James Gill: An election mess worthy of Uncle Earl

James Gill: An election mess worthy of Uncle Earl
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Earl Long quipped that, when he died, he wanted to be buried in Louisiana so that he could remain active in politics.

Evidently, the dearly departed are still a powerful political force around here. Organizers of the campaign to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, for instance, filed suit to reduce the number of signatures required on the petition, but litigation proved unnecessary because everyone agreed that lots of registered voters were either dead or had moved out of the city.

Recall organizers and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin calculated that the city’s active voter rolls included about 30,000 phantom voters, and agreed that the number of signatures required on a petition to trigger a recall election be reduced by 5,000 to just under 45,000.

Nobody expects the government bureaucracy to be razor-sharp, but this all seems too sloppy even by traditional City Hall standards. We will be headed for the polls just as soon as enough registered votes get their names right and their signatures are duly validated. That, of course, hardly ever happens.

The process might be a little more complex than we would like, although it should not generate controversy under normal circumstances. But if it’s normal circumstances you want, perhaps this is not the place for you.

The lawsuit contesting the number of signatures required to trigger a recall election was allotted to Civil District Court Judge Jennifer Medley, who signed off March 1 on the settlement reached between recall organizers and Ardoin. An eagle-eyed Advocate reporter noticed that the list of recall petition signatories included none other than Jennifer Medley, and a brouhaha resulted — not enough to awaken the dead, but a lot of people were quite exercised.

Medley’s failure to disclose her interest was universally condemned, although she was not accused of violating a specific provision of the judicial code of conduct, as her defenders were quick to point out. On the other hand, it is no great secret that judges are required to be and appear to be impartial.

Presumably Medley either did not know that recall petitions are public record — not even Civil Court judges are infallible — or she did not expect anyone to study the entire list. Either way, she will now regret adding her John Hancock to a tendentious document. Definitely not a good look for a judge.

In fact, she had appeared sympathetic to the recall faction even before teaming up with Ardoin to reduce the number of signatures required to force an election.

After rejecting a motion to toss the lawsuit before any testimony was heard, Medley refused to let election officials question recall organizer Eileen Carter about the signatures she had collected. Neither of those actions could be regarded as improper, but they do tend to foster a suspicion that the sympathies of the bench are not with Cantrell. 

The crime statistics alone, showing that New Orleans is the undisputed murder capital of the U.S., are enough to guarantee Cantrell will not be heading a popularity poll any time soon.

The administration’s response to a widespread breakdown in public order, meanwhile, has been to dispatch the mayor on our dollar to a series of glamorous foreign resorts.

That Medley should yearn for fresh blood is fair enough, but she should have been a little more discreet.

Email James Gill at gill504nola@gmail.com.

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About Mary Weyand 14484 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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