Yesterday’s announcement by Gambit that Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet will resign her position on Friday and is likely to enter the race for mayor signals how hot this contest will become. Charbonnet was elected citywide three times and is a charismatic candidate who will attract female and African-American voters, especially those from the Creole neighborhoods.
Do you smell that in the air? If it reeks of a festering mound of equine excrement, it’s a safe bet that you’re either ankle deep in the leavings of a police horse, or the mayoral race is ramping up.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday for some may involve church, bonnets, and chocolate bunnies, but in Louisiana it also usually includes a good old-fashioned Crawfish Boil.
Hams and pork loins will be studded, glazed, and stuffed, awaiting Uptown ovens. Bundt cakes baked, brownies cut, and eggs dyed. Someone’s great-aunt will lobby to bring the macaroni and cheese, while another tries to control the dinner menu (this is why they invented wine).
There are few obstacles Derrick Edwards won’t tackle. A former John F. Kennedy High School football star paralyzed from the neck down in a 1989 catastrophic injury, Edwards is undaunted by a crowded field of moneyed Republicans seeking to become Louisiana’s next state treasurer. He is a Democrat and resides on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish.
Although I am trying to seize the mantle of New Orleans’ resident anti-government curmudgeon, I generally try to avoid playing chicken little. However, it is becoming increasingly evident to me that local government is incapable of providing certain very basic services. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the city has simply run out of money.
Earlier this year, I wrote a column in which I pointed out that the city was doing an extremely poor job of replacing street signs. Now, months later, things have become much worse.
Although the race to replace now U.S. Senator John Kennedy as State Treasurer is just shaping up, two powerful women – both Republicans – have already emerged as candidates in what will be a big money race: Kenner State Rep. Julie Stokes and former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, wife of 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley.
It was reported this week that New Orleans hit a milestone: In 2016, for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that New Orleans suffered a deficit in terms of domestic migration. Put more simply, this means that more people moved out of the city to other parts of the United States than the reverse.
Meanwhile, another story reported that New Orleans hosted a record-breaking 10.45 million visitors in 2016, more than any year since before Hurricane Katrina. Those visitors also spent more than ever before – a whopping $7.41 billion dollars, to be precise.
Early next week New Orleans based Republican lobbyist Brian Trascher will be escorting CEO Ed Carlson of Odyssey House New Orleans to meet with former Georgia Congressman Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump. “It will be my first meeting with a cabinet member,” said Trascher proudly.
Trascher meet Trump and his attorney in 2011 in New Orleans and offered to help if Trump ever ran for president. When Trascher received the call, he jumped onboard to play an important role in Louisiana and around the country. Trascher says he knew Trump was going to win about a week before the election when he saw the change in direction of highly targeted phone banks he was supervising in other states.
The reason you, the voter, elect a City Council is to serve as a watchdog over the municipal budget. That is our primary function, and while our daily lives can be consumed with issues like public safety, quality jobs and working schools, most assume that government will act to promote and protect the public interest.
But when politics is concerned, this public interest can often be glossed over. That is why it is important that you hold your council members accountable and question why you are being asked to pay fines, fees and taxes without proper examination.
A prime example of this is on our agenda this week and grew out of the recent consideration of the often complicated, and always lucrative, utility contracts, which are awarded by the council for $6 million-a-year for a lengthy time period. For decades, these contracts have been awarded to out-of-state firms who have maintained strong political ties to local political organizations.
I’ve always considered Mardi Gras as being a time of unfettered satire. It’s a time when krewes mock and imitate each other without judgment, promoting frivolity solely without the straightjacket of needless social convention. It’s a time when we all pull our collective sticks out of our keisters and start dealing with one another on an individual level, as opposed to one dictated to us by political propaganda.
Alas, we in New Orleans are not above being influenced by our wider culture. We may be open and understanding, but for others, any social commentary, no matter how innocuous and inoffensive, is a never-ending wellspring of umbrage and resentment.
No Flying Monkeys
Mid-City’s favorite breakfast and brunch spot, The Ruby Slipper, is now firmly ensconced in the Garden District.
Fans of Bacon-Infused Vodka Bloody Marys and Hollandaise topped Apple-Braised Pork Debris on Buttermilk Biscuits have a new place to add to their brunch queue. That particular Benedict, one of many, is the Eggs Cochon.
In an era when women are overwhelmingly winning judicial elections, can a man still be elected judge in Orleans Parish? Martin Landrieu certainly hopes so. The brother of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and retiring Division F Appeals Court Judge Madeleine whom he would like to replace, Landrieu is optimistic that voters will support him based on his qualifications. “Everyone stands on his or her own,” Landrieu said.
The clock has been ticking for New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. Now, the final bell may have tolled.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plans to remove monuments to Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis had benefited from a temporary reprieve while an appeal was argued in the U.S. Fifth Circuit. Now, that appeal has been denied, eliminating the last legal hurdle for removal.
The New Orleans City Council is entering a transition phase as popular term-limited At-Large City Councilmember Stacy Head prepares to leave office and fresh new faces like State Representative Helena Moreno and others prepare to run for the City Council.
While Head reviews her bucket list of initiatives she still wants to accomplish or shore up during her remaining thirteen months in office, Moreno is holding a news conference tonight where she is expected to announce this evening that she will seek one of the two councilmember-at-large seats. With qualifying just four months away, other candidates are beginning to make similar announcements.
There’s no way to sugar-coat this: We came in dead last. Economically, New Orleans is the municipal equivalent of the 2008 Detroit Lions.
According to a report released by the Brookings Institute, New Orleans ranked last among America’s 100 largest cities in terms of economic prosperity between the years of 2010 and 2015. Everything decreased – worker productivity, average standard-of-living, and average wages.