Wed, 05 Apr 2006 16:41:57

It’s City Council District B forum week. The candidates are doing this from Monday through Thursday. It’s an endurance contest y’all. Tonight is our forum but I went on Monday as well because it was held by the *other* neighborhood association in my area. It was a mess but an entertaining mess.

First a disclaimer. I’ve gotten to know and like 4 of the candidates so my blogging detachment is somewhat impaired. In short while I’ll tease Shane Landry Michael Duplantier Stacy Head and Marshall Truehill they won’t get the full Adrastos treatment. It’s a pity I know but I have a double standard for everyone I know in real time; with the possible exception of Harvard Boy. I’ve also met Quentin Brown but it’s impossible not to yank his chain and he can take it: straight up. As to the incumbent Councilwoman Renee Gill-Pratfall: no comment. I was however raised to be polite to everyone so when I run into her I am always courteous but icy. Consider me Mr. Freeze when it comes to NOLA machine pols; especially those who are wholly owned subsidiaries of Dollar Bill Jefferson.

The forum was held in the somewhat dreary rec room at St. George’s Episcopal Church on St. Charles Avenue. I’ve been trading emails with all the candidates but hadn’t met Stacy or Marshall FTF before. I was glad to meet them; both are very smart and pleasant people. This forum was on NOLA time and started 15 minutes late even though the candidates were all on time even the incumbent who is usually on Clinton or Morial time which is even later than NOLA time. Dr. A disapproves of tardiness she’s punctual almost to a fault. That’s why she’ll be the timekeeper for tonight’s forum.

Before the forum I was chatting with Marshall Truehill and Quentin Brown. Quentin’s suit was a bit large and he explained that he’d lost some weight post-K. Everyone in Debrisville has either gained or lost 20 pounds post-K. I wish that I were on the Quentin Brown/Chris Rose weight loss team but alas I am not. Anyway Ms. Gill-Pratfall came over and actually acted as if she recalled meeting me. It was a first; I’ve met her 10-12 times over the last 4 years and not only does she never remember me (that doesn’t bother me) but she doesn’t even fake it. That *does* bother me: people are her job. We exchanged mild pleasantries and she went off to explode more fertile possibilities. I’m purt near the last person in the district who would ever vote for her.

Dr. A and I sat in the middle of the cramped low-ceilinged room; we had a good view of Shane Stacy and Ms. Gill-Pratfall. Bettye Duplantier came and sat with us. The poor dear was tired from all her exertions on behalf of Michael. In short she was a bit punchy but  even an exhausted Bettye exudes grace and charm. I was able to pry a Duplantier for Council pencil out of her even though she informed me that they were for children. I assured her that I was an overgrown child. Dr. A was quick to agree.

The forum was a wild one. The moderator established rules and then failed to enforce them which made it a frustrating experience for many of us. You’ll never hear a discouraging word from any of the candidates though: they were glad to have 75 or so people there to listen to them. But I was appalled: the hosts thanked neither the church nor the candidates.

Listening is not Quentin Brown’s forte. He was something of a disruptive albeit entertaining force. His campaign slogan is: “No B-S No More.” And half the time Quentin makes a lot of sense but the rest of the time he leaves you scratching your head. BUT Quentin has a natural gift for colorful language and phrase making. Straight up as the man himself would say. He got into trouble by cussing a bit whenever he talked about Gill-Pratfall. I just cuss about her in private but Quentin does it early often and openly. Straight up y’all.  Most of the time the audience was laughing *with* Quentin. Eventually Marshall Truehill got frustrated with Quentin and essentially asked him to back off. Quentin did so. He actually a very nice guy but his picture *is* in the dictionary next to the phrase “loose cannon.”

Oh yeah a vintage Quentin Brown moment. The Duplantier camp has water bottles with their logo on it. Quentin noticed this and said: “The dude is bad. He got his own water.” He also seems to be a bit smitten with Stacy Head; I halfway expected him to ask her out…

As to the substance of the debate I thought that Duplantier Landry and Truehill did the best. Stacy Head was a bit nervous at the beginning but eventually warmed to the task. I think that she’ll do very well in a more structured forum; she’s a very methodical person. The incumbent said some truly astonishing things. Gill-Pratfall claimed that her office had a “quality control” system when it came to constituent service. If they file things it’s in the trash. I have written dozens of letters and emails and called her office repeatedly and every time it’s as if the prior contact never happened. After the forum Dr. A told Marshall and Miranda Truehill that dealing with Gill-Pratfall’s office is like the film “Groundhog Day.” It is too. I’m not the only wit in the family. Well done hon.

Anyway there were a lot of comments post-forum about the look on my face when Gill-Pratfall reeled off a string of whoppers that went well beyond spin: her office’s constituent service is good; she always sides with neighbors against developers and blah and blah and blah.  She doesn’t even TALK to people in the neighborhoods let alone side with them. If she did she wouldn’t have supported opening the freaking Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street.  Back to *my* reaction when RGP was rattling off her falsehoods I noticed Shane nudging Stacy so she’d see the look on my face. I was told by several people including Miranda Truehill that it looked as if my head was going to explode. It nearly did too. It would have been a real mess….

Gill-Pratfall kept telling the audience “that’s not my job.” It was her standard refrain even for things that *are* part of her job. This led to the most dramatic moment of the forum. Michael Duplantier had a look of disgust on his face and said in a voice full of icy anger: “That’s the problem with the whole system. It’s NEVER anyone’s job. That’s why problems get passed around and nothing ever gets done.” That’s a paraphrase but that’s the gist of what he said. Michael is usually a very formal man but he let his passion shine through. Well said Monsieur Duplantier.

After the forum I met two of the candidate spouses for the first time. Rebecca Landry was handing out doubloons with her husband’s name on them; it’s a cool carnivalesque campaign gimmick. Dr. A and I introduced ourselves and Becky knew who we were immediately. She told us: “One day Shane came home from campaigning and said: I met the nicest people today. I spent an hour with them.” Becky replied: “Did they *want* you to stay an hour?” Actually we did but he met one very nice person Dr. A and her husband who is only nice when it’s leap year…

Anyway the room was quite noisy and I told Becky that Shane had asked me how I thought he’d done and I made a few comments about his performance to him. I added: “I used to be a handler.”

She looked puzzled and said: “Hampster?”

“That too but I got tired of the damn wheel in my cage.”

I stopped being a wise guy and told her what I’d really said. We had a good laugh over it. The room *was* loud and I have a hard time passing on a good straight line even an inadvertent one. I figure Shane won’t challenge me to a duel over this episode: one of his biggest assets as a candidate is his sense of humor. Even in these troubled times in Debrisville we all need to laugh; especially now…

At the end of the evening I met Miranda Truehill. Her husband Marshall is tall and lanky; Miranda is as petite as she is sweet. We were talking and I noticed she had a British accent plus. I asked her what the plus was and it was Australian. I’m both an Anglophile as well as a connoisseur of accents so I really enjoyed chatting with Miranda. She gave me a yard sign to add to our collection: we have a sign for almost all the District B challengers; except  for Stacy Head. Yo Harvard Boy Stacy loves the garden of signs idea: where’s my sign? I’m sayin’ this straight up: I need my sign. Ya feel me Harvard Boy?

Finally a self-serving finale for my Debrisville readers. The District B forum my group is co-sponsoring is tonight at 7PM at Touro Synagogue. Come and meet some of the recurring characters in this blog. We actually have a good choice this time around so come and see them for yourselves. Btw if you meet Harvard Boy ask him where the hell my sign is. Muchas gracias.”


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