The Lively Pelican
The Lively Pelican spent more than 30 years inside the Capitol Bubble and, while The Pelican can't speak insanity, he is able to interpret it and to discern between perception and reality in that rarified world.
New Orleanians are very happy with their new mayor and city council. Very happy.
For a while, Mayor Mitch Landrieu looked a little star-crossed. First, his very election, a landslide that crossed all racial and socio-economic lines in a rare show of unity, was totally upstaged: he was elected the night before the Super Bowl and very few people paid any attention whatsoever. (Mitch showed his sense of humor by holding up the Sunday morning paper, which screamed Saints and barely mentioned his election in what on any other Sunday would have been the talk of the town.
Then, when he was inaugurated, people were paying more attention to the oil spill.There were a few missteps: naming of a police chief with a past in Nashville and a woman who had lost her medical license as the city’s medical officer. But they were the pluses: a top-notch staff, headed by Andy Kopplin, who was chief of staff for both Gov. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco, and former state Sen. Anne Duplesis, a childhood friend from the Landrieu’s racially mixed neighborhood.
The most appealing thing about Mitch Landrieu, however, was one simple fact: The mayor is no longer C. Ray Nagin, formerly known as simply Ray Nagin until a focus group proved that “C. Ray” sounded blacker in his 2006 re-election bid in which Nagin had to reduce Landrieu’s appeal to African-American voters to win.
When the Landrieu’s swept into office, the city breathed a great sigh of relief that Nagin was truly Ray-gone.But the trouble was just beginning.Once the Naginites were gone, the Landrieu crowd uncovered just how horrible the state of the city is: a $67.5 million budget deficit for the current year, later increased by another $11 million. Deep cuts were needed.
So Mitch made a really good call and set a “State of the City” address, a major speech in which he spelled it out for New Orleanians: Their worst nightmares about how bad C. Ray was for the city were realized. Landrieu laid it out very calmly: it was going to be hard, but his administration was going to have to make deep cuts, cuts that would involve reduced services, but it had to be done for the cancer had been neglected too long and radical surgery was needed. He propose furloughs, a technical used successfully in other cities: instead of laying off employees, each just had to take two days off without pay each pay period, starting with the mayor himself.
That was another plus for Landrieu: he took his own medicine; a no-brainer for sure, but wonder if Nagone would have done it?So, the Landrieu administration is proposing to revamp and modernize the once-revered New Orleans Recreation Department in an effort to clean up the parks, organize events and refurbish community recreational parks, all with the idea of giving teenagers something to do rather than roaming the streets and causing trouble. The idea is popular across town.
A late July poll showed 55 percent of voters approve of the NORD city charter change, with only 23 percent opposing.But the poll, taken by Dr. Silas Lee, had some really great news for the Landrieu folks: 75 percent of those polled said the city “is headed in the right direction” compared to only 31 percent who said so in February.And seven out of town gave Mitch Landrieu a favorable job rating.
One of the interviewers for the poll, while questioning The Lively Pelican, let it be known that those surveyed were very vocal in their optimism for where the city is headed and very happy with Mitch.
And that is very good news for Mitchell, certainly eclipsing being upstaged by the Saints and BP.