Thursday, January 16, 2014

Someone else

Ned: Since the police can't seem to get off their duff-a-roonies to do something about this burglar-ino, I propose we start out own neighborhood watch (pause) aroony! (everyone cheers) Now, who should lead the group?

Man: You!

Crowd: (cheering again) Flanders! Flanders! Flanders!

Ned: Well, I don't have much experience, but I'd be--

Moe: Someone else!

Crowd: (more cheers) Someone else! Someone else! Someone else!

Homer: I'm someone else!

For a "campaign about nothing" Michael Bagneris' project in hanging around until someone maybe makes him Mayor does not lack for people interested in maybe doing that.
The FOP and the Police Association of New Orleans have spent a lot of the past year criticizing a court deal Landrieu’s administration worked out with the U.S. Justice Department on reforming the Police Department. Both are angry they didn’t have more of a say in the process.

Burkart said the FOP’s bylaws keep the group from endorsing in races with more than two candidates, a rule meant to keep one small faction within the union from swinging the vote. But he said Bagneris seemed more inclined to hear them out than the current mayor.

“He understands the problems, and he’s at least listening and considering them,” Burkart said. “You can tell right there that’s the type of person you want to be your mayor.”

PANO leader Mike Glasser said Bagneris made a similar impression at a meeting his group sponsored. He said PANO hasn’t made a mayoral endorsement in the past eight years, but would meet formally in the next week or so to decide whether to back a candidate this time.
 A couple of days ago I criticized Bagneris for running on a confused message that sounds to voters like, "Crime is really a lot worse right now than it might appear to be if you just look at the numbers which I'm pretty sure are not accurate."

This struck me as timid or at least a little off the point when there's so much hay to be made of sensational police abuse stories like Henry Glover or Danziger and the consent decree reforms incidents like those have necessitated. Wouldn't most average voters care more about those things than they would all the insidery business we've been reading about which club lined up with which team and why?

But I'm sometimes prone to forgetting that candidates do not care a lick about what average voters might be interested in. Instead everything is about pandering to the establishment the way Bagneris is doing with these police organizations.  This can lead to some incoherent moments.

During several forums, for example, candidates have been asked a question like, "Is crime down in New Orleans?" Maybe that seems like a straightforward ready-reference type question. But Bagneris has asserted that "the books have been cooked" to suggest crime is down when it isn't. And there may be something to that. But it's not so easy "cook" away this many murders unless there are a lot more Henry Glovers out there than we're aware of.  One could argue that the shooters just aren't hitting their targets as well lately... and there may very well be something to that too.. but in the strictest terms, the  number of murders is undeniably lower recently.

So when candidates field a question that mashes everything together like this,

That presents a problem.  The candidates may want to answer, Yes, murder is down, or certain types of crime are down or murder is down but overall crime is steady. But the subtext of the question really is more about how crimey it feels out there to you and whether or not someone should do something about it.  If you're trying to impress a police rank-and-file already at odds with the Mayor over their pensions and civil service rules, then you're probably going to shoot for something that sounds like, "crime is terrible and what we need to do is stop lying about it and pay more money to more cops!"

And that's what Michael Bangeris is up to with the police unions as well as with every other group that Mitch has been an "asshole" to while in the process of trying to seem "productive." Whether most voters see a clear distinction between the Mayor and his opponent or not, there are plenty of self styled power brokers out there who Bagneris may have had as soon as he declared, "I'm someone else!"

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