Sunday, August 14, 2005

Projecting potemkin positivism

An article in today's Times Picayune raises yet another batch of questions about the state's funding priorities. This time questions concern the cost of renovating Lt. Governor Landrieu's official residence and office space. According to the article, official justification for spending nearly $1 million on said projects is as follows: "Renovations to the space occupied by the office of lieutenant governor and the office of the secretary of DCRT (Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism) were designed to give us a place to host dignitaries, conduct economic development and tourism business meetings -- basically to show the state in a more professional, positive light to those who we do business with." No one disagrees that Louisiana needs to project a more professional, positive image to visitors. And yet, such extraordinary expense in a state so strapped for cash might just project an image that is neither professional nor positive. While justification for such extensive (and expensive) renovations are clearly framed in terms of making the state look better to outsiders, such construction does nothing to change the reality of life in Louisiana outside those million dollar work spaces and well-appointed personal digs. At least attention to appearances at the expense of meaningful change outside the walls of Landrieu's new potemkin village is consistent with state leadership's overall tendency to make superficial changes while still leaving the underlying reality unchanged.