Feb 172017
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Drew Ward is a non-traditional politician. He ran unsuccessfully for Council District A four years ago when he received a little more than 10% of the vote and has already announced his candidacy again.

Others considering the race include lawyers Joe Giarrusso and Mark Vicknair.

What makes Ward’s candidacy so unique is that he readily admits he knows very little about the political process, hates asking people for money and relies heavily on volunteers like Tulane’s Democratic club.

Unlike most other politicians Ward has conceited an actual blueprint of governmental reforms he calls “Tomorrow Together” which he believes will create a “much leaner, more efficient and much more flexible” local government.

“I’m running so I can tear government all apart. Go big or go home,” Ward said.

Ward claims his innovations – which is says are based on his experiences in the Army – will reduce costs, ensure full transparency, eliminate much of the gridlock and squabbles that characterize our current system while at the same time maximizing citizen representation and involvement.

A linguist and native of Alexandria, Louisiana, Ward moved to
New Orleans after serving in the Army as a CIO setting up regional support hospitals. He worked his way through Tulane using the GI Bill as his base. After living and working in Europe, Ward put down roots uptown.

For generations government did things like build highways and railroads in the middle of neighborhoods, Ward explained. “I want to undo the mistakes we made and the pain it caused.”

Ward is a proponent of “living with water,” taking down the 1-10 along the Claiborne corridor, completing 1-49, and eliminating the proposed New Orleans rail gateway which would relocate the train currently running through Old Metairie into the Carrollton-Dixon-Hollygrove corridor.

Ward is also passionate about saving the historic Carrollton Courthouse from being repurposed as condominiums. The Orleans Parish School Board currently intends to sell the court house in the coming months. “Every developer in town is eyeing that property,” he said.

Key to Ward’s blueprint is his grand idea that New Orleans would function better if we moved away from the “strong mayor”form of government which was put in place during the 1950’s.

Ward proposes to eliminate all the city’s “mini governments” like the Sewerage and Water Board and the RTA, etc. and place everything under a single umbrella which he says will “eliminate legal hurdles in terms of budget and property as well as drastically reducing personnel and administrative costs by eliminating redundancies.”

Ward agreed that he had “no clue” what was doing last time he ran. If Ward is successful in getting out his message calling for a “top to bottom redo” of city government, this year’s Council District A race will be interesting indeed.

Will Workforce Diversity Trend Continue?

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that many U.S. companies are rethinking their corporate diversity programs in response to President Donald Trump’s vocal support for white working class males.

Many New Orleanians have benefitted from various diversity programs. For their sake, let’s hope the programs continue.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and work for City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include judicial candidates Suzanne Montero and Paula Brown.