Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Louisiana Politics - Kurtz Comes Alive

The Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry for the State of Louisiana is using hundreds of departmental personnel to construct a pet project of his, a sugar processing mill hundreds of miles away from the agency's headquarters in Baton Rouge, the state's capitol city

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Commissioner Bob Odom has the employees performing manual labor on the facility, work that falls far outside the ordinary scope of many of their duties.

The employees who have provided manual labor at the mill site include assistant commissioners, a lawyer and a veterinarian. Thirty-two of the employees make more than $80,000 a year. Using highly paid, specially trained people to dig gravel and lay concrete molds is not a cost-saving measure. Besides, it's unfair and perhaps even abusive to press them into labor on Mr. Odom's pet project.
It's like Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," only with sugar cane instead of ivory.