2023 will be a busy election year in Louisiana. A new governor, other statewide officials, and multiple judges will be selected. Yet the first race of the new year will fill a vacancy in Orleans Parish’s legislative delegation. Qualifying begins Wednesday (Jan. 11) for a candidate to represent the Louisiana House District 93 seat previously held by Royce Duplessis.
The citizens of New Orleans are shell-shocked, no pun intended, by the highest homicide rate in more than 25 years. Armed robberies have also skyrocketed. Numbed by the ongoing crime wave, residents are no longer surprised when they hear gunshots. After multiple shots rang out last Friday afternoon (Dec. 23) at Rouses on Baronne Street, people across the city were astounded by the brazen act of violence that took the life of comedian and social media sensation Brandon “Boogie B” Montrell.
On Christmas morning, a 16-year old was injured in a Central City shooting.
It’s hard to turn on the news these days. There are far too many stories about innocent people who have been assaulted, murdered or carjacked. Also, I am not so naïve as to believe that all the crimes committed end up in police reports.
The results of the NOPD Recruitment and Retention Survey, released Wednesday (Dec. 14) by Council President Helena Moreno and the Fraternal Order of Police, only make matters worse. Conducted by the AH Datalytics, the survey shows the high level of dissatisfaction officers feel about cronyism, favoritism and promotions based more on who you know than ability and experience.
For perhaps the first time since Mayor LaToya Cantrell appointed Shaun Ferguson as chief of police almost four years ago, Ferguson spoke candidly in public. “I want to encourage our city leaders to have better communication lines. This isn’t able personal agendas. It’s about the safety of the people of New Orleans,” Ferguson said Wednesday (Dec. 7) during his remarks on what influenced his surprise decision to retire in less than three weeks.
This week’s drama that pitted Mayor LaToya Cantrell against City Council President Helena Moreno and the majority of council members is just another example of the deep rift between the two branches of city government. Don’t expect it to heal anytime soon. The council was quick to call out Cantrell for her handling of Housing Authority of New Orleans board member Sharon Jasper, a long-time tenant advocate who Cantrell wanted to replace. State law requires that the appointing authority provide clear reasons for dismissal. Cantrell initially provided no reasons and then gave only lip service to the law.
Why is Thanksgiving special? After all, the early Pilgrims weren’t such great folk. They muscled their way onto this continent and used weapons not available to its indigenous population to seize land, food and people while eliminating anyone who got in the way. They brought diseases that tribes had no means to combat. They broke up homes and destroyed villages and sacred grounds.
It was refreshing to hear Inspector General Ed Michel tell the City Council on Tuesday (Nov. 15) about his plans to audit or investigate an important group of city departments and agencies showing a troubling performance for some time. The Sewerage & Water Board’s billing issues are legendary. The performance of the 911/311 call system has often been questionable. What about short-term rentals that advertise themselves at “two bedrooms sleep eight” instead of four as required by the permitting process?
Incumbent District 3 Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III launched a scathing attack Wednesday night (Nov. 9) on outside forces that he said precipitated the runoff in his bid for a fourth and final term on the PSC. “Almost $1 million dollars in dark money poured into my race from donors outside of Louisiana. Their purpose was not to support another candidate but just to pull votes from me,” Boissiere told a roomful of New Orleans Democratic leaders. The PSC race is the only New Orleans contest on the Nov.
I am disappointed that Rock ‘n’ Bowl owner John Blancher posted what he considered a harmless photograph of a patron in his establishment last weekend who was wearing a T-shirt that posed the question “Where’s Nancy?” The customer was also holding a sledge hammer that mimicked the hammer used to beat on octogenarian Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at their San Francisco home recently.
When questioned by a NOLA.com reporter, Blancher said it was not his intention to offend anyone or drive customers away from his place of business. He somehow did not realize the post was, at minimum, in bad taste and lacking in the courtesy and politeness that are hallmarks of a civil society. Courtesy and politeness — do those attributes even exist in today’s politics? Blanchard isn’t the only well-known Louisianian who has disappointed me recently. Let’s move on to U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Lafayette, who promoted a false conspiracy theory about the Pelosi attack on Twitter.
During the first two days of early voting, which began Tuesday (Oct. 25), almost 10,000 New Orleanians cast their votes either in-person or by mail. Those numbers continue to grow for every election, as people become more accustomed to finalizing their decisions earlier in the election process. Candidates have also noticed and are pushing out mail, social media and other forms of advertising to meet the early voting deadlines.
In Orleans Parish, 9,490 registered voters turned in the ballots during the first two days. As usual, more Black (5,573) than White (3,530) residents have voted early.