Wednesday, March 08, 2006
First debate for N.O. mayoral hopefuls
Rebuilding, race top topics
"I disagree with the mayor, there are people we don't want back in this city. We don't want the drug dealers, we don't want the gangs, we don't want the pimps, we don't want the welfare queens. We want zero empowerment of those kind of people in our community."
-Peggy Wilson, The endorsed Republican candidate for Mayor of New Orleans
"Forman and Landrieu took pains not to criticize Nagin."
By Gordon Russell and Frank Donze
(Mitch) Landrieu, sought to portray an optimistic future by citing rosier times in New Orleans, noting that in 1960, the city had a population of more than 600,000 and was larger than Houston and Atlanta.
(Rob) Couhig insinuated that Landrieu and his family -- which includes former Mayor Moon Landrieu, who led the city from 1970-78 -- were partly responsible for the decline. And Watson, who is African-American, noted pointedly that he and other black people don't want to go back to the 1960s, when Jim Crow laws remained in effect.
Wilson floated perhaps the most radical idea of any candidate: making the city and its residents free from all taxes -- federal, state and local -- for five to seven years, which she said would result in massive private investment.
Other candidates quickly pounced on the idea as unrealistic. "I'd like to be drinking some of the same Kool-Aid Peggy is drinking," (Ron) Forman said. (Virginia) Boulet chimed in, saying she didn't think it would be prudent to base a rebuilding plan on an idea that required the assent of about 700 people, referring to Congress and the state Legislature.
And (Mayor Ray) Nagin noted that, shortly after Katrina struck, he had tried to sell Congress on the idea of a 50 percent tax break for New Orleans residents and businesses but received a mostly indifferent response.
LPNS COMMENTARY: IF THERE WAS EVER A PLACE THAT NEEDED "RADICAL IDEAS" IT'S PRESENT DAY NEW ORLEANS. "REVOLUTIONARY" MAY BE A MORE APPROPRIATE WORD. IS THE DEMOCRAT MAYOR TRULY SURPRISED AT RECEIVING AN "INDIFFERENT RESPONSE" FROM THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS.