Terry W. Gee

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Terry Wayne Gee Sr.
Louisiana State Representative for
District 86 (Jefferson and Orleans parishes)
In office
1980–1992
Preceded by Sam A. LeBlanc III
Succeeded by Stephen J. Windhorst
Personal details
Born (1940-09-21)September 21, 1940
Natchez, Mississippi, USA
Died May 19, 2014(2014-05-19) (aged 73)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Divorced from Wanda Webb Gee
Children

Terry "Buzz" Gee Jr. GEE Construction LLC

Regina Gee, formerly Regina Esbeck
Alma mater

Natchez High School
Louisiana Tech University

Loyola University of New Orleans
Occupation

Oil and natural gas executive

formerly on the Loyola faculty

Terry Wayne Gee Sr. (September 21, 1940 – May 19, 2014)[1] was a businessman in the oil and natural gas industry who served three four-year terms as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He represented parts of Jefferson and Orleans parishes from 1980 until he was defeated for a fourth term, effective 1992. While a legislator known for his emphasis on fiscal and labor matters, Gee resided in the Algiers section of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Background

Gee was born in Natchez, Mississippi, one of three children of Garland and Cletus Grimes Gee. He graduated in 1958 from Natchez High School. As a young man, Gee worked for a time as a roughneck in the Mississippi oil fields. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in personnel management and public relations from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish in North Louisiana. There he was a member of both the Bulldogs varsity baseball and tennis teams.[1] He subsequently received a master's degree in business from Loyola University in New Orleans. He was a Loyola faculty member for seven years, having taught various classes in management and behavioral sciences.[2]

In his early adult life, he was a player of contract bridge and traveled widely to various competitions.[1]

When he filed his candidacy papers for state representative in 1979, he was the executive director of Associated Builders and Contractors in New Orleans.[1]

Gee's experience in the oil and gas industry stems from his having been a managing partner of Resource Consultants, Limited, for nine years. After eleven years as the assistant to the CEO and chairman of the board of Louisiana Power & Light (a subsidiary of Entergy),[2] Gee from 1996 to 2004 served as the executive director of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, known as "LOOP."[3] He was appointed to the LOOP position by Republican Governor Mike Foster and left the position when a Democratic governor, Kathleen Blanco, took office. Under his leadership, LOOP was developed as America's first and only deep water port which operated under both United States and Louisiana licenses. Gee described LOOP "is a good corporate citizen that employs over one hundred people ... and has a tremendous safety and performance record."[3] After September 11, 2001, one of his tasks was to oversee the reevaluation of the security of LOOP to guard against terrorist attack.[1][4]

Gee's legislative service

In his initial legislative election, Gee benefited from the successful gubernatorial candidacy of then Jefferson Parish resident, David C. Treen. Still, there were few Republicans in the legislature when Gee served. In Gee's first term, two other Republicans also represented parts of Jefferson Parish, Charles D. Lancaster Jr., and Charles Grisbaum Jr., a former Democrat who had opposed Treen in 1974 in Louisiana's 3rd congressional district race but had since switched parties and become a Treen ally. Another Gee colleague, Democrat Charles Cusimano of Jefferson Parish, switched parties in 1984.

Gee was a member of the House Ways and Means, Commerce, and Labor committees during his tenure. On the Labor Committee in 1980, Gee filed a bill to repeal the Louisiana prevailing wage law in order to lower construction costs on state projects. Gee said that the state had not effectively determined the prevailing wage but had merely adopted the wage scale of organized labor, which had resulted in higher costs to taxpayers. Treen did not support Gee's bill but instead instructed his labor secretary, Debra Bowland, to calculate alternative ways to determine that wage, but Bowland soon resigned to re-enter the private sector.[5] For a time Bowland led a grass roots campaign designed to pressure the legislature to repeal the prevailing wage law on the grounds that such action could save taxpayers $40 million per year.[6] In 1989, U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush nominated Bowland to head the Wage and Hours Division of the United States Department of Labor. U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts led the opposition to Bowland, whom he claimed held a "philosophical objection in wages/hours regulation". The director enforces the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires a prevailing wage in construction projects. The nomination was killed by the Democratic-controlled United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.[7]

In 1984 at the start of his third gubernatorial term, Governor Edwin Edwards attempted to deal with the erosion of state revenues by approving $730 million in new personal taxes, including a 1 percentage point increase in the state sales tax, $61 million in higher corporate income taxes, and $190 nmillion in additional gasoline taxes.[8] The legislature passed these taxes into law, but they were highly unpopular and damaged Edwards' level of public support at the time. Representative Gee said, "Nobody realized the magnitude of what's going on; I've had 180 phone calls in two days against the higher taxes."[8]

In 1986, Gee was part of a group of legislators who declared their independence of gubernatorial direction over the state House of Representatives. The group pushed through $600 million in cuts in state spending though Edwards had predicted they would fail in that attempt. Of Edwards, Gee said, "He just threw up his hands. He made us do something some of us had been trying to do anyway. I think it's great."[9]

In 1987, Gee joined nine legislative colleagues in filing suit against Edwards in a vain bid to halt what the lawmakers saw as continued runaway state spending, which was adversely affecting both the general fund and dedicated accounts. Gee and his colleagues were joined by several trade associations and contractors, including the Louisiana Good Roads Association.

Gee was known in the legislature for his ability at storytelling and his sense of humor. He and two colleagues, including Metairie Republican Quentin Dastugue, introduced a "bill" in 1991 to "regulate the hunting and harvesting of attorneys by any person with a valid state rodent or armadillo hunting license." Some of his legal colleagues did not find his proposed "open hunting season" on lawyers to be particularly amusing. "We thought this was definitely 'good government' legislation, but the lawyers outnumbered us, and we got beat!" Gee said in a conversation with columnist Smiley Anders of the Baton Rouge Morning Morning Advocate.

According to his obituary, Gee was "able to move from faction to faction [in the legislature] as he sought to be fair to everyone. He was trusted by Democrats and Republicans to bring skill and balance to all political considerations, which made him unusually effective."[1] He was a close associate and personal friend of then Democratic Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives John Alario of Jefferson Parish,[1] who subsequently became the Republican President of the Louisiana State Senate in the Jindal administration.

Defeat in 1991

Gee was unopposed in 1987 in his last legislative election in District 86. In 1991, however, he was unseated in a Louisiana-style general election by a fellow Republican. In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 19, Gee had led the balloting with 4,512 votes (45 percent), compared to 3,734 (37 percent) for attorney Stephen J. Windhorst (born 1957) of Terrytown and 1,847 (18 percent) for the only Democrat in the race, Cynthia Davidson.[10] In the November 16 general election, Windhorst was the big winner, 7,576 (61 percent) to Gee's 4,845 (39 percent).[11] Windhorst is a son of State Senator Fritz Windhorst, who represented parts of Jefferson and Orleans parishes from 1972 to 1992. Stephen Windhorst later left the legislature to assume a judgeship, which he still holds.

Later years

In February 2005, Gee was named the assistant vice president of capital sourcing of Ecoloclean Industries, founded in 2001 in Crystal City, southwest of San Antonio, Texas. According to then company president and CEO Melvin Royis Ward (1934-2013), a native of Navarro County, Texas,[12] Gee was retained because of his "working knowledge of Louisiana government policies and regulations. ... He will have all necessary support to assist in the growth of our company. His work ethic and experience in a variety of industries will enhance Ecoloclean's management infrastructure ..."[2]

Ecoloclean engages in the manufacture and sale of machines for the treatment of contaminated water. In 2005, the company was retained by officials in Biloxi to provide drinking water to Hurricane Katrina victims and to establish water remediation needed in the aftermath of the storm along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.[2] Gee's obituary does not mention his association with Ecoloclean. He may have left that company by the time of his death in Baton Rouge at the age of seventy-three.

Gee and his former wife, Wanda Webb Gee, have a son Terry W. "Buzz" Gee Jr. (born 1960), a construction company owner in Mandeville, and a daughter, Regina Gee, formerly Regina Esbeck (born 1963).[1]

A celebration of Gee's life was held on June 1, 2014 at Jubans Restaurant in Baton Rouge. The obituary does not mention a church affiliation, a cause of death, or a burial location.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Terry Wayne Gee Sr. Obituary". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ecoloclean Industries, Inc. Hires Assistant Vice President of Capital Sourcing, February 2005". thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "All about LOOP". archive.org. Archived from the original on October 12, 2004. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ In 2008, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal named a Democrat former legislator and member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Dale Sittig of Eunice, as the LOOP director.
  5. ^ "Labor Secretary, Debra Bowland, resigns post", Minden Press-Herald, April 28, 1981, p. 1
  6. ^ Fight begins to repeal wage law", Minden Press-Herald, April 1, 1982, p. 1
  7. ^ "Bowland nomination rejected", Minden Press-Herald, November 2, 1989, p. 3
  8. ^ a b "Legislators buckle under EWE threat", Minden Press-Herald, March 23, 1984, p. 1
  9. ^ "Lawmakers declare their independence", Minden Press-Herald, July 2, 1986, p. 1
  10. ^ "Results for Election Date: 10/19/1991". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Results for Election Date: 11/16/1991". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Melvin Royis Ward". investorshub.advfn.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sam A. LeBlanc III
Louisiana State Representative for District 86 (Jefferson and Orleans parishes)

Terry Wayne Gee Sr.
1980–1992

Succeeded by
Stephen J. Windhorst
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