The Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) next week will host a forum on Mayor Marc Morial's Oct. 20 ballot proposal. Once again, Morial is not on the political fight card -- so the derisive title of "surrogate debate" whispered in political circles recently might also stick to the BGR forum.
Graymond Martin, an attorney and fierce Morial loyalist, will square off with charter opponent Ron Nabonne at the BGR "breakfast briefing," beginning at 8 a.m. in the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel Waterbury Room, second floor, on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
Morial does not want to debate Nabonne. Instead, the mayor has been trying to draw the announced and probable candidates in the Feb. 2 election (state Sen. Paulette Irons, City Council at-large member Jim Singleton, and Councilman Troy Carter) into the charter debate. They aren't biting.
But they have repeatedly replied that the two-term incumbent isn't a legitimate candidate in the February election, until he wins his "3T" campaign on Oct. 20.
BGR last week announced its opposition to the mayor's ballot initiative. "BGR is concerned that the charter amendment would result in an undesirable increase in the power of the executive," said Janet R. Howard, president and CEO of the nonpartisan research organization. "It would disturb the current balance of power between the legislative and executive branches and increase the opportunity for undue influence and abuse."
BGR's opposition comes as no surprise to political observers. Nor do the endorsements that Morial's "Just 3" campaign received last week from Ed Lombard, Clerk of Criminal Court; Criminal Sheriff Charles C. Foti Jr.; and District Attorney Harry Connick. All three officials in the Criminal Court complex are veteran politicos with unclassified employees who can help turn out votes for Morial on election day.
Morial should also have plenty of "street money" for his get-out-the-vote effort. Campaign finance filings last month show the mayor enjoys an overwhelming financial advantage over charter opponents. The pro-charter People for United Progress raised $1.1 million through Sept. 10, compared to Citizens to Save Our Charter, which raised $35,000. Morial has already spent more than half a million dollars on his campaign -- but he may need to spend much more. Voters have stubbornly refused to amend the charter since Morial's late father, Dutch Morial, tried and failed twice during his own administration.
On July 31, Gambit Weekly asked Marc Morial what he will do if 3T tanks. His reply: "It won't tank."