On Tuesday February 7th 2006, Audubon Nature Institute CEO Ron Forman announced his candidacy for Mayor.
This weblog, which is not affiliated in any way with Ron Forman's campaign, or in fact with ANY mayoral candidate, takes a look at his record and attempts to show how it reflects Ron Forman's character and abilities at a time when New Orleans needs leadership with integrity, experience, sound political skill and judgement, and a commitment to making tough decisions in a democratic manner.
Thumbnail Sketch (i)From The Lousiana Weekly
Forman began his career as an aide to Moon Landrieu, father of the Lt. Governor, and it was that Mayor who asked the young staffer "to see what could be done with the Audubon Zoo," at the time an aged and collapsing set of concrete cages with little ascetic value or sensitivity to the needs of the animals.
From that beginning, Forman built what would become one of the top five zoological gardens in the nation--and an ecofoundation that would create an award-wining Aquarium, Wetlands Nature Center, Primate Research Center, and park system. The work of the President of the Audubon Institute, as the ever-growing natural foundation came to be called, was rarely far from politics, as he took state grants and local property taxes and wed them to the largess of an extensive group of financial contributors.
Straddling the line of political and non-profit made Forman a figure to which many listened across the spectrum. Ray Nagin considered the support of the Audubon Institute's President as a key reason for his late campaign surge and victory in the 2002 mayor's race. The incumbent Mayor later hired Forman's wife Sally to serve as City Hall's communications director. She resigned last week when her husband indicated he would challenge Nagin.
[Forman] was courted aggressively by several prominent business and civic leaders looking for a candidate to run a platform that endorses the controversial rebuilding plans proposed by the mayor's Bring New Orleans Back Commission. Although Nagin appointed the committee, he has sent mixed signals on whether he fully backs the plan. It is also alleged that this group now worry that they may not be able to convince Landrieu to commit to enacting the commission's plans amidst strong criticism of the commission from many residents and political leaders, including City Council members and state legislators.
Thumbnail Sketch (ii)From Lousiana Political News Service
Ron Foreman (sic), president of the Audubon Institute announced last week his intention to run for mayor.
Foreman a longtime insider in New Orleans politics will be making his first attempt at elective office. Foreman is known as a prolific fundraiser for Audubon and many local politicians including the Landrieu family.
He was a leader and spokesman for the failed "People for Continued Progress" the group who raised funds and promoted a third term for term-limited former Mayor Marc Morial.
He served as Chairman of the the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce and was the driving force behind the merger with its economic development affiliate, MetroVision. This effort resulted in higher taxes to support the additional staff and media campaigns to draw business to the greater N.O. area.
Forman has been active in the city and state political arena, having worked closely with elected officials through his efforts to expand the reach of the Audubon Nature Institute, which operates the city's zoo and aquarium, a job for which he reportedly earned $300,000 a year before he took a voluntary $100,000 pay cut after Katrina.
A news report from the TIMES PICAYUNE showed Forman received $672,000 in compensation in 2000, an 86 percent increase from his 1999 pay of $361,000.
According to the same publication Foreman maintained his VIP parking privileges at New Orleans International Airport as one of a select group of N.O. City Hall insiders.
Last Tuesday, Forman said he has more than $1.5 million in commitments to his campaign. As recently as two months ago, Forman said that he was not running.
He cited his close friendships with both Mitch Landrieu and Ray Nagin, whom Forman supported in the 2002 mayor's race.
Further complicating a Forman candidacy is the fact that his wife, Sally, continued to serve as Nagin's communications director even after he admitted to considering the race.
With Forman confirming that he will run, Sally Forman has resigned her post under Nagin.
Wit and Wisdom
"If you had the Amazon or Nile running through your community, would you put up a wall and block it off, like we have on most of the Mississippi now, or would you open it up and invite people in?" Ron FormanFrom BizNewOrleans.com