In simple terms, many of New Orleans’ races this year’s races are breaking down to the status quo (incumbents) and those who say not good enough for us (the challengers). This “Tale of Two Cities” campaign theme was imprinted by new New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and is inspiring progressives and liberals around the country including Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Minor.
There is more consistent and insistent talk about income equality, which even President Obama has called “a fundamental threat to the American dream.” Even the newly elected mayor in Seattle, home of many prosperous tech companies and their high-paying jobs, has created a task force to examine the issue. de Blasio says there is a progressive movement in America that is having a real effect with mayors from around the country talking about fighting inequality and poverty and expanding access to early childhood education.
This sentiment fits right into the hands of candidates such as Danatus King, who successfully talks this talk at every forum. And it is drawing support by the consistency of message, the fact that the media is reporting the message and that people at the grassroots level believe the message. Receptive to that message include those many voters who know someone who has been a victim of crime, who has lost a job recently and lives paycheck to paycheck, who suffers from disease or mental illness, or who lacks good quality education for the children in the family.
There are forums every night now (tonight the Alliance for Good Government at Holy Name of Jesus Church) and the incumbents are being pounded continuously on these issues. Not only are Danatus and Michael Bagneris taking on Mitch — who has done a decent job of responding so far — but Eugene Green is hitting Stacy, Cynthia Willard Lewis is hitting James Gray, Jason Williams is attacking Cynthia Hedge-Morrell; and Carlos Williams and Nadine Ramsey are needling Jackie Clarkson. Susan Guidry seems to be having it the easiest so far.
This banter is also going on in the Sheriff’s race with two opponents lashing out at the incumbent, who has kept his cool so far.
Needless to say conservative political leaders and their supporters are not thrilled with this agenda. But what choices do they have in many of the races, including mayor? Mr. de Blasio is being called the “prince of progressive policy.” Regardless of who wins in New Orleans we expect to see policy makers address the growing gap between the rich and the poor — a discussion that is long overdue.
TAXI CAB OFFICIALS KEEP DIGGING THEMSELVES IN DEEPER
Why hasn’t Mayor Mitch Landrieu made a change in the taxicab bureau management yet? Who didn’t see the images this week of a taxi inspector pepper spraying a cab driver? We don’t believe any person who is not committing a crime deserves to be pepper sprayed. Cab drivers are an active political lobby, especially this year. Perhaps the mayor will decide he needs to make a change before February 1.
YOUTH SPEAK OUT AGAINST VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL CITY
This generation might be lost, but the next generation could get along with each other much better by finding common ground against violence and staying in school. Our friend Anne Redd’s two daughters were among the many young people who came together last Saturday on Oretha Castle Haley to talk about building their future without crime. Dialogues like this should be an essential part of every school and church and supported by every adult.
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.