There is a reason New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is not running for governor. It’s because of his odd public policy measures that the majority of the public could never get behind.
Landrieu’s latest is a plan to remedy French Quarter violent crime, which came just a couple of days after famed entrepreneur Sidney Torres launched his own, privately funded plan to fix the area’s violent crime problem.
Landrieu’s proposal comes as no surprise, as it asks for a quarter-cent sales tax hike for French Quarter residents to pay for Louisiana State Troopers to stay in New Orleans long-term.
In total, Landrieu said the tax hike would raise $2 million and another $2.5 million would derive from organizations like the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the city’s 0.25 percent hotel self-assessment.
This makes for a grand total of $4.5 million.
Interestingly enough, is that this mass amount of revenue is going to help only one of the New Orleans Police Department’s (NOPD) eight districts.
Not to mention, the French Quarter’s NOPD 8th District is one of the smaller police districts in the city, yet it is singled out by the city as the only district needing help.
“This is not going to address the crime problem city-wide,” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman James Hartman told the Hayride. “Crime is not a French Quarter problem. It’s a New Orleans problem.”
And the numbers, sadly, back up that argument.
While New Orleans saw the lowest number of homicides in 2014 since 1971, every other category in crime is up. And we mean way up.
Reported rapes were up 39 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, armed robberies increased by 37 percent, assaults increased by 27 percent and auto thefts increased by 22 percent.
These statistics toppled with the recent news of two pizza-delivery drivers who were murdered in Mid-City, as well as the lower 9th Ward, clearly show that violent crime is not specific to the French Quarter.
Additionally, if the French Quarter is the only NOPD District that gets vamped up with State Police, what is to say violent criminals will not go to the areas of the city where the State Police are not present?
Torres’ plan makes sense because he is a private business owner, funding his crime mobile app and paying off-duty NOPD officers to patrol the French Quarter. He is not responsible for the city’s crime issues, but is taking it upon himself to put his money where his mouth is.
Landrieu, on the other hand is responsible for the city. The entire city of New Orleans, not simply the French Quarter, which makes this proposal so alarming.
Landrieu’s administration has continuously stressed that the city cannot afford to give substantial raises to the NOPD, in order to make the law enforcement positions at least somewhat desirable.
Nonetheless, Landrieu’s administration can surely create an entire new revenue source, generating that $4.5 million, in order to outsource work to the State Police in only one, small section of the city.
French Quarter crime must be addressed, but to single out an area for a law enforcement renovation does every other part of the city a disservice.