It’s always fun to hang around Criminal Court when candidates are qualifying for office, and yesterday was no exception. Although qualifying did not begin until 8 a.m., embattled judge Yolanda King entered the building at 7:15 to ensure first place in line.
Even though King arrived extra early, it took her three tries to get her domicile listed correctly on the sworn affidavit. Domicile is the ongoing problem that might yet land King in jail or at least unable to serve another term.
King’s arrival was quickly followed by CDC Judge Paula Brown who was rushing to take the bench around 9 a.m. and then by dozens of other incumbents and a few challengers too. Judge Frank Marullo, 74, who has been on the bench about 40 years, was quick to say that his age would not be an issue in his race against Graham Bosworth – who has announced but did not sign up on Wednesday. Bosworth – or one of his allies – might well challenge Marullo’s age in court early next week to clear the field.
King drew one challenger yesterday, first time candidate “Niki” Roberts, but more challengers are expected, including Cynthia Samuel, who previously opposed King and exposed her domicile problem. Clint Smith has also been contemplating the race.
Joe Bouie, who narrowly lost the Council District D race to Jared Brossett earlier this year, is confident that he will get to fill the remainder of Brossett’s term at the State Legislature. When CDC Judge Sidney Cates IV qualified yesterday, he said to expect his son Sidney Cates V to enter the House race. We would not be surprised if State Senator Ed Murray entered the race as well.
Constable Lambert Boissiere, who at 71 is one of our oldest elected officials, also qualified. Lucky for “Big Lam” there is no age limit for the Orleans Parish constable, unlike many other parishes.
The brother-sister team of CDC Judge Claire Jupiter and Traffic Court Judge Steven Jupiter both arrived early afternoon (she had to finish her docket first) and are the only currently elected siblings. Claire Jupiter spent longer reading the affidavit than any other candidate. Steven Jupiter has a fundraiser this evening.
Several candidates also qualified for Former CDC Judge Michael Bagneris’ seat (Section H), now a family court seat, including Janet Ahern who has the early lead, and newcomer Monique Barial who arrived with her parents, husband, and young daughter.
Criminal Court Judge Camille Buras and her husband-lawyer Mike Tiftt wore matching seersucker suits. Family Court Judge Bernadette D’Souza, who had a very well attended kick-off Tuesday night, brought along her daughter. CDC Judges Tiffany Chase and Candance Anderson came with their mothers.
Several candidates also qualified for Criminal Court Judge Julian Parker’s seat (Section G), although Parker has not ruled out running for re-election but has been out on extended sick leave. They include current Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens, who said he is looking for a new challenge after 18 years on the bench, and former federal prosecutor, long-time NORD coach and St. Aug grad, Byron Williams.
DA Leon Cannizzaro gave a rousing speech Tuesday night at the MLK Charter School in the Lower Ninth Ward. Yesterday he drew opponent Lionel “Lon” Burns who says his community only sees Cannizzaro when he is giving speeches. “Where was he when people were being shot in the 9th Ward?” Burns asked.
Though Burns and other African-American candidates might be lifted by Mary Landrieu’s get-out-the-vote efforts targeted to minority communities, Burns has a long way to go in a short time to mount a real challenge to Cannizzaro who is touting the many partnerships he has created with other law enforcement agencies.
If Burns was putting $250,000 of his own money into a campaign account, we’d say he was a player. Burns, who lives in Eastover, did self-fund his failed campaign against Judge Arthur Hunter. Cannizzaro said he was taking Burns’ challenge seriously.
Attorney Jennifer Medley notarized almost all the affidavits yesterday except that of CDC Judge Lloyd Medley, her father, who is being opposed by Nakisha Ervin-Knott who also qualified yesterday. That will be a race worth watching as a younger lawyer challenges a long-time, popular incumbent.
Look for another rush of qualifying Friday afternoon as candidates make their final decisions before the 4:30 p.m. deadline. Bring cash, certified checks or money orders only, please.
CAN INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT MICHAEL HARRISON BRING REAL CHANGE TO THE NOPD?
There is no doubt that NOPD Interim Chief Michael Harrison will try his best to improve morale, beef up staffing, and reduce crime. The Police and Justice Foundation is doing a good job identifying men and women to fill the recruiting classes. But with a pay scale below the regional average on top of the pay cuts officers took when the paid detail system changed, it is hard to believe that the rank and file will be motivated to go that extra mile to fight crime.
A new chief, an African-American chief, is an important step. But as one 20-year veteran told us this week, “he’s just another manager.” There is also talk among naysayers that Mayor Landrieu through his top staff has really been running the NOPD for months anyway and will continue to make all the major decisions under Harrison, who was a lieutenant until Serpas promoted him to district commander.
New Orleans is only a heartbeat away from Ferguson, Missouri. What happened in Ferguson could very easily happen in New Orleans. We pray that Chief Harrison will somehow find a way to build confidence in the community and create a more open and transparent operation where officers are respectful, crime is honestly reported and citizens have full access to information. We also wish to thank former Chief Serpas for his hard work in helping keep us all safe.
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, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.