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Mitch Landrieu – A savvy politician who keeps his promises

By April 7, 2006new orleans

The local paper profiled Mitch Landrieu today, and I think that the article really captures him.  After you wade past the initial fluff (i.e. what Mitch was like as a child etc.), you get to the stories that matter.  Essentially, what comes out is that Mitch is a very skilled politician, meaning mostly that he is savvy about building coalitions to support his projects.  People have accused Mitch of not being sufficiently ‘business friendly’ and perhaps that’s a legitimate concern for some people.  However, read this passage, which I think underscores a very key issue:

Campaign finance records suggest that Forman is the darling of the city’s corporate leaders, including several who in 2002 got behind Nagin, then a businessman who touted his lack of political experience as an asset.

But Gary Solomon, a banker and venture capitalist who led the government effectiveness committee of Nagin’s rebuilding commission, said that, unlike four years ago, the mayor who pulls New Orleans out of the Katrina chasm will need a thorough understanding of how to overcome government’s obstacles.

"It probably goes without saying that the majority of people of my profile are probably with Ron Forman," said Solomon, a Landrieu backer. "But I came to the conclusion that we need a politician, a person who knows the system, a person who has personal connections all over the country."

The article highlights Mitch’s tenacity and his commitment to making New Orleans a better city.  As everyone knows, and as Mitch freely admits, running for mayor is not a smart political move for him.  So why do it?  Because he is committed to making this city better and he knows that he is uniquely qualified to do it.  And if Mitch says he’s going to do something then you can ‘write the bond’ (as the judge he and used to work for used to say).

The article ends with a passage that makes that point quite poignantly:

St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens said he encountered Landrieu the day after [Katrina] riding in a 14-foot flatboat.

"We were so screwed up, and the first elected official we saw was Mitch Landrieu in a flatboat with some Wildlife and Fisheries guys coming down St. Bernard Highway in 5 feet of water," Stephens said. "I rode over to him, and I said, ‘What are you doing here? Have you lost your mind?’ "

The two talked for a while, then Landrieu scribbled down a list of supplies that Stephens said were needed by about 900 residents stranded in the parish: drinking water, food, insulin, underwear, body bags.

"I told him that we needed a voice on the outside," Stephens said. "He said, ‘Jack, I’ll be back to help.’ It wasn’t a day or two, and he was back."

Like I’ve said, I think a couple of the other candidates would be good mayors and I’m happy we have some good ones to choose from.  But I don’t want to settle for a ‘good mayor.’  I want a great one, and I have a strong sense that Mitch can be a great mayor for this city.  Read the article.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

6 Comments

  • El Stevo says:

    No, no, no Ernesto. Twas the comment above mine (actually the one above your last one, the no name) that I was referringto when I said “you convinced me”, not your post, and I was actually quite sincere. I really don’t see how my comment was particularly sarcasticor thoughtless either by the way, but I certainly don’t want to get into a big thing in the comments section here.

  • Ernie says:

    Steve, this conversation we’re having is in a public form so presumably there is the opportunity to demonstrate thoughtfulness as we lay out our disagreements. Saying that I ‘convinced you’ to vote for Forman (when it is clear you always favored him) is insincere, and perhaps intended to be a sarcastic put down of my response. I invite you to use the comment area to denigrate Mitch (or me too for that matter), if you feel that’s what needs to be done here. But I’d also invite you to practice the art of persuasiveness and diplomacy.

    For those of you who are reading this thinking I’m wasting my time talking to Steve (who seems not to really want to have a dialogue so much as to vent), I assure you I’m not. I’m not just talking to him. We all need reminders (or at least I do) to keep a civil approach when talking about things like religion and politics, or anything that people are likely to have passionate views about. The First Amendment is a great thing; now if we could only learn how to use it to actually listen respectfully to other views.

  • El Stevo says:

    Convinced me. I’m voting for Forman. This city needs to be changed from the inside out and he is the only one I have faith in to even attemptthat. Landrieu is just another status quo Louisiana pol, and who gives a damn where he went to high school, by the way. We need to think moreprogressively and be open to any new changes for this fucked up town.My continued residency in this city depends upon it.

    My name is Steve.

  • Oswald Sobrino says:

    Although born in New Orleans, I left New Orleans several years ago; but the recent catastrophe has renewed my interest in the city’s fortunes. Mitch Landrieu is a great guy. We share a similar educational background: Jesuit High School, Loyola Law School, clerked for the same federal district judge. But, in my opinion, New Orleans needs Ron Forman. The Times-Picayune Forman endorsement gives the reasons I already had in mind. To use a fancy term, Forman is the “paradigm shift” New Orleans has long needed. In plain language, New Orleans needs to think outside the box by choosing Forman.

  • Nancy Chachere says:

    Mitch has spent a lot of dollars trying to assure folks that he can improve the school system–a popular thought, but not necessarily within the mayor’s domain. Does he intend to create schools that he is willing to send HIS kids to? Or will he use the standard–they gotta go to Catholic Schools….I wonder.

  • Ernie says:

    I don’t understand why you don’t leave your name. You have detailed views but don’t want to stand behind them. Forman is not a bad guy and I’d be happy if were elected, but he’s not a “non-politician” just because he hasn’t run for an elected office. He is familiar with politics and he’s adept. That’s what would make him effective if he were elected (but he won’t get elected in a runoff with Nagin, and that’s almost a given). Don’t discount people like Mitch just because you fear politicians. We need a politician to be our next mayor, and a skilled one. You and I just disagree about which one we need.

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