I think that there is a great misconception about New Orleans.
The city has its own Home Rule Charter which has been recognized by the state constitution. That is true, but the under the State Constitution New Orleans is a political subdivision of the state, not an island unto itself. The constitutional protection of the Home Rule Charter, like the others around the state, only grants local authority to the extent that it doesn’t conflict with the Constitution or with state law. The residents of the city are citizens of the state first and are entitled to all protections of the state Constitution and state law. Equally, all other citizens of the state are entitled to the economic benefits derived from its major economic hub. We are all citizens of the state first and then whatever city or Parish we dwell in.
The headline today concerning an analysis of the city’s public safety structure, specifically the police, read “in order to save the city….”. Let that sink in: “in order to save the city….”!
These experts had looked into the police and found that without drastic measures the city and its people would be governed not by any politicians under a Home Rule Charter, but by gangs and criminals. That the city’s major industry, tourism, was subject to collapse. That no corporations would bring desperately needed jobs to a dangerous city. That no citizen of the state who lived in or travelled to New Orleans could expect to be safe from criminals.
My point is that it’s way past time for state government to insert itself into the disaster that is the public safety structure of the state’s major city. I don’t mean sending a few state police down here for special events, or even patrolling the interstate. I mean to step in to protect the citizens and commerce of the state, whether resident to New Orleans or to anywhere else.
When renowned experts tell us that the very existence of the city rests on what immediate steps are taken to rebuild the police department, it is time for the governor of the state do his constitutional duty. It is clear that local politics have literally destroyed what was once a great police force. It is clear that the rest of the criminal justice system, a state system charged with enforcing state law in order to protect state citizens, is failing or has failed.
Governor Edwards and other state leaders must immediately pull all the actors in this charade into one room and refuse to let them leave until the system is literally disassembled and re-built in a manner so that it works. No BS, no friendly politics, just do the duty to our state constitution and laws which he and all the others swore an oath to uphold and defend. The governor built on his reputation on military leadership, so lead!
“…in order to save the city…” is a huge red flag and there is no time to waste as the very viability of the state’s major city is at risk. It doesn’t mean politics as usual, it doesn’t mean to blame the man behind the tree, or to offer every absurd excuse for failed policies and leadership.
It means either act or die.