Scoot: Mayor Landrieu responds to my blog about the monuments

May 23, 2017 - 11:34 am

Last week, I was critical of Mayor Landrieu for allowing two of the Confederate-era monuments to be placed in a scrap yard following their removal, which I argued was in defiance of what the Mayor said to the public about how the monuments would be treated post-removal.

In an blog titled, “Why Mayor Landrieu breaking a verbal contract with voters hurts everyone” on  Thursday, May 18, 2017, I wrote:

This is not defense of the monuments remaining in public view on city property – this is criticism of the Mayor of New Orleans deceiving the public.  The visual of the monuments sitting in a scrap yard is blatant defiance of the verbal contract Mayor Landrieu made with the general public.  Remember, a mayor serves all the people – not just those who voted for him – and that was the obvious motivation behind his original idea of caring for the monuments once they had been removed.

Remember, this is not about honoring the monuments – it is about a politician honoring their word – something that so easily given, yet so hard to uphold.  For the many whom are celebrating the removal of the monuments and enjoy seeing the Confederate-era figure in a scrap yard – the same man that lied to the other side in this case has to ability and willingness to lie to your side, too.

The blog went viral; and Monday night, the Mayor’s office reached out to me at home to talk about what I wrote.  Tyronne Walker, Mayor Landrieu’s Communications Director, expressed concern over what I had written, but also that the criticism came from me, a talk show host who had often defended the Mayor amid controversy. 

On behalf of the Mayor, Tryonne Walker wanted to explain what happened and how two of the monuments ended up in a less desirable location.

Here’s what was explained to me:  The Mayor had plans to place all of the monuments in a warehouse, as he announced, but the warehouse that was expected to house the P.G.T. Beauregard statue did not have the equipment to safely protect it so at the last minute the Mayor and his office realized that a temporary change was necessary.  That’s when the statue of Beauregard and part of Jefferson Davis monument ended up in the scrap yard.

When the monuments could not be placed in the warehouse as originally planned, it was decided to build structures around them to protect them until their final resting place could be determined.  But pictures of the monuments in the scarp yard surfaced, and the Mayor’s office decided not to talk more about the location because of the numerous death threats against anyone involved in the monument removal.  

When I explained to the Mayor’s Communications Director that my criticism was not focused on the removal of the monuments but, rather, the appearance that Mayor Landrieu had broken a promise he made to the citizens, Walker said he understood why I was critical and accepted responsibility for making the wrong decision about how to handle the new information that the monuments could not be placed in a warehouse as planned.

I further explained that if the Mayor’s office had shared the concern that he was expressing to me last night, then this would probably have never developed into a heated controversy.  He agreed.

Placing the monuments in the scrap yard was never part of the plan; and, in retrospect, the Mayor’s office admitted that they should have been more open with the information about the necessity to change plans.

Is what the Mayor’s office told me about the mistake that was made true, or was it just a story to cover a mistake they believed would never have been uncovered?  As a credible radio talk show host, I have to ask those questions; but I admit I don’t know the answers.  Since Mayor Landrieu has been straight with me in the past, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, even though many have no interest in fairness. 

First of all, the Mayor’s office did not have to contact me and attempt to set the record straight.  The fact that they responded to the blog I wrote is admirable in the world of politics in 2017.  One of the major factors contributing to the great political divide in America is the reluctance to admit mistakes and to forgive.  Debate on every issue is not only one-sided, but both sides in any debate tend to stick to their point-of-view even if new information arises that sheds new light on the facts.  

Mayor Landrieu is a politician, and I am a radio talk show host.  Maybe that makes us natural enemies, but I have not built a career on unfairly bashing politicians.  I have built a career on being honest about politicians.  

I explained that I had no choice but to write the blog in defense of justice.   The admission that their office should have explained the change of plans at the time was significant.

Could it be that the Mayor is just playing politics with the response to my blog and covering a political mistake?  Perhaps.  But my goal is to be fair; and while I must always be skeptical of any politician and always consider ulterior motives, I am willing to accept the admission that the situation with the monuments ending up in a scrap yard could have been handled differently.

If the Mayor is just playing politics, that will be revealed over time.  True motives are not easily suppressed over time.

The final chapter of this saga has not yet been written.

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