By: Allen Johnson
Gov. Bobby Jindal was scheduled to deliver the keynote address to more than 500 people attending the annual Crimestoppers awards banquet last week, but he got stuck in Alexandria. That prompted U.S. Attorney Jim Letten to fill in for the governor. Strident and passionate, Letten sounded more like a prosecutor delivering a closing argument than a luncheon speaker. The New Orleans native thanked Crimestoppers for weathering the storm after Katrina, including the crime rate. The legacy of this city will not be a legacy of destruction like Hiroshima or Stalingrad, but more like Valley Forge a great victory, Letten said. If we are to muster the strength of will it is appropriate that we also recognize that we are greater than the challenge, that we are tougher than those thugs who seek to take our streets away and that we are more enduring and committed than those corrupt public officials who, like vampires, steal from our schools and democratic institutions under cover of darkness. Later, Letten was decidedly upbeat about public support for governmental reform: In terms of corruption, we are really turning the corner. People are more demanding than they were a generation ago under Edwin Edwards and they should be. Letten also offered some post-Katrina advice for local authority figures: You have to be candid about the downside, but be passionate and optimistic, too. Rally everyone so they dont get fatigued and impatient. All of us need to gird ourselves continually.