Congressman Bill Cassidy’s strong win against Sen. Mary Landrieu last week and Sen. David Vitter’s role as chief strategist has set up a powerful Cassidy/Vitter connection that will put an imprint on Louisiana for years to come. Together they will also be a powerful force in Washington as Vitter uses his clout in the Republican Party to help better position Cassidy, who could quickly find himself Louisiana’s senior senator if Vitter becomes our next governor.
Danae arrived in Arkansas just in time for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Brookfield, where Vera, her 88-year old mother, resides. A place card on the table proclaimed “I am thankful for Vera.” It made her also reflect on the many things in New Orleans we are thankful for this year.
Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top.
First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu. Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out.
Since Danae has been on the sidelines in two current campaigns, we thought it was only appropriate that Allan — who wrote his “cloudy crystal ball” political predictions in the Times Picayune for decades — pen this column.
A very important election will be held in New Orleans and throughout America on Tuesday. What do the pundits think is going to happen? Who cares? You’re the ones who are going to the polls to vote. Your opinions are worth as much or more than some self-appointed seer who thinks he or she knows more about Louisiana politics than voters just like you. Early voting set an all-time record. But traditional voters like Allan will still vote next Tuesday. Seize that power and help decide our political future.
Here is some information about several of the elections that will be on the ballot in New Orleans. How good are you at picking the outcomes before the polls open?
We’re Mary Landrieu fans, so we’re used to her “Perils of Pauline” routines where she somehow squeezes out an unlikely victory at the very last instant. But in her current reelection campaign, her Road Runner gig seems to have run its course and her Republican opponents are certain that she’s ready for their cooking pot.
“This is the fourth time I’ve opposed Mary Landrieu in a U.S. Senate race and I’ve lost three times,” says Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. “So I have a lot of respect for her. But this time, everything seems to have fallen in place for us. It won’t be over until it’s over but I think that this time we may finally have her number.”
Let’s start with some full disclosure — Danae will be among the dozens of table captains at Senator Mary Landrieu’s women’s fundraising brunch later in October. It will be a star-studded affair with well more than a thousand women present — many of whom have been devoted to Mary for decades. In fact, Danae can remember walking in Broadmoor with a much younger Mary Landrieu during her first race for the Louisiana Legislature.
Fast forward a few decades to this week, when you might have heard one of the state’s leading elected officials say that he is concerned about the unwanted scrutiny and negative attention Louisiana will receive during a very divisive Senate run-off campaign. The nation’s eyes will be watching us as PACs spend millions to damage opposing candidates.
Even with Mary’s traditional luck in pulling narrow election day victories out of the proverbial rabbit’s hat, we think it will be hell-hard for her to forge a clear victory on Tuesday, Nov. 4. We savored this week’s poll that showed Mary pulling ahead of Bill Cassidy. But we also looked at the strength of Rob Maness’ numbers. With two well-financed Republicans and associated Republican PAC dollars tearing away at her, it’s hard for us to see how Mary can avoid a runoff. It also doesn’t help Mary that Cassidy is avoiding all those televised debates.
State Representative Helena Moreno has turned out to be a savvy lobbyist for issues important to women and families and easily able to cross the political aisles to get the votes she needs. That’s the sentiment of the Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Independent Women’s Organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Organization for Women, who hosted a reception in her honor, courtesy of attorney Pamela Gibbs.
African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters.
What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share? Mental illness. Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults - aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group.
With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond. While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected.
In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot.
Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose.
As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation. Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is.
Snuggles is a New Orleans dog, born and bred — a 2-year-old mixed breed with probably more terrier in him than anything else. About a year ago, Snuggles was a lonely street dog, mostly eating out of garbage cans.
One day, a stranger swept him up and brought him to the Louisiana SPCA. After getting some really good food, shots, spayed and regularly bathed, Snuggles was ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, no matter how cute Snuggles was, he always seemed to come in second. Fortunately for Snuggles, fate smiled on him. SPCA Executive Director Ana Zorrila was getting calls from shelters in the Northeast and Midwest looking for puppies to be adopted.
Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America.
The Krewe of Banana is returning to the Port of New Orleans and we couldn’t be happier. The Port of New Orleans has undergone a great resurgence in recent years – at least they are one agency that Governor Bobby Jindal cuts less frequently than most others.
Now that all the glitz and glamour of Monday’s inauguration is over, it’s time to get down to business. First on the list should be how the Mayor and Council are going to come up with all the millions to fund the two consent decrees and the firefighters’ judgment while keeping money flowing to other agencies in need, like the public libraries and the Sewerage and Water Board.
Monday, May 5, begins the new four-year terms for Mayor Landrieu and the City Council. Thus we thought it appropriate to bid farewell to old friends and welcome to new ones.
The conventional wisdom is that former Governor Edwin W. Edwards can’t be serious about running for the open seat in the Sixth Congressional District or, if he is serious, has no chance to win.
The 86-year-old Silver Fox, still looking good and as engaging as ever, made it as clear as he could at a recent reception that drew hundreds of his Metro New Orleans friends that he is running, expects to run first in the Nov. 4 primary and believes he’ll have a chance in the Dec. 6 runoff against whichever Republican comes out of a crowd of candidates to take him on in the general election.
The City’s announcement last week that after months of meetings, negotiations were still ongoing with Gatehouse Capital should prompt the New Orleans Building Corporation to re-open the bid process and invite new proposers.
This is especially true with several new Council and NOBC members coming on board in a few weeks and the change of NOBC leadership when Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant moves on to the Sewerage & Water Board. With the multi-million dollar high-end outlet mall by the Howard Hughes Corporation set to open at the Riverwalk next month, the WTC development project would attract new bidders – possibly including the Hughes group. Hughes’ portfolio is very diverse and the WTC could be a good fit for them, especially if they do not choose to build condos or a hotel on top of the Riverwalk in a second phase.
We have been watching with much interest the national and Louisiana debate regarding increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The latest polls show that support is growing across the nation, although only seven states and the District of Columbia have raised starting pay.
According to today’s New York Times, Louisiana is one of five states – the others being Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that currently does not have a minimum wage. Washington State has the highest wage ($9.32) currently with D.C. to move to $11.50 in 2016. While both those rates might be too high for Louisiana’s economy, something must be done to give our lowest paid citizens a better opportunity to succeed in life.