, and it can’t be handled by parties. It’s got to be handled by intellectual individuals, void of a party, void of an overarching philosophy, working together. And what’s really incredible to me? Compromise is now a dirty word.”

Here’s a transcript of Normand remarks, provided by CenLamar.com:

What a mess. Bobby Jindal was a better cult leader than Jim Jones. We drank the elixir for eight years. We remained in a conscious state; we walked to the edge of the cliff, and he watched. And guess what? Unlike Jim Jones, he did not swallow the poison. What a shame.

The fact of the matter is that he’s now out there on Twitter and on public spaces trying to rewrite history, and we hadn’t even figured out what history is. We know we face a $2 billion to $2.2 billion budget shortfall next year, somewhere between $700 million and $900 million between now and June 30. And he’s trying to get everybody to believe that he did a phenomenal job.

We have to just say no.

I’m a Republican, but I’m not a hypocrite. We have to look at ourselves critically as a party and figure out where we are, what we’re going to be about.

The fact of the matter that the Republican leadership in this state is now saying and trying to blame Gov. John Bel Edwards, [who’s] only been in office a little bit over forty days, is absolutely incredulous to me.

This guy’s a friggin’ genius. In less than 45 days, he has screwed this state up so bad—in the history of the state, the largest budget deficit. That’s what they’re trying to get us to believe.

Come on folks; we have to wake up. Let us be honest about what we’re doing.

We did this to ourselves, myself included, because I endorsed that idiot [Jindal].

And now, we’re going to try and play partisan politics as it relates to this. And as Leon pointed out: Mental health, going to get cut. Bigger problem for criminal justice, right? We’re talking about shutting down five state prisons that house 8,000 inmates. I think it’s just under a third that come from our region.

You think they’re going home to Bunkie [a Louisiana town]?

We better get concerned. We better wake up. We better be honest. We better talk about the issues because we are going to pay the price, and we’re going to pay dearly. …

So I asked you last year, I made the same call, a call for action. We better get all over this thing. We better be honest about our approach.

We cannot cut our way to a balanced budget, because some of the programs that are on the chopping block are the ones that are going to affect everyone of us up here. And we do not have the assets or the resources necessary to make up for it.

We’re facing enough challenges today. We do not need to face the stupidity of our leadership as it relates to how we’re going to balance this budget and talking about these silly issues because we’re worried about what Grover Norquist thinks.

To hell with Grover Norquist! I don’t care about Grover Norquist! We’re worrying about the ATR report card [referring to Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist’s organization]? Give me a break.

We are the folks that are seeing the degredating (sic) situations out on the streets of this state, each and every day. Seven officers shot and killed last year. Officers getting hurt every day. And the few and little resources we have and the services that try to deal with the illnesses of drug addition and others, they are going to be cut, is absolutely incredulous to me.

Medicaid expansion, for example, provides significant sustenance for us to deal with some of those issues within the walls of the prison and our local jails.

And I have to sit there and listen to my Republican counterparts talk about gobbledygook—blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah—and I’m so sick and tired of hearing “Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama.” You know how much intellect it takes to blame something on somebody else? This much (motions a zero with his hand).

Propose a solution. Let’s work together and collaboratively and toward an outcome that’s going to make sense for us as a society. That is what we need to do, and that needs to be the call of action in this state. …

We are at not only a crossroads maybe in the city of New Orleans; we’re at a crossroads in the state of Louisiana, as to who we’re going to be, what we’re going to be, and how we’re going to be.

We have some systemic, fundamental issues that need to be addressed, and it can’t be handled by parties. It’s got to be handled by intellectual individuals, void of a party, void of an overarching philosophy, working together. And what’s really incredible to me? Compromise is now a dirty word.

How many people in this room are married?

How many people in their marriage don’t compromise? Raise your hand.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

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