Filed Under:  Local, News, Politics

Green banks on political experience in race for Council at-Large

6th January 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Eugene Green is under fire in his race against Stacy Head for one of the two At-Large City Council position because of his relationship with Bill Jefferson. It has become such a large part of the whisper campaign against him that Green addressed the controversy directly—and actually argued that his tenure in the disgraced U.S. Representative’s office was a reason to vote for him for Council Division 1.

“Following the raid on Con­gress­man William Jefferson’s Second Congressional District Office, his Chief of Staff and other staff members resigned their positions,” Green volunteered in an interview with The Louisiana Weekly. “The start of proceedings that could have led to an indictment made his office one to be ignored by potential new staff members.

GREEN

GREEN

“Congressman Jefferson contacted me at the suggestion of a member of his staff. He told me in a meeting that he needed someone to hold his office together in the midst of the investigation, to assure that services could still be provided to the citizens of his District, especially in the midst of the recovery of the region from the devastation caused by the winds and flooding of Hurricane Katrina. Congressman Jefferson was familiar with my work with the Regional Business Park.

“The problem with my joining Congressman Jefferson’s Second Congressional District Office then was that I had just negotiated a new contract with the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Regional Business Park. My salary was higher that what the Congressman could offer. Despite the reduced salary and the obvious implications of an investigation of his office, I accepted the job to gain experience on a federal level and to ensure the continuation of the provision of constituent services to citizens in need.”

And that paid off for the people of New Orleans, he continued. “As the Chief of Staff for the Office of Louisiana Second Congressional District Congress­man William Jefferson, I facilitated that office continuing to provide constituent services in the midst of a serious investigation of the Congressman. Despite the fact of a raid of his office and a subsequent investigation, I was able to facilitate the delivery of millions of dollars in recovery-related resources to public entities in need. In addition, the Congressman, with my support and execution, delivered, despite legal challenges, earmarks that made worthy projects possible in support of the continuing recovery of the region.”

Taking the job with Jefferson was not the first time that he took a pay cut to serve the public, Green argued. “After the election of Mayor Marc Morial, he attended a meeting of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, of which he is a member, to express his gratitude to the members for their support. Following the meeting, he spoke outside to some meeting attendees. As he was preparing to leave, he mentioned to me that he would appreciate my consideration of joining his Administration. He wanted to have a few people in his Administration who had private sector economic development experience.”

“The problem with me joining his Administration was then that I was earning more money working my business on a full-time basis. However, one week prior to his Inauguration, I submitted my resumé to his review team. I was hired to serve as the Director of the inactive office of Small, Disadvantaged, Minority and Women Owned Businesses. My starting salary was $ 31,000 annual, a far cry from my safe position leading a business.

That didn’t matter to Green, he maintained. “I am committed to public service. I am pleased to have over the years of my public work provided services to agencies and to citizens that have resulted in people securing new jobs, and in money being awarded to projects that continue to expand the economic base of this city and region. My commitment has resulted in my taking jobs that paid less than I would have earned in the public sector. However, the reward of my work is found in the number of citizens who I know have been able to enhance the quality of their lives through gainful employment or business development.

“I seek election to the New Orleans City Council because of my desire to use the legislative and financial authority of the office to enhance the quality of life in our city for all of our citizens. I have owned a business for nearly 25 years. This business generates most of its revenue from private property owners. I am motivated to do more in our city to enhance the business and economic development climate, focusing not just on the use of government resources and opportunities but also on the role that support of the private sector can have in creating additional jobs and wealth generating opportunities in our city.

“I am also uniquely qualified for this job because I have generated economic activity in our city using resources that I pursued and secured on the local, state, and federal level. I have been em­ployed as the Chief Executive Officer of the City of New Orleans Division of Economic Develop­ment under Mayor Marc H. Morial, – a City agency, and as {I previously mentioned} the Chief of Staff of the Louisiana Second Congressional District under Congressman William Jefferson — a federal agency. In addition, I have served as the Chief Executive Officer of a State created agency — The New Orleans Regional Business Park.

“In each position, I facilitated highly successful economic development projects using the tools available through various local, state, and federal agencies. My successes have included securing resources from the City’s Eco­nomic Development Fund, the Urban Development Action Grant repayment funds pool, State Capital Outlay funds, the Neigh­bor­hood Commercial Revitali­zation loan pool, State Approp­riations, Urban Develop­ment Ac­tion Grant funding, and the federal government’s HUD 108 loan program.

“I am the only candidate who has created new jobs and economic opportunities for our citizens in our City using resources from such a diverse pool of local, state, and federal sources. These government resources were leveraged at times with private sector involvement to create hundreds of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment.

“My campaign is based on a desire to address a variety of issues in our City,” which Green boiled down to three principle platform planks.” First, I pledge to work with the Mayoral Administration to increase the number of qualified police officers in our city. The size of our police department has been reduced by over 300 officers of late. The City Council must work more closely with the Admini­stration to identify other recruitment methods that will result in increases in the number of qualified police recruits.”

“Second, I will work closely with the Administration to be certain that tremendous effort is made to enforce the goal making process of the recently passed Dis­ad­vantage Business Enterprise Ordi­nance. Enforcement of this Ordinance can go a long way toward enhancing the business climate of our city.

“Third, I will work with the Administration to direct resources into projects in neighborhoods where economic activity is challenged. For example, there are resources and tax incentives on a state and federal level that can make possible the construction and operation of a grocery store in the Lower Ninth Ward, the redevelopment of the former Priestly School on Leonidas into a community center, the redevelopment of Desire Square, the redevelopment of a special General Meyer commercial corridor, and more.”

Like the Mayor’s race, the subtext of the Division 1 At-Large contest between Head and Green has been race. Unlike many candidates, Green deals with the ethnic motivation head on. When asked if the voters should the Councilman is Black or White, he did not hesitate. “I care. I am a proud Black resident of the City of New Orleans. I would prefer for everyone to cast his or her vote for Eugene Green.

“In 20 years of public service work with the City of New Orleans, a State-created agency, and on a federal level, I have proudly facilitated the creation of hundreds of new jobs and the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects. My ability to facilitate economic development is made clear from the success of my public and private sector work. My commitment to serve is evidenced by, among other things, my service in unpaid positions on public and private Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees.

“I am experienced and ready to do this job as a member of the New Orleans City Council — At Large – Division 1.”

This article originally published in the January 6, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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