Baton Rouge and New Orleans residents are fortunate to have competing newspapers, the Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The newspapers' coverage of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, state government, the Saints and Pelicans and LSU sports matches how Louisiana's two major cities have grown together in the last 50 years or so, becoming essentially one metro area.
Hurricane Katrina's displacement of New Orleans residents to Baton Rouge accelerated the process. As part of the Louisiana diaspora, I find it necessary to read about "the old country" each day on the two papers' web sites.
While each paper has fine reporters, sportswriters and columnists, I was especially impressed by a worthwhile article of political analysis written by Times-Picsyune capital correspondent JR Ball on Tuesday's NOLA web site, run by the Picayune, whose switch to mainly online publishing a few years ago led the Baton Rouge Advocate to move into the New Orleans market.
Ball's piece, which recalls traditional political reporting that's increasingly rare these days, shows how newly elected Baton Rouge mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome, a Democrat, won the the election over a conservative suburban Republican by appealing to moderate voters in South Baton Rouge, including the Pollard Estates neighborhood where I grew up. Broome is the first black woman to be elected to the post.
I was surprised to learn that East Baton Rouge Parish is now predominantly Democratic, supporting Hillary Clinton in the recent presidential election, and twice supporting Barack Obama. Each time I visit my hometown, I'm surprised at how the south Baton Rouge communities and downtown have shifted to trendy businesses catering to a liberal, young urban professional clientele associated with bigger cities like New York or San Francisco.
Baton Rouge has an unusual political makeup; the city and the surrounding suburban parish are consolidated. The parish is roiled by political conflict, with the predominantly white suburban areas distrusting the liberal and black city neighborhoods.
Broome promised to seek unity, but supporters of a failed attempt several years ago to form a separate city vow to try again. Baton Rouge's distrust of government and aversion to taxes was shown in the parish's rejection of a property tax increase to continue a much needed transportation program.
Ball doesn't mention that election in his piece. I'm hoping he does another analysis into how different communities voted on the tax program.