Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Mitch, please

14th January 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

Just days after the mayor was spotted sipping spirits and swaying to urban plantation lullabies at Leah Chase’s 90th birthday shindig and the same day that he dined on king cake with members of Zulu, Rex and other carnival krewes at Gallier Hall, news reports began to surface that say he was slapped with a lawsuit that accuses him of breaking a number of time-honored rules and trying to impose his will on others.

I was shocked to hear about it on the local evening news.

For one thing, I was shocked to learn that he is trying to do to members of high society what he has been getting away with doing to middle- and working-class residents, senior citizens and the poor for more than two years. I was also shocked that he thought he could get away with trying to strong-arm and mind-trick residents who were fortunate enough to not have to depend on the city’s underfunded, embattled public schools for an education and wealthy enough to have the financial wherewithal to push back.

And push back they did.

Descendants of Wisner Donation Fund recently filed a petition seeking to end Mitch Landrieu’s stewardship of the fund. They want him removed as the trustee of the fund, which makes annual donations to a number of nonprofit groups that promote the arts.

With much happening behind the scenes in New Orleans political, business and social circles, it is telling that this dispute has gone public. With the mayor accused of overstepping, it remains to be seen how he will fare in this legal joust with “old money.”

I predict that even if the mayor manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat and get another “W,” at the very least he’s going to take a few hits that let him know he was in a real fight. And even if he does win, he may be sowing seeds of anarchy and discord that may fester as the mayor launches his re-election bid.

Whether he’s throwing a soiree in Gotham City for his affluent friends and survivors of Hurricane Sandy or doing the wobble at Gallier Hall to kick off Carnival season, this mayor insists on doing things his way. Unfortunately, more often than not his way seems to completely ignore the needs of the people who work hardest to keep the city afloat.

What did not shock me was the way the mayor dodged reporters for much of Monday, dispatching an underling to talk to local news stations about the demolition of the Rosenwald Center and the sale of the World Trade Center. Classic Mitch. Let them eat king cake — as long as they don’t try to eat it at Gallier Hall.

People are closely watching this mayor and growing very weary of the games he continues to play with residents’ lives and livelihoods.

Unlike eastern New Orleans and 9th Ward residents, this mayor sees nothing wrong with taking his sweet time to get around to addressing recovery needs in those two sections of the city more than seven years after the Great Flood of 2005. He sees nothing wrong with charging eastern New Orleans and 9th Ward residents unfair property taxes to live in underserved communities with damaged streets, overgrown weeds, piles of debris and very little in the way of city services like trash collection, fire safety or police protection.

Residents in those areas are already getting shafted by the Landrieu administration which now wants to charge them more for water service and energy use.

It’s like the Superdome-renovation slap in the face all over again. Just like his predecessor, Mitch Landrieu sees nothing wrong with glitzing up the CBD while routinely neglecting predominantly Black areas of the city. As he has proven with the wanton destruction of a Black Mid-City neighborhood to make way for a biomedical research center, his every move says people of color and the poor have very little in the way of constitutional rights that he is bound by law to respect.

You either roll with the Landrieu Machine or you get rolled over.

New Orleans cab drivers found this out, as did those companies whose sanitation contracts with the city he tried to discard.

Consider this: When was the last time you heard the mayor calling out a company, individual or entity for treating people of color, immigrants or the poor unfairly? Would the mayor have us believe that discrimination or economic exploitation never take place in Antebellum Disney?

On the flip side, the mayor never seems to tire of calling Black leaders who criticize his policies “dysfunctional” or pleading his case with prominent Black people who visit the city.

While many residents would agree that the city needs to address the need for improvements to the city’s antiquated water system and make long-needed improvements to the city’s streets and street lights, few would propose a solution that makes these repairs on the backs of the city’s senior citizens and poorest residents.

That’s what makes this mayor so special.

Monday’s news suggest that the tide may be turning and the sun may be setting on the mayor’s plans to make a name for himself in this little kingdom by the sea.

The ranks of those raging against the Landrieu Machine continue to grow steadily as more residents come to learn that there is no limit to what this mayor is willing to do to further his aims. Some of the city’s wealthy benefactors and stewards of nonprofit organizations now get it. As do cab drivers, city employees in dander of losing their jobs. community leaders who are being completely ignored as they struggle to end the cycles of poverty and violence in New Orleans, senior citizens on fixed incomes and elected officials who disagree with the mayor.

Don’t be shocked to learn come re-election time that more than half of the city’s residents tell the egomaniacal mayor that he has finally written a check that his pampered derriere can’t cash.

The next time you see the maying dancing and prancing for the cameras, let him have it. The next time you see the mayor strutting and boasting about the many upgrades made to Antebellum Disney (aka the CBD) —especially the new streetcar line, pristine new sidewalks in the French Quarter and impressive new lighting and landscaping along Canal Street, let out a big “Mitch, please!”

When you see the mayor ducking and dodging the media and forcing his overpaid minions to make public appearances on days when he doesn’t want to answer pesky questions about a lawsuit against his administration or questions about the abusive polices and practices of the notorious NOPD, just say “Mitch, please.”

When you see the mayor delivering award-winning anti-violence performances while doing everything in his power to stop the federal courts from establishing a civilian oversight panel to monitor the NOPD and refusing to allow everyday people to weigh in on citywide efforts to stem the tide of Black-on-Black violence, let out a hearty “Mitch, please.”

Let him know you see him and know what time it is.

The next time you catch the mayor blowing smoke about how much he cares about the city’s elders while making moves behind the scenes to make sure the New Orleans City Council green lights rate hikes on water bills and Entergy bill, hit him with a rousing “Mitch please.”

For the record, it is totally coincidental that “mitch” is the hottest and latest new catchphrase, made popular by the new BET sitcom “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” which premieres Tuesday night. Purely coincidental.

For those who didn’t know, “mitch” is a derogatory word coined by comedian/actor Kevin Hart and others to refer to men who struggle with gender confusion and depleted levels of testosterone.

That’s a completely different conversation altogether.

This article was originally published in the January 14, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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