Saturday, October 12, 2019 was destined to be a memorable day because it was election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. The events of the day were so bizarre that I considered calling this column Screwy Saturday a la Freaky Friday or Manic Monday. But since one incident was fatal, that title struck me as inappropriate even if there are still jokes in this piece. That’s why I borrowed a title from an old Tom Waits song:
The events of last Saturday will haunt us for years.
There was some good news amid the destruction, electoral uncertainty, and crappy infrastructure: the LSU Tigers defeated the hated Florida Gators 42-28. Instead of focusing exclusively on the election results on WWL-TV, I hopped back and forth between Clancy DuBos and Coach O. I kept expecting Ed Orgeron’s gravelly Tom Waits-like voice to come out of Clancy’s mouth…
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this week’s four-headed (headered?) column with a three-headed look at Saturday’s primary election. I suppose I should call it a jungle primary but that makes me think of Tarzan and Cheetah, George of the Jungle, and other cheesy pop culture artifacts.
Cheetah was my jam when I was a kid:
I wrote this before reading Lamar’s analysis because I like flying by the seat of my pants. I hope I don’t blow it like Cheetah; not that I’d ever chew gum. Nasty stuff even without the chimp breath.
The Case Of The Missing Majority:
I was among those who thought Governor Edwards had a good chance at winning outright in the primary. It’s what incumbents do. Instead, he ended up just shy of 47% and landed in a run-off with Eddie Rispone whose slogan appears to be TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.
Some observers believe Edwards is doomed but I think if he ups his turn-out game, he can win. He’s about where Mary Landrieu was in 2002 when she won the run-off and ahead of where she was in 2014 when she lost. I suspect that some Abraham supporters are the sort of educated suburban voters turned off by President* Pennywise. Even in conservative Louisiana, they’re out there. It’s why Edwards did better in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes than past Democrats running statewide.
A bigger problem for Edwards is this question: Who is his base? If Rispone succeeds in nationalizing the campaign, JBE is in trouble. The Governor’s timorous approach towards Donald Trump doesn’t help him with those of us who are liberal national Democrats. Even in conservative Louisiana, we’re out there. The more sophisticated among us are supporting the incumbent because he’s better than Phony Rispone, but we’re not his base. It’s a marriage of convenience on both sides. Who is his base? Beats the hell outta me. Eddie Rispone knows who his base is: rural white voters and assorted Trumper peckerwoods.
The model used to elect conservative Democrats in the past- get 95% of the African American vote and 33% of white folks- seems to be broken. It worked in 2015 because JBE was the perfect contrast to the odious and morally compromised David Vitter. If the model still worked, I’d be writing about how Edwards won in the primary.
A festering problem for Gret Stet Democrats is the continuing ineffectiveness of the state party. There were brave words from Karen Carter Peterson in 2015 about building on Edwards’ victory. Instead, the GOP won a super-majority in the state Senate in 2019. It’s time for a change.
Let’s change venue and visit Jefferson Parish. I wrote about the Sheriff’s race in my second 13th Ward Rambler column. It went as expected: incumbent Joe Lopinto pantsed John Fortunato, 62% to 34%. This time we’ll look at the parish president’s race.
I expected the contest between councilmember-at-large Cynthia Lee Sheng and former parish president John Young to be close. I was wrong. It was a 20-point blow-out and Lee Sheng was helped by Lopinto’s support: their signs were coupled in many yards throughout JP. The incoming parish president backed the right horse in that race and Johns Fortunato and Young took it on their respective chins. Unfortunately, losing didn’t wipe the smirk off Young’s face. I think it’s permanent.
It’s time to explain the segment title. Team Young ran some negative ads about Lee Sheng’s alleged support for a cyanide factory in JP. The TV ads were relatively sedate, but the radio ads called Lee Sheng, Cyanide Cynthia. Nice. #sarcasm
I should have known Cyanide Cynthia would win. I got my haircut on Friday. My barber works in the Quarter but lives in Metry. He told me that the Cyanide Cynthia ad knocked him off the fence,
“That’s some ridiculous shit, man. John Young is a dick.”
I enjoy hearing about negative ads backfiring even if the evidence is strictly anecdotal. Repeat after me: always trust your barber or hairdresser.
The Return Of The Bad Shepherd:
Back in the heyday of the NOLA blogosphere, one of our favorite local targets was smarmy state Senator Derrick Shepherd. He proposed a ridiculous bill in the lege targeting baggy pants back when that was a thing. That led to much ridicule among internet smart asses as well as the nickname, The Bad Shepherd.
The Bad Shepherd challenged Dollar Bill Jefferson in 2006; finishing third in that Congressional primary behind Dollar Bill and Karen Carter Peterson. Then Shepherd got involved in a money laundering scheme with one of Dollar Bill’s cronies, which confirmed that hoary adage about politics and strange bedfellows. The Bad Shepherd was sentenced to three years in jail for being a corrupt dumbass. Don’t do business with your enemies, dude. They’ll flip on you in a heartbeat.
Shepherd re-entered politics thanks to a change in state law allowing convicted felons to run for state or municipal office within five years of the end of their sentence. It could be called the “There But For The Grace Of God, Go I” law. Members of the lege like to keep their options open.
The Bad Shepherd ran for the district B seat on the Jefferson Parish council. He finished first in the primary with 24.8% of the vote. Holy unwelcome comeback, Batman.
It’s time to depart the realm of electoral politics and cross the parish line.
Every time something goes haywire in New Orleans, I mutter to myself TFC: This Fucking City. I love New Orleans but sometimes this town dances on my last nerve. Saturday October 12, 2019 was such a day.
On Saturday morning, we were greeted with some horrifying news from a construction site at the corner of Rampart and Canal. The future Hard Rock Hotel collapsed and as of this writing there are 2 dead, 1 missing, and 20+ injured. The building is unstable, so the area remains cordoned off as I compose this column. You can see why from the video below:
My drone footage of The Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans collapse. It is under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2020. @FOX8NOLA @KaareJohnson @WWLTV @wdsu @CNN @MSNBC @theadvocateno pic.twitter.com/BfyASp5MTQ— Guy L. (@neauxluh) October 12, 2019
After the collapse, conspiracy theories were flying on social media. Among the instant experts on Twitter, the conventional wisdom is that the accident was caused by pay-offs and grifting. After speaking with a friend who knows more about the local construction scene than I do, I’m skeptical. A more likely cause is ineptitude, carelessness, and/or the use of substandard materials. When in doubt, go for the simplest explanation. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, I prefer evidence to speculation. One thing I know for sure: lawyers are the most likely beneficiaries of this horrible accident.
Condolences to everyone affected by the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel.
There was a lesser, non-lethal TFC moment last Saturday as well:
Massive water main break Uptown New Orleans. pic.twitter.com/Xkc5IO7AYd— David Bernard (@DavidBernardTV) October 12, 2019
The broken pipe was located at Panola Street in my former neighborhood. It was 111 years old. I considered stealing the joke in the tweet below but decided not to. It’s bad karma to pilfer puns:
That pipe made it from Teddy Roosevelt to Teddy Bridgewater. https://t.co/ryoiWsJrbW— Michael Tisserand (@m_tisserand) October 14, 2019
It’s the latest in a series of TFC moments involving the Sewerage and Water Board. Its name should be changed to the Sewerage and Breakage Board. This busted pipe led to yet another boil water advisory for much of New Orleans. We’re getting sick of this shit, y’all. TFC.
We need to flip this soggy mess on its head by devising a new city slogan: Boil Crawfish, Not Water. Beats the hell out of the City of Yes.
Repeat after me: This Fucking City.
That last segment left me boiling mad. Let’s cool down by giving Tom Waits the last word with a song that I failed to include on my Louisiana Tunes list earlier this year. It’s time to rectify that omission: