Much of Ron Forman's success over the years can be attributed to his admirable skill at consensus-building at the Audubon Institute and Commission. However, we're not talking about the traditional concept of consensus here, approached via a dialogue of competing interests: Ron has developed a much more effective method, which is to build consensus by surrounding himself with those who already agree with him. Ron is well aware that the only way he can be truly effective as our next Mayor is to have an acquiescent City Council in his pocket, operating much as his hand-picked Audubon Commission and Audubon Institute Board have done for many years.
Forman thus supports the re-election of beleaguered Republican District A City Councilman Jay Batt as an important 'cog' in the wheel that is to function as his ideal City Council, going so far as to share his supporter email list with Mr Batt's campaign.
Their mutual support dates back to 2002 when Batt was first elected to the City Council, a period which coincided with the controversy surrounding the Audubon Institute's development of a new golf course and restaurant in Audubon Park. But they got off to a rocky start: at a candidate's forum on January 24, 2002 sponsored by the Carrollton Preservation Alliance, Mr Batt made some rather nasty statements about the way in which Ron and the Audubon Institute did business; Jay said that their golf course plan "was steamrolled through, and I would like to see it readdressed, and to see the City Council take a firm stance right now and see what they can do" and "the [meager] public notice by the Audubon Institute was intended to pull the wool over your eyes and get it done before you knew." (http://saveaudubonpark.org/p4009.htm).
However, no sooner was Jay elected than the Audubon Tearoom became the setting for his first major fundraiser in May 2002, with his contributors' list reflecting distinguished Audubon Institute and Audubon Commission names, including Ron Himself, Dale Stastny, Roger Ogden, Tut Kinney, Shelley Kurtz, and Carlos Cashio. By June 2002, Jay had come to his senses, doing a complete flip-flop and fully supporting Ron's position in the controversy. Jay Batt has been a loyal Ron supporter ever since.
Ron and Jay also share a zest for neighborhood-based property development. Both receive financial support and have personal and professional relationships with some of our city's most successful property developers. These include uptown landlords Jim MacPhaille, owner of 899-RENT and Louisiana Coastal ($15,000 to the Forman Campaign), and Joan Hooper, owner of Riverlake Properties and Carrollton Parc ($14,000 to the Forman Campaign).
Jim MacPhaille has been stymied by neighborhood opposition to his plans to build luxury high-rise condo developments along Leake Avenue, that would not only have beautiful views of the industrial riverscape, but would provide welcome afternoon shade for most of the Riverbend and Uptown Triangle neighborhoods. Riverlake Properties has also encountered neighborhood opposition over silly issues like their illegal commercial use of a residential building at Burthe and Adams St, and the generally poor condition of their properties. Without these two prominent developers, however, we wouldn't have nearly the necessary numbers of uptown housing for students, who in turn support the neighborhood businesses and bars that bring much-needed cash into our city coffers. And that kind of cash is clearly what should be most important to these kind of candidates.