LaRoots - a Louisiana Grassroots Political Network

                     serving Democratic Priorities

DNC Initiatives

Democratic National Committee Convention, Charlotte 2012

DNC Committeewoman Deborah Langhoff, LDP Chair Karen Carter Peterson and other Louisiana delegates interviewed by Bruce Alpert, Washington Bureau, The Times Picayune

"WASHINGTON -- Louisiana delegates said they were energized by President Bill Clinton's point-by-point rebuttal Wednesday night of Republican accusations against President Barack Obama. "He's our elder statesman now and he really filled that role magnificently last night," Delegate Deborah Langhoff of New Orleans said Thursday morning. "He distilled a lot of the Republican attacks and responded with some very simple, easy to understand, corrections."

 

Langhoff said one standout moment for her was when Clinton chastised congressional Republicans for refusing to work with the Democratic president to solve America's problems.

She saw it as "calling out our Republican congressional delegation -- not by name -- but certainly by their actions by pointing out that working for failure of an American president is just not patriotic or American."

Sean Bruno, another New Orleans delegate who operates a CPA firm, said Clinton made the case, perhaps better than anyone else, about the magnitude of the economic problems Obama has faced from the first day of his presidency, by saying that none of Obama's predecessors, Democrat or Republican, could have fixed them in just four years.

"He made the case how far we've come, but that we still have a long way to go and that President Obama can get the job done," Bruno said.

Gail Ledet, a Democratic delegate from Slidell, said Clinton's speech was "everything I had hoped it would be." Ledet said she believes Clinton made the case for middle class voters in Louisiana that they will be voting against their own interests if they vote for Republican Mitt Romney in November.

Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson said Clinton was the perfect "fact checker" for last week's Republican National Convention "reality show." Her favorite lines? "There were so many," she said.

Carter Peterson, a state senator from New Orleans, singled out Clinton's one word description of how he balanced the budget as president, "arithmetic" with a warning that Republicans can't reduce the deficit, provide big tax cuts and dramatically increase defense spending, without either rolling up more debt, or making "enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids..."

Louisiana Democratic Party...Changing of the Guard

The Times Picayune, Baton Rouge. April 29, 2012 -- "State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, a vocal critic of Republican Party policies and Governor Bobby Jindal's administration, ousted Lake Charles businessman Buddy Leach on Saturday to become chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.  Peterson is the first woman and the second African-American to lead the state party.  Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal District Court Arthur Morrell was elected Democratic national committeeman, occupying a seat on the national party's governing board.  Deborah Langhoff of New Orleans was elected national committeewoman..."   Ed Anderson

As a candidate in 2007, Deborah was endorsed by DFA for her commitment to "people-powered politics...fairness, governmental accountability, and the common good..." and she brings that commitment to her new role as Louisiana's female representative on the Democratic National Committee.

Democratic National Committee Convention, Denver 2008

DNCC Delegate for Hillary Clinton from the 1st Congressional District in Louisiana and a volunteer in Denver for the national organization Catholic Democrats.org, Deborah Langhoff was interviewed as Tropical Storm Gustav was lashing Jamaica and bearing down on the Gulf Coast shores, almost exactly three years after Hurricane Katrina, by reporter Aaron Rutkoff:

 "Deborah Langhoff, a convention delegate from New Orleans, wasn’t too much involved in organized politics until a few years ago. She had volunteered as an organizer for Sen. Mary Landrieu’s 2002 campaign. “Then the storm came in 2005,” she says. Her lakefront home was submerged in six feet of water, so she and her husband moved into a space they had rented for their business – choice accommodations with only two feet of water.

Shawn Johnson and Al Gore

 

Louisiana delegate Deborah Langhoff. (Aaron Rutkoff/WSJ)

“After people were allowed to start moving back in the neighborhoods, I used what I had learned organizing in politics to start organizing the people around me,” she said.

Langhoff spoke with Washington Wire at the Democratic Convention about remaking her local Democratic Party in the wake of Katrina and how New Orleans recovery figures as a political issue in 2008.

WSJ: What was it like to be a Democratic Party activist in a city destroyed by a natural disaster?

Langhoff: We did DNC events that were held in rooms with no electricity, in an area that had virtually 20 people in the entire neighborhood. That was the beginning of post-Katrina politics. I thought that energy from rebuilding the city could be used to revitalize the Democratic Party, to bring new people into it.

WSJ: Did the storm change your local party?

Langhoff: We had been dominated by Bill Jefferson [a congressman under federal investigation for allegedly accepting a bribe] and his team. I thought that bringing neighborhood activists into the Democratic [Party] process could invigorate it and open it up, make it more transparent and more representative of the city as a whole. There’s a new power structure – it’s a committee and it’s truly messy democracy.

WSJ: Three years later, do you feel that issues related to Katrina and recovery from the disaster are still vibrant issues in the national debate? Is New Orleans safer?

Langhoff: Considering that there’s a major storm heading towards New Orleans, nothing feels likes it’s faded to me or to anyone in south Louisiana. We’re not going to be secure until we have 500-year flood protection.

WSJ: Clearly, you’re here as a Democrat. But do you think your candidate has really emphasized post-Katrina issues in his campaign?

Langhoff: When Sen. [Barack] Obama came to New Orleans, I would say about nine months ago, he sat in a room with 40 neighborhood activists – not necessarily political people at all. He walked in, sat in the middle of the room and said: “You thought you were coming to hear me, but I’m here to ask you questions.”

After that, a few months later, he came to Tulane [University] and demonstrated a real understanding of what was holding us back. If you look at his Web site now – and it can’t be right in front of everything, it’s not everyone’s issue – there are five pages of solid recommendations that would not only benefit New Orleans in the rebuilding, but would benefit other cities. We’re not unique. Cities are in trouble.

WSJ: If Obama wins in November, what’s the first thing you’d ask him to do for New Orleans as president?

Langhoff: An 8/29 commission, just like New York had the 9/11 commission. A real investigation into the technicalities of what worked and what didn’t, whose fault it was and where the responsibility lies – so that it never happens again. Until we do that, everybody is just going to be shouting their side of the story.

WSJ: A non-Katrina question. You came here as a Hillary Clinton delegate. Have you heard from your fellow delegates many reservations about supporting Obama?

Langhoff: Don’t see it. Not one. Somewhere there must be some, because I keep hearing about it, but the ones I know are all here to defeat John McCain. And by the way, if somebody is really a Hillary supporter they are going to do what she asks them to do – she was quite clear about it."

Democrats in Blue Jeans, helping to rebuild New Orleans one house at a time.   

Founded at the Lawn Chair Rendezvous on Canal Street, a group of activists from Baton Rouge led by Vicki Lancaster organized volunteers to assist individuals in the Mid City neighborhood to return to their homes more quickly.  Whether gutting an entire home or repairing a fence, the work of rebuilding a city is easier with some fresh help from outside.  These weekend warriors included fellow democrats from near and far:

"Several hundred members of the Democratic National Committee changed out of their suits and ties and into their Saturday work clothes and headed out to a variety of cleanup and rebuilding sites...courtesy of a group called Democrats in Blue Jeans, the brainchild of Deborah Langhoff, a local party activist who decided to use the Democratic Party's network throughout the state to organize assistance for hurricane victims..."                         - -Elaime Kamarck, Newsday

Lawn Chair Rendezvous (B-Y-O-Lawnchair because our furniture is history!) November 15, 2005, as part of the DNC's 50-state strategy, Alan and Deborah Langhoff organized the Lawn Chair Rendezvous, with about 20 great democrats gathering that evening in a neighborhood with no electricity and a gutted house lighted by generator.

Recognized by Howard Dean and the DNC:

"Of the one thousand plus national organizing events held on November 15th, perhaps none was more inspirational than the one hosted by Alan and Deborah Langhoff on Canal Street in New Orleans. Because all of the furniture was lost to Hurricane Katrina, attendees used lawn chairs for seating as a generator provided power for the event.

"But is wasn't the lights hanging from wooden beams that illuminated the room that shined brightest that night - it was the awe-inspiring commitment of that group to democracy and Democratic principles that left a lasting impression on everyone at DNC Headquarters as we became aware of the "Lawn Chair Rendezvous" over the course of the day.  After we heard her story, we asked her to introduce Governor Dean on the 7:30 call.  He was so moved by their commitment that he couldn't help but share their story with participants on the final conference call of the evening and hasn't stopped talking about it since.

"One attendee from California, who just happened to be in Louisiana that evening on his way to Pensacola, was at the event and wrote the following on his blog:  

'I'm flying into New Orleans so I checked to see if there were any house parties happening in the city.  I was pleasantly surprised to see one being hosted on Canal Street.  This truly is accidental activism.  Little did I know that one of the organizers of this Democratic meeting on Canal Street here in New Orleans would be speaking on the DNC national telephone conference prior to Chairman Dean.   It's BYOL, Bring Your Own Lawnchair, because they don't have any furniture left...It's overwhelming listening to people's stories. An outsider cannot fully comprehend what is happening here.  It's not just losing your family, your friends, your homes, your possessions, your job.  It's losing an entire way of life.  Losing the place where your grandparents, your parents, you, and your children grew up.  I think many feel that they haven't just lost their houses, but that they are losing their home town.  Concern about the levees was strong at the DNC New Orleans Lawn Chair Rendezvous   Democrats from around the country can help by contacting your legislators and urging them to fully fund safe levees.' Thom K in CA

"Many of us do our best to organize and participate in the dirty work of democracy; from now on, whenever we grow tired or frustrated, hopefully we can think of Canal Street and walk that one extra block, write that one more letter, or make those last 10 phone calls on the list."  democrats.org