With Tuesday’s surprising Iowa caucus results and attention now turning to New Hampshire, New Orleans voters are beginning to focus on Louisiana’s March 5th presidential primary. Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have made fundraising stops in the region. Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a campaign headquarters in Metairie. While Congressman Cedric Richmond and state Democratic Party chair Karen Carter Peterson are currently leading Hillary Clinton’s outreach efforts, Louisiana chairs have been named for Trump, Rubio and Kasich.
Whether we live Uptown, in Uruguay or Uzbekistan, we are all impacted by oil and the global economy. Though many sectors of New Orleans economy like real estate and technology are prospering, the war in the Middle East and its related immigration crisis, China’s economic slowdown, the broad impact of the continuing drop in oil prices coupled with new state and local taxes on the horizon could squeeze many lower and middle class New Orleanians in 2016.
As Baton Rouge area residents listen President Obama’s remarks on Medicaid expansion today, we can’t help but think how strange our politics are getting. Governor Jon Bel Edwards can’t get his choice for speaker elected but at least St. Rep Walt Leger gets the consolation prize of Pro Tem. The next day Governor Edwards signs an Executive Order expanding Medicaid for a couple hundred thousand Louisiana residents who cannot afford health insurance, which made the President want to visit here this week. Who else noticed that Congressman Cedric Richmond was with the President on Air Force One?
A former member of the New Orleans City Council, a high ranking NOPD officer and several uptown residents are among those who have told us that they were polled last weekend regarding Mayor Landrieu’s favorabilty and a possible third term campaign. Based on poll results, which have not been released, could Landrieu test the “3T” waters after the City Council’s expected vote today to remove several monuments?
After his easy re-election to the United States Senate in 2010, it might have been reasonable to think that David Vitter had put his seriously sinful past behind him, from a political point of view.
But questions about his dalliance with prostitution prominently and somewhat surprisingly re-emerged in the governor’s race in September — long before videos starring his alleged former paramour — at a forum held by the Orleans chapter of the Alliance for Good Government. The moderator that night asked a seemingly innocuous question, whether the candidates had ever violated Louisiana criminal law, and Vitter refused to answer what he decried as a “gotcha” question.
This week, Vitter apparently hoped to avoid a repeat of that embarrassment, as both he and his staff refrained from attending the Alliance’s forums on the runoff Tuesday evening. Their endorsement went instead to John Bel Edwards, who was represented by state Rep. Walt Leger of New Orleans.
What has happened to our candidates in Louisiana and the U.S.? In the old days, qualifying for public office was a sacred vow people took (men only for so many years) when they put themselves on the line for the public good.
Unfortunately, in our modern election cycle we have candidates who have no qualms lying about where they live, whether their taxes are properly filed and paid, and what their sexual habits might be. More than a few elected officials also commit crimes while in office and end up in jail.
We’re focusing on women voters this week because there are more of them, they vote more frequently than men, and they value issues differently. Unfortunately, not as many seek elected office and are often unprepared financially for the demands of the election process.
With early voting starting this Saturday, it’s time for all of us to really focus in on which candidates to vote for. Between the oversized influence of Super PAC spending, and the failure of some candidates to show up at forums (David Vitter, please note), it’s sometimes hard to know where the candidates stand on the issues.
Ninety-three years ago this week in an historical event known as the “Catastrophe of Smyrna,” several hundred thousand Greek and Armenian refugees were driven from their historic homes. Smyrna, now Izmir, was an idyllic, multi-cultural gem city on the Turkish Aegean where Muslims and Christians had lived side by side for thousands of years. Mustafa Kemal’s loyalists deliberately set a massive fire in an effort to facilitate the Christians’ departure and create a Muslim stronghold which still exists today. Jewish and Muslim homes and businesses were left untouched.
If the response at last week’s gubernatorial forum sponsored by GNO Inc. and its two sister organizations is any indication, Louisiana might not get anyone “better” than David Vitter as our next governor. The “Louisiana Can Do Better Than David Vitter” mantra from the new anti-Vitter PAC probably won’t resonate with enough voters to make a difference, since and other anti-Vitter groups haven’t uncovered any new sins or identify a candidate the majority of voters can better relate to.
We like politicians who have a plan for New Orleans’s future. State Representative and House Speaker Pro Temp Walt Leger III definitely fits the bill. Though expected to easily win re-election for a third term at the Louisiana Legislature, Leger delivered thought-provoking remarks at his well-attended Audubon Tea Room fundraiser earlier this week that quickly set the tone for his political future, perhaps as a candidate for mayor in 2017.
It’s no secret to political insiders that State Treasurer John Kennedy has his eyes set on David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat if Vitter is elected governor. Vitter would be in a unique position to recommend his successor and could easily select Louisiana’s popular Republican State Treasurer. Kennedy is now running a television commercial that depicts himself as a statesman worthy of voters’ support. Kennedy is also starting to be a stand-in for Vitter, defending the U.S. Senator on several tough issues. We should all expect more of that coziness as the campaign continues.
Today’s debate at the New Orleans City Council is another symbolic step in the long-term struggle for New Orleans’ working poor to earn the living wage they deserve to support their families.
Though New Orleans has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Hurricane Katrina as well as an influx of skilled young professionals, we still rank second in income inequity among 300 U.S. cities. In fact, income disparity in New Orleans has increased in recent years, according to the New Orleans Data Center.
If Saturday night’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner is any indication, Louisiana Democrats feel their time is coming again soon. Recent polls show State Rep. John Bel Edwards neck ‘n neck with U.S. Senator David Vitter. “We can only go up from here,” Edwards told the packed ballroom. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is saving his money for the run-off in the Lt. Governor’s race and presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders delivered his fiery brand of liberalism to a large, enthusiastic, stomping, waving, cheering crowd at the Pontchartrain Center Sunday.
With qualifying less than 60 days away, local candidates are wanting lightning to strike to drive interest and money into the fall legislative races. Will lightning strike twice for School Board member Leslie Ellison as she takes on popular State Sen. David Heitmeier? As a physician and Chair of the state senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, Heitmeier played a leadership role in the passage of medical marijuana.
Because our ancestors hailed from countries where freedom was not free, we firmly believe that a big part of the American Dream is the freedom to run for public office. Actually, we are eternally grateful that so many Americans in cities large and small are willing to risk their personal privacy and accept inevitable criticism while articulating their ideas on how our democracy should operate. Whether we like the positions candidates take or not, we still appreciate their First Amendment right to speak up – which our ancestors could not do without fear of death or reprisal.
Earlier this week we spoke with two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Republican religious rights conservative and former governor of Arkansas, who was meeting with a small group of supporters at Ralph’s On The Park. Huckabee is clearly fulfilling his vision of the American Dream.
Conservative religious-freedom advocates still exist in America, and Gov. Bobby Jindal must connect with every single one of them if he is going to break out from the bottom of the pack to become a real player in the Republican presidential nomination race.
The ballroom at the Pontchartrain Center was packed to the gills yesterday with mostly white, flag-waving believers as Jindal made his highly structured announcement for President of the United States. The event started out with recorded messages from Archie Manning and former Gov. Mike Foster, Jindal’s mentor and former employer. His logo is a sparkling red and blue “J” that almost looks like a Christmas decoration.
Obviously hungry for new leaders at the state level, New Orleans voters had three opportunities yesterday to hear from various candidates for state-wide office, now that campaign season is ramping up after the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, and PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle were generally congenial and complimentary of each other as they addressed a group of 1,000 predominately Westbank voters at the Alario Center very early yesterday morning.
Generally speaking, we like Police Chief Michael Harrison and the NOPD. We think Chief Harrison is at least trying to do a good job within the budget and directives set by Mayor Landrieu. But there are serious neglect-of-duty and abuse-of-power issues hovering over the NOPD including yesterday’s City Council dialogue on the mishandling of sex-crime and child-abuse cases.
It is unfortunate that Chief Harrison did not address this problem before being forced to do so by a scathing report from IG Ed Quatrevaux. Even though Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook complied some frightening statistics that found wide-ranging administrative policy violations, no officer has been disciplined in the seven months since Quatrevaux’s initial report because of the prevailing good-old-boys network inside the NOPD where they protect their own.