Mayor Mitch Landrieu was joined by mayors from 21 cities around the country this morning, taking a tour of the Gulf Coast in the wake of the oil catastrophe. The mayors toured the emergency operations center at Laffite, and viewed oil damage in the marshes there. They then returned to New Orleans for a press conference and seafood dinner at the Bon Ton Cafe on Magazine Street.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduces Mayor Helene Schneider of Santa Barbara, California, to the Debbie's Salad at Bon Ton Cafe this afternoon.
"We're very concerned about the six month moratorium," said Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Texas. "Many of the families who are affected by the seafood industry are also relying on income from servicing the oil industry. We need to remember that there is a balance. We don't ground all the airlines when one plane crashes."
"We can make sure we don't do foolish things like not use products from this region," said Mayor Bob Foster of Long Beach, California. "The real test is three to five years down the road, and we're going to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Landrieu to make this region succesful."
"We're fighting a battle against the oil but we're also fighting a battle of perception," said Mayor Frank Hibbard of Clearwater, Florida. "Many of the areas on the Gulf Coast have not been affected by the oil and I would ask that accuracy be the top of the agenda. I hope we don't make a manmade disaster worse."
Mayor Landrieu was also honored today by being named chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors committee on tourism, arts, parks and sports. "There is not a mayor who better understands the importance of the tourism industry," said Mayor Elizabeth Kautz from Burnsville, Minnesota, chair of the conference. "We learned the hard way after 911 just how important tourism is to our country."
The mayors supported Senator Mary Landrieu's call for energy revenue sharing in the Gulf region before 2017, and said a coordinated command structure is important for tackling the oil disaster. Landrieu said it was also very important to recognize the excellence of the Bon Ton Cafe, and its proprietors Wayne and Debbie Pierce.
Gambit asked Wayne Pierce what's on the mayoral menu for this afternoon: Shrimp cocktail; Debbie's salad (a mixture of crabmeat, shrimp and greens); crabmeat au gratin; shrimp and crab gumbo; redfish bon ton; redfish Alzina; bayou jambalaya (made with crawfish and shrimp); pan broiled jumbo shrimp; oysters Alvin (Alvin and Alzina were founders of the cafe — oysters Alvin is fried oysters topped with a lemon butter sauce); fried soft shell crabs; and bread pudding with whisky sauce.
The mayors are scheduled to eat all of that in 45 minutes before returning to the Roosevelt Hotel.