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Scuttlebutt

From their lips to your ears

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Quote of the Week

  "If it isn't bad enough that you may have lost your job and been fighting off foreclosure, the government now wants to make sure you, and every other American, pay more in energy costs so former Vice President Al Gore can be happy. This here is a fine pot of gumbo." — Gov. Bobby Jindal, in a Politico editorial about national fiscal responsibility

Tebo Not Running in 'A'

  NOPD Crisis Intervention Unit coordinator Cecile Tebo says she will not be a candidate for the District A City Council seat next February. "After a great deal of exploration — financially and personally — I have concluded that now is the wrong time for me to run for office," Tebo wrote in an email to Gambit. Tebo held open the possibility of a future run, however. "You can look for me possibly in 2014, when all the kiddies are off to college and, hopefully, life is dandy." Tebo's name had been mentioned as a possible candidate in the wake of incumbent Shelley Midura's decision not to seek re-election. Also said to be weighing the race is blogger and preservationist Karen Gadbois. Former District A Councilman Jay Batt, whom Midura beat in 2006, is widely expected to seek the office again. — Clancy DuBos

Women voters? Plenty

Female mayor? 'Unlikely'

  A veteran political consultant with a history of supporting women for office says she is not optimistic that New Orleans will elect its first woman mayor in 2010. "My analysis is we will not see a leading female candidate for mayor — and if we do, it will be a tough row," says Cheron Brylski, owner of a local public relations firm. Even though women now make up 59 percent of all voters in Orleans Parish — and 62 percent of the city's African-American vote — high female registration "does not guarantee" support for women candidates at the polls, Brylski says. "Women tend to be more conservative in voting attitudes. At times, when they feel insecure, they vote for a male." In the April 22, 2006, primary for mayor — the city's first election after Hurricane Katrina — Virginia Boulet, the leading female candidate and a corporate lawyer, finished fifth in a field of 18 with only 2 percent of the vote. Mayor Ray Nagin defeated Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu in the May 20 runoff. In 2002, Brylski designed the campaigns of two major female candidates — Paulette Irons and Dale Atkins. Then-state Senator Irons finished third in the 2002 race for mayor, and Clerk of Civil Court Atkins lost a runoff election for District Attorney later that year to Eddie Jordan Jr. Brylski later consulted on Irons' successful citywide run for a Civil District Court judgeship. Brylski served as press secretary to the late Mayor Dutch Morial from 1980-86 and has advised numerous female candidates for local, state and federal offices, including U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's successful statewide campaigns for state treasurer in the late 1980s. — Allen Johnson Jr.

Food Stamps at Farmer's

Markets? Maybe

  At a Rural Health Community Forum held last week in St. John Parish, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was asked whether the neediest among us will ever be able to use food stamps to buy fresh produce at local farmers markets. It was a timely question, as state officials have been lobbying the feds since May to loosen the rules. State Social Services Secretary Kristy Nichols says the food stamp program, also known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), needs "to combat poverty and obesity by promoting good nutrition, healthy food choices with increased access to fresh local fruits and vegetables." The concept also would help farmers markets in New Orleans to reach a wider audience. The Crescent City Farmers Market already offers a food stamp "market match" program in which the market will match every $25 spent using a Louisiana Purchase food stamp debit card until Aug. 15. The program is provided by the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In response to questions asked at the forum, Vilsack said the USDA is developing grant programs that would allow farmers and local vendors to accept the electronic benefit transfer cards used by many food stamp recipients. In particular, Nichols says she would like to see the USDA introduce new incentives for purchasing healthy foods and expand SNAP pilot programs that double the amount of food stamps that can be spent on fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets. — Jeremy Alford

Cassidy Bucks AMA

  Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy has made a show of his M.D. credentials since winning his seat in Congress, especially with the national health care debate ratcheting up. But he recently took a stand that shows he doesn't mind stirring the professional pot. The American Medical Association (AMA) recently came out in support of a Democratic Party-driven health care reform bill that creates 31 new federal programs, agencies, commissions and mandates. Critics contend it's a full-scale government takeover of health care, while supporters argue it moves decision-making away from corporations and insurance companies. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the plan could increase overall health care costs by $1 trillion or more. Cassidy, a 20-year AMA member, says he was "outraged" when the group made its announcement. "I feel betrayed," he says. Along with the 11 other Republican physicians in the House, Cassidy wrote the AMA expressing "serious objections." He also sent a letter to supporters urging them to do the same. — Alford

Sheepshead: Trash to Class

  As it does every year, New Orleans hosted the Great American Seafood Cook Off earlier this month. Tory McPhail, executive chef at Commander's Palace, faced off against culinary wizards from 15 other states, most selected by their respective governors. McPhail won a statewide cook-off in May to compete for Louisiana, and Gov. Bobby Jindal made a brief appearance to open the nearly four-hour event. Jindal joked that his ethical "gold standard" might be compromised if he were to judge the competition, saying, "If I did, you know who would win." Even without the governor's assistance, McPhail won. That a Big Easy chef won the contest — again — is not as surprising as what McPhail cooked: sheepshead. The silver-and-black striped fish with a gnarly smile is a saltwater treat that many coastal anglers toss back. Folks from down the bayou, though, have long appreciated the hard-to-get-to fillets — some say the fish passes easily for lump crabmeat, and it bested Maine lobster and Alaskan salmon in the competition. McPhail's winning dish put sandwiched sheepshead between two plump Gulf shrimp atop a bed of lump crabmeat. He dubbed it his "Creole Seafood Mixed Grill," but the dish's name was overshadowed by what McPhail was trying to convey about sheepshead. "Everything on this plate is a great value, and we're trying to make something that's economical and affordable for families," he told the judges. Second place went to New Jersey chef Peter Fischbach, who brought scallops, and Alaska chef Patrick Hoogehyde, who dished up two massive king salmon that had been caught on hook and line just 48 hours earlier. — Alford

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