Jan 092014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

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.

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.

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.

Teens Against Gun Violence -- founded by Granville Kaynor, Lizzie Redd, Fleming Redd and Talley Hodges -- and the Youth Empowerment Project hosted a New Year's Resolution Party Jan. 4 at the youth center on O.C. Haley Blvd. (submitted photo)

Teens Against Gun Violence — founded by Granville Kaynor, Lizzie Redd, Fleming Redd and Talley Hodges — and the Youth Empowerment Project hosted a New Year’s Resolution Party Jan. 4 at the youth center on O.C. Haley Blvd. (submitted photo)

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.

  6 Responses to “Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: This year’s elections are the tale of two cities, for the haves and have-nots”

  1. Kind of humorous that you say Di Blasio’s campaign inspired people across the country then proceeded to give Rochester and Syracuse as examples. I’m not saying the point is wrong necessarily, just that I got a bit of a chuckle from that line.

  2. I’m a bit astounded that Marlin Gusman is running for reelection. How badly can someone (screw) up and still get another chance? How many people have to die in his cells before he’s held accountable? How many more convicts will be allowed to stroll out for a night on Bourbon under Gusman’s watch? The only card he seemed to have in his hand recently was the race card when he got into the petty cat-fight with Mitch. Elmer Fudd would be a better sheriff than Gusman.

    • When Charles Foti was Sheriff, he illegally strip searched 80,000 people (Times-Picayune, 14 July 2007). Even mothers trying to get their children to school (Greta Cazenave, et al. v. Sheriff Charles C. Foti, Jr., et al., Docket Number 00-1246 of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana). When the Federal Appeals Court told Foti to stop, he refused to listen (Kelly v. Foti, 77 F.3d 819 5th Circuit 1996). Because of this, Foti cost taxpayers 10 million dollars (Times-Picayune, 14 July 2007). When he was the Attorney General for the State of Louisiana, he delayed suing insurance companies (Times-Picayune, 30 January 2007). Foti also had Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses arrested and tried to prosecute Dr. Anna Pou when she is considered a “Katrina Hero” (Times-Picayune, 25 July 2007).

  3. I think New York City is a flawed comparison.

    1- de blasio Did not run against an incumbent. He was targeting Bloomberg a billionaire. New Orleans incumbents are middle-class types.

    2-New York City with its mega finance industry is full of one per centers. New Orleans is small potatoes.

    3- Danger here. This piece could embolden the challengers into a full-blown “eat the rich” mode which would be very bad For the city.

  4. The fairytale language in this article is not doing New Orleans any favors. It’s not haves and have-nots, it’s people who produce and people who don’t. Last year New Orleans had an African American male unemployment rate of 53%, therefore 53% of them did not produce any wealth. Stop making everyone into victims and promote some individual responsibility.

    • Thank you. This is not a local issue. Here, you’ve got working middle and upper middle class at the top, not uber wealthy 1%ers. There’s a disproportionate amount of people who are just taking from the government and giving nothing back… THAT is the issue in New Orleans but we won’t hear that from these whiney liberals. Free rent, free food, the list goes on… Must be nice.

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