Mayoral jaw-dropper
Ten days after his fourth-place finish in the mayoral primary, Rob Couhig probably had already slipped out of many voters’ consciousness. But not being to just fade away, the feisty attorney and Republican pulled one more trick out of his bag: He endorsed Mayor Ray Nagin in the May 20 runoff election against Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.
Some observers thought Couhig might skip an endorsement, since both runoff candidates are Democrats. Even those betting that Couhig would endorse probably did not put their money on Nagin. During public forums leading to the primary election, Couhig repeatedly threw verbal jabs at the mayor, severely criticizing the incumbent’s performance both before and after the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
In the end, Couhig may have bowed to the Republican Party’s deep distaste for what they see as the Landrieu brand of liberalism. The possibility that Landrieu as mayor might boost the chances of his sister, Mary Landrieu, getting re-elected to the U.S. Senate, may have been enough to put the GOP in Nagin’s corner.
And in another crossover . . .
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu came back with a head-turner of his own. On Friday, he received the endorsement of Bishop Paul Morton of Greater St. Stevens Full Gospel Baptist Church, one of New Orleans’ most politically active church leaders. Landrieu, who is white, hopes to boost his support among black voters in his showdown with Mayor Ray Nagin, who is black. Morton, an African-American, is the pastor of the state’s largest church.
At least they’re not going to Houston
The news could have been worse — Chevron could have decided to leave Louisiana. Instead, the second largest oil company operating in New Orleans announced it will move its downtown office and 500 jobs across Lake Pontchartrain. Chevron plans to buy 20 acres of land in the NorthPark office park, south of Covington, where it will build a new office building. The company expects to make the move in late summer 2007. Chevron returned to its Gravier Street offices only a few months ago, after damages from Hurricane Katrina were repaired. Some observers had speculated that the company might decide to move all of its New Orleans jobs to Houston.
New Orleans property taxes
It wasn’t news local homeowners were hungry for, but the City Council voted anyway to approve a hike of 9.8 mills in the local property tax rate. The action followed a millage increase of 5.75 mills by the Orleans Parish School Board in March. Together, the boosts will add about 9 percent to bills for homeowners whose assessments have not changed in the last year.
Most New Orleans homeowners have seen their property assessments decline since Hurricane Katrina, so the higher rate won’t necessarily bring widespread pain. The city says overall assessments are down by about 27 percent since the disaster.
One floodwall away from disaster
Reports by engineers who have been studying the floodwalls of the 17th Street Canal suggested last week that if a breach had not occurred in the east wall of the canal when it did on Aug. 29, Bucktown could have been history. The engineers believe they found evidence that the western floodwall was headed for a break when surging water broke through the eastern wall and blasted through Lakeview, on the Orleans Parish side of the canal. If that wall had held a little longer, said the engineers, the western wall might have broken, sending the waters of Lake Pontchartrain charging through Bucktown and across larger sections of Jefferson Parish.