Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wanted: Grown Ups To Populate the New Orleans City Council

We have quite the kerfuffle going on in the City Council, and very few of the Council members are acting their age.

It all started last summer when At-Large member Arnie Fielkow announced that he was resigning effective October 1 to assume the CEO position with the NBA Retired Players Association.  His departure left a vacant spot on the Council, and the usual suspects began circling their wagons in preparation for a brutal election to fill the spot which had been filled in the interim by a top aide to Fielkow.

Elections in New Orleans are nothing if not racially charged.  I know you're surprised to hear that. 

Fielkow is a white guy; Sanderson, the interim member, is a black guy.  When the dust settled after the primary in April, the run-off saw a white woman pitted against a black woman, both veterans of the Council, and it was a gloves-pulled-off, brutal, hair-pulling cage fight with a decidedly racial spin.  The final tally on election night gave the race to the white woman, Stacy Head, by a razor-thin edge of 281 votes.  It took several days before the black woman, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, finally conceded; Stacy Head was sworn in on May 2nd.

The Council immediately began debate on how to tweak the At-Large election procedure.  Naturally.  Priorities, priorities.

In the meantime, Stacy Head recommended a successor for her District B seat (which just happens to be the District that represents Moogie's Mansion), Errol George, a black guy, and he began interviewing with the other members, being led to believe that he was a shoo-in.

But, oh no.  This is New Orleans where we may call ourselves "The Big Easy," but we rarely do anything the easy way.

The Council was to meet for a regularly scheduled session on May 3rd and on the agenda were, among other things, amending the At-Large election process and the appointment of the interim successor to the District B spot.  After three members (all white women) changed their minds about voting for the new procedure, preferring instead to defer a vote until June to allow for more debate and public hearing, the measure failed.  And, up hopped Members Cynthia Hedge-Morrell (yes, we have lots of Cynthia Hyphenated-Names in New Orleans politics) and Jon Johnson (both black), and walked out of the chamber.

They walked out of the chamber, leaving in their wake no quorum for the Council to carry on further business.  Including the confirmation of Mr. George.  Among all the other city business.  They have yet to attend either regularly-scheduled or specially-called meetings since, offering lame-to-no excuse. 

Ms. Hedge-Morrell told the press yesterday that the change of heart about the election procedure voted on at the May 3rd meeting left her feeling "marginalized."  If the Council can't muster a quorum before June 1, the task of appointing a successor will fall to the Mayor, and it's looking like that's exactly what's going to happen.  Woo.  Hoo.

So, Ms. Hedge-Morrell is feeling a little put upon, is she?  Bless her heart.

Well, guess what?  Her childish antics, which effectively shut down all city council business -- some of which addresses some pretty heavy issues, including a proposed unnecessary, tremendous increase in sewerage/water fees -- are leaving Moogie feeling significantly worse than "marginalized."  Her behavior is leaving me feeling quite disenfranchised.  Literally.

I don't even want to get into Johnson's role in the whole thing.  He might just be the unwitting victim in a parish-wide cat fight.  But, he could be a brother and stand up for the other black guy who just wants to fill a spot on the Council until November -- when he'll even be ineligible to run for the permanent position.

I'm thinking we need a little adult supervision in the playground Council chambers.


  1. You should run for City Council.

    Wait. You're leaving. Never mind. ;-)

  2. Isn't Hedge-Morrell the one who drives recklessly with a police light on her dashboard and threatened to get a State trooper fired for stopping her?

    Why yes, yes she is.

  3. Nice post in the wayback. I remember when that happened. I almost understand why the trooper left her alone, though -- I'd do almost anything to get away from her mouth once she commences to talkin'.