Like many of us in Louisiana higher education, I spent my holiday break completely disconnected from having anything to do with it. After the whirlwind that was 2015, it was a necessary break. Not only did I risk my career by going public with my long standing private war against Jindal’s higher ed policies (if you want to call “dismantle higher ed” a policy)–and as a result surprisingly won a huge personal victory by helping to heave a stake into the heart of evil GRAD Act–but I also came really close to having to ditch my higher ed career anyway due to my spouse’s health and experienced some major life changes as a result. Even without our state’s budget crisis which almost did–and still can–bring Louisiana’s public higher education system to the brink of a multi-institutional collapse of historic proportions, 2015 was a stressful year.
So I spent most of my break with my spouse and our animals, and very little of it reading the Advocate or monitoring my Twitter feed. Our most skittish cat got really ill and stopped eating, so I spent a good chunk of time chasing her around the house so we could first get her to the vet, and then to force feed the poor thing. Pretty bad when a restful break means syringe feeding a sick cat, but it is what it is.
But I came up for air twice to read the Advocate… once on the 30th when Governor Elect John Bel Edwards and his incoming administration director Jay Dardenne announced that our horribly bad patched together budget was even worse than previously imagined, to the tune of $1.9 billion dollars…
And again yesterday evening, when I learned that CB Forgotston, the respected political blogger who was near the top of the list of bloggers inspiring my own blog, and who had correctly predicted that the horribly bad patched together budget would indeed be worse than previously imagined, had passed away.
Last night I woke up several times… each time remembering in shock that CB is gone! And at probably the time our state needs his honesty, wisdom, and insight the most as we take stock of just how big a sinkhole Jindal opened up beneath us. And I won’t opine on what might drive someone to commit suicide because I don’t pretend to have any earthly idea, but I will say that I hope in my heart of hearts that these two things aren’t related, and that CB is now at peace.
Bob Mann and Dayne Sherman have already written lovely tributes. Unlike them, I didn’t know CB personally and indeed never had the opportunity to meet him. I did have several Twitter exchanges with him over this past year, all wonderfully entertaining and incisive. Maybe only a fellow skeptic could find his sarcasm inspiring, but I did. I knew enough to be very careful not to risk getting him going on the Stelly Act, which is one thing on which we disagreed and on which CB most definitely had more specifics backing up his position than I do on mine. The last thing anyone (or at least anyone with smarts) wanted to do was get in a Twitter war with CB because he ALWAYS won. But we did agree that Jindal destroyed our state on purpose, and that his true intent was to cut Louisiana’s higher education system even more (something that Jindal himself finally admitted recently).
Over break, I was contemplating whether I should continue blogging and Tweeting or not, or if I should just go back to being provocative only within the hallowed halls of higher education, rather than in public.
But while my voice is nothing compared to the great CB Forgotston, we need all of us on deck as we try to fix our state.
Yes, I am glad that Jindal is almost out the door, and that CB’s Jindal count down will soon be to zero.
But our new governor won’t be perfect either. I have hopes that he will be much better, but he’s already done a thing or two that are, well, highly political if you know what I mean.
So we always need those, like CB, who question it all and aren’t afraid to critique or just downright criticize anyone, not based on party, personality, or ideology, but based on the facts and what is best for our state.
We need truthtellers. Those who aren’t beholden to anyone or anything but the truth. And in today’s world, that falls as much or more on independent bloggers and investigative journalists as it does on the professional press.
And while I won’t ever be anything close to CB in a million years, I can tell the truth as I see it, and maintain the courage to do so.
So my tribute to CB today is… I won’t quit blogging, Tweeting, or telling the truth.
Rest in peace.