In downtown Baton Rouge, there has just been an orgy of partisan politics, with getting things done ranking in the minds of the participants far less than the R or D behind the names of the members.
No, not the Legislature. Baton Rouge’s Metro Council, of all places.
Seven members of the council must vote to appoint a successor to Buddy Amoroso, a Republican who was tragically killed in a biking accident. Four members, all Democrats, initially said they would abstain, meaning that the remaining six Republicans and one Democrat who is not part of the Gang of Four would have to agree on a replacement.
If not, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, would fill the seat by appointment.
Four Democrats on Baton Rouge’s Metro Council announced Tuesday they would not vote for anyone to replace their recently deceased Republican c…
Traditionally, in the Baton Rouge council, it’s the family who nominates a new member in the case of the death or departure of the incumbent. A widow or other family member need not run for a full term, and in any case, the new member must run in a special election. The primary election for Amoroso’s seat is in March.
While it is not yet entirely clear if Denise Amoroso would accept the appointment, the party politics of council members was a striking departure from precedent and provoked a highly critical reaction, given the tastelessness of the timing.
The council often splits 7-5, with the Republican white members voting differently from the five African-American Democrats.
There are often legitimately differing interests that lead to splits.
In cities where Democrats predominate, like New Orleans, there are still divisions between sections of the city. In parishes like Jefferson, where Republicans predominate, the age-old split between the west and east banks is well-known.
However, the Baton Rouge members trying to gum up the works with abstentions in an apparent bid to redress the party imbalance made a terrible public impression in these circumstances. The four members climbed down late Tuesday night: “Now that we know Mrs. Amoroso is strongly considering filling the seat, we too look forward to having a face-to-face discussion with her about the best path forward in terms of representation for the district,” LaMont Cole, one of the council members who had planned to abstain from voting on Amoroso's replacement, said. “We will revisit our decision after our conversation with Denise Amoroso.”
The Gang of Four got deserved flak because of their clumsy maneuver. Councilwoman Tara Wicker, a Democrat, deserves credit for criticizing the party split. But we worry that the divisions of the Metro Council show, as in the Legislature and the nation's capitol, that party passions can corrupt the process of serving the public.