Dec 272012

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We’re off to a great start in 2013 with the Super Bowl, which is going to be fabulous regardless of which teams end up playing in the game. It will also show the world that our resilient, unstoppable comeback from Hurricane Katrina is almost complete. What will not be so apparent is that there are literally thousands of New Orleanians working their tails off to make it appear that hosting a Super Bowl is effortless for this city — which, of course, it isn’t. There are thousands of details involved in securing and then hosting a Super Bowl and New Orleans excels in both phases. Most of those who do the heavy lifting are virtually anonymous, hardly known beyond the tourism community. A few, like Louisiana Superdome’s SMG exec Doug Thornton, occasionally surface to be given a deserved standing ovation but there are hundreds more whose names never appear in the news media. They just labor away, far from the spotlight. It should also be said that as in every aspect of life in Metro New Orleans, just beneath the surface are scores of rabid rivalries but there is a tradition here of putting these things aside to make the Super Bowl as success. This will be the case again this year, which merits further congratulations to all involved.

Allan has been around New Orleans politics and government for 50 years and believes there is no precedent in that time for the cooperative relationship that has been developed by DA Leon Cannizzaro and Police Chief Ronal Serpas. While it is still a work in progress, it is clear that Cannizzaro and Serpas are working more closely together than previous DAs and Chiefs while abstaining from the famous “blame game” maneuvers of the past. New Orleans is still, of course, a long way from solving or significantly diminishing its violent crime problem. One need only peruse the Uptown Messenger to confirm that. But, police-DA cooperation has resulted in some gains already and we believe that more are on the way and will be more clearly seen in 2013 than previously. This bodes well for the city’s future.

Our friends in the tourism industry tell us that 2013 is going to be their best year since Hurricane Katrina. The Super Bowl is part of it, of course, but Mardi Gras, French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, the cruise ship industry, the convention business and leisure tourism are all expected to be bigger than last year or the year before. The hope is that Metro New Orleans will draw 10 million visitors in 2013 and Armstrong International Airport for the first time in its history will be approaching 10 million passengers.

The apparent failure of President Obama, the Congressional Democrats and the Congressional Republicans to keep the nation from toppling over the fiscal cliff is a terrible disappointment. While there is much to be said for President Obama, he is just not good at securing bi-partisan agreements. Of course, the Tea Party Republicans and others are also to blame but, as the movie “Lincoln,” reminds us our system is built around the concept of a strong President who by force of will and brilliant political strategy brings together just enough votes to pass that which must be passed for the national good. It is said that falling off the fiscal cliff could cost Louisiana 28,000 jobs along with tax increases that will seriously incapacitate the state’s middle class. Unless there is a last-minute miracle, all those involved in Washington D.C. should be blamed for a failure of historic proportions.

Finally, we can scarcely believe that Gov. Bobby Jindal has been such a colossal failure. One of our mentors, the late Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, was tremendously enthusiastic about Jindal’s potential. Harry saw in Jindal one of the smartest, most honest and visionary guys ever to run for Governor of Louisiana (Edwin Edwards is smarter, but that’s another story). Jindal may be intelligent and he may be honest but he is not a positive visionary for Louisiana and we don’t think he has much of a heart either. Jindal’s propensity for slashing budgets while refusing to raise taxes on such industries as energy, liquor, soft drinks, tobacco, etc. has severely crippled public higher education in Louisiana and public health services. Completely changing the management and role of Southeastern Hospital on the North Shore is simply a public health disaster. Allowing Medicare patients to be denied hospice services ought to be unthinkable. Bobby Jindal, while honest, is as much a failure as a Louisiana governor as the most corrupt of his predecessors. Whoever succeeds him will have the awesome task of restoring the state’s public education infrastructure as well as the guts, and the heart, of Louisiana’s public health system.

Best Wishes to each of you for a happy and prosperous New Year!

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.

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