A few things:

A family in Charenton informed me this week that their Ford F150 pickup truck suddenly burst into flames and was destroyed, sitting in their yard, and it hadn’t been driven in 24 hours.

Apparently, a faulty cruise control switch continues to operate even after the vehicle is turned off, and leads to overheating. Various vehicles from 1992-2004 seem to have been affected. Some vehicles have burst into flames inside garages and burned down the entire residence.

The Charenton residents claim they never got a recall notice, and thought maybe other owners didn’t, either. Just letting you know.

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Welcome, Gov. Bobby Jindal to the head-honcho job in the state of Louisiana!

We certainly appreciate that, in just the first few months in office, you’ve managed to knock the remaining wind completely out of us here in St. Mary Parish by removing already approved projects in the capital outlay budget, and kicking out new applications from local governments statewide. Thanks, Mr. Jindal. Your supporters here in St. Mary Parish – and there were many, many of them, myself included – appreciate that you repaid our support by pulling the rug out from under us.

Here’s just a small list of what was on the legislatively-approved list, working through the process, that Gov. Jindal – who stood in a restaurant in Franklin and proclaimed, "We can change. We must change. We will change" – slashed from the list, in west St. Mary alone:

– $200,000 for Chez Hope building acquisition costs

– $1.065 million for Franklin drainage projects

– $220,000 for a booster pump on Northwest Boulevard.

– $800,000 for a community center in Baldwin (additional funding to complete)

That’s just a few, there’s many more in this parish alone. Statewide, the cuts seem to be just as severe.

Besides slashing those items already in the budget, new requests cut out in our area include:

– $3.95 million for a slip at the Port of West St. Mary

– $375,000 for administrative and activity center buildings for the Center of Hope

– $4.7 million to hard surface the Charenton levee road

– $626,000 for Bring Back the Neighborhood Park near Baldwin; $626,000 for St. Joseph Park; $626,000 for Centerville Park; $626,000 for Sorrel Park

– $3.5 million for Cayce St. construction in Franklin

– $1 million for the Center Theater plaza

– $2 million for Franklin street improvements

Thanks for the "change," governor.

I, for one, am glad that I cast my vote for Bobby Jindal, to reform this state and get away from the old-school politics that has given this state a black-eye for decades.

Right, governor?

Well, under that "old school" way of doing things, at least we got some money here in the boonies. Gov. Jindal, your ultra-conservative philosophy may appeal to the covey of back-patters you’ve surrounded yourself with, but if you keep shafting local governments like this I’d recommend you get very accustomed to the phrase "one-termer."

We’re residents who pay state income and sales taxes, governor. Don’t throw us the same old inane arguments about the cost of maintaining our bridges and roads. Most of our smaller bridges over Bayou Teche were constructed in the 1940s and are only repaired when they break down completely. Our roads are such a mess they’d be laughable, if they weren’t so dangerous and pathetic. We pump money into a state coffer that was brimming with excesses – based on our tax payments in large part!

And then local governments – struggling with keeping up infrastructure and finding funds for special projects – are summarily dismissed from our fair share.

I stood in Main St. Café and listened to you speak to a throng of supporters, Gov. Jindal, and I believed in what you said. I believed your charisma and honesty. Now I kick myself in the behind for being so foolish. You’re the worst example of a radical conservative, a number-cruncher and rule-maker who doesn’t think things through, who cuts out the "little guy" and the "middle man" in complete indifference to what’s right and fair.

What do you have to say to local governments, governor? Tough break? Sorry, Charlie? That’s the way the game works, get over it?

Thanks for nothing, pal.

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And while I’m at it, let me point out that rather than enforce the ethics laws already on the books, governor, you’ve created a tangled mess with reforms that are not only unenforceable but unrealistic. In fact, I’ll submit that your measures aimed at keeping the William Jefferson-types from stashing wads of cash in the refrigerator completely missed the point, and will in fact dissuade good, honest people from wishing to serve in government.

While trying to present the nation with the appearance that Louisiana is shedding the era of Edwin Edwards government, what you’ve done is discourage people from wishing to serve in local government. It’s hard enough getting good people to run for office, now who will want to disclose their entire financial statements, including that of their spouses, for the world to see? That’s right, everyone will be able to see their financial records, because it will be publicly available.

The crooks in Louisiana government – and yes, they are still there, and plenty of them – will simply find a way around the law, while you strangle some city councilman in a rural area who earns $35,000 a year by the sweat on his back at a dead-end job at some chemical plant, and just wanted to do something good for his community.

To make matters worse, all those civic-minded citizens are now trapped by your so-called ethics reforms. Since the first filings are due in 2009, the financials will be for 2008. Even if they quit their positions in disgust of your unconstitutional mandates today, they’ll still have to file.

I don’t know how you talked the legislature into passing such silliness, except that nobody wanted to speak up and be fingered by some sort of McCarthyist detail of secret police.

No one, that is, except Rep. Sam Jones, who I admit initially perturbed me by casting the lone vote in opposition to the ethics bill in the House, a bill I thought was a facet of you living up to your word back in Franklin during the campaign.

But now that I understand it a little better, I take it all back. Sam tried to warn us. We didn’t listen.

My suggestion, governor, is to take a break from your high-minded philosophies and temper them with some common sense. You might be making the pages of Time, being heralded as a reformist in a previously believed to be unreformable state. Still, I’d suggest you go have a drink and a good dinner, relax.

Many of the Baton Rouge restaurateurs are, by the way, considering offering a "legislative special" for $49.95, a nickel below the $50 limit for meals that your ethics bill set. Maybe an amendment to prevent such a silly ploy is in order for the next session? Go get ‘em, tiger.

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And at the end of the game, Jack Smith said he didn’t want the job of liaison to state government in the employ of the St. Mary Parish Council.

After all that bruhaha, hand-wringing and crybabying, it’s all for naught. Moot point. A well-beaten dead horse. All she wrote.

Sure glad we wasted so much energy on it while the governor was pulling our capital outlay money and the legislature was spending the surplus.

And the sad part of it all is, they don’t even realize how silly they look.