BATISTE: It’s Time To End The Failure Of The Mitch Landrieu Era

If Mitch Landrieu refuses to resign amid catastrophic leadership and government failure, New Orleanians have the opportunity to push him out of office.

Mitch simply does not care about New Orleans. He returned last Monday after the flood, and as of Sunday, August 13th, Mitch still had not reviewed the pump station logs from August 5th. Turns out, the City’s pump deficiencies during the flood were as bad as rumored per WWL’s report on the logs.

Mitch finally, on Sunday afternoon, 8 days after his administration’s biggest debacle, finally took a look into the Sewerage & Water Board books.  More pumps down.  Employee missing from the Lakeview station. The logs revealed rampant government failure.

Mitch told Katie Moore of WWL last week, “I’ll take my hits, Cedric will take his hits, everybody else will.” Cedric retired. If Mitch truly will “take his hits” like Cedric Grant, then Mitch should resign.  No one trusts the government now.  Mitch is a joke.  He’s being lampooned as Puddles the Clown.

Since the Mitchator won’t resign, the citizens of New Orleans have a special opportunity to kick him out of office.  Currently, Mitch’s second term expires June 1, 2018.  However, a group called NOLA Smarter Inauguration has a petition that would kick Mitch to the curb early.  Residents of New Orleans can download & sign THIS PETITION which at 10,000 signatures, forces the City Council to put it on the ballot.

Another option which everyone should exercise is contacting City Council Members, phone calls AND emails, and politely request they put the accelerated inauguration on the October ballot. The Council can do this on their own, without force of petition. Like the million-plus emails that went to Louisiana Legislators, not only can people take action, support to remove Mitch early can be proven with information requests by reporters.

The argument as to how misguided Mitch Landrieu’s priorities are is quite simple.  The City admitted Mitch sends a proxy to S&WB meetings.  He has not simply neglected, but ignored the drainage needs of New Orleans for seven years.  And as to where his focus has been, it’s obvious, just read a few examples from a June article in The Advocate about the costs of Mitch’s pet project:

  • the city spent about $1.04 million of public money on other related costs, including the bills for New Orleans police, firefighters and Emergency Medical Services personnel to be present at the removals and at a massive protest at the Lee statue at Lee Circle.
  • $710,000 to Trident Response Group, a Dallas-based private security firm that provided “threat assessments,” public safety plans and analysis that included undercover work infiltrating groups on both sides of the issue as well as intelligence gathering through social media monitoring and other methods.
  • New Orleans police officers were paid almost $113,400 in overtime and $106,500 in regular time, in addition to other compensation such as time off, for a total of more than 10,515 hours of work on the removals.
  • Another $26,330 was spent on firefighters and Emergency Medical Services personnel, and almost $16,720 was spent to pay other city workers and for other costs, including providing meals to city employees during the daylong removal of the Lee statue.
  • The city also spent almost $64,500 building and providing security for a shed at the Alvar Street storage yard where some of the monuments are being kept.
  • The public costs of the removal will largely be absorbed by the budgets of the various city departments

This could have been funds, employees, and consultants to get the drainage system in decent shape before the peak of hurricane system.  But instead the money and city resources were spent tearing down the city’s historic landscape.

Asked about prioritizing the monuments over basic city requirements, Landrieu said, “I think that’s a red herring.”  A red herring is something intended to divert attention from the real problem at hand. So Mitch thinks the monuments are a distraction from the Sewerage & Water Board.  Read that one more time.  I think the monuments are a distraction from the Sewerage & Water Board. That is exactly what the public and other politicians have consistently argued: since Mitch started the monument controversy, he should be more focused on his actual mayoral duties.

While distracted with national conferences on foreign policy and his climate change initiatives, and interviews, and the monuments, citizens had to assume Landrieu would, at the very least, keep an eye on his always plagued utility: the S&WB and its ongoing failure to keep floodwaters out of taxpayers’ homes.  Mitch’s response to criticism about his focus at the 2015 Council Meeting was, “Smart people can do more than one thing at a time.”

Landrieu finally, after 8 days, bit the bullet and decided that everyone else was right, he deserves blame for the city’s worst flooding since Katrina.  This failure is all Mitch.  “The buck ultimately stops with me. I own it, I accept it, and I am taking responsibility to fix it.”

Landrieu said live during his Sunday press conference that “103 of the city’s 120 drainage pumps were now available, with the remaining 17 being assessed for emergency repair.” If we are hearing from self-proclaimed “smart people,” pull out a calculator, punch in 121 then subtract 103.  The number is 18.  Landrieu said 17.  The Sewerage & Water Board’s failure and ineptitude rages on, with Mayor Landrieu front and center making the basic mistakes the S&WB is known for.

It’s time for Mitch to go.  No, this isn’t one of those unrealistic recall petitions, it’s a petition to abbreviate the Landrieu era in New Orleans.  The current delayed inauguration style makes no sense.  The Council and new mayor will be elected in October and November.  Then they don’t go to work until June 1st.  That’s bad government. It’s a recipe for more failure.

Signing the petition to fire Mitch makes the city government more efficient, and it also cuts the fat of the Landrieu administration.  Because it’s not just ridding the city of Mitch Landrieu, it’s clearing house on his excessive and oversized city government. Landrieu restructured the city government after taking office as mayor and created all these Deputy Mayor positions knocking down $150,000 per year.  Add to the list his massive communication team who insults New Orleanians regularly. Whether it’s Tyrone Walker calling the monument supporters violent exetremist “white supremacists” at every opportunity or Ryan Berni re-Tweeting “live in #nola, you’re gonna get wet. Don’t go act a fool. It flooded before twitter.”  And Berni saying he was working to get information to support what turned out to be lies stated over the weekend, as opposed to him being a city employee looking out for the citizens first by pursuing the truth. New Orleanians are paying the salaries of people who do not have taxpayers’ best interests in mind.  And they will be paying pensions. Call it failure in perpetuity.

New Orleans is stuck with the annual $175,400 pension for Cedric Grant. This may be an agreement on paper, it may make sense in city government, but the people of New Orleans should vehemently oppose this.  Actually, the citizens should out right refuse to pay him $175,400 for the rest of his life. People need to take a stand.

Mitch says he is taking responsibility to fix the Sewerage & Water Board.  Governor John Bel Edwards granted a state of emergency. Mitch now has free spending.  Think about the Landrieu Concrete and Cement trucks getting work all around town: Bourbon Street, City Park, St. Charles Avenue.  Citizens need to wake up as to whether they want to let Mitch have an open check book on something so vital to the future of New Orleans, something he has neglected until now.

It’s time to reject this failure and ditch Mitch.  Make Puddles The Clown take a bow.  Kick out Mitch and all his cronies as soon as possible.  It’s up to the people of New Orleans to carry this out.  If the Crescent City wants Mitch out of office, contact the Council and sign the petition.

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