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Story Archives: Another race-baited campaign in N.O.
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|Another race-baited campaign in N.O.|
Observers of New Orleans politics have been predicting for weeks that it was only a matter of time before race would surface as an issue in the mayoral election there.
In light of comments recently offered by candidate Troy Henry, the observers were ahead of themselves, or knew what most of us know to be true about the Crescent City. Though it's a wonderful place to visit, race relations in New Orleans rank among the worst in the nation.
To some degree that's understandable since many city-wide elected posts in New Orleans, which is roughly 65 percent black, are currently occupied by white people. Hard to believe but it's true.
According to Henry, the leading black candidate heading into the Feb. 6 primary election, that needs to change.
Henry made that point abundantly clear at a forum last week hosted by the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, an organization that's more than friendly to black candidates who, in the past 35-40 years or so, have enjoyed a great deal of success at the ballot box. Success in governing has been lacking, though. Quite frankly, it has been abysmal.
Henry opined at the Urban League get-together that organizations or committees were established over the years to keep tabs on black elected officials. He said more oversight was on the horizon.
"There's a whole move afoot now to create a whole bunch of oversight organizations for African-American-run organizations," Henry said, according to The Times-Picayune. "Let's face it, whether it be the Metropolitan Crime Commission, whether it be the BGR (Bureau of Government Research), whether it be the public-private Horizon Initiative to outsource (the economic development) element of government, whether it be outsourcing an element of NORD (city's recreation department), all of a sudden what the plan appears to be is that they want to in essence neuter African-American (political) power and then have economic leadership stay in the hands of the minority as opposed to the majority, the minority in this case being the white community."
When a Times-Picayune reporter reminded Henry that the crime commission was created in 1952, many years prior to any blacks being elected to public office in New Orleans, he bristled.
"Don't get those things confused," Henry said.
What Henry really told The Times-Picayune was don't inform the readers of the truth while he was in the midst of playing the race card. That's exactly what Henry meant.
Yet, Henry isn't alone in doing and saying anything and everything that's necessary to lure black voters into his corner. Candidate Mitch Landrieu, currently our lieutenant governor, is guilty of it, too, though he can't be accused of using race as a divisive tool to benefit his third campaign for mayor.
"Our family owes its political life to the African-American community," Landrieu said in an interview with The Times-Picayune.
Landrieu got that right. His sister, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, can attest to it and so can his father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu.
Those same observers of New Orleans politics say polls that show Landrieu in the lead, enjoying healthy support among black voters to boot, could be misleading. They're probably right, meaning many of the black voters who say they'll vote for Landrieu won't do it on election day. Instead, they'll vote for the black guy once they get behind a curtain in a voting booth. It's happened before.
The irony of it all is it was Moon Landrieu, as mayor, who broke the color barrier in New Orleans. He introduced blacks to positions of authority and did more for the black community than any of his white predecessors ever did.
Mitch Landrieu has been a friend of the black community, too. So has the senator.
That begs a question.
Will black voters in New Orleans reward Mitch Landrieu with their support or will they turn to the divisiveness Henry introduced to the mayoral campaign there?