NO.orleanselections.071521.007.jpg

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman talk before the two qualify for re-election during the first day of qualifying at Criminal District Court on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans, July 14.

When writing about uncontrolled crime spikes in New Orleans, all the numbers indicate an obvious solution: Hire more police.

Don’t be deceived by Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s sudden interest in this solution. It’s election season. Expect news conferences, radio, TV, and Facebook ads, but know Cantrell has done nothing in four years as mayor to restore the number of officers needed at NOPD.

Mitch Landrieu, ahead of his time in “defunding the police” — ever the opportunist, he may now embrace the label — dramatically reduced NOPD’s police force by a third while mayor.

Nationally, there has been a 45% increase in the retirement rate and nearly 20% increase in resignations from police officers in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year, according to a June survey from the Police Executive Research Forum.

Voters followed Landrieu’s substandard leadership by electing Cantrell. She admitted not paying $95,000 of her income taxes to the IRS before the election and has been paid $174,920 per year as mayor or $699,680 per term. Wonder if she’s paid the IRS in full?

There ought to be a law that if you are delinquent paying taxes, you cannot be a candidate to administer, legislate, or adjudicate government programs or laws. Most governments won’t allow businesses behind on taxes to contract with it for goods or services. Why can’t we do the same for people who want to run for office?

New Orleans voters then promoted Councilman Jason Williams to district attorney while under 11-count federal grand jury indictment for lying on his income taxes. Since federal grand juries have 16 to 23 people serving, U.S. attorneys had to convince at least 12 jurors that probable cause for crimes was committed to get 11 indictments.

District attorneys prosecute people committing serious crimes like murders, shootings, carjackings and robberies. Williams spends most of his time letting criminals out of jail and releasing suspects arrested by police, instead of prosecuting during his seven months as DA.

Jason Williams did such a good job defending criminals that he bought a $1.4 million mansion on St. Charles Avenue the year before running for DA. Guess he needed that 20% pay raise he gave himself to pay city property taxes.

Expecting to take advantage of voters' willingness to elect lawbreakers is a former convict, Oliver Thomas. Thomas admitted taking bribes while serving on the New Orleans City Council. “OT” is running again. Others may see hard, dangerous work fighting crime, Thomas sees opportunity.

Thomas is not running for the District B seat in Central City he formerly held. He wants District E, the largest council district with the most severe crime problems, according to the recent report of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

MCC’s report says NOPD’s 7th District, which is New Orleans East, has the highest rate of major violent crime in the last six months: 209 violent crimes and 57 carjackings, more than one-third of all carjackings citywide, since Jan. 1.

The voters in Lower 9th Ward and New Orleans East can’t be serious about making their community safe and prosperous if they elect a person who admitted to a gambling problem and took bribes to pay off gambling debts while serving on the council.

No honest developers will want to bring projects to eastern New Orleans if they have to “negotiate” with Oliver Thomas for zoning or any other issues that go before the City Council. Thomas will have absolute control over projects in the East or Lower 9 because other council members will not vote against him on issues in his district. They never do. It’s an unwritten rule.

I sat next to a local pollster recently who told the group that “… the District E council seat is Oliver Thomas’ to lose.” It’s up to voters to prove that pollster wrong by voting for incumbent District E Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen, former state Rep. John Bagneris, Vanessa “Gueringer” Johnson, or Aaron Miller, the other Democrats in the race.

Voters should raise the bar for leadership in the city, not offer temptations to people with serious addictions.

Defunders like Landrieu blamed hurricanes for city problems, but Houston and Miami have hurricanes, too. Those voters figured out who to elect and grew the safety and prosperity of their cities. Betcha they weren’t electing lawbreakers and convicts to govern them.

Vote ABC — “Anybody But Crooks,” if you want to reduce crime in the Crescent City.

Email Garey Forster at Garey.Forster@gmail.com.


Garey Forster is former chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee in the Louisiana House of Representatives and a former Louisiana Secretary of Labor. His column runs weekly. Email him at Garey.Forster@gmail.com.