Chamber softens position on scorecard

by Walter Pierce

Sen. Mike Michot, in the final furlong of his time in office, is still smarting from the failing grade he was given by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce on its legislative scorecard.

The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce is in damage-control mode, evidenced by a letter to the editor and series of articles and editorials published Sunday in The Daily Advertiser in which the chamber both defends the legislative scorecard it released in January while softening its stand on the failing grade handed out to state Sen. Mike Michot.

Chamber leadership emailed the same statement to The Independent on Sunday - the same day the articles and editorials appeared in The Advertiser. Conspicuously absent from that Advertiser coverage were any quotes from Michot, who acknowledged to The Ind last week that he did indeed meet with chamber leadership but declined their offer to make the letter to the editor a joint statement.

State Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette

The senator, in the final furlong of his time in office - he is term limited and will be replaced by an election this fall - is still smarting from the failing grade he was given by the chamber on its scorecard. Our reading is that Michot is more angry than disappointed, as he - like many in the community - believes he has been a steady advocate of Lafayette's business interests during his 16 years in the Legislature. (Michot's failing grade stemmed more from his absence at four of the 12 votes on which senators were graded by the chamber - votes Michot says he missed while tending to other important business in his role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The chamber acknowledges in the letter reprinted below that it is reviewing how absences weigh into grades.) Michot maintains that the grades distributed by the chamber were counterproductive to the longtime goal of knitting a strong coalition of Acadiana lawmakers to work in unison for the business interests in the area.

Here's the chamber's letter: In 2010, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce took a bold step in its long history of representing the interest of business. That step, as recommended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was the issuance of a voting record of local elected officials. The voting record report is a resource for the Chamber's newly formed political action committee.

However, the simple idea of reporting on voting records brings with it the inherent risk of appearing to disapprove of a candidate or candidates, or having the report record being interpreted incorrectly. The Chamber, in reporting on voting records, provides numerical scores and not letter scores.

Unfortunately, as in the case of Lafayette Senator Mike Michot, the reported voting record tallied absences from significant votes due to his demanding and important role as Chairman of the Finance Committee. Thus, the unintended consequences were that a proven friend of the chamber and community received a low numerical score, which mischaracterizes Senator Michot's legislative contribution.

Recognizing that the voting record, which is based on actual votes, did not accurately account for a pro-business philosophy, or an entire body of work, the chamber will modify its initial protocol. The Chamber will continue to communicate its positions on behalf of its members, will continue to monitor lawmakers' votes, and will continue to hold them accountable.

The goal is to enhance the critical business infrastructure and environment for small and large businesses. That end will be achieved through positive, collaborative spirit by the Chamber, the community at-large and our elected officials on all levels. For at the end of the day, it is not "us" against "them," but simply and collectively, "US".

The Chamber leadership met recently with Senator Michot. We will work side-by-side as we face a most challenging 2011 legislative session. With Senator Michot as Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, and the balance of our talented delegation, Lafayette has an unprecedented opportunity for spectacular progress.
Flo Meadows, chairman of the board
Jerry Greig, chairman-elect
Rob Guidry, president