Gusman says race a factor in jail dispute

NEW ORLEANS — Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman told a local newspaper this week that the debate about how he manages the city’s jail is being fueled by race.

In a video that The New Orleans Tribune posted on its YouTube page, a reporter for the newspaper asked Gusman if the recent questions about his leadership are a “race-based” effort to smear him.

“The only way I could explain how someone would question my leadership, my ability, has to be because they have a different agenda,” Gusman told the newspaper, which focuses on the African-American community.

“They have to be looking at something different than just the record,” continued Gusman, who is the first African-American sheriff in Orleans Parish. “And maybe they’re looking at the person who’s there. Maybe ... they don’t like the way that person looks. So maybe that’s what it’s about. I’m not sure.”

While Gusman did not address anyone by name during the roughly 6-minute video, his comments came days after he accused Mayor Mitch Landrieu of using “Archie Bunker rhetoric” in discussing conditions at the jail, which is facing a federal consent decree to address alleged unconstitutional treatment of inmates.

Landrieu has said the city cannot afford to pay for both the New Orleans Police Department consent decree and the Sheriff’s Office consent decree. This week, Landrieu asked the federal government to install a federal receiver to oversee the jail.

That action would leave Gusman in office, but essentially strip him of any power.

Landrieu in BR notes common ground

BATON ROUGE — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that problems in his city are shared by Baton Rouge and the rest of the country, something he said was driven home when the Northeast was battered by Hurricane Sandy.

“Don’t look at New Orleans as some distant place,’’ he said.

As mayor, he said, he’s used a scalpel to cut government instead of a hatchet, and he took issue with those who insist that government is too big. Sometimes, he said, government is “too small and too big at the same time.’’

Landrieu suggested that most people would be able to identify areas where more government spending is needed. If not, he told the audience, “quit asking for more money for LSU.’’

UNO survey says Landrieu doing well

NEW ORLEANS — A new survey from the University of New Orleans’ Survey Research Center found that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has strong support in the city, with a 70 percent job approval rating.

The City Council also is viewed positively, but with a somewhat lower job approval rating of 53 percent.

The survey was conducted Feb. 16-28. Surveyors interviewed 552 residents by phone. The survey has a sampling error of +/- 4.2 percent.

The high rating for Landrieu has positive effects for the mayor, said Ed Chervenak, director of the UNO Survey Research Center.

“The mayor’s approval ratings provide him with the political capital that can help him implement his vision and programs,” Chervenak said.

Landrieu’s most recent job approval rating is in line with the 69 percent approval rating from the UNO Survey Research Center’s 2012 Quality of Life Survey. It is slightly lower than the 75 percent approval rating measured in the 2010 Quality of Life Survey taken shortly after his election.

A complete breakdown of the survey results can be found at http://poli.uno.edu/unopoll/studies/.

Guidry schedules community meeting

NEW ORLEANS — District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry will host a town hall meeting to discuss lakefront-area neighborhood issues.

The meeting will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the St. Dominic School gymnasium, 6326 Memphis St.

Among the issues to be discussed are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pump projects, status of repairs at the Municipal Yacht Harbor, other capital projects and street repairs.

Residents who have individual issues are encouraged to attend and to bring pictures and written descriptions of the problems, including contact information.

Representatives of several agencies will be at the meeting to take those documents and to respond to individual questions beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Compiled by

Danny Monteverde

and Sara Pagones