Donahue stresses importance of ethics in business, politics
Contact: Rene Abadie
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HAMMOND – Louisiana has problems attracting business and one of the reasons is a perception that the playing field in the state is not level, state Senator Jack Donahue said Tuesday evening (Oct. 27) at Southeastern Louisiana University.
“Being ethical is part of running a smart business and being successful. I know I would not move my business to a state if I didn’t think I could get a fair deal,” he said. “If a business knows the game is not being played on its merits, but more on who you know, they take their business elsewhere.”
Donahue delivered Southeastern’s James and Evelyn Livingston Lecture in Business Ethics, a function sponsored by the College of Business as the main event associated with its two-week Business Perspectives program. The lecture, founded in 1984 and considered one of the oldest series of its kind in the nation, honors the late James Livingston, a prominent Hammond businessman, and his wife Evelyn, an active community volunteer.
“People generally like the idea of rules and regulations,” said Donahue, senator for Louisiana District 11, which covers parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes. “They make our lives simpler and give us a periphery in which to operate.”
It’s when people start to manipulate that periphery that ethics begin to dissolve and problems arise, he added.
Donahue, who is chairman of DonahueFavret Contractors, Inc., said that although the state has had a bad reputation when it comes to ethics in government and business, the perception is starting to change.
“Louisiana is doing a better job of putting crooks in jail than most other states,” he said.
He also credited the ethics legislation passed by the state two years ago for moving Louisiana from last among national governmental ethics rankings to one of the top. Those laws impacted four major areas of the state: financial disclosure, transparency in government operations, conflicts of interest, and campaign disclosure.
“But laws won’t stop dishonest people from being dishonest,” he added.
Donahue, who serves as chairman of the State Commission on Streamlining Government, said while there has been improvement on the ethics front, there’s definitely still room for improvement, especially in terms of such things as setting priorities for the state.
“Look where we make the first budget cuts: health care and higher education,” he said. “To me, that’s unethical. People need to speak up, just as they did about the Legislative pay raise issue two years ago. We need to decide as a state what is important, and then put our money where our mouth is.”