Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wanted: Leadership

Today’s Advocate has an important editorial titled “Good Advice from Giuliani.” The piece urges Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to begin working from the same playbook, something that obviously hasn’t been happening. Although the editorial’s primary point seems to be that the governor and the mayor need to learn to play nicely together, there are some less explicit points in the piece worth highlighting. First, for what may be the first time since Katrina and Rita, The Advocate is critical of Governor Blanco’s post-hurricane leadership. The editorial observes:

“Gov. Kathleen Blanco announces task forces and working groups seemingly by the score, but is rightly pilloried by legislators because there seems to be very little in the way of leadership about how to make progress faster.”
That criticism is significant enough. But the editorial goes on to suggest that the Blanco Administration’s response so far offers no indication of the outside-the-box thinking so badly needed to get Louisiana beyond the current crisis:
“The governor's occasional statements and news conferences have not led anyone to believe that the administration has any plan other than trying to keep the state afloat with the gigantic budget problems ahead.”
The Advocate is, in the words of Elvis Presley, requesting "a little less conversation a little more action please." This could mark a significant turning point in public discussion about the post-hurricane response. The editorial quotes former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani who explained that the secret to NYC’s post-9/11 success was the mayor and the governor were "joined at the hip." Don’t forget, these were two politicians without particular fondness for one another when disaster struck. Still, New York’s crisis demanded leadership. And leadership resulted. It’s obvious there’s no love lost between Blanco and Nagin -- no doubt due in part to Nagin’s endorsement of Blanco’s opposition in the governor’s race. And no one’s suggesting Blanco and Nagin need to learn to like one another. They just need to set aside whatever petty differences they have -- and given the magnitude of the challenge ahead, all differences are petty -- and work together to do what they were both elected to do: Lead. It’s been 7 weeks. How much longer should Louisiana be expected to wait?