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A patronage two-fer …

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This is day 4 in a series that started at a column called “Wirth-less”.

In early 1975, I left a great job in Boston to return to New Orleans, where I would join the job-seekers. The move was not exactly my choice, but was made necessary by a previous series of bad choices.

Well, anyway, I do not remember how long I had been looking or how it occurred to me, but I decided to see if I had any political capital left with the Edwards administration. Whoever my contact was, next thing I know I am being summoned to Baton Rouge as soon as possible for an interview.

Remarkably, a very small role in a campaign over three years earlier had gotten me placement on a “Friends of EWE” list. The summer job that I was given last time I called apparently did not move me to any “favor repaid” list.

My timing was flawless. The state had recently formed a central computing agency called the Louisiana Information Processing Authority (LIPA), and set up its flagship computer center in Baton Rouge. The best I could tell, the New Orleans political contingent wanted a center located in N.O. to serve state agencies there.

Certainly it was not my political clout that caused the “technocrats” to create a job for me. I was an experienced computer center director when those were hard to find, and I represented an opportunity to address a political situation before it could become a problem. So I left Baton Rouge as the new associate director of LIPA, in charge of the N.O. computer center, then being set up at Charity Hospital.

“Big Charity,” the oldest, continually operating hospital in the country, was an interesting choice for the center. It certainly represented the biggest opportunity of all state agencies for “data processing” to make significant improvements. On the other hand, its culture was more political than medical, a place where good ideas went to die.

Tomorrow – The Honeywell “honeypot”

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About John Vinturella

Retired businessman and professor.