Bullying Is As Bullying Does

Bullying is defined by Wikipedia as “is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuseintimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets…”

We have a bully in New Orleans.

Readers of this blog have noted the tie-ins between the Vieux Carre Property Owners and Residents Association and French Quarter Citizens.

Both groups engage attorney Stuart Smith as their attorney.

If you recall, Stuart Smith is the wealthy plaintiff attorney who is behind VCPORA’s effort to pass their agenda through the City Council.

It’s ironic that Smith is engaged by these groups. He doesn’t actually live in the French Quarter, although he does own properties at 508 and 516 St. Philip Streets; he counts his multi-million condo in Miami Beach as his home residence. Apparently, his property on St. Philip is his “second home.”

Recall also that all the recent brouhaha regarding the restrictive ordinance as proposed by the VCPORA was precipitated by Smith’s attempt to close down the Market Café’s music back in the mid 1990s. This is sort of laughable, considering that the Market Café’s music is probably some of the more “chill” music in the Quarter.

Bullying in New Orleans-Stuart SmithSmith attempted to get the city to stop the music through zoning regulation complaint, but this  obviously didn’t work because, thankfully, there’s still some very nice music being played at the Market Cafe every day.

Many years and lawsuits later, Smith is still on his bullying crusade to make sure he gets his way. Lawsuits against clubs in the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater have ensued.

Since Smith has considerable financial strength, he has hired a politically-savvy publicist, Cheron Brylski, to spin whatever agenda he ordain. Brylski has worked in politics and political campaigns–the halls of power and influence–for years.

When I was young and a lot dumber than I am now, I didn’t realize that there are companies and individuals whose entire income stems from politics:  campaign work, political public relations and the like. Brylski’s company is one of those firms that derives the bulk of its income from “paid political announcements” through its newsletter, the persuasively-named “Krewe of Truth.”

Brylski is being paid by Smith in some capacity to send out “Krewe of Truth” missives that perpetrate his agenda. The latest inferred (Brylski and Smith are really good at inferring) that “[the] vocal opponents [of their proposed noise ordinance] had a great deal of success in wrongly portraying this as ‘an anti-music bill,’ alarming many who haven’t followed the issue closely and who would be rightly defensive of such a move. And yet they have proposed no solutions of their own [except for Oxford Acustics report, sponsored by CM Kristin Palmer's office]. What’s sad is that this opposition seems to stem only from manipulation…manipulation of publications dependent on their advertising for survival and manipulation of passionate but ill-informed constituents.”

Oh, really? Note that OffBeat isn’t mentioned by name, but we are obviously the target of this diatribe that claims we are only in this game for advertising money, and that ad money is what’s motivated our opposition to the tactics of Mr. Smith, the VCPORA, French Quarter Citizens, and Brylski, their mouthpiece.

Obviously, these people are “misinformed” about OffBeat‘s stance on this issue, and have only begun to pay attention to this blog and the magazine vis a vis the noise ordinance issues. If they had, they would understand that OffBeat has supported musicians, live and recorded music, clubs, retailers, the music industry, and a fair resolution to the noise issues in the city that is a product of compromise and fairness to all. For 26 years. We won’t be bullied.

Smith and Brylski’s blogs and emails are obviously spin for Smith’s agenda, but a recent Brylski email  (on behalf of Smith, obviously), was delivered that in my opinion set out to defame acoustics expert David Woolworth of Oxford Acoustics. Woolworth was hired by Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s office to do a study on the noise issues in New Orleans and to make recommendations to create a solution to the problem. He did just that and presented his report in August after extensively interviewing hundreds of musicians, individuals, clubs, health experts, residents and more. A highly-edited deposition conducted by Smith in September (after the release of Woolworth’s report) was posted on YouTube by one “Emil Sinclair” (a fictitious name; apparently Brylski and Smith didn’t want it to be known that their camp posted it). I refuse to link to this video, because it’s a blatant attempt, ostensibly by the spin doctor Brylski, to paint Woolworth in a negative light by accusing him of a conflict of interest in his dealings with the city. Frankly, if I were Woolworth, I’d go after YouTube and whoever posted the video for defamation. However, if you do view it, you can easily see  Smith’s bullying tactics. He’s obviously intends  to discredit Woolworth–to further his own agenda.

In a revelatory nola.com article by Richard Webster, it’s interesting to note that the VCPORA’s “audio consultant,” whom the VCPORA has touted as an expert, has ties to Stuart Smith.

It’s apparent that there’s a power war going here and Smith is honed in on doing whatever it takes to win. Remember, he’s a well-respected and highly successful plaintiff attorney, and obviously doesn’t take well to losing.

What I don’t think that Smith and his cohorts  realize—paid and otherwise patronized by him—is  that their “Krewe of Truth’s” attempted manipulation just isn’t working. Or maybe they just didn’t realize that the old ways of political spin doctoring aren’t as effective as they used to be, because it’s too easy to find out the truth. The attack on Woolworth was just plain nasty, and the Webster article called him on it.

Additionally, the backlash against Smith, the VCPORA and Brylski’s  political posturing, blatant use of negativity to influence the city council, the media and the justice system, is going to cost them credibility, except perhaps for the organizations and people he has on his payroll. I guess money can buy any bully the support and love he needs.

My biggest concern is that Smith, who has enough money and power to outlast any little guy who may come up against his agenda, will continue his bullying quest to make the New Orleans French Quarter—and the rest of the city—his personal power playhouse.

It’s time for Mr. Smith and his people to do something to make a positive change that wil benefit the entire city by way of compromise, and stopping his harmful attacks on entities who are trying to create a city that’s livable for all: residents, musicians, culture-bearers and businesses alike.