The president of the New Orleans City Council breezed into Monday afternoon’s budget hearing more than an hour late, but with a harrowing excuse for her tardiness: She had been trapped in one of City Hall’s creaky old elevators, stuck somewhere between the building’s first and second floors.
“I want to apologize for not being here,” Jackie Clarkson told the council when she finally emerged. “I spent 40 minutes locked in an elevator with three other people.”
Her companions were two of her aides and a constituent.
The 78-year-old councilwoman said the constituent was not quite as old as she, but in worse health, and Clarkson was worried for her safety.
She wasn’t afraid during the ordeal, Clarkson said after the meeting. She was angry.
The judges of Criminal District Court were before the council Monday to ask for more money than the mayor has allotted them in his proposed 2014 budget.
“Only for being locked in an elevator would I not be here for something as important as Criminal Court,” Clarkson said.
She was further delayed, she said, because she “stayed to visit with the people who got us out.”
Twitter, meanwhile, had a field day with her temporary confinement.
One tweeter pitched her imprisonment as a one-act play.
The Gambit newsweekly proposed Jackie-Clarkson-stuck-in-elevator Halloween costumes.
One comment wondered whether the four discussed whom they would eat first, just in case.
A prolific local tweeter, who calls himself Skooks, started a hashtag in her honor: #FreeJackie.