Owen Courreges: Landrieu sees himself as “America’s mayor,” not New Orleans’

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Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

When it comes to the day-to-day concerns of ordinary New Orleanians, it has become increasingly clear that Mayor Landrieu has, to put it mildly, completely tuned out. Gone are those halcyon days when Landrieu at least gave lip service, if not substantive effort, towards governing our fair city.

It’s becoming clear that Landrieu’s attentions have been completely diverted, and his efforts have tilted entirely in favor of preening for a national audience.

It all began with Landrieu being named as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a highly politicized group with a pronounced leftward bent. The choice was viewed as a stamp of approval to Landrieu’s much-publicized effort to cleanse New Orleans of its most nefarious element – Confederate statuary.

Landrieu ran with the football, and immediately began to use his newfound position as a bully pulpit on national political issues, all from a notably partisan perspective.

First, Landrieu gave a rousing speech on June 26th before the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors as he accepted the presidency. There, he spouted some nonsensical pablum about practical politics.

“In this political climate,” Landrieu explained, “we mayors must fight to occupy the radical center, where idealism meets reality, and where we put people over politics.”

It wasn’t long before Landrieu revealed his “radical center” to be a cover for partisan ambition. First, he gave an interview to Politico in which he attacked the Trump Administration and Congress at length. Trump was lambasted as “wrong most of the time, because he takes a myopic, narrow view” while the GOP Congress was depicted as “out of touch with the American people.”

Next, he issued a statement condemning the Senate Healthcare bill, arguing that “[t]he bottom line is that this bill will make us sicker.”

Finally, Landrieu seemed to return to the fold, and announced a policy change in the city he actually governs – a grand plan to reduce New Orleans’ greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by the year 2030. However, this too was partisan posturing. It was a transparent rebuke of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords.

Landrieu’s own report acknowledges that New Orleans ranks low in terms of metric tons of pollution per capita, a fact which is undoubtedly a byproduct of poor economic conditions. Wealth begets waste, if only because wealthier people can actually afford waste. Drawing closer attention to that is cold comfort.

Ultimately, Landrieu’s climate change proposals weren’t meant to address New Orleans’ actual problems, or even something he can control.

Landrieu can have some influence on crime, of course, but he squandered that opportunity. In the midst of New Orleans’ recent spike in violent crime, Landrieu finally announced proposals designed to increase retention in the NOPD. Alas, that’s like closing the barn door after the animals are gone. The damage has been done, and presently the department can’t even effectively solve homicides.

This is what we can expect for the remainder of Landrieu’s administration. He has given up all hope of a political career in Louisiana, and despite talk of a presidential run in 2020, he’s an unlikely contender. His last chance is to make himself known to interest groups and garner a plum position on his way out. It’s crass, but it’s also politics.

In the meantime, though, New Orleans needs an active mayor, not one who already has his foot out the door. Our problems, for the most part, are worse than ever. Regrettably, so is Mayor Landrieu.

Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.

14 thoughts on “Owen Courreges: Landrieu sees himself as “America’s mayor,” not New Orleans’

  1. Wow, you missed the boat completely on this one, Owen. You can hold whatever opinion you choose regarding the work of the mayor, but if you’re going to criticize, at least get the basic facts correct.

    You say, “It all began with Landrieu being named as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.” But a few minutes on Google confirms that Mayor Landrieu has been engaged in national politics throughout his time in office. And he’s been engaged in issues emanating from Donald Trump since before the election. See for instance The Gambit’s coverage of Mayor Landrieu’s criticism of candidate Trump in October 2016, https://www.bestofneworleans.com/thelatest/archives/2016/10/10/mitch-landrieu-goes-after-donald-trump-on-american-cities-criticizes-trumps-confused-racist-vision , and a press release from the Mayor’s office regarding President Trump’s Executive Orders targeting sanctuary cities, https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/LANOLA/bulletins/182e118 . So it undermines your entire thesis if you think this is some sudden sea change that started last month.

    The mayor has been and continues to take the fight to where it’s appropriate, whether that’s here, or in Baton Rouge, or in Washington. I think that’s good for New Orleans. Whether you agree or not, the fact is that he’s been working on the national stage all along.

    • Tim,

      I’m not claiming that Landrieu never engaged national issues before; rather, I’m claiming that he didn’t do so to the same degree and to the exclusion of actually governing the city. Basically, I’m saying that the problem has gotten much worse.

    • You’re citing sources from 2016 and 2017 to claim that Landrieu has been engaged in national politics throughout his time in office. Owen convoluted the mayor’s radical shift, which actually dates to mid 2015, about a year into his lame duck final term as mayor. The overall point of the article is quite sound. The mayor has been destroying the city to make national news headlines to further his national career prospects. It’s blatantly obvious. You are living in an alternate universe.

  2. Once MJL leaves New Orleans because there isn`t anything to run for here in Louisiana, Mitch will begin a tour all around the South promoting the removal of confederate monuments(Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis and the confederate monument in St. Louis to start) . Marches and rallies will most likely take place and be reported on by the MSM. MJL will become a 21st century MLK and the monument removal movement will spark President Mitchell J. Landrieu into the White House.

  3. Little Mitchy is SOOOO disappointed his favorite politician LOST the Presidency…Thank GOD! Wonder if he lost his deposit on his DC home? Hopefully, NOLA can recover from his incompetence.

  4. This article is spot on. He realized a year or two ago that he has no future in Louisiana, but he’d like to do better than Morial and the Urban League. He’s truly turned the city into a dumpster fire. While the city burns, he fiddles out tunes for a national audience. Perhaps next he’ll demonstrate his foreign policy acumen by following Trump around the world and whining about him, like de Blasio.

    I don’t know where the presidential talk came from, but this man will never be elected to any position by voters again. More likely, he is polishing his resume in the hopes of being appointed to a cabinet position by a Democratic president in three years.

  5. The obsessive hatred of the Landrieu’s goes back generations. I have policy disagreements with Mitch, but man your comments are simple hyperbole and is part of a long tradition of hating the Landrieu family.

    • I realize that there are plenty of people around who would never be willing to give any credit to someone named Landrieu, no matter what, but which facts or assertions in this particular story are not true or invalid? Here’s the truth, whether convenient or not: just like a certain former governor did with regard to the state, the mayor has essentially checked out of attending to issues on the home front in favor of being involved in issues that are of national, rather than local, nature, and in a decidedly partisan fashion.

  6. Woo Hoo! – Karen Carter Peterson. What’s My Line? Will the DNC approved mystery candidate please sign in? From Aspen, Marc Morial promised some alligator sausage in the super gumbo elections (if you know how to cook it).

  7. With one foot out the door he comes up with this reduce carbon plan that will of course fall on the shoulders of those who come after him –
    And what he could control – the police department – he destroyed.
    A preening fraud – a perfect representative of the progressive cause.

  8. This piece is spot on. Mitch is a disaster. Laughing stock. Typical Democrat urban “leadership.” Yet, I’m sure New Orleans will vote Democrat again and again and again. What a shame that this crime infested cesspool is actually what the voters apparently want. Their votes tell the tale. Sad.

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