Inside Metro Politics

Clarkson faces the Cougars’ growl

City Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson was reminded recently just how much pride many New Orleanians take in their high schools.

Clarkson drew growls from the Edna Karr Cougars football team and fellow students when she accidentally invoked the name of a rival school during a presentation to honor the team for its recent Class 4A state championship.

“Chargerettes? Where are the Chargerettes?” asked Clarkson, who was looking for the dance team since she also recognized the band, flag team and cheerleaders during the Jan. 10 council meeting.

The question didn’t sit well with the dozens of Karr students in the council chambers who loudly jeered since the Chargerettes are from O.P. Walker, Karr’s Algiers rival.

Apparently not realizing why the students booed her, Clarkson smiled at them and asked again over the noise, “Where are the Chargerettes and their sponsors?”

“Oh, you got a different team there, girl,” District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell told her colleague.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. ... Let me explain,” Clarkson said when she caught the error.

“So to me the senior high school dancing girls, which the Clarkson girls were all a part of, was always the Chargerettes. So that’s meant lovingly, thank you. And I have no apologies for that,” Clarkson said before recognizing the Cougarettes.

Landrieu picks Pats, 49ers for Super Bowl

Mayor Mitch Landrieu predicts the city will host a San Francisco 49ers-New England Patriots Super Bowl, with the Pats taking home their fourth Lombardi Trophy after a “close” win.

Landrieu said he sees New England clinching the title of world champs with a 28-21 victors. Their recent Super Bowl wins give them an advantage compared to San Francisco, which last won the Super Bowl in 1994, Landrieu said.

Mrs. Morrell goes
to Washington

District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell will be among those standing on the National Mall to see President Barack Obama sworn in Monday for a second term.

Hedge-Morrell and her husband, Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, planned to begin driving to Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

While she said Monday that she’ll view the inauguration parade and ceremony, she wasn’t sure if she’d make it to the ball.

“It just depends on how cold it is when I get up there. If you’ve been standing all day in the cold for the inauguration, you might not feel like going to a ball,” Hedge-Morrell said. “And it’s not going to be a New Orleans ball anyway.”

Party is better than Christmas bonus

Santa Claus might not have left a Christmas bonus for City Council staffers this year, but that didn’t dampen the holiday spirit of the men and women who work behind the scenes in local government.

Instead, they gathered for a party prepared and planned by Lena Stewart, District D Councilwoman Cynthia-Hedge Morrell’s chief of staff.

Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson recognized Stewart’s efforts during the Jan. 10 council meeting.

“It was not about this council partying, it was all about our staffs,” Clarkson said. Added Stewart: “I think it’s important that we do something at Christmas time because you know there isn’t any money to give anybody bonuses.”

Mayoral election fires up Westwego

Most political wonks have heard of the “silly season,” that time of the year when frivolous news stories can dominate the headlines. But in Westwego, they have the “sniping season.” That’s the time when a rapidly approaching city election turns the city’s often monotonous meetings into rollicking displays of contention and consternation.

The sniping season was in full swing on Monday, when Mayor Johnny Shaddinger found himself criticized by a particularly raucous crowd and a prickly councilman. On the surface the issue was whether Shaddinger had been responsive to requests for direction from an advisory board at the city’s senior center, but what was really being discussed was Shaddinger’s management style.

Resident Warren Deemer blasted Shaddinger with an extended harangue that included inquiries about favoritism at the senior center and lies allegedly told by Shaddinger. When Deemer finished, Councilman Ted Munch picked up the baton, questioning the mayor’s competency and veracity as well. Munch accused of Shaddinger of using “fuzzy” and “vague” statements to hide his inaction.

“Don’t try to smooth things over,” Munch said at one point.

Shaddinger visibly bristled at both men, raising his voice before promising to provide them with more information.

Watchdog lauds JP Council for a change

Typically when representatives from Citizens for Good Government approach the podium at a Jefferson Parish Council meeting what follows is an extended riff on all the things council members do wrong, starting with how they handle the parish’s contracts.

But at Wednesday’s meeting, the group used its time to praise some board members for finally taking steps to reform the contracting process and for going after the Jefferson Parish Housing Authority. Margie Seeman sang the praises of Councilman Chris Roberts and Parish President John Young for their efforts to reform the housing authority and expressed support for Councilman Paul Johnston’s plan to mandate that the council only consider those firms with top scores when handing out contracts.

Matalin to media: Find a new story line

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin used the final pre-Super Bowl media luncheon at the House of Blues on Wednesday to remind local journalists that their counterparts will be looking to them for cues on what to cover.

They urged the local media to make sure the national and international outlets get the real story about New Orleans’ recovery. She said New Orleans is an international city “unique in the world.”

“Help them develop new story lines,” she said.

Compiled by

Danny Monteverde,

Allen Powell II

and Sara Pagones