April 12, 2024 6:00am

Jeff Landry in the catbird seat

But many frown on his initiatives

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
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With a solid victory at the polls and fellow Republicans controlling both houses of the Legislature, Jeff Landry has raced to advance his agenda during his first 90 days as Louisiana governor.

But progress doesn’t necessarily equate to approbation, according to the New Orleans Power Poll. Only one third of survey respondents describe Landry’s job performance as excellent or good, and almost half call it poor or unacceptable.

The disconnect underscores historical political differences between the New Orleans area and the rest of Louisiana.

“The governor is doing a lot of politics but very little managing,” said Gary Hoover, executive director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University. “However, it would appear that this is what he was elected to do and those who picked him are quite pleased.”

As The Times-Picayune recounted in a three-month review of Landry as governor, he moved to pick the chairs of Louisiana’s five college and university boards, flexed his muscle over New Orleans in ways most recent governors have avoided and pushed through the Legislature a tough criminal justice package that dismantles some of the reforms of his predecessor, Democrat John Bel Edwards.

“His move to reverse the work of the justice reinvestment programs works fine while the state has money,” said Danny Martiny of Kenner, a longtime legislator who left office in 2020. “Down the road when we hit a money crisis, they'll be back cutting” the Department of Corrections.

Herd immunity

Landry’s advances come as Louisiana seems to shift farther to the right on such matters as school vaccine mandates, a wedge issue since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. During the 2022-23 academic year, for example, families of about 2.3% of kindergarten students requested exemptions — double the previous year’s rate and three times the 2011-17 average, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are small, to be sure, but even a tiny increase threatens herd immunity and can raise the risk of preventable diseases in the wider population. Yet some legislators are targeting vaccine requirements, including COVID inoculations.

Bad idea, according to Power Poll, which found that three quarters of respondents say Louisiana should require that all public school students, absent a medical reason, be vaccinated.

'Endurance contest'

The 2024 Mardi Gras season was generally considered a success, with a full schedule of parades, good weather and relatively little major crime. But with more people wanting to ride or walk in parades, the municipal services to support the public celebration are suffering, insiders say.

About half of Power Poll respondents see no problem, but another 31% agree Carnival has grown too big.

“Carnival is semi-out of control,” said Tony Gelderman, co-owner of KCT Real Estates Ventures. "Mardi Gras day especially has turned into an endurance contest.”

Playing hooky

Jazz Fest is approaching, with four weekdays — one more than usual — of music and food in addition to four weekend days. That’s tempting many to skip work for the fun.

See ya at the Fair Grounds!

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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