Well, that didn't take long. Just three weeks after the A.P. reported that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's administration was going to be requesting $300 million dollars for a high speed rail connecting Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Jindal has changed positions again. I guess he was against them before he was for them before he was against them, or something like that. According to an official in his administration:
"Please be advised that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will not be applying for the High Speed AARA funds," state transportation chief William Ankner wrote to his federal counterpart, Secretary Ray LaHood. Ankner was referring to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ankner, a Jindal appointee, told LaHood that Louisiana could not operate the system without an annual operating loss of $18 million per year.
The news came as a surprise to business leaders who backed the idea and had participated in preliminary discussions with Ankner.
Baton Rouge Area Chamber President Adam Knapp said he was one of a few dozen people from the two Louisiana cities whom Ankner had invited to talk about the matter. Ankner told the group that any plan could not have an operating deficit, but Knapp said he was under the impression before Friday that the Jindal administration would involve local entities in developing a workable model.
"Just because the state says it can't do it, doesn't mean the local communities shouldn't have a chance to figure it out," Knapp said, adding that he plans to ask Ankner in writing to reconsider.
Efforts to reach Greater New Orleans Inc. President Michael Hecht, another backer of the project, were unsuccessful late Friday evening.
In February, while delivering the Republican Party's nationally televised response to the president's first congressional address, Jindal mocked several components of the Democratic administration's federal stimulus package, including grants for rail systems.
MSNBC host Keith Olbermann featured Jindal this week during his "Worst Persons in the World" segment after published reports detailing that Ankner's agency was investigating the possibility of applying for the rail grants.
Olbermann used the story to cast Jindal as a hypocrite for criticizing the stimulus while taking money from the legislation.
I hope people don't confuse the Republicans with being the party of conviction anymore.
UPDATE - Oops, forgot the link: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/08/gov_bobby_jindal_after_highpro.html