House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (Donna Price / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:33 PM
No one but Chuck Kleckley knows what he expected from holding the speaker of the House position.
Would it be a crowning achievement on his tenure in the Louisiana Legislature?
Would it provide opportunities to bring home to his South Lake Charles district some budget largesse?
Would it lend him the eminence that attaining high office sometimes offers?
Would it give him the chance to be part of a transformative government team that would thrust Louisiana ahead of other states?
Would it make it easier for him to exercise leadership among his colleagues, to help other people, to affect positive outcomes at home and around the state?
Was he expecting some of these things, all of these things or more?
Whatever Kleckley expected, it’s unlikely that he expected all that he has encountered. Otherwise, he might never have said yes to the speaker’s position. Surely, for all the perks that the speakership provides, his first year in the job must be part nightmare.
His efforts to shepherd some of the governor’s programs through the House got him embroiled in a nasty, though ill-conceived recall effort.
His ill-fated effort to use some loose state cash — who knew there was extra cash? — to build a top-of-the-line football field at Barbe High School got him roundly criticized, even mocked, in his home district.
His loyalty to the Jindal administration apparently gained him nothing in insider status. When the administration recently decided to close Phelps Correctional Center in Kleckley’s own backyard, Kleckley scarcely got advance notice himself.
Loyal as a puppy, Kleckley at every turn defends the administration that sometimes seems to barely acknowledge him. Surely he knows the Jindal administration values his compliance, not his independence. He told the Associated Press last week that he thinks lawmakers ought to have some say in how the state operates, but he defended the administration’s final say in outcomes.
“I don’t know that we need to be making the decisions about what should be closed and what shouldn’t be closed. I think we should leave that to the professionals,” he said.
The professionals. Strange, but voters might think that after seven years in the Legislature, nearly a year as speaker, that Kleckley himself is something of a professional. After all, he gets paid for his work.
This is not to demean Kleckley’s efforts. He is trying. Nor is this a personal attack. Kleckley deserves respect as a successful businessman and a usually gracious person.
It must be acknowledged, though, that Kleckley’s initial efforts as House speaker have had mixed results. He needs a better sophomore year. Surrounded by wise counsel within the Southwest Louisiana delegation, he would do well to seek his colleagues’ honest assessments of his performance. He should solicit their advice in moving forward.
It is wonderful to be the speaker of the House. It would be better to be a wonderful speaker of the House.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Billy On: 10/2/2012
Our legislatures are spinless, nobody wants to do whats right to save this state. Seriously can these men and women representing this state said that they did their best can go home with shame .
Posted By: Dwight On: 9/30/2012
Title: His Crowning acheivement
His "Crowning achievement" would be to resign so his constituents can elect someone who will represent the district, not the governor.
Posted By: Glenn Gordon On: 9/28/2012
Title: Jindal's Lapdog
Kleckley is Jindal's lapdog. Anything the "King Minnow" wants Kleckley races to provide. Kleckley has proven to be the worst kind of politician. No back bone and no loyalty to his constituents. He is an empty suit.