Last night the Baton Rouge Metro Council voted 7-3 to appoint Denise Amoroso, the widow of recently-deceased District 8 representative Buddy Amoroso, to fill his seat in the chamber until a special election for a more permanent replacement in March.
That was the good news. The bad news was that before the Council was able to hold that vote a cabal of imbeciles and malcontents put Louisiana’s capitol city through perhaps the most embarrassing spectacle in its history.
Attempting to filibuster the meeting so as to prevent a vote to appoint Mrs. Amoroso to the seat, opponents sent one speaker after another to the podium to hurl invective and attempt to intimidate council members, most notably Tara Wicker, into joining the four hard-core leftists who had already declared their refusal to support the appointment.
The entire proceeding was unwatchable, so we won’t provide video of the whole thing. Instead, we’ll offer just a taste from the usual suspects. Here was Gary Chambers…
And here was Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed…
Reed’s behavior toward Wicker, whose district includes Old South Baton Rouge, the slum situated between the north gates of the LSU campus and downtown Baton Rouge that Reed has infested all his life, was fairly representative of the treatment she has received from elements of the black community in Baton Rouge since the appointment controversy arose. She’s held fast against that abuse and the pressure to join the council’s four other black Democrats – Chauna Banks, Lamont Cole and Donna Collins-Lewis, all of whom voted against the appointment last night, and Erika Green, who was absent from the meeting – in blocking the appointment has been intense.
Wicker has resisted that pressure, to her credit. She has a terrible voting record on policy matters on the Metro Council, but she’s proven herself to be a decent human being and someone with whom people of good faith can do business. Following the meeting the word on the street seems to be that Wicker sacrificed her political future by refusing to act as the swing vote blocking the Amoroso appointment; if that’s true it’s far more a negative statement about the people of Baton Rouge than of Wicker. We thank her for standing against the mob.
One development of interest from the council meeting is that the black community in Baton Rouge, as represented by the local NAACP and its president Mike McClanahan, appears to be galvanizing behind a demand to de-consolidate the city-parish government. At present there is no difference between East Baton Rouge Parish and the city of Baton Rouge from a governmental standpoint, though with other cities incorporated in the parish – namely, Zachary, Central and Baker, and likely soon St. George to come – that unified form of government begins to look more unwieldy than it used to be. McClanahan is now agitating for a more traditional form of local government in which Baton Rouge would have its own city council and mayor and East Baton Rouge Parish would have a police jury or parish council with a parish president of its own.
This may actually result in consensus, as it’s very much what some of the St. George activists are hoping for. They believe that in short order following the incorporation of St. George the economic and demographic effects of the new city would result in a working majority in the parish for a conservative, or at least, Republican, parish president and a Republican majority on a parish council, meaning parish government could begin to take on a lot more pro-business/small government character than it currently does. But McClanahan and those agree with him are more interested in the fact that the current Metro Council has seven white Republicans and five black Democrats, and they see this as unjust – and since Baton Rouge proper has a solid black majority it would have a majority of black Democrats on its city council and quite certainly a black Democrat mayor.
That might well be a myopic perspective on McClanahan’s part and that of his political allies, but the heart wants what it wants and it appears there could be an interesting alliance of convenience forming on that question.
Notwithstanding the fact that a deconsolidated government in East Baton Rouge would set Baton Rouge proper up to become Jackson, Mississippi in no time flat, of course, and turn the capitol area into essentially a donut with prosperous suburbs ringing an urban hellscape in the middle.
Stupidity abounds within that political faction, an incontrovertible truth which is apparent simply from analysis of the Amoroso appointment controversy. What the Chamberses, Reeds, Bankses and Coles were attempting was to drop the question of District 8 representation on the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards, in the hope that because Edwards is a Democrat he would appoint someone of that party – perhaps even a black Democrat who would scratch the Metro Council’s 7-5 white Republican majority into something more “equitable” in their eyes.
This was quite obviously never going to happen, and we’re told that behind the scenes Edwards’ staff told them so. He was going to appoint Denise Amoroso to that seat if the decision was presented to him.
Why? Because Edwards is lots of things, many or most of them bad, but one thing he isn’t is an abject moron. And with a re-election campaign a bit more than a year in the future, going along with the Bankses and Coles would be an easily foreseeable complete political disaster. He would essentially be robbing the people of District 8 of representation on the Metro Council by giving them someone they clearly would not vote for – Amoroso won his Council election with more than 65 percent in a three-way primary with two Democrat opponents – and in so doing outrage a sizable number of white moderate voters who were the key to Edwards’ 2015 election. And in doing so he wouldn’t gain a single black vote, seeing as though he got virtually 100 percent of that vote in his last race.
That’s not difficult math for most people. But it seems difficult for the folks caterwauling and filibustering last night. They’re busy drilling holes in Baton Rouge’s hull while the rest of us quietly, but determinedly, make plans to man the lifeboats.
UPDATE: In case you’re a glutton for punishment and the Chambers and Reed videos weren’t enough, courtesy of Baton Rouge Crime we have more.
We’ll post these without comment…
Also, via Facebook, a statement from former Metro Council member John Delgado…
After watching last night’s Metro Council meeting, I was reminded of the last conversation I had with my friend, Buddy Amoroso. We were talking about our political futures, and Buddy suggested that I should run for Mayor again, but this time as a Democrat. He thought that as a moderate, I could win with a “D” in front of my name. I told him that I could never do that… I have to shave every morning, I said. And I wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror and know that I had betrayed my conscience for political gain. He laughed, and knew what I meant. I know that this morning Tara Wicker looked in the mirror with a clear conscience, and smiled at what she saw. She faced unrelenting criticism from some of her constituents, and chose to do the morally right thing rather than the politically right thing. I know she does not seek reward for her actions, but I hope that ALL of Baton Rouge remembers her character and integrity when the next election comes around. God bless you Councilwoman Wicker. We don’t always agree, but I respect you immensely. And congratulations to Denise Waters Amoroso on your appointment to the Council. It took guts to stay in that room and take all that came your way. I know Buddy was smiling proudly last night at both of these courageous women.
And this, from Chauna Banks, one hour ago…