For months, the liberal news media has been championing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
Landrieu was praised for his “courageous leadership” in taking down four Confederate monuments in New Orleans earlier this year. Never mind that it was an issue manufactured by Landrieu to create racial division and publicity. In the end, the monument removal cost $2.1 million dollars, precious funds that were needed elsewhere.
First and foremost, the Mayor should have been giving more attention to the crime problem in New Orleans. The murder and violent crime rate has been increasing in recent years as the number of police officers has been declining. The Mayor appointed the Police Superintendent and has overall responsibility for the operation of the police department and the safety of the citizens of New Orleans. Clearly, he has not fulfilled his responsibilities in this critical area.
This week, the damaged reputation of Landrieu took an even greater blow when his administration lied to the people of New Orleans about the causes of massive flooding. On Saturday August 5, some areas of New Orleans received over nine inches of rain, a significant amount that was made worse due to inoperable drainage pumps. The resulting damage to homes, businesses and automobiles negatively impacted thousands of New Orleans residents.
New Orleans is prone to large rainfall events during the spring and throughout hurricane season. The city sits below sea level and is protected by a complex system of drainage pumps operated by the Sewerage and Water Board. After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, the federal government sent billions of dollars to New Orleans for improved flood protection, better drainage systems and enhanced levees. In the aftermath of the flood Saturday, there needs to be an accounting of how all of those dollars have been spent.
At first, the administration blamed the flooding on “climate change,” which was a ludicrous and pathetic dodge. Cedric Grant, the Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board, floated the “climate change” excuse to cover up his own ineptitude. While assuring residents that the drainage pumps were operating at full capacity, in reality, many were undergoing maintenance at the time of the storm. At first city officials claimed that 8 pumps were not operating, then it was announced that 14 were not in service and now they are finally admitting that 16 pumps were off line while the storm battered New Orleans last Saturday.
The President of the Sewerage and Water Board is Mitch Landrieu. His administration hired Cedric Grant, a career bureaucrat, to lead the agency. Grant was selected over engineers and hydrologists with years of pertinent experience. In the aftermath of this debacle, Grant announced his retirement, but he will continue to collect his $220,000 per year salary until the end of hurricane season in November. Don’t shed any tears for Grant, for he will retire with a $175,000 per year pension that also includes full health benefits.
Landrieu also forced two other Sewerage and Water Board officials to resign as well as his Director of Public Works. He blamed these officials for their lack of candor with the public and their poor response to the storm, but at least they were in New Orleans while the catastrophe was occurring. Last Saturday, Landrieu was attending a “security conference” at the Aspen Institute and did not bother to address the people of New Orleans until two days after the flooding ravaged the city.
In effect, Mitch Landrieu placed his Aspen Institute conference above the citizens of New Orleans. He is nearing the end of his second term and the Aspen Institute is looking for a new President and CEO. This would be a perfect platform to collect a generous paycheck, generate publicity and launch a presidential bid. Was Landrieu participating in a glorified job interview?
Regardless of his intent, any true leader would have taken an immediate flight back to New Orleans to direct the city government’s response to the flood. Instead, Mitch Landrieu hid behind his administration officials and when they failed to meet expectations, he blamed them, fired them and tried to convey to the citizens a false image of engaged leadership.
This episode totally exposed Mitch Landrieu as a fraud. He is a self-serving elected official looking for his next political position, while failing to serve his constituents who he was hired to represent.
From the rising crime rate to the third world street conditions to the flooding woes, New Orleans is generating the worst kind of national publicity. The rest of the country has now been exposed to the real Landrieu record. Even left wing Democratic Party voters will not be foolish enough to trust their presidential nomination to someone who cannot keep his city safe from either criminals or flood waters.
Sadly, for the Mayor, as the flood waters finally drained away, so did his presidential ambitions.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]