An official representing the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency (LPAA) showed up on campus today to conduct an “emergency meeting” to bring me and my LSU Eunice colleagues up to speed on a statewide crackdown.  LPAA, incidentally, is the government agency charged with    administering the state’s fleet vehicles, that armada of drab Tauruses and Impalas and Dodge minivans driven by petty state bureaucrats like me on official errands.

The Fleet Management Agency: Protectorate of the Taxpayer's Trust!

They reiterated the point that vehicles must be used strictly for official state business.  No picking up the kids after soccer practice, no trips to Sonic for 3:00 classified staff breaks, no detours to pick up a loaf of bread and a pound of coffee on the way back from a meeting in Baton Rouge.

No problem, right?

But then someone raised this question: “What happens if I have a medical emergency? Say, for instance, a badly cut hand or finger requiring an emergency room visit.  Can I drive myself to the nearest emergency room?”

The staid reply: “NO!  Dial 911.  If you have to go to the hospital for a personal injury, call an ambulance and leave the state car parked.”

Huh????  Yes, that’s what we were told.

Measure that against this: Later in the presentation, the state official explained what rights the employee has when traveling “away from domicile” overnight at a conference or something like that.  Say, for instance, you discover once you get to the hotel that you forgot to pack your deodorant.  “No problem!  You can use the state car to drive to the nearest Walgreen’s or WalMart to get your toiletries.”

Duh???  So if I run out of deodorant, no problem–the governor approves my errand.  But if I’m bleeding on the side of the road, even though I have the power to safely drive myself to the nearest treatment facility, I have to call an ambulance?

Do I have to explain to anyone how stupid that sounds?