Sunday, December 10, 2006

Crooks Keeps Winnin Blues

Woke up this mornin'
Lookin' round for the news
Wonderin' if what I'd read
online was true.

Said I
Woke up the mornin'
Tryin' to hear the news.

Happenin' again, Lord
I got them
Crooks Keep Winnin' Blues.

Yeah. I got home from work last night, tired and covered in salsa fonda. Popped online for a minute. Wrote a few things, then remembered to check and see the election results. You see, Disgraced US Representative William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson (D-Leavenworth) was running for reelection against one LA Rep. Karen Carter (D-New Orleans), who was favored to win against the incumbent who was found, comically, with $90,000 of marked FBI money in his freezer. In the recent 'sweep the House' election atmosphere, I, along with many others (and SAWB can attest to my long held opinion on this) thought Mr. Dollar would be swept from office by a population tired of shenanigans and ready to get down to business.


Unfortunately - and in this part of the world, good news too often seems asterisked by an 'unfortunately' - Louisiana District 2 also includes parts of a suburb on the West Bank called Jefferson Parish. A bit more conservative and developer friendly, a bit more caucasian, Jefferson Parish is your usual, run of the mill suburb. They even have a sherrif who talks 'no nonsense' about crime and defends profiling.

You would think these cats, who also are a part of LA - 2, would show even more desire to get rid of the local, soon-to-be-under indictment Congressional Democrat with a power base in the City Across the River. Coupled with the 49% vote** of the Orleans' voter's expressions of 'enough'-ism, Jefferson Parish votes might be expected - assumed even - to pad the anti-incumbent, the non-under-federal-investigation one, the outsider looking to give LA - 2 a fresh start in the 110th Congress.

Unfortunately - (there's that word again) - there was a little misunderstanding that occured during the Katrina unpleasantness between some residents of the City of New Orleans and the police of the City of Gretna (located in the Jefferson Parish side of LA - 2). From what I've heard and read, without water or power or vehicles, and with craziness going on inside the city, some New Orleanians attempted to evacuate post-storm across the Crescent City Connection, a bridge over the Mississippi River that connects New Orleans to the West Bank, and that runs through Gretna and Jefferson Parish.

After walking for several hours in the 100 degree weather across this bridge, without water, food and vehicles, the evacuees were confronted by some peace officers from the City of Gretna and/or Jefferson Parish. Some of the assembled peace officers apparently chose not to look upon this group of dehydrated evacuees as people in need of help and instead saw them as potential looters and troublemakers. Upon being told to turn around, without water or food or vehicles, and walk back across the bridge some of the evacuees perhaps uttered a few expletives. Emotions, one might imagine, running high.

Upon hearing the objections of this dehydrated group, some of the assembled peace officered decided that the best means of communicating their message was to fire their weapons over the heads of the evacuees so that said evacuees might become highly encouraged to turn around, without water or food or vehicles, and go back across the bridge into New Orleans. Which they did.

Nothing says 'you will take me seriously,' it seems, like the sound of gunfire from weapons pointed ominously close.

That's a pretty serious misunderstanding, one that might have been handled better by one side or the other. I have my own opinions, and I'll let you, gentle reader, guess where those opinions fall.

There was one person, however, who gave her opinion loudly and clearly about the misunderstanding on the bridge: LA Rep Karen Carter (D-New Orleans). In Spike Lee's Katrina documentary, Rep. Carter told the cameras quite openly that she did not think such behavior was befitting officers of the law, and that such activity by law enforcement ran counter to her expectations of how American citizens, especially law enforcement officers, behave in the face of crisis.

(For all y'all still wondering where my opinion falls, its pretty close to hers...)

There are some folks in Jefferson Parish who took exception to this opinion, it would seem. One prominent individual was the Jefferson Parish Sherrif, who made it his personal mission recently to make sure Ms Carter did not get elected, even taking money out of his own reelection campaign fund to defeat her.

Because she said police should not threaten with guns the helpless, dehydrated, unarmed evacuees. That was her crime. That was the statement that made her unelectable and unpalatable to Jefferson Parish. Some folks have written to the paper defending this postion.

That was what voters in Jefferson Parish could not overlook. The other guy being what he is, the choice being what it was, Jefferson Parish voters look with such disdain on criticism of people who threaten helpless people with guns that they overlooked national embarassment, the daunting recovery in front of us, corruption and the way things are to vote against someone for being critical of an act many Americans might consider reprehensible. And they did so by a 71% margin.

Karen Carter lost the election for multiple reasons, but on the West Bank side of LA - 2, she lost*** because some people can't take criticism, even when criticism is warranted and deserved.


Hey, you folks who got upset by the 'law officers with guns shouldn't threaten dehydrated, exhausted evacuees' critique: I know it ain't no comparison (cause it would never happen), but if the Brunswick Police force (who wouldn't do such a thing) ever blockaded the FJ Torras Causeway during an emergency to keep on-foot, dehydrated, and exhausted evacuees from St Simons and Sea Islands (even though said people would never be in such a situation) and had the gall to fire weapons in order to scare the people off, every single officer and public offical involved would currently be under indictment themselves, sued for everything they ever hope to own or buried. Criticism would be the least worry among such mistake makers.

More on this from NOLA bloggers People Get Ready and Your Right Hand Thief.

* This statement
Matter of fact, it did happen. Amid dismal turnout percentages, in Orleans Parish, where the City of New Orleans is located, Karen Carter defeated long time incumbent Bill Jefferson by a close margin. This signals to me that a majority of people in New Orleans are absolutely ready to end some shenanigans that plauges government.
was part of the original post and was made because the author didn't check his facts. This statment is wrong, pointed out by Dante in the comments section. Jefferson won Orleans Parish with 51% of the vote. Patrick Armstrong is a media sensationalist who will be ritually flogged with clumps of Georgia red clay upon his next visit to Athens in order to remind him why we have facts in the first place.

**In the original piece, the term was "majority," and I have now replaced it with the 49% of the vote in order to properly reflect reality.

***Added the phrase "for multiple reasons, but on the West Bank side of LA - 2, she lost" in order to properly reflect reality.


Anonymous said...

So voters in the City of Gretna make an outrageous incident worse. Karen Carter called it dead on. Officials in Gretna should have done whatever possible to help the refugees. Talk about turning away Jesus at the inn.

And now they're mad someone disapproved. "Pride cometh before a fall." That they would vote for Jefferson shows just how petty people can be.

While many good people, like yourself, are working to rebuild and revitalize NOLA, some are only concerned about their own bruised egos. Geez.

patsbrother said...

Oh, for pedantry's sake...

Pat said that if this incident had happened in Glynn County, "every single officer and public offical involved would currently be under indictment themselves, sued for everything they ever hope to own or buried."

I was unaware that people in Glynn County had taken to burying their possessions. Seems like a bad idea, as they are so close to sea level. But that people would sue such folks not only for whatever they may hope to own but for everything they ever buried as well... That's just not right. How will the courts know what all lies hidden beneath?

Schroeder said...

If Katrina passed twenty miles to the west, Gretna residents might have been walking across the bridge in the other direction. I wonder if any of them have considered that possibility. They do, after all, have one of the worst levee systems in the region right there on the West Bank. Those people have a whole lot o' rectifyin' to do. Attacking Karen Carter ain't gonna help them with the problems they got comin' down the road if another storm hits.

Dante said...

My first thought after reading this piece was, "How much did Jefferson Parish really swing this election?" A lot of people in the Orleans Parish voted for W. Jefferson. The voters in the Jefferson Paris (all these Jeffersons are getting a little confusing) may have been enough to swing but I always suspect in situations like these that those swing voters aren't enough to do anything by themselves. Imagine my surprise when I went to the Secretary of State's website and found out a rather large cornerstone of this article is entirely incorrect. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, W. Jefferson won both the Jefferson Parish and the Orleans Parish. Granted, the Orleans Parish voting was a lot closer but even if the Jefferson Parish was not part of the equation, W. Jefferson would still be representing the district.

I'm going to have to cry foul on this piece unless you can provide a better source of election results than the Louisiana Secretary of State's website. I'm sure the bridge issue was a factor in the eleciton but W. Jefferson didn't win because of cops on a bridge. He had a majority of supporters on boths sides of that bridge. It's also worth noting that the Times-Picayune endorsed Carter. I don't suspect anything malicious from that but I do suspect that they ran with this piece long before they had all the facts in front of them since newpapers are pretty quick to cover their tails when they endorse a losing candidate.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Yeah, Dante's right. Dammit! When I wrote the piece, not all the votes had been counted in Orleans Parish, where it looks like Dollar Bill was able to motivate 51% of the voters of New Orleans to vote for him. That's my bad. I'm just another sensationalist, and next time I'm back in Georgia you can hurl dollops of fact-checking red clay at me to remind me of my errors.

I'll make the correction.

So Cynicism beats Signs of Progress 51-49 in New Orleans; Pride beats Signs of Progress 71-29 on the West Bank. I will academically limit my diatribe on this post specifically to the abnormality of the West Bank voting pattern.

(& DADvocate: yeah, there are a lot of good people down here working to rebuild and revitalize NOLA. And like the Grand Canyon and the damage to the Gulf Coast, the work they have done has to be seen to be believed.)

Anonymous said...

William Jefferson had lots of cold, hard cash to buy votes, too. :-)

Dante said...

No clay flogging will be neccessary. In fact, I'm only going to pick on Pat once for this so here it goes:

You wrote this piece before results were completely in and didn't think that maybe your source article (which logically must be even older than the piece you wrote) may not be accurate even though it must be based on information that doesn't exist yet?

That being said, don't beat yourself up too much about it. These things happen. If I didn't despise that unfavorable election results are far too often blamed on a small fringe of voters, I wouldn't have bothered to check myself. I was surprised to find out how many voters in that district were from the Jefferson Parish. The Orleans Parish would've had to vote significantly pro-Carter to change the outcome of the election. The Jefferson Parish is hardly a small fringe and you article would've had some merit if it were based on real facts.