Sidney Torres vs. Mitch Landrieu On French Quarter Crime

WWL-TV had a report on the ongoing controversy in New Orleans over crime in the French Quarter last night that caught our eyes…

Our readers might remember Sidney Torres as the entrepreneur whose waste pickup company took over cleaning up the Quarter a few years ago. He sold out of that business and is now involved in a number of other ventures.

And he’s dropping TV commercials casting the Quarter as unsafe, which at this point is true but hardly something the tourism industry in New Orleans wants to advertise.

Landrieu’s response, which seems dismissive – “if he thinks he can fix the problem he should pay for police himself” – is not what a successful mayor would offer. And what’s more, everybody knows and has known for a long time that the number one problem where crime in New Orleans is concerned is a lack of boots on the ground in high-crime areas. The NOPD simply isn’t large or professional enough to keep the city safe, and Landrieu’s failure to prioritize a tourist area crucial to the city’s economy is a major reason why the old statement that while New Orleans isn’t a safe city the Quarter is a safe area is no longer true.

As an aside, have you noticed how quiet the grapevine has gotten regarding Landrieu’s supposedly imminent gubernatorial run? Ever since his sister was clobbered for re-election to the Senate the Landrieu For Governor effort has gone to ground. This current flap won’t do much to change that.

We’ve said this before, but the answer here could come from the governor’s office. Bobby Jindal isn’t as engaged in Louisiana affairs as he could be, but if that were different he could do himself a world of good by making a big announcement that he’s committing the Louisiana State Police to a long-term, pervasive presence in New Orleans and in particular the city’s most strategic areas. Politically that would work for Jindal – if the state troopers could make a difference he’d be the guy who made it safe to drink a hand grenade in the Quarter again, and if it doesn’t then most people would say you can’t do anything to fix crime in New Orleans no matter who you are.

Business owners in the French Quarter and nice folks who choose to spend their tourist dollars there deserve a lot better than “I’m the mayor of the whole city and this job is real hard.” Landrieu ought to be a lot more engaged with folks like Torres who want the crime in the Vieux Carre to stop. If he won’t, Jindal has an opportunity to make him look bad.

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