Can New Orleans’ Democratic Mayor Make It Elsewhere?

Sean Landrieu is returning to the spotlight as the next mayor of New Orleans – but his previous tenure as mayor ended on a less-than-stellar note.

In 2006, Landrieu launched a plan to create an ‘equity and resilience’ commission to help the city grapple with the inequalities in its infrastructure and overall quality of life.

About a decade later, the commission’s recommendations have largely fallen on deaf ears, which Landrieu says is partially because both the mayor and City Council members were elected in a bare-knuckle battle for political power.

The Department of Justice granted final approval to the settlement deal last week. In the settlement, the Justice Department agreed to appoint an independent monitor to monitor how the city’s recovery funds are spent.

Landrieu, who is in his fourth term as mayor, told Vodafone’s News Day programme on 4BC on Monday that it’s a good thing, and the monitor will have a broader mandate than that set forth in the settlement.

“So it’s something that may have fallen through the cracks, but hopefully we will get some new leverage,” he said.

“I think there are things that the monitor will be looking at in terms of making sure that both the Recovery Authority and the local government is holding up its end of the bargain,” he said.

“And when they do, they have the political credibility that will require greater scrutiny as well.”

Landrieu said he doesn’t like the term “top-down management” – referring to the pervasive urban legacy of leading by example and being judged on people’s decisions rather than a strict top-down structure – but recognises that it’s an essential component for governance.

“And I know that sometimes there will be friction between the two of them and there’ll be accusations, sometimes from my side, sometimes from the local government, that I don’t have a plan or I’m not working hard enough,” he said.

“But I think it’s the only way to do it. And you have to be willing to be hammered a little bit by the local community for that.”

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