The new mayor of New Orleans will need to have the ability to make unpopular decisions and counter stiff protest if he or she is to push New Orleans forward in the post-Katrina reality.
There are many cases in which Ron Forman has demonstrated his ability to make an unpopular choice and push it through to completion regardless of what the majority opinion might be. Some examples are his support for Marc Morial's third-term initiative and the battles with preservationists over the location of the Aquarium and Insectarium and the commercial development of Audubon Park. The episode of the Rivergate Casino project is also illuminating.
Ron Forman strongly supported tycoon Christopher Hemmeter's push for a billion dollar casino development at the Rivergate.
(Much of this material comes from a report at the Howard Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane and available on the web at www.tulane.edu entitled THE RIVERGATE, A 20th Century Masterpiece Destroyed By Louisiana's Gambling Blitz)
Since he arrived in New Orleans about a year ago, Hemmeter has tried to build an unusual coalition of allies, ranging from Forman - darling of Uptown New Orleans, a bastion of casino opposition - to Mayor Sidney Barthelemy - the city's strongest gambling proponent.
He [Hemmeter] has sized up property and mastered the quirky ways of doing business in New Orleans.
Forman...escorted Hemmeter around town to meet the editors of The Times-Picayune, Gambit and CityBusiness, [and] said the developer has been steadily winning converts.
He [Hemmeter] has courted the powers-that-be at intimate dinners at the toniest restaurants in town. He flew a group of heavy-hitters - Councilman Lambert Boissiere, Barthelemy, Nunez and Jefferson Parish District Attorney John Mamoulides and their wives - to Hawaii for a posh weekend. He flew Edwards and his companion, Candy Picou, to Aspen, Colo., on his private jet.
...there was a sign last week that Hemmeter's work is paying off. Edwards' allies in the state Senate introduced a bill to grant a 100-year monopoly to whatever company is picked for the New Orleans casino.
His support for the Hemmeter casino plan demonstrates that Ron Forman, though the 'darling of uptown' which was a 'bastion of casino opposition' was brave enough to ignore their opposition and to instead chose to back a project which had the potential for a big payoff.
"I say give this guy a chance," Forman said
Forman is hoping for a home run with Hemmeter in the form of a $10 million donation to the Audubon Institute's Riverfront 2000 project, which would convert wharves into parks and museums.