You’ve got to give it to the mayor of New Orleans and the New Orleans City Council — they know how to work the crowd. Mitch Landrieu governs a city with dilapidated infrastructure that rivals those of some Third World countries, and has the distinction of having the fourth-highest murder rate in the U.S. for 2014. His city is on course to break that record in 2015. What a pickle for a mayor.

To deflect the heat, in 2014, Landrieu and the City Council got the citizens of their fine city focused upon the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke on employees in casinos and bars, and began their health campaign to eliminate that evil. The council and Landrieu spent months debating this issue.

Finally, the issue was settled. The ban was put into effect in early 2015 and the realities of the city — the crime rate, bad streets, the inadequate sewage system and the increasing homeless population — took center stage once again.

Landrieu and the council needed another diversion, fast; an even bigger one than the smoking ban. Suddenly, a horrendous racial hate crime at a church occurred, giving Landrieu yet another opportunity for a reality deflection. In response, he proposed the removal of four prominent Southern heritage monuments from the city that he claimed pay homage to a despicable time in our country’s history.

Landrieu was successful; public outcry swelled and has progressed to an endorsement of his plan by the city’s Historic District Landmark Commission.

So far, the proposal has served as quite a successful diversion tactic.

The crime rate and the other Third World conditions in New Orleans have almost completely dropped off the radar, benefiting not only Landrieu but also the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the state tourism agency.

The reality is, in the past, there have been several Southern racial hate crimes involving Confederate symbols in our country, some involving the same church as the latest one. Yet there was no outcry in New Orleans to bury the statues. Apparently their timing wasn’t quite right from Landrieu’s viewpoint.

My suggestion for this newest Landrieu deflection is to leave history alone and better educate the public by placing plaques on the monuments explaining why each is a part of it.

History is important, because those who do not remember the past will end up making the same mistakes in the future.

The mayor needs to deal with his failed policies of the past and clean up the mess in New Orleans.

Jim Anderson

retired education administrator

Ponchatoula