Filed Under:  Local, Politics, Top News

Our endorsements for April 21st election

16th April 2012   ·   0 Comments

The spring weather seems reason enough to ignore that critical elections are going on in Jefferson and Orleans.

That would be a mistake. Afri­can-American voters in Or­leans Parish will have the chance to chime on whether the White/Black balance should be restored in the At-Large seats on the New Orleans City Council. Meanwhile in the East Bank of Jefferson, issues of nepotism and fiscal management of legacy assets will decide a critical council race in Kenner.

New Orleans City Council At-Large: Cynthia Willard Lewis

This newspaper has always held the needs of the city above the race of the candidate, and in our view Cynthia Willard-Lewis ranks as the best candidate regardless of the color of her skin.

However, our editorial board would be remiss in not pointing out that the traditional balance of the At-Large seats of one Cau­casian and one African American has been broken since Hurri­cane Katrina. To electorally restore that balance, with the Council reflecting the population’s own racial balance, has long been overdue.

Willard Lewis, a veteran of both the Legislature and the Council, should be returned to Duncan Plaza forthwith to apply her near decade of experience on the City Council to the tough decisions on spending and public safety which will carry the debate beyond 2012.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina proved to our editors what an advocate for the people Willard Lewis can be. The then-District E Councilwoman fought relentlessly to get people back into their homes — both diplomatically and vociferously — until the resources were made available for their repair and revitalization. She is a bureaucratic warrior for her constituents, a public servant in the truest sense.

This ability to stand up in political battles, though, has not impaired Willard-Lewis’ skill at retaining close relationships with mayoral administrations in past years, and with Mitch Landrieu right now. She can work with the mayor, and at the same time, serve as a counterweight. Such a balance of ardent advocacy and friendly conciliation is a rare gift, worthy of promotion to the At-Large post.

We urge you to vote for Ms. Willard-Lewis this Saturday.

Kenner City Council: Keith Reynaud

Our editors were horrified by the decision by Mayor Mike Yenni to sell the Rivertown Mardi Gras Museum at auction, and Keith Reynard was one of the only people to speak against it publicly.

The gross profit from the sale of a collection — that many estimated of having a value of over a half a million dollars — ended up netting the city less than $44,000. Reynard had warned this newspaper over a week before the sale of the impending financial and public relations disaster that was about to occur. “We’re going to get much at this auction,” he maintained, “What kind of economic development message does it send when we are closing museums?”

Reynard’s principal opponent in the Kenner City Council race not only supported the Mardi Gras Museum’s closure, but Mayor Yenni’s decision to sell off a collection carefully constructed over the past two decades, at public auction two Thursdays ago.

But, the lack of profit was far from the most galling element of the closure. Our editors recognize that in bad economic times, when confronted with choices of playgrounds or museums, history or police protection, exhibits to culture often do not win. Yenni, charmed by a study that River­town’s museum spaces would make more profitable retail outlets, has pushed to close the museums. Only the Freeport Plan­etarium and Science Museum remains, when once the historic end of Williams Blvd.’s Cannes Brullé historic district was dotted by exhibit halls.

However, the American Museum Association guidelines are quite specific in cases of museum closure. Once the lent collections are returned to their original owners, the remaining exhibits must be offered to a museum of similar type nearby. The Cabildo and the Louisiana State Museum’s Carni­val Collections, offered to take the Rivertown Mardi Gras collection in full and archive it in a fully outfitted, climate controlled permanent facility in the French Quarter. Yenni refused to consider the request, instead putting the collection up for sale. Reynard argued for it.

The negative public relations for Kenner, and the profit which amounted after paying the auctioneers to less than half the mayor’s annual salary, makes the rush to sale even more baffling. More­over, the fact that the Mardi Gras Museum existed in the same building as the Science Museum, meant that there was little overhead besides an electric bill. No curator had been employed by the City of Kenner for several years. The Museum could have continued with little cost to the suburban city, but if it had to be closed, why could not the Louisiana State Museum received the two decades of work it took to construct the excellent collection?

Keith Reynaud was willing to ask those questions, and Mary-Sharon Howland, Mayor Yenni’s chosen candidate, was not. This proves which contender is better qualified to join the Kenner City Council. Please vote for Mr. Reynard on Saturday.

JEFFERSON PARISH TAX PROPOSITIONS: Vote Yes

The milliages and sales tax renewals below literally fund the day-to-day operation of Jeff Parish Government. If the Parishwide rededication of the Fire Service was not approved, Jefferson would literally not have firemen on duty within a month. No one likes taxes, but everyone likes police, fire, EMT, and garbage services.

Jefferson Parish — City of Gretna (Ambulance)

Jefferson Parish — City of Gretna (Police)

Jefferson Parish — City of Gretna (Recreation)

Jefferson Parish — Community Center and Playground District No. 16

Jefferson Parish — Consolidated Garbage District No. 1

Jefferson Parish — East Bank Consolidated Special Service Fire Protection District

Jefferson Parish — Fire Protection District No. 3

Jefferson Parish — Law Enforcement District (1/4% Sales Tax Renewal)

Jefferson Parish — Parishwide (Rededication)

This article was originally published in the April 16, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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