Mitch Landrieu, the former two-term Mayor of New Orleans, was recently appointed “Infrastructure Czar” by President Joe Biden. He will oversee spending the $1.2 trillion allocated by Congress for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Not surprisingly, most of the funds will be spent on projects that have nothing to do with infrastructure.
With this appointment and the resulting media attention, Landrieu’s stock is rising so fast that CNN has just added him to the list of potential Democratic Party presidential candidates in 2024.
Does Landrieu deserve all this hype? Certainly not when considering his performance as Mayor of New Orleans. For eight years, Landrieu was a disaster as Mayor. The list of his failures is too numerous to document, but here are a few of the lowlights.
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) suffered a manpower crisis as Landrieu decimated the force, refusing to provide funding for new recruitment classes. The NOPD is still suffering from an understaffed department, compliments of Mitch Landrieu.
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With too few police officers, the crime problem, especially murders, in New Orleans has exploded in recent years. In his final year in office, about 75% of murders were unsolved, thanks to a police force that is five hundred officers below minimum requirements. The roots of this crisis can be traced to Landrieu’s historic bungling of the NOPD.
Along with mishandling the crime problem, Landrieu is best known for removing four historic monuments. He did not receive approval from voters for this act of destruction. In fact, he manufactured a controversy where none existed.
Today, nothing has replaced the tourist attractions that Landrieu destroyed, and the monuments remain locked in storage. Nothing has been done despite Landrieu’s pledge that the monuments would find a new home and their former sites would be turned into new attractions.
Landrieu removed the monuments to garner national attention and potentially launch a presidential bid. Fortunately, his presidential campaign never gained momentum, but he did write a memoir blaming white Southerners for racism. He also started an insufferable non-profit organization designed to instill racial guilt in white people. All this racial pandering did land him a position as political analyst at CNN, the favorite home of failed Democrat elected officials.
As Mayor, Landrieu did nothing to improve street conditions in the city. A major study conducted during his tenure as Mayor indicated that just 14% of the streets were in satisfactory condition. One analyst noted that the Landrieu administration lacked the “senior level personnel” to operate a $ 2 billion program funded by FEMA that was designed to fix the long-neglected streets of New Orleans.
Instead of fixing the horrific streets of the city, Landrieu launched an ambitious project to build an unnecessary new airport. The $1.3 billion price tag was double what he promised and took years longer than projected to complete. The worst part of the project was that it was built before any access ramps were constructed from nearby Interstate-10.
The airport has been open two years and the access ramps are still nowhere near finished. The perfectly fine old terminal has been turned into a glorified skating ramp for kids. What a waste of taxpayer funds, but to a progressive like Landrieu, there are always more public funds to waste on unnecessary projects.
Despite his horrific handling of a multitude of controversial issues, the worst aspect of Landrieu’s tenure as Mayor involved his corrupt management of the Sewerage and Water Board. This utility is tasked with providing clean drinking water to the citizens of New Orleans, sewerage collection and draining flood waters from the streets of the city.
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In a city that is several feet below sea level, this public utility has an extremely important responsibility. As Mayor, Landrieu served as President of the Sewerage and Water Board. Unfortunately, his pathetic stewardship of the board led to severe flooding issues for the beleaguered people of New Orleans.
Landrieu installed a political crony, Cedric Grant, to serve as the well-paid Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board. Grant was a political veteran of several administrations but had no experience in engineering or water management.
In August of 2017, New Orleans was hit by a couple of rainstorms that turned into a catastrophic flood. While the city was flooding, Landrieu was partying with his fellow liberals at an Aspen Institute conference. He could not be bothered to return to New Orleans, so he left the crisis to be handled by the incompetent Cedric Grant.
Grant should have realized that the flooding was a result of sixteen pumps not operating. Instead, the Landrieu administration maintained that all the pumps were working perfectly, and Grant laughably blamed the flooding disaster on what else but climate change.
As Board President Landrieu did nothing to clean the city’s drainage canals, which are critical to removing water from the streets. After Landrieu left office, tons of trash, along with multiple cars, were found stuffed in the drainage canals. This was obviously another contributing factor to the continual flooding problems.
A scathing report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor showed other difficulties with the operation of the Sewerage and Water Board. For example, Landrieu did not properly oversee contracts. Some bids were in violation of state law and some contractors overcharged the utility millions of dollars for work that did not meet performance standards.
The auditor also discovered that Landrieu allowed the Sewerage and Water Board to spend over $70,000 on expensive employee gifts, such as jewelry and watches, and extravagant awards banquets. Funds were also wasted on an in-house power plant that cost the utility much more than the price of power purchased from other local sources.
Mitch Landrieu failed to manage a city budget that totaled less than $700 million and was unable to administer $2 billion in FEMA grants designed to improve road conditions in New Orleans. Therefore, it is laughable to believe that he can competently manage $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funds.
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It is even more unbelievable that a failed Mayor of New Orleans can be considered a potential presidential candidate. However, in the Democratic Party, failing upwards has always been rewarded. Just look at our current President and Vice President.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs nationally on Real America’s Voice Network, AmericasVoice.News weekdays at 7 a.m. CT and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at [email protected]
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