Friday, October 12, 2007

City Council Forum

I went to the city council forum last night at Xavier with an open mind. Even though I've been here for five years now, I'm still a South Philadelphia boy at heart, so I know a lot more about Frank Rizzo, Wilson Goode, and the bombing of my birth city's residents than I do about Marc Morial and Moon Landrieu.

I don't know a whole lot about any of the candidates, certainly not enough to read between the lines. I don't know who eats their vegetables and who rolls them up in a napkin and throws them away when mom isn't looking. I don't see the baggage that has built up for a lot of people that have been following New Orleans politics for thirty years.

Here's what I did see last night:

Malcolm Suber, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, and Virginia Boulet were the most articulate and thoughtful candidates when it came to directly answering the questions and expressing passion for their positions.

There has been a lot of online support for Quentin Brown, I've noticed. I went in expecting to like him. He certainly did bring the funny. His anger seems to come from a genuine place. Every normal person living in this city has it bubbling inside them.

You just have to read the paper. Or just look around you.

That said, Quentin Brown is not anywhere close to being a serious candidate. He's just outraged (though he has every right to be). A vote for Quentin Brown would represent for me, a protest vote. He did not seem to be particularly well-versed on the specifics of governance. Judging by the way Our Mayor uses the city charter to stonewall Councilwoman Head on subpoeanas or manipulate our new inspector general, we need a city councilperson that is capable of battling Nagin with more than an angry voice.

I've noticed also a lot of negative attitudes toward Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Ashley has blacklisted her and adrastos doesn't seem particularly impressed either. I want to know more reasons why and hope people will educate me in the comments section. One of them has to do with a suspicious campaign contribution detailed by Celcus. Nonetheless, her answers and tone seemed to be forceful and professional. She used the platform to express herself and obviously stood out.

Virginia Boulet was opinionated and confident as well. I am willing to forgive her endorsement of Nagin. A lot of people made the same mistake. She tried to work with him and couldn't. She's obviously one of the more intelligent candidates up there. I don't like the fact that she's spent so much time working for big energy companies. I'm extremely wary of her ties in that department, in fact.

Malcolm Suber was thoughtful and eloquent. I haven't read a whole lot about him in the newspapers. It doesn't appear that anybody has been taking him seriously, which is too bad. He is the only candidate that speaks out against police brutality, which is an issue that cannot be overlooked as the NOPD struggles to reestablish credibility in the community.

Clarkson, considered to be a favorite, didn't seem to say anything to distinguish themselves. A couple of times, she touted the federal city base in Algiers and how many jobs it would bring. This does not impress me at all. Politicians always love to talk about jobs and jobs and jobs but the reality is that the "pro-growth" jobs agenda does little for residents.

Blajoie's answers were okay, I guess. She seemed disinterested and dispassionate. The T-P article today revealed how little fund-raising she's done. I wonder if she's lost interest in the seat.

I'm leaning toward either Suber or Boulet. I won't rule out Cynthia Willard-Lewis completely because, quite frankly, she was by far the most impressive speaker last night. I would love to hear from other bloggers on why she should be avoided.

There were no direct questions regarding council's relationship with Our Mayor. This may be the most important issue facing council and last night could be considered largely useless for not forcing each candidate to address it directly.

Most importantly, I urge those thinking of casting a protest ballot for Quentin Brown strongly consider Malcolm Suber. A vote for Suber is certainly still a repudiation of politics-as-usual. Yet his command of the issues, thoughtfulness, and professional tact force others to take him seriously. Quentin Brown, even when he scores points, is viewed largely as a laughingstock.


dangerblond said...

Don't vote for Cynthia. She's as nice as she can be, but she is one of the most anti-reform members on the council. When Shelley Midura began the process of hiring the Inspector General, under a measure that the great majority of New Orleans voters had enacted in 1996 but the former council(s) never got around to implementing, Cynthia opposed it and when it came time to debate she and the other Cynthia literally sat there and refused to open their mouths to debate. There is no down side to the citizens to having an inspector general, so they couldn't exactly explain why they were against it. It's a good government reform measure that everyone should get behind and support, but they fought it and I'm sure they will do everything they can to keep Mr. Cerasoli from doing his job. Cynthia W-L represents New Orleans East, an area which was devastated by flooding. What has she done to rehabilitate the area? She has gotten herself financially connected to a landfill company that wants to build a giant garbage dump there - in a major FLOOD ZONE. Don't listen to what she says, look at what she has done. When it comes to public service she has done NOTHING, and she has actively opposed efforts to uncover corruption at City Hall. I wouldn't be surprised at all to read in the paper that she is one of the people under investigation by the feds, and I hope, in fact, that they have her under the microscope right now. She may have had good intentions at one time, but she got on the gravy train long ago.

E said...

And I see that Nagin has given her his endorsement. That says a lot.

adastos said...

Cynthia Windy-Lewis is at the top of my list for next pol to be indicted. She and her father have been active in dealing with school board issues if you catch my drift.

Suber is also a protest vote too but a less congenial one than Quentin. Suber called those who marched against crime "racists" and is forever race baiting.

E said...

I don't consider Malcolm Suber to be a race-baiter at all. I think he is strident in his support of working class and disadvantaged people, particularly those most affected by Hurricane Katrina and most ignored by the "recovery."

In New Orleans, this means speaking to and about the black majority. I think we need to be careful when talking about "race-baiting," the political tactic and race/class-conscious ethics and ideology.

A protest vote for Mr. Brown may be congenial, but I don't think it works as a protest. Mr. Brown does not put forth any kind of well-articulated vision for the future of the city or our municipal leadership.

The more I read about Cynthia Willard-Lewis, the more I understand.