Mitch Landrieu visits Opera House
By Howell Dennis
CROWLEY – Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu made a stop at The Grand Opera House of the South Friday afternoon to answer a few questions from area businessmen, civic leaders, and politicians on a variety of subjects.
Landrieu began his session by calling Representative Jack Montoucet up to thank him for his hard work.
“Jack is about to go to one of the toughest legislative sessions we’ve had in years so I hope you appreciate the work he is about to put in for you,” he said to the applause of those in attendance.
“I’d also like to commend L.J. (Gielen) for his work on renovating what I truly believe is not just a Louisiana but a national gem,” said Landrieu in reference to the recent reopening of the Opera House.
“Also as I walked up I noticed that you have already begun to spend our stimulus money,” he joked in reference to the Historic Downtown Restoration Project that has much of Parkerson Ave. under construction.
He then gave some members of the audience a chance to ask a few questions.
Many of the questions were in regard to the state’s budget and in what area he saw cuts being made.
For example, Gielen asked about the budget of oil industry and Montoucet asked about the possible loss of some of the LSU AgCenters throughout the state.
“I’ve been in office through five governors and I’ve always had the same belief,” Landrieu said. “When you grow you have to grow smart and when you cut you have to cut smart. I’ve always been a reformer and am constantly looking for a way to solve all problems. I believe that right now certain things are being put at risk that aren’t necessary.”
“As for the oil business,” he continued. “They are doing well at the moment but they are nervous due to all the talk about alternative forms of energy.”
One of the lighter moments of the meeting came when First National Bank’s Sandy Melancon asked a question.
“There are seven states in the country that have an unemployment rate of over ten percent,” said Melancon. “Where does Louisiana stand now and what areas of our state have the highest unemployment rate?”
“You used to be a school teacher didn’t you?” he asked Melancon to the laughter of those in attendance. “But I’m going to pass your test, Louisiana has an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent and is seeing positive trends in most areas. For example the Shreveport/Bossier City and the Lafayette areas are just off the charts, as for areas which are hurting you do have areas such as Union Parish which just lost their bread factory where the unemployment rate has risen.”
“How did I do on my test?” he asked Melancon to which she replied with a smile “you get an A plus.”
Landrieu also was quick to mention that “the economy will come back. What I’d like to see happen is for people to quit crying about the stimulus money and just go get it.”
Landrieu, who had to cut the meeting short due to scheduling issues, also touched on the possibility of the Saints leaving Louisiana.
“When Governor Edwin Edwards, who I’m sure you may have heard of around here, was in charge he always said that it would be a black eye on our state if the Saints were to leave,” he said. “I have always thought that they are worth it. At the end of the day, they generate more money than it would cost to keep them. Not to mention that if they stay we may be in line to host a Super Bowl which would generate $400 million into our economy.”