About halfway through the first of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s annual “budgeting for outcomes” community meanings, I briefly wondered whether I should check in on whether he’d decided to switch parties.What we would hope for most in difficult municipal budget situations, such as those that seem to exist here in perpetuity, are elected officials who do everything they can to protect the most vulnerable among us. Instead, Mitch prefers to lecture us about tough choices and making sacrifices.
Republicans routinely rail against all-powerful federal judges and unfunded mandates, but I can’t think of a time when I’ve heard a Democrat pile on the way Landrieu did Tuesday night.
As budget season approaches, his blunt message for his constituents is that it’s their problem too, one that they’re likely to see reflected in some unappetizing choices.So at the budget hearings, expect the Mayor to continue singing a sad and sober song.
They’re already seeing the effect in higher sewer and water fees. Responding to an angry question about those costs, Landrieu again blamed Washington.
“The federal government and the EPA, just like with the Justice Department and the police, are coming down and saying, ‘we are mandating that you do a certain thing, and guess what, you have to pay for it,’“ he said.
“Budgeting is not for the faint of heart,” he warned. “For years and years and years we’ve kicked the can down the road. If it all comes due at the same time, it’s hard.”
It's a particularly dissonant chord to strike while he's also singing a counterpoint about the booming economic miracle spawned in his tourism-and-technopreneurial wonderland.
Musically, it's difficult to reconcile one tune with the other. Maybe it just depends on who the audience is.
One imagines the Mayor's well placed friends get the happy dance.
The cumulative message from the mayor to the majority of us, though, is he's doing a pretty fantastic job so if you're uncomfortable with the "sacrifices" you're asked to make well then there must be something wrong with you. If I'd been dropped down into this from 30 or 40 years ago, I might be wondering whether Mitch was a Republican too. But today it's really not that surprising.
Anyway, the Budgetpalooza tour moves in to District A this week. They'll be at Edward Hynes Charter School (990 Harrison Avenue) on Tuesday evening if you're looking to catch the performance.