Saturday, May 29, 2010

Early Call: Moreno Wins

Based on the sample of results that have been reported The Early Call is projecting Helena Moreno the winner in the 93rd district state representative race.

Updated Numbers: Moreno Wins White Vote Heavily

The McGehee School boxes comes in strong for Moreno, winning it 197-36.

The big question is how Moreno performed in Louis Charbonnet's boxes.

Moreno-Perry Runoff: First Numbers, Close But Leans Moreno

The first numbers are in. Precinct 1-1, where James Perry won in the primary, Helena Moreno carries the box 16-11. Precinct 1-5 59-33 Moreno. Precinct 1-2 went to Moreno 33-11. Perry had handily carried both boxes in the primary, indicating a close race but promising for Moreno.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mayor Mitch: A City United

Launching his administration with an eloquent, Kennedy-esque address to the invitation-only gathering on the steps of historic Gallier Hall, Mitch Landrieu assumed the reins of leadership of a city still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina and a myriad of quality of life problems that were present long before the devastating storm system made landfall in 2005.

The younger Landrieu entered office not by being the lone man standing in a divisive election but supported by one of the broadest political mandates a non-incumbent has ever received.

The new mayor carried every neighborhood in the city and lost only a single precinct in his primary victory, carrying into office the votes and hopes of New Orleanians of all races, ideologies and incomes.

Only two other mayoral elections in the past 100 years are on the same level of importance as Landrieu’s win: Chep Morrison’s smashing the Ring’s decades of near-monopolistic control of city government and “Dutch” Morial’s election, marking the beginning of African-American ascendancy in city politics.

The greatest asset Landrieu has is the mandate he received at the polls as no one segment of the community put him in office.

It’s easier to govern when you win by a landslide than it is when victory comes by a sliver. Rather than having to work to build trust with voters on the other side of a 50-50 split that he has their best interests in mind, it was the voters who threw the keys to City Hall to Landrieu by virtual acclamation, signaling that they already trust him to do what’s right for the entire community.

To be the recipient of that level of support in a city known for its deep internal divisions is both humbling and sobering.

It’s also the best protection to have when someone marches into the City Council Chamber and makes the absurd accusation that transparency in government is a racist concept meant to hurt minority contractors. How Landrieu reacts to the political demagoguery invoked concerning policy and appointments will be an omen of what kind of leader he is going to be.

Landrieu will have eight years (a second term is practically a certainty- no sitting New Orleans mayor has lost a re-election bid since 1946) to utilize his vast experience in government, political courage, intellect, personal resilience and oratory skills to develop and sell to the public solutions to what ills the city.

Quick band-aid fixes will work about as well in addressing New Orleans’ long festering problems as the temporary levee plug along the Industrial Canal’s Lower Nine side during Hurricane Rita.

Sympathy for the Devil

I am tempted to wager that there’s a better chance of the Orleans Parish School Board renaming a school for a Confederate general than the ex-mayor.

Clarence Ray Nagin’s mayoralty started off with much promise but suffered from disasters, natural, rhetorical and appointive. The Nagin era has been hammered on the front pages of the Times Picayune and the sides of Krewe d’Etat floats.

That said, here are a few highlights of the Nagin Administration:

1) The demise of Orleans Parish political machines that were largely responsible for the culture of corruption in City Hall and the wrecked public school system started with Nagin’s election in 2002. And once in office, Nagin did not set about creating a new machine (unlike the beatified Morrison).

2) The Big Four housing projects were demolished during his administration. If only Nixon could go to China then only Nagin could stand up to the professional protestors that wanted these high-density/crime havens of death and despair reopened.

3) New Orleanians finally found the guts to stand up to City Hall. Anyone remembered all of those protests about corruption, crime, etc. during either Morial Administration? Didn’t think so. Why? Because Nagin apparently had thicker skin than anyone that’s held the office and was not inclined towards political vengeance. For the first time, calling out the mayor didn’t feel like the equivalent of taking on the mafia. Be sure to remember this one.

4) Nagin showed more maturity dealing with President George W. Bush than Governor Kathleen Blanco and a number of other Democratic officials. While Blanco’s staffers were worrying about HWKRST (How Would Karl Rove Spin This?), Nagin didn’t let his party affiliation get in the way of working with the one man who could do the most for the city’s recovery.

5) He warned us about Kimberly Williamson Butler. But the voters elected her Clerk of Criminal Court anyway leading to missing evidence and election machines being delivered to polling locations late.

6) He cursed for all of us. While the Times Picayune has had some fun posting a Nagin comment soundboard, the mayor’s exasperation broadcast across the globe during the worst of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath expressed the frustration we all felt with the storm, the Army Corps of Engineer’s levee system (and shipping channels that contributed to the collapse of the former) and the incompetence of the state and federal governments’ response to the storm.

7) Hollywood South. Before it became K-Ville, New Orleans was a new hub for the movie industry and had a big cheerleader in the mayor. Don’t think having the mayor’s support matters? Try getting the permits needed to close streets with City Hall against you. Film shoots garnered the Crescent City publicity and provided jobs for workers of all skill levels, from lighting technicians and caterers to extras.

8) He brought people together. It took mass disaffection with Nagin’s mayoralty to get many voters beyond race. For the first time since 1978, the city’s racial demographics alone were not the primary reason why a particular candidate was elected mayor. Nagin, who didn’t shy away from acting like an African-American version of Roswell Thompson, attempted to motivate black voters to act to keep the “franchise”; that kind of talk fell on deaf ears in 2010.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ray Steib Elected Judge

In the Jefferson Parish judicial election, Ray Steib has defeated Debbie Villio for judge. It would appear that the big push by Jefferson Parish sheruff Newell Normand backfired.

Perry, Moreno Runoff in District 93

Projection based upon sample of results, James Perry will run first with Helena Moreno finishing second in the race for state representative in the sprawling legislative district vacated by now Senator Karen Carter Peterson. School Board member Thomas Robivhhaux ran a strong third with former representative Louis Charbonnet running a poor fourth in the western precincts.

Endorsements in the May Day special elections and The Early Call Tonight

Helena Moreno for State Representative District 93- Electing reform-oriented politicians should always be a priority for New Orleans voters as each victory means one fewer cog in the city political machine. Helena demonstrated her commitment to improving the political culture of Orleans Parish when she was the lone Democratic candidate for Congress to oppose then-incumbent Bill Jefferson’s re-election in the general election. None of the other Democrats who thought Jefferson was a big enough problem to challenge at the polls had the guts/integrity to help finish the job in either the Democratic primary’s runoff or the general election. There is no Republican in the race.

Ray Steib for Jefferson Parish Judge, Section 2, Division A- While Mr. Steib has not demonstrated very good political judgment as a candidate, needlessly attacking fellow candidate Don Klotz’s character in the primary (there was no chance of Klotz beating Steib out for a spot in the runoff), there is little question that Steib would do the best job as judge and is not a part of an emerging political machine in Jefferson Parish.

The Early Call- I should have projections up in both races before 8:30 PM. Check for updates after 8:00 PM.