Another "Anti-Nagin" Book?
Another book is in the works about Mayor Ray Nagin, and it may be even more critical than The Great Deluge, the controversial new work by Tulane University historian Douglas Brinkley. The author, Leonard N. Moore, an associate professor of history at LSU, could not be reached for comment. However, he delivered a lecture at Tulane on his work-in-progress examination of Nagin two days before the April 22 primary election. The provocative title of Moore's lecture, Oreo in a Chocolate City: C. Ray Nagin and the End of Black Political Power in New Orleans, offers a titular contrast to Moore's book on Cleveland's first black mayor, Carl B. Stokes: The Rise of Black Political Power in America (University of Illinois Press, 2002). Tulane historian Lance Hill, who attended Moore's lecture, suggests Moore's assessment of Nagin's performance is much more critical than Brinkley's analysis, which is limited to the mayor's job performance during the first week of Hurricane Katrina. "Leonard Moore is an African-American scholar who looks at Nagin as mayor and what he regards as Nagin's failure of leadership long before Katrina," Hill says. Moore, 35, a native of Cleveland, earned his doctorate in American history from Ohio State University before age 26. He joined LSU's faculty in 1998. -- Johnson
Betting on BET
If Mitch Landrieu polls well among displaced African Americans this Saturday, he may credit his "national" campaign on Black Entertainment Television. Landrieu, who is white, has been running campaign ads on the black-owned cable network for several months in an effort to capture the votes of tens of thousands of black New Orleanians still living outside the city. "We have been spending about $900 per week on BET, which gets us around six to eight spots per day," says Emily Sneed, Landrieu's campaign press secretary. "We've been advertising with BET since the beginning of the primary campaign and will do so throughout the runoff." BET's target audience is African Americans, ages 18-34. Nielsen Research shows BET reaches 80 million mostly black households in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Landrieu's opponent, incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin, the city's fourth black mayor, recently said that displaced locals are still scattered across 44 states. However, due to a lack of funding, the Nagin campaign has not advertised on BET or any other cable network, says campaign media consultant Bill Rousselle. "But going forward we probably will," Rousselle says. Bolstered by additional funding, the mayor early last week aired his first television spots since the April 22 primary. The spot features conservative white Republican Rob Couhig, who finished fourth in the primary, listing reasons why he is endorsing Nagin in the runoff. Among Landrieu's recent spots is a series showing blacks and whites in various storm-hit neighborhoods criticizing the pace of the city's recovery under Nagin. -- Johnson
It's pronounced "Lan-droo"
Mayor Ray Nagin, appearing briefly at the Louisiana women's Hall of Fame ceremony, apologized in advance for mispronouncing the names of any of the four new inductees. And in fact, he stumbled over one name. However, the mayor had no trouble with the last honoree on the list -- Verna Landrieu, mother of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who is Nagin's opponent in the May 20 runoff election for mayor. "I definitely know that name!," Nagin said. The room exploded with laughter. Verna Landrieu, a founding member of the Committee of 21 political organization for women, later accepted her award with perhaps the most succinct commentary on female potential: "Give me a handful of women and any job can get done." The other Hall of Fame inductees include the late education advocate Mari Ann Fowler of Hammond; federal "whistle blower" Bunnatine "Bunny" Hayes Greenhouse of Rayville, and Ethel Knobloch, the first woman on the Thibodaux City Council. -- Johnson
Angelle Squelches Rumor
The scuttlebutt in the Capitol's hallways and on political Internet sites is that Scott Angelle, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, is being eyed to replace Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu should he win the New Orleans mayoral election. Gov. Kathleen Blanco has the authority to appoint someone to the post should it become vacant and Angelle, who hails from Acadiana, has been working hard on the governor's proposed plan for legacy sites. A former parish president from St. Martin, Angelle says he has been queried about this scenario by many people, but not the governor or her staff. He says he finds the rumor so laughable he wonders where it started and is reluctant even to comment. "It's just rank speculation," he says. Like a pro, however, Angelle never actually ruled out the enviable promotion. -- Alford
No Confidence Post-KatRita
Before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck last year, Louisiana residents thought the state was moving in the right direction, economic confidence was on the rise and public education was considered the most important problem. According to the results of a recent poll conducted by the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU, voter sentiments have changed significantly in the wake of last year's storms. Only 34 percent of respondents now think the state is moving in the right direction -- an 18-point drop from last year. Confidence in Louisiana's economy also fell, with 49 percent contending the state economy has gotten worse -- a 24-point shift. David Bondy, chief executive officer of LUBA Workers' Comp and a member of the committee that oversaw the survey, says the results "should provide state leaders with an invaluable resource, and, used wisely, should help advance the rebuilding process." The full report and a report summary are available at www.survey.lsu.edu. -- Alford
Assessors vs. Big Oil
As oil lobbyists jousted with trial lawyers and landowners last week in the debate over so-called legacy sites, another contentious bill moved quietly out of a House committee with the help of Louisiana's assessors. House Bill 676 by Rep. Damon Baldone, a Houma Democrat, would allow parish assessors to hire lawyers on a contingency basis, rather than a retainer, in cases that question their assessments. While it doesn't directly target the oil industry, there are a few assessors around the state fighting oil companies over large assessments. The change would essentially allow assessors to pay legal fees out of judgments instead of up front. "This will put assessors on equal footing to do battle with the big oil companies," Baldone says. Companion legislation in the form of House Bill 643, also by Baldone, would allow assessors to take over the job of assessing oil pipelines from the Louisiana Tax Commission. Combined, the two bills could be explosive when they hit the House floor for debate this week. -- Alford
Blanco: "I See a Rainbow"
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, widely criticized for her administration's handling of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, told a friendly crowd in New Orleans recently that she's still optimistic about the state's future. "I see hope and I see a rainbow at the end of all of our storms," the governor said in her keynote address to Nicholls State University's 13th annual Louisiana women's Hall of Fame awards ceremony. "You can't have a rainbow without a storm," Blanco continued. "We have had gigantic storms, and I think we deserve gigantic rainbows." However, a "rainbow coalition" of federal, state, and local governments may be too much to expect. "We are all working forward to that goal as we speak," Blanco said later. Hurricane season starts June 1. Meanwhile, the governor is still smarting from an investigative report published last month by a United States Senate panel, which criticizes the state's response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Nodding toward U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu at the May 6 awards ceremony at the Wyndham Hotel, Blanco said: "I have a deeper appreciation for Mary since I have had my encounters in Washington, D.C." -- Johnson