Saturday, April 12, 2008

Orleans Politics/Jefferson Politics

Nothing of real interest in today's Orleans Politics column, however, we are informed that a "slow-starting" D.A.'s race finally has a second candidate waging a visible campaign. If that's a slow start, I can only wonder about the lack of candidates for William Jefferson's seat. In December 2006, I heard Clancy DuBos say that the upcoming party primary system would make Jefferson almost unbeatable in upcoming elections; it would be a real pisser if a man who thought Blanco had a better shot at re-election than Nagin picked that one to get right.

Hope I'm not poaching in any oyster beds, but that leads to today's Jefferson Politics column:
It was a common scene at election time, save one element: Several of the supporters were the same politicians who snickered behind Shepherd's back about his perceived lack of ethics, even calling him the "walking indictment." Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, for example, had publicly accused Shepherd of lacking integrity a few months earlier, saying his negotiations for a pet project amounted to "public extortion."

Fast forward to Thursday, when a federal grand jury indicted Shepherd on five charges related to a bond broker's money-laundering scheme. Asked if he regretted lending Shepherd political support in 2006, Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse responded that he didn't endorse Shepherd that day. When reminded that, in fact, he was in attendance, Lagasse recalled it and said his presence was just "tongue in cheek."

Lagasse, like others in that crowd, said the endorsement signaled a preference for any Jefferson Parish candidate over those from New Orleans.

"He was definitely a Jefferson Parish leader, so I was going to support him," he said.

I don't think I ever blogged it, but, at the time, I was appalled at what greedy bastards Jefferson Parish politicians were. Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish and the Northshore basically have two congressional districts between them. Not only did Jefferson Parish want both, its leaders were willing to make a deal with the devil to get the second. BTW, if anybody from Jefferson Parish were to take that as a sign of parochialism, you'd be wrong; I'm also well aware that Sal's was selling snowballs long before Orleans Parish schools were integrated.

I'll admit that I voted for the wrong Carter, Karen rather than Troy, in the primary election because I really didn't want a Jefferson/Shepherd runoff -- probably the only time in my life that I voted for the least of three evils. I understood the reasons of people who sat out the general election, because, like Dambala or Adrastos, they thought an unindicted Karen Carter might prove worse than than an indicted William Jefferson, but I thought the short term cost of re-electing Jefferson outweighed all other considerations. That was an honest difference of opinion; I thoroughly agree with what Oyster said about people who voted for Jefferson or sat out the election for other reasons.

At any rate, Shepherd's now under indictment and Bold's been weakened by Oliver Thomas' downfall, so Karen Carter won't mount a serious challenge to William Jefferson. I'm not aware of anything scandalous in Troy Carter's background and he'd have strong west bank support; would it be quixotic to start a draft Troy Carter movement? It's a safe bet that there'll be other Karen Carters and Derrick Shepherds ready to run when Jefferson actually goes down.

In other local news, Jim Bernazzani says that local corruption will be cleaned up in six months. Hey, that's what the headline says.

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Troy Carter might be the best, most viable candidate.

I'd like to understand better why he often seems to underperform on election day.
Actually, Adrastos could probably answer that better than I could. I really didn't pay much attention to local politics before Katrina. I started to briefly, but early in Nagin's first term, it became obvious that he was either a paper tiger or a total fraud. So I didn't see anything different to get either excited or concerned about.

I'm serious that when Jefferson goes down it will probably harder to elect somebody who's actually an improvement.
Nagin will likely run for the seat, if Jefferson is convicted and steps down or is removed. As a sitting mayor he will have no trouble raising money.
If he's removed, all sorts of candidates will come out of the woodwork. The likely favorite will be somebody like Karen Carter or Oliver Thomas would have been, an established pol who's always been part of the system but managed to stay scandal free. Or somebody like Michael Darnell who's always been part of system but who can pose as reformer nonpolitician because he's never held elected office. That's why I'd like to see some kind of effort mounted for the November election instead of waiting for the free for all that will ensue once Jefferson's forced out.
I will commit all my spare energies to ensuring Nagin never holds another elected office (in New Orleans).
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