Mar 202014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The power of social media and voter’s desire for a younger crop of elected officials definitely were the hallmarks of last Saturday’s election. In every instance, the younger of the two candidates was elected or reelected, as in Sheriff Marlin Gusman.

Young people, the heaviest users of social media, created such a stir about the Audubon Institute’s tax initiative that it failed. Attorney Keith Hardie also played a big hand. At a time when voters are already feeling pressure from higher property taxes and coming tax increases for the S&WB and for Marlin Gusman’s consent decree, Audubon had a tough race from the start. That’s probably why they waited so late to go public. But in the new world of social media, it’s never too late. We love what Forman has done with his many projects over the years, especially the Species Survival Center, and hope his efforts continue.

Cynthia Morrell was packing her office memorabilia yesterday and planning the next phase of her life. if she and others had not worked so hard to separate the two council at large seats, she might be moving to Jackie Clarkson’s office. Cynthia was the second highest vote getter in the primary and under the old system would have won the second at large seat. Jackie Clarkson was in Baton Rouge yesterday lobbying an important issue. Dwight McKenna was seeing patients and Charlie Foti was practicing law with his partners Lewis Kahn and Michael Swick.

Newly elected District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey was celebrating with family and friends last night at an event hosted by Congressman Cedric Richmond, one of her most important supporters. A large crowd turned out at Galvez Restaurant to mix and mingle with the new power. Other elected officials present included Darren Lombard, Ed Shorty, James Gray, Jefferson Parish’s Mark Spears, and several of Nadine’s former judicial colleagues. Also present were former mayor Sidney Barthelemy, who was accepting congratulations for his son-in law Jason Williams’ victory in the Council At Large race, Blair Boutte, and attorney Ike Spears who spearheaded (no pun intended) Nadin’s campaign. Others present included attorney Bill Aaron, accountant Sean Bruno, attorney David Marcello, co-host Wilma Heaton, Sherman Copelin, Rev. Jerome Bush, developer Scott Wolfe and his son-in-law, former candidate Lourdes Moran, newly elected coroner Jeffrey Rouse, beer exec Dwight Barnes, attorney Sundiata Haley, developer Wayne Ducote, former candidate Jason Coleman, developer John Cummings, former candidate Eugene Green, Aviation Board president Cheryl Teamer, future judicial candidate Bridgid Collins, developer Josh Bruno, Ronnie Ricard, and the emperor of trash Jimmie Woods.

Nadine was also center stage today at the kick-off press conference for this year’s French Quarter Festival. Nadine will be putting her mark on the festival in future years and probably help make their governing board more diverse. The residents of the French Quarter have always been among Jackie Clarkson’s most staunch supporters. It will take them a moment to get in the groove with Nadine.

Several months ago Civil District Court Judge Paula Brown quietly circulated affidavits for her reelection campaign. Brown came to New Orleans from her native Mississippi on a Tulane basketball scholarship and like many decided to make New Orleans home. After practicing insurance law and representing the RTA, Brown was elected judge in 2010 to fill the unexpired term of Nadine Ramsey, who had resigned to run for Mayor.

With qualifying set for early fall, Brown is kicking off her campaign tomorrow at a Ruth’s Chris luncheon that will be well attended by the legal community and other supporters. Brown is smart to get a head start. With all the judges running this fall, money is bound to get tight.

Anyone who closely follows the goings on at the Orleans Parish Jail knows that cell phones somehow find their way in through all sorts of ways and are used for all sorts of reasons – even talking to one’s lawyer, which we are not sure is legal. Yesterday’s announcement by DA Leon Cannizzaro of the new Cellphonegate investigation was long overdue. No matter how many inmates and/or deputies are charged, the ultimate responsibility falls to Sheriff Gusman. It also should be no surprise that the Sheriff Office failed to answer public record requests on the subject of illegal cellphones during the campaign.

When will the next member of Gusman’s team get indicted? It shouldn’t be too long. In full disclosure, we did work for Charlie Foti during the Sheriff’s race but we have nothing to do with the illegal activities that go on inside the jail. Unfortunately, like many of you, we will also be paying to mitigate the jail consent decree.

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 council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.

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