Monday, May 6, 2013

Aaron Broussard’s New Number: 2234-034

Over the course of time, I’ve acquired the cell phone numbers of many elected officials. While I rarely use them unless I’m returning a call, that doesn’t stop them from calling me at all hours or on the weekends to voice their opinion about something I’ve said or written.

After Hurricane Katrina, former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard gave me his cell phone number. I don’t remember why and I really don’t think I used it until sometime in 2007 when I was hosting a radio program on what was then WIST AM 690.
I did a couple of radio interviews with Broussard and then tried to get him back on the radio as he campaigned for re-election. Twice during the campaign, he agreed to come on the radio and then backed out at the last minute.

The second time Broussard failed to appear, I had scheduled all of the candidates running for Parish President to appear in an hour-long debate. About 5 minutes before airtime, I received a phone call that President Broussard was “too sick” to come on the air.
Needless to say, I didn’t ask to have Broussard on the radio again until 2009 when the Tim Whitmer Scandal began unraveling.

Broussard’s secretary wouldn’t let me speak with him. I called his cell phone and he answered. I said, “President Broussard. This is Walt Bennetti,” to which he promptly hung up the phone.
I remember going on the radio in disbelief that someone like Aaron Broussard could not have known what Tim Whitmer was doing right under his nose (of course, that’s before we learned that Broussard was complicit too).

I said, “Either Aaron Broussard is a poor manager; he’s a liar; or he’s an idiot. Or all three.” That line turned into a promo that the radio station ran almost every hour.
We never spoke again and, I was ok with that.

Today, in Butner, North Carolina, a town I have never heard of before, Aaron Broussard got a new number: Inmate 2234-034.
I’m relatively certain that, until recently, Aaron Broussard had never heard of Butner, North Carolina, either.
Broussard reported to the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner to begin his 46-month prison service.
The man who ran Jefferson Parish, was the Mayor of Kenner, and held other political positions during his 30+ years in politics will now be earning between $.12 and $1.15 per hour, depending upon what job he is given.

The man who could walk down the halls of Jefferson Parish Government and tell his political appointees to loan him $5,000 for his campaign, will now earn less than a common sweatshop worker.
And, no matter how you feel about him, that’s sad.

Sad for him. Sad for our parish. Just sad.
And what have we learned since Aaron Broussard resigned? What have we done as a parish to improve our reputation and ensure that the Aaron Broussards still out there can’t rape and pillage our parish again?

Sadly, not much.
Oh sure, there were calls for stricter ethics rules. Several current Jefferson Parish Councilmembers even publicly patted themselves on the back for their “tougher” ethics rules.

Yet, at every Council meeting, members of Citizens For Good Government list the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions received by Parish Councilmen from businesses seeking parish contracts.
Councilmen spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in other people’s money to get elected.

And, they think we are naïve enough to believe it’s because they actually want to serve the people and represent their constituents.
Columnist and Author Thomas Sowell said, "No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind."

Jefferson Parish politicians understand this and nobody understood it better than Aaron Broussard, now known as Inmate 2234-034.