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Masks are not being worn while people walk on Bourbon Street in the middle of day in New Orleans, La.Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Thursday that people caught without a mask on in public could face a fine of up to $500, in the latest warning from New Orleans officials to follow rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Headlines are a curious thing, especially when they work, grabbing the attention of a reader just passing by.

When I saw "Furious" LaToya Cantrell on NOLA.com, I thought the mayor must be upset about all of the shootings and murders, or maybe another building under construction collapsed.

I know she was furious when the Hard Rock Hotel accident happened and paralyzed the businesses in the area for over a year. The whole world got to see our dirty laundry and the inability to deal with the situation.

It’s still there, broken and bent — such a long-lasting eyesore! Too bad the city doesn’t charge tourists and locals to take pictures.

Surely, no other major city with a new airport would allow public transportation to be cut off and commerce stopped in its Central Business District and entertainment center for over a year because of an accident.

Having seen the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s analysis of local crime stats through October probably should have made Her Honor furious. MCC showed that the key violent-crime category of aggravated batteries was up 37% while arrests dropped 35% and citizens requests for NOPD help remain very high, about 900 calls every day for police assistance.

Cantrell knows that “homicides have increased by 87% compared to 2019, but 2020 homicide arrests have fallen 16% (to about half: 168 homicides, 83 arrests). Similar patterns of higher crime rates and fewer arrests have emerged with weapons-related incidents, shootings.”

“The rise in crime and decrease in arrests continue as the city implements furloughs of police officers, which further impedes NOPD’s ability to respond to citizens’ calls for service.”

I just figured all of those murderers running around Scot-free ought to make the person in charge furious.

But it turns out that’s not what made the mayor furious. She’s steamed that about 400 Christians got together singing and praying outdoors in the French Quarter, of all places.

“While this was under the guise of a religious activity or event, we know it put our people in danger,” Cantrell said, accusing organizers of using “the pretense of religion to hold this event with other motives. And that simply is not right.”

Cantrell said that she’d instructed city agencies “to pursue every angle possible to hold these individuals accountable.”

The Rev. Andy “Rebirth” Pellerano of One Accord Ministries, who spoke at the gathering, said “really this is about the individual’s right to worship.” Pellerano said that the gathering was an act of worship, not — as Cantrell contended — an effort simply to hold concerts in defiance of city rules.

Pastor Pellerano compared the event to large Black Lives Matter protests in June in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman, noting that an even larger crowd of demonstrators denouncing police brutality had gathered at Jackson Square.

“That happened at that same spot and there was no uproar behind it,” said Pellerano. “We gathered peacefully.”

If the Pellerano group was trying to deceive the mayor, they would have had Biden/Harris or BLM signs in tow and they didn’t, because everyone knows Christian is the code word for Republican.

The winner: Now for the fun part. On Oct. 21, I asked for your predictions on Louisiana ballot races.

Here are the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medalists for magical powers to predict the future: 1st place JanM with 9 points. 2nd place dmsett with 8 points. 3rd place was a tie, Anne Dunn, Nahum Laventhal and Charles Neumann with 4 points each.

After the results are certified (the rules do not allow for any vote counting challenges), I owe JanM “an hourlong lunch on me at a modest restaurant of your choice to talk politics or convince me of a column topic.” And he already had included his topics to discuss with his entry. How confident is that!

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

Garey Forster: What's your prediction on the wildest races on the ballot?


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.