It’s Nagin, again
New Orleans voters on Saturday handed Mayor C. Ray Nagin a second round at the helm of the city. Ending a campaign that saw him running neck-and-neck with challenger Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu most of the way, the final tally showed the mayor with a 52-48 victory.
Nagin’s win also continues the hold of African-Americans on the New Orleans mayor’s office, an era that began when Landrieu’s father, Moon Landrieu, left office in 1978.
Nagin has hinted that he plans a shakeup in his executive office, which became something of a revolving door for staff positions over the last four years. He will need to act quickly to get his new team moving. While his inauguration date is not yet clear, it probably won’t be later than June 1.
Newcomers grab council seats
The fireworks-strewn races for four City Council seats also wound to a finish Saturday night, with council veterans losing in each case. In the Council at Large runoff between former New Orleans Saints executive Arnie Fielkow and incumbent District C Councilwoman Jacquelyn Clarkson, Fielkow prevailed with a 56-44 margin.
In the runoff for the seat that Clarkson gave up to enter the At-Large race, voters named lawyer James Carter the new District C representative over community activist Kristin Palmer.
In the bitterest battle of all the council races — one littered with nasty advertising and vicious e-mails — incumbent District A Councilman Jay Batt lost to newcomer Shelly Midura. And in District B, lawyer Stacey Head easily defeated incumbent Renee Gill Pratt.
Other results
Results of the three other local races settled in Saturday’s voting were:
Clerk, Criminal Court — Arthur Morrell over Nick Varrecchio, 58-42
Assessor, 1st district — incumbent Darren Mire over Maria Elliott, 62-38
Assessor, 4th district — incumbent Betty Jefferson over Chase Jones, 56-44.
LSU medical complex
A much-heralded proposal to develop a major new teaching hospital in downtown New Orleans took a hopeful turn last week with the release of preliminary report on the project by PricewaterhouseCoopers. A 37-acre parcel near Interstate 10 downtown is considered the likely spot where Louisiana State University would team up with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a $1 billion medical research and teaching complex. The bucks are yet to be appropriated, of course, but President Bush’s proposed 2007 budget already includes $537 million to cover the federal share of the tab. The state would be on the hook for the rest, but Gov. Kathleen Blanco thus far has looked favorably on the proposal.
Saints score big
The New Orleans Saints racked up a big pre-season score with the announcement that close to 55,000 season tickets have been sold for the coming NFL season. The tally set a new team record for season ticket sales — an impressive feat given the uncertainty that has surrounded the team’s future in New Orleans, post-Katrina, not to mention the team’s disappointing 3-13 record on the field last season.
The Saints announced a new pricing structure this year’s that included big price increases on premium level sideline and club-level seats in the Superdome while offering more than 20,000 seats $35 per game or less. Team officials said the Saints were about 10,500 seats away from selling out the Dome as of the middle of last week.
Animating the flood
Details of how Hurricane Katrina combined with dozens of levee failures to inundate New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005 unfolded in colorful, graphic detail last week on a Web site display by The Times-Picayune. Posted on (and presented in separate still-frames in the paper’s print edition), the series of graphics superbly illustrates the awful progression of the water before and after Katrina came ashore. The riveting display is available at .