John Adams once wrote, "The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable. ... There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." Those words, penned in the 18th century, infused the more recent writings of Louisiana political watchdog C.B. Forgotston. For more than 20 years, Forgotston, a Hammond attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, fearlessly skewered our state's public officials with Adams-like precision. He died on Jan. 3 at age 70, but his work lives on in the memories of his many readers and admirers.
On his website (www.forgot- ston.com) and his Twitter feed (@CBForgot) he took regular aim (and no prisoners) at politicians of all stripes, especially Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom he derided as a charlatan. Forgotston often posted copies of Jindal's campaign promises, juxtaposing them with the governor's actions, and his website recently featured a countdown clock, ticking off the minutes and seconds until Jindal was out of office. Had he lived to see it, Forgotston would have held new Gov. John Bel Edwards accountable from Day One.
Jindal was hardly Forgotston's only target. He limned former Gov. Mike Foster as "Big Daddy" and a big spender, and he proudly posted the "Louisiana Misery Index" — a list of lists on which Louisiana consistently fared poorly. To those who called him "cynical," he replied with an entry from his oft-quoted "Glossary" of Louisiana political terms — "Cynicism: The power of accurate observation as commonly called by those who have not got it."
Forgotston may have been cranky, but he was no crank. A Louisiana State University law graduate, he worked for several years as chief counsel to the House Appropriations Committee and later as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). He opposed both the state lottery and the land-based casino in New Orleans, two battles he lost. If he struck some as cynical, it was because he had served time in the belly of the beast. He saw up close how power corrupted people.
In Forgotston's Glossary, "mullets" were average Louisianans, perpetually suffering under the contemptible rule of self-serving politicians. Among his other definitions:
• America: A country that Louisiana would like to one day join.
• Ethics: The concept of right and wrong. A concept so unknown to politicians in Louisiana that the leges had to pass a statute to remind themselves of it.
• Intaxication: The temporary euphoria people feel when they hear they will receive a tax decrease only to realize that it was their money to begin with.
• Statute: A mere guideline for politicians. It is a mandatory law for mullets.
• Statesman: A term used by leges to describe themselves when they turn their backs on the people who elected them.
Like him or not, agree with him or not, Forgotston was exactly the kind of watchdog Louisiana needs. Of the politicians he battled, he told Gambit in 2006, "I don't know if they respect us as much as fear us, but I consider that a badge of honor."
Rest in peace, C.B. Louisiana misses you already.