18 December 2005

more nola election b.s. from john hill

you know its becoming clearer to us the truthfulness in some talk radio hosts observations that john hill is the gannett mouth piece of the blanco administration. especially when he writes and louisiana's gannett rags publish this pabum. for instance, how does mr hill know that the governor and sec'y of state "began talking about April elections last week." that information hasnt been reported anywhere else n the louisiana press. at least anywhere that we have looked. mr hill writes that governor blanco said at the hearings in washington d.c., last week that she hopes the new orleans elections "can be held sometimes in April." she must have said that to mr hill in the corridor of the capitol because we didnt hear her say anything like that - but if we are wrong please correct us.

oh and we dont have much faith in judge morvant. hes shown how he is no friend to louisiana's citizen-electors. judge morvant you might remember is the judge who threw out the constitutional amendment "Defense of Marriage” only three weeks after some 78% of the voters approved it. his ruling was later reversed by the louisiana supreme court. today the amendment is in force.

we get a real big guffaw over this quote me hill attributes to sec'y of state al ater: "The eyes of America and the world are going to be on this election. It's important to get it right. I want to show America that we run things clean and straight." where do we find these people? this is about the dumbest statement we have heard in awhile. anyone can so easily see that the postponement of the new orleans elections by executive decree and without date is dirty politics. so the governor and al ater are so bold to lie to us and expect us to believe it; all with a straight face.

New Orleans elections may be held in April
Three lawsuits seek earlier date for voting postponed by governor.
December 18, 2005

By John Hill

BATON ROUGE -- Ever since New Orleans lawyer Tony Gelderman watched Hurricane Katrina's aftermath from his temporary home in New York, he's had one thing on his mind: "I want to vote."

So the Democrat and several Republican friends have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's order last week indefinitely postponing New Orleans' elections that had been set for Feb. 4. The mayor's and City Council's new terms are due to begin May 1, but the Louisiana Constitution provides that officeholders remain on the job until their successors are chosen.

Blanco and Secretary of State Al Ater hope to reset the election for April 1 and the runoff, if necessary, for May 1. Plaintiffs hope for an earlier election, probably March 4, since the qualifying period for the Feb. 4 election date should have ended Friday.

Gelderman's lawsuit is one of three seeking earlier elections but the first to go to court. A hearing will be held Friday before state District Judge William Morvan in Baton Rouge.

"I think the dialogue, the debate that comes along in an election cycle is just the medicine New Orleans needs right now," Gelderman said. "I do want to cast a ballot for political leaders who enunciate a future for New Orleans that makes sense."

Blanco and Ater, both Democrats, began talking about April elections last week.

"I understand people's frustration that six months after the hurricane they want to vent those frustrations in the election," Ater said.

Gelderman, who was first assistant to Democrat U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu when she was state treasurer, is convinced Democrats want to postpone the election because the New Orleans' Democratic base is scattered throughout the country. "The intention was to delay that election as long as possible to get Democratic voters back."

Republicans are eager to hold an election immediately "because the demographics of the city have changed and now, perhaps, have favored them," said University of Louisiana-Lafayette political scientist Pearson Cross. "The Democrats, conversely, would like to postpone the election until the demographic balance has been restored to something near its pre-Katrina levels."

Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villiere has called on Blanco to hold elections soon or resign. "The anger in this state is at a boiling point. If the governor wants to avoid impeachment or recall, she must immediately change her ways,"

But Gelderman opines the sooner the election, the higher the participation by displaced New Orleans voters who can have their say through absentee balloting. "People might not consider themselves residents of New Orleans anymore in April."

Blanco -- who was in Washington, D.C., last week testifying before a congressional committee investigating preparations for and response to Katrina and lobbying for hurricane relief for Katrina and Rita -- said while she defers to Ater on election issues, she hopes the New Orleans elections "can be held sometimes in April."

She has called a special election for April 1 in St. Bernard Parish; it is for a constable in a small district. In the 2004 presidential election, the last major ballot in New Orleans, some 196,000 city voters cast ballots, with 153,000 voting for Democrat John Kerry and 43,000 for Republican President George Bush.

The current estimate is some 75,000 to 80,000 of the 437,000 pre-Katrina residents have returned to the city.

The decision about when to hold an election is a complicated matter.

During its special session last month, the Louisiana Legislature added to election law a procedure that gives the secretary of state's office the power to declare an emergency and set up a plan for another election, requiring the approval of two legislative committees, the state attorney general, the governor and the Legislature, Ater said.

Before any of that can happen, federal law requires the approval of the U. S. Justice Department. Under the federal Voting Rights Act, Louisiana and other states with a history of racial discrimination must win the approval of Justice's Civil Rights Division before any change in voting law can be implemented.

Ater said he has been talking to Civil Rights Division attorneys about approving the procedure just enacted by the Legislature. He has a plan ready to submit.

Ater estimates the legal process of gaining the approvals of Louisiana legislators and officials would take two or three weeks. The plan, once approved by state officials, would would need approval by Justice, which could take another two or three weeks.

"Only then would I feel comfortable setting a date."

There's another good reason to have postponed the Feb. 4 election, Ater said.

"The eyes of America and the world are going to be on this election. It's important to get it right. I want to show America that we run things clean and straight."

Former state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell is expected to testify during Friday's hearing that an election could be held in February, Gelderman said.

Former Secretary of State Jim Brown also will testify for the plaintiffs, Gelderman said. Brown believes an election could have been held in February but should be held March 4 and April 1.

"The Election Code gives the secretary of state and local clerks of court some leeway," Brown said. "You could consolidate precinct locations. You could get a warehouse and put 15 polling precincts under one roof."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency could send notices to displaced voters about how to get absentee ballots, he said. "That's what they do with servicemen in Iraq."

Brown "is just grandstanding" and the law rewritten by the Legislature is very specific as to what needs to happen, Ater said. "How in the world can I do anything different than the law? We're going to win the lawsuits."