New Orleans’ Second Black Mayor Sworn In
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Sidney Barthelemy was sworn in Monday as the second black mayor in New Orleans’ 268-year history, ending eight years in office by Dutch Morial.
Two of three new members of City Council sworn in Monday also are black, giving the seven-member council its first elected black majority.
Though the incumbent City Council also had a 4-3 black majority, one of its black members was appointed to an interim vacancy on the board.
Barthelemy, 43, inherts a city whose economy is depressed by the oil glut and troubled by an 11.1 percent unemployment rate that is among the highest in the nation.
The city’s branch libraries are without money, programs for children and the needy are in jeopardy, and a recent pay dispute with firefighters could cost up to $6 million in back pay and overtime.
Morial, who also is black, was perceived as an abrasive politician with a tight reign on City Hall and delegated little authority. He tried to raise revenues to keep the city sound financially, but voters repeatedly rejected new taxes and fees. He also was rejected by voters in his bid to allow the mayor to seek a third consecutive term.
Barthelemy hopes to help the economy by raising taxes, seeking new industry from around the country and abroad, and through tourism projects such as a European-style gambling casino in the French Quarter.
Gov. Edwin Edwards has recommended a statewide lottery and casino gambling in the New Orleans area as way to help pull the state out of its financial problems. Louisiana is looking for ways to avoid a projected $800 million deficit next fiscal year.