These were topics of discussion when Bayoubuzz Publisher, Stephen Sabludowsky, spoke with Tyler Bridges, a Lens writer, via a Google Hangout interview on Wednesday. Tyler has been writing articles about the New Orleans mayoral race.
The first part of the discussion focused on Bridges's article “‘Enemy for life’ which recently appeared in The Lens: Mayor Mitch Landrieu accused of steamrolling those who disagree with him,” a story that, according to Sabludowsky, “resonated around the city.” In the article, Bridges relates several stories told by people who found it difficult to get along with Landrieu. In the initial discussion of the article, Bridges pointed out that the mayor always got along well with people who agreed with him; it was when people disagreed with him that trouble arose.
Bridges's relation to Landrieu stretches further back than his investigation of these stories. He knew Landrieu while Landrieu was in the State House and Bridges was a reporter in the Times-Picayune in the 1990s. During that time, Bridges had a positive impression of Landrieu. He admits that when he returned to New Orleans and began hearing the stories of Landrieu's temper, he was surprised. The “steamrolling” mayor was not the man he knew from before. But as the mayoral election drew closer, and as he heard more stories about Landrieu’s alleged “temper,” he decided to investigate further.
The claims turned out to be anything but isolated events. More than thirty different people around the city told Bridges and the Lens about disagreeable situations in which Landrieu had “gone off” on them when they raised their opinions against him. These people were not Landrieu's opponents; they were his supporters who simply disagreed with him on certain issues. However, after discovering that Landrieu wanted things “my way or the highway,” most of them now define themselves as ex-supporters.
Bridges went on to emphasize that most people want a mayor who are capable of making decisions, particularly in a city like New Orleans. Some people being upset by these decisions is completely unproblematic. However, the stories Bridges heard went beyond this normalcy. He pointed out that not even the mayor can “go off on people” in the ways in which Landrieu has seemingly done. Responding to Sabludowsky's question of what he meant by “going off on people,” Bridges related a story about Landrieu contacting former ally Don Hubbard, a politician whose relationship with the Landrieu family goes all the way back to the time when the current mayor’s father, Moon Landrieu, was the mayor.
Landrieu assumed that Hubbard would be in his corner and when contacting Hubbard for his support, was somewhat surprised and then apparently angry when Hubbard said he had some questions. Hubbard commented to Bridges that “no man alive or not yet born could speak to him that way.” Hubbard is now backing Michael Bagneris who is competing against Landrieu for the top seat.
In his response to Bridges’s article, Landrieu told the writer that he was elected and had been mayor during tough times and that tough times require tough decisions. Furthermore, he compared himself to Saints coach Sean Payton, a comparison that Bridges and Sabludowsky agreed was unsuitable.
To conclude this part of the discussion, Sabludowsky told Bridges about his own and somewhat similar meeting with Landrieu. Sabludowsky had written an article with which the mayor strongly disagreed. The mayor approached Sabludowsky, stated his position and the two parted without issue or confrontation.
The primary election is Saturday February 1.
(Part 2, Friday)
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