More candidates eye City Council races
Add two more names to the list of candidates hoping to shake things up in the New Orleans City Council races this fall.
They are Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste, a community activist and Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian, and Kenneth Cutno, a community development and housing consultant. They say they will sign up for the District D and Division 1 at-large seats, respectively.
Batiste would face off against incumbent Jared Brossett, who up until Batiste’s announcement appeared to be headed for re-election in his Gentilly-based district without a challenge.
Batiste said he’s running “because I’ve been hearing the people’s cries” about a lack of economic development opportunities in the city.
This would be his first run for the City Council, though he’s run for the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee.
Meanwhile, Cutno, who sought to unseat U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond last year and ran for a state House seat from Algiers in 2015, said he is seeking the Division 1 citywide seat to solve a wide range of problems.
Councilwoman Stacy Head, who now holds that seat, is term-limited; state Rep. Helena Moreno has already announced plans to run. Cutno could also be going up against former Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who is said to be considering running in either that race or in District C, and state Rep. Joseph Bouie, who coincidentally lost to Brossett in the District D race in 2014.
Cutno is calling for the repeal of a comprehensive set of regulations for short-term rentals that the City Council approved last year, a $17 million investment in affordable housing programs and the removal of the city’s traffic cameras, among other things.
“I will work across party lines and build coalitions for the people of New Orleans,” he said.
Qualifying for the Oct. 14 election is July 12-14. Runoffs will be Nov. 18. The winners will take office in May 2018.
Meeting called off due to no quorum
The New Orleans City Council canceled its Thursday meeting because not enough members were on hand. The cancellation was announced shortly before the meeting was scheduled to start.
Three of the seven members were absent, leaving the council one short of a quorum. Both at-large members, Jason Williams and Stacy Head, were among those missing.
The meeting was rescheduled for this Thursday.
Landry blasts mayor over crime, politics
In a campaign-style video posted to social media last week, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry hammered New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for “playing politics” instead of focusing on violence in the city.
The ad breathed new life into an ongoing spat between Republican Landry and Democrat Landrieu.
Titled “It’s time to make New Orleans safe again,” a play on President Donald Trump’s slogan of “Make America great again,” the video referenced multiple shootings in New Orleans over the previous weekend that left three people dead. The words “The citizens of New Orleans are being plagued by crime” flashed over a photo of police tape.
Landrieu took to Twitter to respond. In a tweet that linked to a media report about the arrest of nine people for a series of armed robberies and carjackings, Landrieu wrote: "Keeping New Orleans safe is too important to play politics with @AGJeffLandry @NOPDNews making arrests, not hashtags."
Initially, Landry's ad erroneously stated that 572 people had been shot in New Orleans over the first five months of 2017. That apparently was based on a tweet from crime analyst Jeff Asher saying that at the current pace, there would be 572 shooting victims in the city by Dec. 31.
In fact, about 300 people have been shot in the city so far this year. Landry's office corrected the video, changing the statistic to say 702 people had been shot in the last 365 days.
The video went on to suggest that Landrieu is less concerned with crime than with national media attention, showing a still image from his interview for "Meet the Press" following the removal of four Jim Crow-era monuments in the city.
And it blasted Landrieu for defending the city against attempts by Landry and the Trump administration to cast it as a “sanctuary city” for policies that limit when police officers can ask about an individual’s immigration status.
It wrapped up with the words “the violence must end” over a rapid, black-and-white montage of people who apparently were victims of violence over the last two years.
Cannizzaro blasts mayor over crime, politics
After a scathing letter from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro targeting New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison wouldn't directly respond, but he said he feels fully supported and backed by the administration.
"We're just going to do our jobs, and we're not going to let that interfere with what we have to do," Harrison said at a Thursday press conference to announce multiple arrests. "I have all the resources I need. Everything I've asked for I've been given, and then I, in turn, give that to the men and women of the Police Department to do their jobs."
Cannizzaro, often a critic of Landrieu and his policies, wrote an op-ed article that accused the mayor of placing politics above public safety. The letter cited a Landrieu news conference in which he discussed a "recent uptick" in crime.
"Even as current events finally push the mayor over the proverbial reality cliff, he stubbornly refuses to call this what it is — a sustained, six-month-long, frighteningly dramatic increase in the level of violence," Cannizzaro wrote.
Harrison said police will be "taking the fight to the criminals," regardless of any tension among top officials.
"The mayor gives us all the resources to do what we do. As you can see, we are being very proactive," Harrison said. "And now we're bringing quality arrest cases to the citizens to let them know that, No. 1: We're not backing down."
Compiled by Jessica Williams and Jeff Adelson