Our usually right-on-point Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has been in the news twice this week — first with his remarks that maybe more, better-paid police is not the answer to our crime problems and then about his proposed “divorce” with Police Monitor Susan Hutson. Now it is true that Quatrevaux is white and that Hutson, most of the police and the people they are sworn to protect are not. Does Quatrevaux just see things differently or is there more to his feelings than meets the eye?
Yes, we do have more police officers in Orleans than in Jefferson Parish. JP Sheriff Newell Normand (a client of ours, in full disclosure) now has a lot more crime happening, especially on the Westbank, and probably runs a tighter ship than Chief Harrison. Normand’s officers are also paid better.
With our long-time problems in the NOPD and the boldness of our criminal element, making the NOPD more efficient, more respected, better able to solve crimes and worthy of more public confidence will not be accomplished while Mitch Landrieu is mayor. Landrieu and his team have never really gotten a grip on the police department problems and will undoubtedly pass on the whole mess to the next mayor. No offense, Mr. Mayor, we know you and the Chief are trying!
Are the police often a pack of whiney babies? Yes, but an underpaid, under-appreciated pack. Even with a push for Councilmember Latoya Cantrell, morale won’t improve without better pay.
As for Police Monitor Susan Hutson, her position was created as part of the OIG’s operation — to be funded by the OIG, nutured by the OIG, and left alone to do her monitor thing. Simply put, that has never happened. Quatrevaux has been stingy with the resources Hutson has needed to do her job efficiently, because he wants almost all the money. Quatrevaux’s actions clearly have limited her effectiveness.
A new national poll released this week by the New York Times in cooperation with CBS News showed that both black and white Americans believe the public perception of race relations is “generally bad” and has grown substantially more negative since the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American killed while in police custody in Baltimore.
The poll’s results highlights the challenges that police, elected officials and community leaders across the country are facing as they try to maintain local order in racially charged cities where support for the criminal justice system is often lacking.
We’ve been lucky that incidents like Freddie Gray have not occurred in New Orleans – yet – except inside Parish Prison. Let’s also not forget that Louisiana incarcerates more people than any other state and that African-Americans are the large majority of those incarcerated.
Presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton are rethinking their positions on national criminal justice issues. Clinton and probably several of the moderate Republican candidates will soften their stances as a way to reach out to African-American voters. Hillary Clinton is already calling for criminal justice reform and an end to mass incarceration. Former President Bill Clinton is quoted in Time today that his “three-strikes” policy contributed to over-incarceration. “We had too many people in prison,” Bill Clinton said.
The voices of professionals like Quatrevaux and Hutson must be heard, but fairness, equity and balance in a non-racially-charged environment is essential for success.
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HEATING UP WITH NEW CANDIDATES ENTERING RACE
It makes perfect sense that this week announced presidential candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the second contender to visit Louisiana on the arm of U.S. Senator and leading gubernatorial candidate David Vitter. Look for more candidates to drop by in the coming months. Christie, of course, has plenty of baggage but is still making lots of noise around the country as a moderate.
Not so moderate will be new candidate and conservative African-American Ben Carson, 63, a Yale educated, retired Chief of Pediatric Neurology at John Hopkins, who compares abortion to “human sacrifice.” Carson burst on the political scene two years ago with incendiary rhetoric against moral decay and President Obama’s revolutionary health care legislation.
Also joining Carson in the field this week is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina who some consider the GOP’s answer to Hillary Clinton, and former Arkansas Governor and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, another contender with Hope, Arkansas connections. Huckabee has been called “a big government conservative in the era of reform.” He ran well in Iowa four years ago with broad support from evangelicals and is hoping a repeat of religious support will position him well through South Carolina and the other southern states primaries including Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Carson and Fiorina are targeting more “value” voters. It’s been 75 years since a candidate who had not held elected office or been a senior military commander received a major party nomination. Carson and Fiorina both have their work cut out for them.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL NOW HEADED TO HOUSE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE
Though a hearing date has not yet been set, Sen. Fred Mills of Breaux Bridge, a banker and pharmacist, is upbeat now that his legislation that will promulgate rules under which medical marijuana could be dispensed in Louisiana has cleared the full Senate and headed to the House. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana for almost 20 years but there has been no legal way to acquire it. Mills plans to put together a strong lobbying effort including members of the New Orleans delegation (several of whom already voted for the bill on the Senate floor) to propel the legislation forward.
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 television 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.