Every year at this time, it's our custom to make a New Year's resolution list — a list of promises for others to keep in the coming 12 months. So, with our usual mix of serious hopes and tongue-in-cheek dreams, herewith our list for 2015. Happy New Year!
• Mayor Mitch Landrieu should resolve all his ongoing legal issues. That's a lot of issues. There's the long-standing dispute with New Orleans firefighters over the city's mandatory contributions to the firemen's pension fund, which we admit is a tall order for any mayor (and council) to fill. When the pension fund performs poorly, the city gets stuck with having to make up the shortfall. That's not fair, but unfortunately it's the law. Then there's the mayor's ongoing fiscal dispute with Sheriff Marlin Gusman over the runaway costs of operating the city jail. Again, the city's share of the tab seems unreasonably high under the current legal arrangement, but we're hoping U.S. District Judge Lance Africk will inject some fairness — and accountability — into the mix, since the whole mess is in his court via a federal consent decree. Speaking of consent decrees, the mayor also needs to continue honoring the federal consent decree that governs the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). That, too, is a costly item, and NOPD has its share of other problems.
• Gov. Bobby Jindal should finally acknowledge what's been obvious for years now — that he's running for president in 2016. He should further vow to remember his own remarks about Republicans not being the "stupid party," and therefore give us no more embarrassing moments like posing with his family, all decked in camouflage, in an off-road vehicle parked on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion. No one would ever confuse Jindal with a real outdoorsman. On a more serious note, the governor also should promise to stop lying about his administration's record of fiscal mismanagement. Louisiana ran a deficit last year. In fact, our state has spent more than it took in for most of Jindal's tenure as governor. He has papered over past deficits by "sweeping" (read: razooing) fund balances and reserve funds from a host of agencies and departments. Now there's literally nothing left to swipe — and Jindal will have to face fiscal reality for his next (and final) budget. Please, Governor, no more lies about Louisiana's fiscal condition.
• The members of the New Orleans City Council should resolve to adopt ordinances that reasonably govern smoking and noise — and work with the mayor and new police chief to get violent crime under control.
• U.S. Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy should acknowledge that representing Louisiana's interests means more than opposing President Barack Obama at every turn just to strut their conservative stripes. Anti-Obama posturing was a recipe for winning elections in 2014, but it's not a formula for governance. They should reach across the aisle to move America forward.
• Louisiana state lawmakers should recognize that the governor is detached from fiscal reality and determined to spin his way out of a deficit. They should therefore put aside party divisions and steer Louisiana through the treacherous financial shoals that lie ahead — because Bobby Jindal isn't going to lead the way responsibly. They also should stop looking over their political shoulders for approval from the Louisiana Family Forum.
• New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux should resolve to keep kicking ass and naming names.
• NOPD Chief Michael Harrison must resolve to be the transformational leader the NOPD has needed for more than a decade. He will have to confront many challenges: low department morale; a scandal in the sex crimes unit; a challenging consent decree; trouble in the electronic monitoring program; and a spate of violent crimes in the French Quarter and CBD. Godspeed, Chief!
• BP should finally acknowledge that its own lawyers crafted the 2012 settlement deal that BP is now trying to invalidate. A lower court refused to toss out the deal, and in December the U.S. Supreme Court denied BP's petition to hear the case. BP should stop foot-dragging and pay the Gulf Coast what it's due from the company's gross negligence in the 2010 oil disaster.
• The New Orleans Saints must recognize that its glorious Super Bowl win is now five years in the past. The team is back where it has been for most of the franchise's history: among the wannabes. 2014 was a forgettable year, so let's forget it. There's a lot of work to do, but Job One is to start winning home games again.