Understanding the origins of Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations.
Marc Morial, 59th Mayor of New Orleans.
Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations
I read with interest an article on Verite News, The rise and fall of Black political organizations in New Orleans. My first reaction to the Professor Collins’ article was, as I tweeted, disappointment. The story of Black political organizations in New Orleans deserves a full telling.
A second reading revealed it wasn’t intended as a full treatment of the subject. The editors tagged it as a “4 min read.” Perhaps what was delivered was all Verite wanted.
What really struck me, though, were two serious omissions.
The first is in the telling of the rise of BOLD, COUP, LIFE, SOUL, and other groups. Collins offers no background here, other than increasing Black voter registration was how these groups came into being. That’s true, but only a small part of the story. The Black organizations did indeed come together. They supported Dutch Morial in his campaign to succeed Moon Landrieu as mayor. Collins doesn’t mention the biggest accommplishment of the political groups at that time.
The Deal With The Judges.
Collins offers this summary of the political landscape of the 1980s:
It should be noted that by the late 1980s, suburban white flight was in full effect in New Orleans, decreasing the white population, and increasing the Black population. The Black organizations enjoyed their most power during this period when the city voting rolls flipped from majority white to majority Black. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the groups increased their power by electing many city council members, state legislators, and judges.
This is entirely accurate, but it’s not enough. The whyte infrastructure of New Orleans eroded over time, starting with Dutch’s election in 1977*. A Black leader in City Hall marked the start of the transition, but for all intents and purposes, city government was incredibly whyte. Right out of the gate, Dutch was forced to face down the whyte police union, as NOPD went on strike. While Dutch overcame the union, the strike demonstrated just how deep the whyte roots of government extended.
That’s when the Black organizations discovered a way to strengthen their position. They struck an unofficial deal with the judges of Orleans Parish. In exchange for the Black political infrastructure allowing those judges to run unopposed, the judges agreed to not endorse whyte candidates to succeed them. Black lawyers fought it out as the incumbents retired. It took longer to shift the balance, but it worked.
There are other stories related to the Black organizations that don’t fit in a “4 min read,” and I can’t hold Professor Collins for that. Still, the piece leaves so much out.
Collins writes about the groups’ decline:
There were several structural factors that led to this decline. The first was unique to New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina in 2005. These organizations are neighborhood-based. The hurricane ripped apart many traditional neighborhood ties as former residents rebuilt in new locations.
The decline of the Black organizations pre-dates Hurricane Katrina. Department of Justice came for these organizations almost immediately after George W. Bush took office as President. James B. Letten succeeded Eddie Jordan as US Attorney. Letten and staff came for outgoing Mayor Marc Morial (LIFE). He then came for Congressman Bill Jefferson (Progressive Democrats). Years before the storm, Republicans aggressively came for the Black political infrastructure.
They incarcerated Oliver Thomas
DOJ locked up Bill Jefferson.
The feds came hard for Jacques Morial, in the hopes he would roll on his brother.
Bush’s Department of Justice seriously damaged the Black organizations in Orleans Parish.
Understanding the past is how any group moves forward. Understanding just how much Republicans want to destroy voting blocs who will never support them is important.
*While Dutch did not take office until 1-May-1978, he won the election in November of the previous year. That long delay between election and inauguration was changed for Mitch Landrieu’s second term.
There’s a Mayoral Recall in New Orleans.
Mayoral Recall is dumb
Residents of Orleans Parish filed a recall petition against Mayor LaToya Cantrell in August. It was a silly idea then and it continues to be a month later. Here’s the top five reasons the recall is dumb:
5. City Leadership aren’t interested
At least in public. Oh, you know full well they’re quite interested. Like most folks, they just don’t want to give the petition oxygen.
4. Horrible timing
Petitioners filed on 26-August, which means they must produce 54,000 signatures. While the grass isn’t greener for the other six months of the year, the Fall, going into Carnival, is dumb. Any and all events taking place during this period become automatically more interesting. Events that attract tourists make it more of a challenge to collect valid signatures.
3. Costs will be more than $30K
The recall effort will absolutely cost more than $30,000. That’s basically the amount at issue here. Yes, the petitioners have a lot of things to say about the mayor’s “leadership” and such, but what they’re really upset about is that her honor sat in the front of the planes she took on her European junket. Your opinion on spending city money on flight upgrades doesn’t matter at this point. Someone decided first class was the rallying cry. That means the direct outrage focuses on thirty large. If the organizers get their signatures, the city will then be forced to spend half a million on the election.
2. Most problems with the city date back decades
While there are many things a city chief executive or manager can do to screw things up in a couple of years, those are relatively minimal. Pumping stations? The electric grid? NOPD? All of these items were a mess when Cantrell took office. Shit, they were a mess for Morial. That’s why the pro-recall types needed a specific incident that they could hang directly on Cantrell. This is why almost all of the city’s elected officials are silent on the recall. They don’t want to kick the hornet’s nest. They know this is a “there but for the grace of god” situation. It might not be air travel upgrades, but there’s something worth $30K in everyone’s past.
1. It’s racist
The motivation behind the Cantrell effort is absolutely racist. How dare a Black woman fly first class? Imagine having to sit next to her?! Horrors! Racism is what brings Whyte New Orleans out to vote.
New Orleans is a minority-majority city/parish. This drives the larger whyte population in suburban parishes insane. We’re talking about whyte people who simply loathe the notion of Black people in charge. If there’s an opportunity for the whyte folks to increase their control in the city doesn’t come around every day.
So, let’s rile up the whyte people! We’ll bring along some Black folks who don’t agree with the flight reservations, either. While whyte legislators squeeze the city regularly, this would be an internal foothold. And yes, I know how this sounds. This nonsense is for real.
It’s too late to completely stop the recall process. It’s possible to remind folks of why it’s dumb until next February.
YatPundit’s Pub 21-May-2019
YatPundit’s Pub 21-May-2019
Ranting about Short Term Rentals and the French Market this week.
Programming note: Yesterday’s Red Beans and Rice Monday moves to YatCuisine next week! We’re tweaking the present pod lineup. I created a “YatCuisine” group on Facebook. The pod fits better that way.
Short Term Rentals
With respect to the “strict” short-term rental ordinance passed yesterday by the New Orleans City Council:
1. This was not a final-passage. The ordinance will come back before the Council in a couple of months.
2. in the interim, the forces supporting unlicensed hotels in the city will open their wallets and dilute the ordinance.
3. It’s likely that, by the time of final passage, the ordinance will no longer contain the “domicile” requirement, where you can only short-term-rent the house you claim a homestead exemption on (i.e., you can only AirBnB the house you live in).
How the City Council screws New Orleans
4. By the time the ordinance comes back for final passage, the Councilmembers figure you think they did the right thing back in May. The unlicensed hotels continue on as if the vote yesterday never happened.
5. Advocates for limiting short-term rentals to the renter’s domicile, banning unlicensed hotels must remain vigilant. Demand any changes and amendments proposed to yesterday’s ordinance in advance. Watch the Council’s calendar. Don’t be sandbagged on the day of final passage.
6. Do not trust the Councilmembers who you believe are on “your side” – they know how this works, voted how you wanted them to yesterday, with confidence you won’t be looking when they vote the other way in a couple of months.
7. Follow the money.
Think I’m overreacting? This is why you fail at fixing things in New Orleans. Enjoy your protests, podcasts, and blogs.
New Orleans French Market
Mayor Cantrell considered some research on Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her staff looked into re-purposing public facilities in other cities. Da Paper published a good article on the status of the city’s research. Unfortunately, the headline was click-baity.
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YatPundit’s Pub 16-April-2019
YatPundit’s Pub 16-April-2019
Two brews on tap today, both local, but hopefully not too bitter. Mr. Tim Morris of T-P/NOLA.com wrote an interesting piece discussing party buses and school zones, raising concerns about how Mayor Cantrell is treating some of her constituents.
Our first tap in the pub talks about the party buses. So, hese are those converted school buses you see downtown. So, they have loud sound systems. They flash lots of disco-style lighting inside. Groups charter the party buses. Party-goers load them up with a few ice chests of beer and wine (and possibly some of Lady Goddess’ Own Herb).
Now, the problem with these buses is compliance. They’re not legal on many counts. Buses lack CPNC certificates. Electric lights don’t meet code. Cantrell ordered them to get compliant. They didn’t. She extended the time period.
I also mention a bit about the “curmudgeon class” on Da Twittah. When I do, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about Tim Morris and his colleagues at Da Paper!
St. Anthony of Padua on Canal Street, sight of a traffic-cam school zone
So, contrast that with the treatment some drivers in the city received in the last two weeks. The mayor’s office made a significant change in school zone enforcement.
Traditionally, we enforce school zone speed limits with a traffic cop out with a radar gun. You go over the speed limit, you’re breaking the law and could get a ticket. The cop would usually spot you five miles. So, if you’re going, say 23 in a 20, they’d let you slide.
Now that the traffic cameras and street-installed rollovers detect your speed and document who you are, things are quite precise and less human.
It’s still possible to toss out the violations that are less than 5 miles over the speed limit. Cantrell’s decided go zero-tolerance. Morris argues in his column that this is unfair. Like the business owners, drivers deserved fair warning.
I’m at the point with this where safety trumps whinging drivers. I discuss.
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