Category Archives: Hurricane Katrina/Federal Flood

THE (FANTASY) LIFE OF RILEY

 Wed, 03 Jun 2009 05:00:19

Someone in NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley’s family must have encouraged him to dream big reach for the stars and all that inspirational hokum. Unfortunately Chief Riley has an alarming tendency to confuse dreams with delusions. Last weekend I was gobsmacked to read that Riley is contemplating running for Mayor. LINK. My initial response was to laugh like a deranged hyena and make jokes about Riley spending too much time in the evidence room. I stopped laughing when I realized that it’s part of a pattern of Nagin-like self-delusion on the part of Riley.

Warren Riley is an unpopular and ineffective police chief running a department that has never recovered from its Katrina trauma. And make no mistake about it: the cops here were traumatized and their leader is a bureaucrat who is as inspirational as a CPA. It’s one of the reasons NOPD is the demoralized mess that it is today.  
 
Chief Riley is now contemplating applying his modest leadership abilities to politics. If he decides to run it won’t be Riley’s first attempt: he lost a race for Sheriff to Marlin Gusman. He ran of course as C Ray’s man and that’s how a run for Mayor would be seen as well. If you like Ray Nagin you’ll love Warren Riley. How’s that for a losing slogan y’all?
 
The last thing New Orleans needs is another Mayor who will surround himself with yes men and overreact to criticism. Warren Riley is just such a man: as his recent dealings with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro make obvious. The Judge is not one to lash out at someone publicly before making the same criticisms off-stage. Indeed Judge Cannizzaro’s complaints about slow arriving (and badly written) police reports and cops not showing up for court have been made by his predecessors. Riley’s response has been indignation and pettiness. He’s always right because he says he is. Hmm where have we heard that before?
 
The latest petty move by Chief Riley involves NOPD Captain Jeff Winn. LINK.  I’m oversimplifying things but what’s wrong with a bit of oversimplification among friends? Here we go: Winn received some good publicity in the aftermath of Katrina and the flood. That in turn made Riley jealous and he began working to damage Winn by using his bureaucratic skills bury Winn and end his career. But Winn has proven to be a resourceful adversary. Riley dispatched him to the DA’s office as punishment but Winn has done such a good job that Riley has reassigned him in a fit of pique at both the Captain and the Judge. Way to go Chief.
 
Back to Riley’s most recent dispute with Judge Cannizzaro. They have profound philosophical differences. The Judge is a big picture man who wants more detectives so that his office can focus like a laser beam on the most violent offenders by clearing as many cold homicide cases as possible. Riley like the fictional Baltimore police chief in The Wire wants bodies on the street and dope on the table as I pointed out a few years back in this post. Chief Riley seems to believe that by asserting that things are getting better crime-wise they are. It’s another delusion masquerading as a dream which sums up Warren Riley’s tenure as police chief quite nicely.
 
Breaking: Riley has cleared the cops involved in the dubious shooting of Adolph Grimes in Treme on New Year’s Eve. LINK. The officers involved will remain on desk duty pending the results of a federal investigation. Hopefully the feds know the difference between facts and wishful thinking; something Warren Riley has never mastered.

THE NEO-YIPPIES

Sat, 22 Dec 2007 06:00:10

It was a nasty Friday in New Orleans: gray damp and foggy which was fitting weather for the day after the debacle at City Hall. The weather also matched my mood but I did have a brief moment of clarity (sunshine?) when I realized who the loony left activists who have hijacked the public housing debate remind me of: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who dubbed themselves Yippies. In reality they were the Abbott and Costello of the Sixties New Left: they were in it for the theatre and nothing else.

Abbie HoffmanRubin-Pig

L: ABBIE HOFFMAN DEEP THINKER. R: JERRY RUBIN & A PIG.

I’ve heard from several people who were in the Council chamber at the beginning of the day that the whole punch-up looked staged to provoke an overreaction from the Council and cops. If that’s so it worked as did the gate rattling by the neo-Yippies outside. While it may have been great drama it was a disgrace: both the police and demonstrators acted badly. I intensely dislike the use of tasers; if applied to a person with heart problems they can be fatal. Mercifully that didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

I think that the neo-Yippies will only be in town for as long as they can have their antics splashed on teevee and all over the internet. What’s more worrisome is the way that more sincerely motivated local activists have allowed these clowns to hijack their cause. The neo-Yippies are in it for the theatre: they don’t care about poor people in New Orleans. They’re into bringing bullhorns into public meetings and live to brag about lying down in front of bulldozers. Drama for drama’s sake is what the Jay Arenas of the world crave. 

Back to the original Yippies: Hoffman and Rubin. They were experts at hijacking worthy causes and turning them into violent farces by provoking the police to use the weapons of the day: nightsticks and tear gas. On black Thursday we saw tasers and pepper spray used at our very own mini-riot. Here’s hoping that it’s not just a warm-up for a bigger conflagration.

Finally,  my favorite Abbie Hoffman story. At Woodstock Hoffman briefly commandeered a microphone during the Who’s set. The Who were neither Yippies nor Hippies so when Pete Townshend realized they were being upstaged by Hoffman he did the only sensible thing possible: he kicked the Yippie foole in the ass and off the stage. Talk about direct action…

 

THE MELEE AT CITY HALL

Fri, 21 Dec 2007 15:55:34

The best thing that can be said about the public housing debate/debacle is that it’s over. And it’s over not in the sense of the original Roy Orbison version but in the way that Michael Caine croaked the song at the end of Little Voice. The end came as a death rattle which led several of the national newscasts last evening. Another proud moment for us. Hey the punch-up might make Oddball on Countdown: Keith is quite fond of fights in legislative chambers after all. We begin in New Orleans…

In spite of all the lofty and moralistic rhetoric this episode brought out the worst in everyone. Of course cant and posturing always seems to do that. I’m inclined to think (wishfully?) that the most violent moments were initiated by non-locals. Why? New Orleans is a violent place but like good Mediterraneans NOLA violence is usually *personal* and not political. And thank God or whatever for that. Council meetings here feature a lot of screaming and posturing but not much punching until today that is.

I’m feeling somewhat Shakespearean tonight so all I can say is a pox on both your houses. I’ve also got the flu which makes me feel poxy or something like that and I’d love to use epoxy to seal certain mouths shut. The extremists on both sides made a rational debate on this complicated issue impossible so emotion and humbuggery were the order of the day. Pro-demolition forces-including the local rag-engaged in suspect and ofttimes slimy tactics and the pro-projects status quo demonstrators played right into their hands. The punch-up in the Council chambers provided cover for Carter and the Cynthias to vote yea. Are you happy Jay Arena? 

I’m too ill and disgusted to say more this evening and I’m not sure that I plan to revisit the subject in any event. Since I made a Roy Orbison reference at the beginning of the post I’ll end with some beauty amidst the ugliness now that it’s all over but the shouting:

MUDDLING THROUGH

 Mon, 02 Jul 2007 13:50:10

There’s a lot of angst in the NOLA blogosphere this summer. Progress in the city seems to have come to a standstill: the charges against Dinneral Shavers’ accused killer have been dropped and looming in the background is Hurricane season and whether or not the levees will hold. Things do indeed look grim but I remain more sanguine than most about the future of New Orleans. Am I crazy? Well I’ve stayed despite manifold misgivings so I’m at least semi-crazy. The reason I think we have a shot at being okay is that New Orleanians are experts at muddling through. We’ve done it repeatedly throughout our history.

Before the Civil War,  New Orleans was one of the richest cities in the world. Of course antebellum NOLA’s prosperity was built on the rotten and sordid foundation of slavery. The city fell early in the Civil War slavery was abolished and many believed the city would die. It didn’t. We muddled through.
 
The 20th Century brought a series of  calamities: the flood of 1927; Hurricane Betsy; economic stagnation; middle class flight; crime corruption and crack. New Orleans has been declared dead many times. It’s hung in there. How? We muddled through. 
 
Most of our long term problems-crime incompetent leaders bad schools corruption to name but a few-have been with us forever. We’ve survived by learning how to muddle through. Surviving isn’t as uplifting as thriving but there are worse things than muddling through; like giving into despair. I always thought that the post-K  recovery would be a slow and painful process given the profound problems we had before the levees broke. New Orleans was a glorious mess pre-K and now it’s even messier. It’s going to take time patience and above all else the ability to muddle through. It’s one of the things we do best after all.

FOTI’S FOLLY FOLLOW-UP

Wed, 19 Jul 2006 14:12:02

I posted somewhat in haste yesterday based on the assumption that the press knew what they were talking about. Why on earth did I assume such a thing? I plead temporary insanity. I should know that the media knows absolutely nothing about the legal system. The Memorial Hospital Three were “accused” of murder by the AG but not “charged.” The press assumed more co-operation with the Orleans Parish DA’s office than had really happened. In short Charlie Foti has dumped a 3 ton sack of shit in Eddie Jordan’s lap. Splat.

I think that my colleague Dangerblond cut to the chase in pointing out that Foti’s posturing may have more to do with potential civil cases against Tenet than with a criminal case. If that’s so Foti’s posturing is even more shameful. It is highly unusual to arrest people who have NOT been formally charged in the context of an 11 month long investigation. Mr. Foti was too busy pandering to religious leaders and posturing for the cameras to consider the irregular nature of his actions. I suspect however that Foti was disappointed by the low key national coverage of the initial announcement: they’re too busy covering that pesky Middle Eastern crisis to give Charlie more play.  Sorry Charlie.

Finally I continue to find the allegations by Foti to be incredible: would an experienced MD run around informing staff that she planned to dispatch patients? Not bloody likely. This sounds like a cartoon version of the real world. Patients are eased out of pain and allowed to die in peace every day.  I suspect that the people who scream the loudest about “mercy killing” haven’t seen close friends and relatives die slowly and in agonizing pain. I have and it taught me that there are things that are much worse than death.

FOTI’S FOLLY: THE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL OUTRAGE

Tue, 18 Jul 2006 20:18:37

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti announced today that a Memorial (Baptist) Hospital doctor and 2 nurses have been charged with second degree murder for “mercy killing” in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The usually mild mannered Dr. A has been fuming about this all day: the patients involved were terminally ill and were being legally administered doses of morphine that would kill the average person reading this. Why? The worse the pain the more morphine you need; so the doses must be increased to properly relieve the pain.

My understanding of the case is that the patients involved were in an hospice program which means that they were near death before the storm. The hospital’s generator failed rather quickly post-K so these patients were in for a very painful and horrible death because of the conditions. Additionally the doctor who brought these allegations to public attention is a publicity hound whose story has changed 97 times since he appeared on CNN last fall.

No crimes were committed at Memorial Hospital last fall. The doctors and nurses did the best they could in truly horrible conditions. They were stranded at that hospital for nearly a week and inevitably some of the sickest patients died. It’s a tragedy but whatever happened at the hospital no crimes were committed.

These charges are both a miscarriage of justice and a misallocation of public resources. Mr. Foti claimed at one point to be investigating the Corps and the Levee board to see if there was any criminal culpability for the 1 200+ people who died because of their negligence. What happened to that investigation Mr. Foti?

There’s been a lot of discussion of the health care crisis in NOLA post-K. These specious charges will have a chilling effect on the practice of medicine in this area. The health care system here is already hemorrhaging doctors and nurses. And pressing these charges is likely to accelerate the departure of the experienced doctors and nurses we need to care for us. Shame on you Mr. Foti.

MAYORAL POST-MORTEM: THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST

Mon, 22 May 2006 15:50:51

Jeez now I appear to be channeling Cat Stevens currently Yusuf Islam. But he was originally a nice Anglo-Greek boy named Steven Dimitri Georgiou and I’m Greek. Of course I’m not all that nice but I’m not on any terrorist watch lists either. Steven/Cat/Yusuf shouldn’t be either. End of introductory digression.

There has been lots of discussion of how the outcome of the late not so great Mayoral election could have been changed. I’m not sure that tactical shifts by the Landrieu people could have changed the outcome: the big picture broke against Mitch in the last week. Besides in my view strategy wins elections not tactics.

* C Ray As Unlikely Race Man: As the Picayune’s Lolis Eric Elie put it in his column this morning:

“In an era where the words “civil rights” have little to do with the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and everything to do with race relations Ray Nagin became a civil rights issue. Black voters may have serious reservations about some Nagin policies but these differences were seen as intra-family issues.

Black voters weren’t going to spank Nagin in public especially if white voters were going to join in the spanking.”

I think that this factor made it difficult for Mitch to win a higher percentage of the black vote. The fact that he was the*real* liberal Democrat in this race could not overcome identity politics. All the tactical scheming in the world couldn’t overcome this factor.

As wise local pundit Silas Lee has said both before and after the election Hurricane Katrina produced sympathy for C Ray in the black community that wasn’t there pre-K. It of course should have produced revulsion over his incompetence BUT many folks thought that THE MAN was picking on C Ray. Election Day produced a backlash that confirmed Mr. Lee’s thinking on this issue. Besides incompetence has rarely been punished by the voters here and C Ray is a genial incompetent.

* The Oliver Thomas Factor: Non-factor is a more  accurate description. It was an open secret in political circles that Council Prez Oliver Thomas had lost faith in C Ray and was voting for Mitch. This open secret alas was never shared with the general public in the form of an endorsement. In fact Oliver was willing to predict that Mitch would win BUT only to the national press. He laid low locally.

I know that Oliver had good reasons for NOT endorsing either candidate: he had to work with the winner. BUT an endorsement from Oliver the Actor would have helped Mitch in the black community without hurting him with white voters. Oliver may be the political child of BOLD boss Jim Singleton but he is a very cautious politician: if he had run for Mayor he probably would have won.  To the bold goes the gold. Holy crap I sound like Jesse Jackson now…

* Mitch’s Tactics: Lots of people have said to me that if only Mitch had done certain things tactically he  would have won. There are some things that he could have done better: going after C Ray’s record more aggressively and making a stronger case for himself as a challenger; especially in the televised forums. A good friend of mine thinks that Mitch should have done more to turn out “casual” white voters. I think that all of these things MIGHT have helped but Mitch was swimming against the historical tide: his campaign was haunted by ghost of Donald Mintz and his runs for Mayor in 1990 and 1994.

Donald Mintz was a wonderful man and would have made a much better Mayor than either Sindey Barthelemy or Marc Morial but he was not only white but Jewish. An anti-Semitic whispering campaign went on in both of his elections which was the equivalent of the too many Landrieus with too much power slander this time around. I remember flyers in both 1990 and 1994 that essentially said: don’t let THOSE people take our city away. In 2006 Mitch was slandered from both the left and the right. And it was done so late in the campaign that responding was well nigh impossible.

It’s very hard for tactics to overcome large historical factors. If Mitch had been willing to use Rovian scorched political earth tactics against C Ray he *might* have been able to pull it out. BUT the cost would have been too high: Rovian tactics win elections but they’re one of the reasons that Bush’s popularity is in a free fall.

* The Oyster-Adrastos Theory Comes Alive: Hmm that sounds vaguely Framptonesque. The theory of course is that Republicans both nationally and statewide wanted C Ray re-elected in order to have him as a useful idiot/whipping boy for the GOP. As Johnny Winter would surely put it the theory is still alive and well and supported by Bush’s election night phone call to his bobo C Ray: “Nagin said Bush was pleased with the result of Saturday’s election. “He said ‘I’ve been through the storm with you and we’ve gone through some tough times together. And I’d rather continue the rebuild with you in that mode because I understand what you’re all about and I feel comfortable with that ‘ ” Nagin said.”

I hope C Ray doesn’t sit by his phone waiting for his big shot Repub buddies to help him out. The White House will drop him like a hot potato: they usually slime betray and abandon their allies; just ask Tony Blair or former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

* Local Media Bias: Yeah I know Mitch got all the major endorsements but with the exception of Gambit’s Clancy DuBos all the local print and TV pundits were hard on Mitch and gave C Ray a pass.  The TV people especially WWL’s Dennis Woltering and WDSU’s Norman Robinson were amazingly soft on C Ray during the campaign. Why? C Ray is colorful shoots from the lip and he’s charmed the hell out of the local media. They were briefly hard on C Ray post-K but they have fallen back into their wicked wicked pre-K ways.

This bias played itself out most spectacularly in the coverage of Doug Brinkley’s book “The Great Deluge.” The local press corps made it sound as if the book was a wall-to-wall attack on C Ray. I’m about halfway through the book and while Brinkley is hard on C Ray political commentary is only  part of it. Brinkley has been depicted as a sort of academic Captain Ahab who is obsessed with C Ray but that’s untrue. Much of the book deals with people who were directly affected by the storm and the many people who stepped up and made a difference. Shame on the local press corps for swallowing the Nagin camp’s spin hook line and sinker.

That’s the end of my first whack at what I suspect will be an ongoing discussion of what happened. I see signs already that the Democratic circular firing squad is forming. Me I think that C Ray *won* the election as opposed to Mitch losing it. The real losers are the people of New Orleans; especially residents of areas like New Orleans East and the lower Ninth who voted for C Ray and are about to get a royal screwing at the hands of fat cat developers.

ORLEANS PARISH PRIMARY POST-MORTEM

Mon, 24 Apr 2006 05:00:00

I seem to have recovered from Saturday. I had an emotional stake in several of the District B Council candidates who wound up getting steamrolled by Stacy Head’s late surge. I still cannot believe that Quentin Brown got 654 votes. Quentin seems charming from a distance but to meet him is to understand this: in a campaign full of wackjobs he was the bull goose loony. Quentin is the nut’s nut and should have gotten *fewer* votes than Manny Chevrolet Bruno’s 100.

I clearly overestimated the voters desire for change post-K. There are two ways to react to a crisis like the one we face: to seek drastic change or to take comfort in the familiar. A goodly number of voters yesterday did the latter; hence the good showing by incumbents. The folly in this approach is obvious: New Orleans has been in decline for years and our feckless and wasteful government has sped that decline. Returning to office the very people who helped get us in this mess makes no sense whatsoever but this *is* Topsy Turvy Town after all.

C Ray *seemed* like a breath of fresh air 4 years ago but his program for reform was limited in scope. Pre-K I had already come to the conclusion that C Ray had what a Sixties hipster would have called an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass. Translation: he was all talk and very little action. He did reform some of the city’s contracting processes but his major anti-corruption move was the taxi cab bureau fiasco; the blame for which he shunted to Crazy Kim and publicity crazed NOPD 8th District Commander Captain Louis Dabdoub.

I have received emails from friends around the world asking me how the hell C Ray could lead in the primary. My somewhat disingenuous reply: it beats the hell out of me. Like Oyster I spent election day driving around the city casing polling places and talking to people. While my Uptown peregrinations made it clear to me that the Jefferson machine was out in force and that Gill-Pratfall and Stacy Head would make the run-off in District B I saw no signs of concerted pro-Nagin activity. Obviously many of the black folks who screamed at C Ray about land grabs Joe Canizaro and his incompetence ended up voting for him. The purveyors of the NOLA conventional wisdom were correct and those of us who thought that change was in the air were wrong. It all boiled down to race: some people voted for C Ray because in his own phrase he looked like them.

Where do we go from here? I’m less pessimistic than Jeffrey over at the Library Chronicles who thinks Mitch Landrieu may be toast and less optimistic than the presumably pseudonymous Al Scramuzza at the Third Battle Of New Orleans who thinks Mitch will win in a landslide. I think that *some* of C Ray’s business supporters might go oozing back now that he’s admitted that conservative magnates Joe Canizaro ad Boysie Bollinger are still with them. BUT C Ray is unlikely to recoup his pre-K support among the Uptown and Lakeview gentry. He’s insulted them once too often and those folks expect the help to be polite to them.

Mitch Landrieu’s challenge is to assemble a coalition by walking carefully through the racially polarized landscape of Debrisville. I think he’s equal to the task: subtlety is called for and Mitch is a subtle man which is a word that has never been applied to C Ray. I also expect C Ray to make his usual gaffes and spend part of the next month removing his foot from his mouth. Finally since the CW about racial voting patterns held true I’m hoping that the CW that an incumbent who is in a run-off is in deep trouble will hold up too. For what it’s worth: I think the final result will be Landrieu 51.5 Nagin 48.5. How’s that for precision in imprecise times?

For more in depth election post-mortems check out Oyster Jeffrey and the mime’s mime Ashley Morris.  Jeffrey has a lot of fun with C Ray’s weird “exploding economic pie” image from his victory speech. I wonder if it tastes anything like Paul McCartney’s flaming pie? Here’s hoping that the exploding pie blows up in C Ray’s face: SPLAT.

 BROWNIE TO HELP DA PARISH?

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 05:00:00

Just when I think that New Orleans is the craziest place on the planet someone else chimes in. In this instance it’s our neighbors in Da Parish. The local rag reported this morning that the St. Bernard Parish Council is considering hiring former FEMA fashion god Michael Brown as a consultant. Parish President Junior (Juneya) Rodriguez said that:

“We’ve been having trouble with FEMA ” Rodriguez said adding “I think he certainly would be an asset.”

Although FEMA and Brown came under withering attack for the agency’s post-hurricane performance Rodriguez thinks recent information that Brown had indeed warned the Bush administration of Katrina’s potential destruction vindicates Brown.

“They were crucifying him and then the tapes came out showing that they knew all along ” Rodriguez said.

Plus he added Brown “is still on good terms with President Bush.”

Yo Juneya just because Brownie wasn’t lying doesn’t make him competent. Along with Rummy Brownie is the poster boy for Bush administration ineptitude. He gets along with President Beavis? How touching. That just means that his head is still up the royal ass. Sucking up to Beavis has gotten Louisiana nowhere. W is a bully and bullies only understand one thing: a 2 X 4 upside the head. Besides W’s poll ratings are in the toilet and Congressional Repubs are like rats scurrying for cover right now. Hey Juneya Congress holds the purse strings and Brownie is about as popular on Capitol Hill as the Army Corps Of Engineers is in Debrisville.

The scary thing is that Juneya isn’t the only official in Da Parish who thinks hiring Brownie is a good idea. Juneya passed the crack pipe to Councilmen Joey DiFatta Craig Taffaro and Tony “Ricky” Melerine. Now Joey DiFatta may have one of my favorite names in local politics but if he doesn’t reconsider this position I’ll have to start calling him Joey DiFattahead. This idea is so goofy that it sounds like something C Ray would come up with. And who the hell wants to be compared to C Ray right now?

I think Juneya and his allies need a 12-step program that treats people who say incredibly stupid things in public. If they find one they should invite C Ray and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to join them…

FORUM FOLLIES WEDNESDAY EDITION: THE TUSSLE AT TOURO

Fri, 07 Apr 2006 05:32:07

The subject header is an exaggeration. Yeah I know it’s a first for this blog. I usually serve up the facts straight up a la Quentin Brown. One could actually call it the decorum forum but that’s a dull title y’all. As you may have noticed I’m more interested in the bits before and after the forum than the forum itself. If you want to know the candidates positions on the issues read their web sites. Besides it’s my fricking blog…

Before we left for the forum the doorbell rang. I thought it was Harvard Boy with a Stacy Head sign to plant in the garden but it was Sheriff Zitler instead. He brought us some of his new signs as well as lapel and bumper stickers. They were hot off the presses so hot that I had a blue ink schmeer on my hands. I felt like a human bagel.

We got to Touro Synagogue at around 6:15 for the 7PM event. We arrived at the same time as Dr. A’s  overqualified sign waver Debbie. They made an excellent team; keeping the candidates on their toes and preventing another Quentin Brown coup d’forum. Power to the timekeepers was the theme of the evening; not as uplifting as power to the people but eminently more practical. We’re concerned about global warming so we wanted to cut down on the hot air in the sanctuary…

Forum organizer Ed McGinnis was there supervising everything. Ed is a crisp corporate type who runs a very tight ship. I’m not enamored of going to meetings but Ed believes in keeping things brief. I dig brevity y’all; except of course when it comes to blogging…

The candidates started rolling in early. I was cornered by Rebecca Landry. It turned out that her father was a close friend and supporter of my former boss and political role model Congressman X. We traded stories for several minutes but then I reminded her that she needed to talk to people she didn’t already know. She protested: “But you’re more interesting.” Rebecca is seriously deluded y’all. Either that or she knows some pretty dull people…

After I left Rebecca I went outside to help Bob Julie and Amy with the door. Our goal was to let the riff raff in: we succeeded. Julie who is the unofficial publicist for this blog told more people about it. Aw shucks Julie. I hope you’re not expecting any pay offs. My dee-duct box is missing. Unless that is I get my swag from Jeff and Marc of roofing fame. Ya hear me Jeff?

My most interesting pre-forum encounter was with the incumbent Renee Gill-Pratfall. It was the first time that we’d ever spoken for more than 48 seconds. We didn’t talk politics and to my surprise I found her to be a pleasant woman. Shane Landry has been telling me that Renee is a good person who is a bad councilwoman but I was skeptical. I found out that he’s right.  Shane is irritating that way. Renee is a symptom of our political maladies in Debrisville not the disease itself which is machine politics as personified by Dollar Bill Jefferson. Dollar Bill is Renee’s opposite: a good Congressman but as a person… no comment.

After my close encounter with RGP Shep and Ann Zitler pulled up in front of the temple. I went over to see if they needed any help: Shep is 88. He assured me that he didn’t need any help getting up the stairs. I watched him carefully but he did okay. He’s a very proud man. As always he inquired about my health. It’s his stock question for me: he also called me young fella. I was tingly all over. It’s why I like old people they think I’m young…

Shep is a remarkable man. Like other Holocaust survivors I’ve met Shep is very cheerful. After the forum Dr. A and I talked about Shep with the Landrys and Truehills. Rebecca whose family was also touched by the same evil said: “I think that when you’ve been through hell nothing else ever seems as bad.” Yeah you right Becky. Shep’s amazing story is online at Survivors.org.

I walked back inside and found the Duplantier camp looking at the podium. Bettye Duplantier was relieved to see that Quentin The Menace would be seated next to Shane and not her husband Michael.  Shane has yet to meet the person that he couldn’t get along with. I’m living breathing proof of that: he even likes me. I asked Bettye if she was getting any sleep and she smiled shrugged and said: “Not until election day. Then we’ll take a day off and get ready for the run-off.” Michael has an excellent chance to make the run-off. Until recently I thought that Gill-Pratfall would make it but her heart just doesn’t seem to be in it this time. But I’m no oracle: anybody who tells you that they know what’s going to happen on April 22nd is arrogant foolish or wasted…

The forum itself ran smoothly. My friend and neighbor Linda Walker ran the show with a firm but courteous hand. Quentin’s attempts to take control were rebuffed. I also think that Quentin was inhibited by sitting at a table in the temple’s sanctuary. At one point he said: “I’m not gonna curse tonight. I got in trouble for that but this is somebody’s house of worship. I don’t mess with nobody’s God.” Jehovah officially thanks you Quentin. I’m sure that Allah Krishna Buddha and L Ron do too…

The District B candidates are overall an exceptionally good group. They know their stuff and on some questions even Gill-Pratfall did well. As I predicted Stacy Head *did* perform better than on Monday night; she’s a type A person and we were well-organized. But frankly all the candidates performed well. I know that’s wishy washy but it’s true. The truth is sometimes equivocal.

Back to Quentin the Menace. One Quentin highlight was his hurricane evacuation plan. He informed us that he’ll evacuate everyone even if he has to commandeer a bus and pick you up at your house. The plan is simple but direct. Quentin specializes in directness. No B-S No More. Straight up.

When it came time for questions from the audience your not so humble blogger queued up. It was a question my fellow organizers rejected but it’s an important topic: smoking in bars night clubs eateries etc. I asked the candidates if they’d support a California/New York City style smoking ban. I insisted that they answer yes or no; straight up. I couldn’t resist teasing Stacy Head because she usually objects to yes or no questions. Stacy smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek after the forum so I guess I didn’t throw her for much of a loop. Too bad: loop throwing is what I do best…

The candidates did indeed answer me straight up. Michael Duplantier smiled and wagged his finger at me because I threw them a curve ball. The only candidate to say NO was my new buddy Shane Landry. His wife gave him a hard time for that after the debate. His defense was lame: “I’m a libertarian.” Me too Shane but I need to be liberated from second hand smoke. I also want my night life back: I rarely go to music clubs any more because I cannot stand the smoke. I always wind up being next to some pischer with a fat malodorous cigar and a bad attitude. Move your ass buddy…

After probing the panel of candidates I sat with Miranda Truehill in the front row. (I hate sitting in the front row but I like Miranda enough to look like a nerd.) She was gleeful: “Thanks for asking that question. Marshall’s been talking about that all over town.” I knew I liked Marshall. The incumbent also liked the question; to give her credit she has tried to pass a city ordinance banning smoking in public places. The restaurant lobby killed the bill. Damn am I going soft? Nah I just hate inhaling other people’s fumes that much…<hack cough hack>

There was much milling about after the forum.  I was really pleased as were the candidates. The candidates all left the forum feeling that they’d be treated fairly. I patted myself on the back and then schmoozed. I love to schmooze y’all. I do have a weakness for people who are willing to run for office and the spouses who are willing to put up with it. We actually have a good choice in this race which is a novel thing indeed here in Debrisville.

Reform as well as oak pollen is in the air this Spring. A chance to change things for the better is nothing to sneeze at either. Don’t let it slip away. It’s time to throw the bums rascals whatever the hell you wanna call ’em out. Bye bye Gill-Pratfall. Get outta town 7 Dwarfs. Au Revoir Jay Batty. Sayonara C Ray. Toodle-pip gentle readers.