Of all the black political organizations that surfaced after the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1967 the one that has endured is BOLD, the Black Organization of Leadership Development Groups. Other groups, including SOUL and COUP, had their day, but BOLD, whose stable has included Ken Carter, Oliver Thomas, Jim Singleton and now Karen Carter, has been the survivor. With Karen Carter the favorite to win the congressional runoff and Thomas the early front-runner to be the next mayor, its fortunes may even be increasing.

Now that the assessor’s job is being streamlined from seven to one, to take effect in 2010, speculation has begun about who that one assessor will be. One early favorite is Darren Mire, also a member of BOLD, who is the incumbent for the First Municipal District. He has had a good reputation as an assessor plus he has two other requisites that will likely be necessary to win the job: He is black and politically connected. The position will be a powerful one so there will be lots interest in it, but in politics, as in life, being an insider always helps.

Since Katrina there are now three examples of government bodies being restructured in favor of consolidation. First there was the merging of the criminal and civil sheriffs’ offices as well the clerks of criminal and civil courts. Then there were the area levee boards which were restructured into two, and now the assessors. The first was done by an act of the legislature the latter two by constitutional amendments that were passed overwhelmingly. At a time when so many people are facing personal rebuilding issues, voters want to rebuild government too. The mood is clear: Less is best.

Ray Nagin, we will recall, is the mayor who was first elected because he was supposed to be non-political. On election night he visited the campaign party for Bill Jefferson who he had endorsed for a very political reason – because Jefferson had endorsed him for mayor. Having little else to cover, the television stations rushed to interview Nagin who predicted that Jefferson might get over 40 percent of the votes. (He got 30 percent.) On a night when 70 percent of the voters had decided against the incumbent, their mayor was mouthing politics as usual which is what he said, in the mayoral runoff, that his opponent would represent. Curiously, Nagin could have hung out with the Just One Assessor crowd that night and looked like a reformer.

Whoever wins the District Two election will be the last member of Congress elected this year in the entire nation. That’s because of the state’s open primary system which works okay for most elections but not for federal elections which have to conform to the federal calendar. The system will be changed by the next election, leaving behind a legacy that assured that new members of Congress elected from Louisiana would be at the bottom in seniority.

There was not much encouraging in the election results for William
Jefferson. For his sister, Betty Jefferson, the news wasn’t so good either. She was one of the assessors who saw her job abolished. Since the change won’t go into effect until 2010 there is plenty time to pack, and at least she can say she retired undefeated. It is uncertain whether her brother will be able to say the same.

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