Friday, March 31, 2006

EXCELLENT

1. Will you expedite the completion and adoption of a Master Plan for the city with the force of law?
Any laws they have now need to be look at because something is nnot working for us here

Above is Quentin Brown's answer (pasted directly from The League of Women Voters' Website) to the question.

Thanks to 3rd Battle of New Orleans for the link.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hey, St. Bernard! Did ya hear? The Wetlands Are Getting Bigger!


Bush's Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton says America has GAINED wetlands. Gosh, I feel so much better. First they fixed Iraq. Now they fixed the wetlands. "Mission Accomplished."

Go ahead, St. Bernardians! Start rebuilding! We've got the ALL CLEAR.

Well, the President has run up World Class Debt, but at least we got new wetlands and peace & democracy in the Middle East.

War is peace. Up is down. Red is blue.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Positive Sign about Mail?

Before the storm, I could mail a Netflix DVD at the post office downtown at 8 p.m., and get an email at 9 a.m. THE NEXT morning that they had received it in Baton Rouge. This always amazed me.

Needless to say, that changed once I reestablished my Netflix thing after returning.

However, yesterday, I mailed two Netflix DVD at the Louisiana Ave. post office around lunchtime. THIS MORNING at 9 a.m. I got an email that they received one of them in Baton Rouge.

Maybe things are starting to improve. (The New Yorker told me today, however, that there is still a hold on magazines for our ZIP codes.)

P. S. Netflix is the greatest company in the world. A few days after Katrina, I got an email saying they had stopped my account and given me a CREDIT for the current month. Awesome.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We Export More Than That

I have seen many news stories about how Orleanian exiles are allegedly causing a spike in murder rates, e.g. in Jefferson Parish and in Houston. Obviously, any increase in murder anywhere is troubling.

Compounding the troubling nature of the news of loss of life is the attitude and conveniently limited memories of those delivering the news.

Cities, parishes, and counties are not country clubs, and we live in America, an open and free society. Most of the news stories about alleged crimes by Orleanian exiles (and the reaction to the stories) seem to proceed from an underlying attitude of "Go back to where you came from. We don't want your type around here." That's not American. The American attitude is "Come one, come all, but if you misbehave or worse, expect to feel the consequences."

Thus, people in Houston and Metairie and everywhere else should quit looking at exiled Orleanians as outside troublemakers. Our people are your people, as Cowboy Mouth says in "The Avenue," for now. We hope they all come back. Most of our people are just trying to make it. If some of us in Houston or elsewhere misbehave, stick it to them.

Cities get their power from their openness, not from being clubs.

Please note that some Orleanians exhibit the same venomous attitude. Peggy Wilson, in a parody of herself that's almost funny, has repeatedly said, "If you're a crack dealer or a welfare queen, we don't want you back." It's not the mayor's job to say garbage like that. The mayor's job is to say, "We want anybody who wants to live here. Obviously, if you break the law, be assured that we will deal with you in the strongest way possible."

The other troubling aspect of these stories is what they forget. For every murderer that New Orleans allegedly exports, there are 100 artists, lawyers, architects, engineers, homemakers, social workers, chefs, software engineers, and teachers that we export, too. How many talented Houstonians or Kennerites or Covingtonians got their knowledge and their passion for life and their craft by growing up in New Orleans? Funny, I don't see news stories with an underlying tone of gratitude for our people who have brought a lot to other areas because of their roots here.

We are a world class exporter of talent in multiple fields. We've lost more talented people than many cities have as residents.

That's a sad fact, one that we need to reverse. But it's worth remembering when one sees headlines about all the mayhem we're allegedly spreading.

UPDATE (By the way, Ashley has said a lot on this topic already, in a style much better and more amusing than mine. My current employment, as well as my limits as a writer, force me to make my point in less forceful terms.)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

THANKS HOUSTON!

LSU 70, Texas 60.

I challenge anyone to top this post from 3rd Battle of New Orleans. I don't know if even Ashley can top it. But I dare him to try.

Thanks!

Here's Brian Young, the Saints' outstanding defensive lineman, doing cleanup work in town. Hey, Saints! LatinTeacher's been coming in from New Jersey for months to do this! Keep it up, and you might catch up to him!

Seriously, it's great to see members of Our Football Team gluing themselves to Our World Class City again. The countdown to 9/24 and the game at the Sacreddome against the Falcons continues.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Consider This When You Vote in South Louisiana

Scientists seem reasonably sure that ocean levels (more relevantly for us, Gulf levels) are rising and will rise during the next century. This article documents recent findings. In the worst-case scenario (and we New Orleanians pay attention to worst-case scenarios these days), the levels will go up 15 to 20 feet.

Now, we all have this information. I would assume that people who put themselves up for public office know this at least as well as the average citizen.

How is it possible to know that scientists are saying this, and at the same time tell people they can rebuild their homes wherever and however (via grandfathering clauses) that they want to?

It's possible if you are a reckless coward who cannot muster the gonads to tell the truth.

We should all remember this when we vote. Thus, Mayor Nagin's pullback from the Bring Back New Orleans Commission's prudent report is important. Nagin says people can rebuild wherever they want "at their own risk." Almost every member of the City Council has said this too. (Jay Batt is a particular coward. He has opposed the BBNO Commission report on this issue, but if you look at his reelection website, he says he supports the plan. He's a liar.)

There are a couple of problems with this. First, does anyone really believe it will be "at their own risk"? People will rebuild, they will flood again, and there will be calls for justice from the government--grants, aid, etc.

I know I'm sounding like some kind of cynical Republican here. I'm not. I just think it's important for us to tell the truth and be real now. No one will take us seriously if we're not realistic about where we live.

I suspect insurance companies and the like will prevent people from rebuilding wherever they like by refusing to write policies, and they would be right to do so.

The "rebuild wherever, but at your own risk" position of Nagin & the City Council Idiot Chorus combines the worst of the free market and big government. It sounds like a free market position (let the people and the market decide), but I have no doubt that if people rebuild and get another flood, "their own risk" will mutate into "our cost." And that's me, a card-carrying Green Party Orleanian, saying this. What do you think they're thinking in Ohio and Wyoming?

Most people who say they believe in the free market are lying. Take the President. He's a big free market guy.

No, he's not. The no-bid contracts he oversees are anti-free-market. His demand for A PLAN from us "in that part of the world" is anti-free-market.

The free market is profoundly anti-plan.

I am pro-plan, and therefore anti-free-market when it comes to how to deal with rebuilding from this catastrophe.

  1. Use the best science in order to tell people unhappy truths about where and how they can rebuild. If they don't like it, buy their property and sell it to somebody who does.
  2. Planning for a smaller footprint means planning for a denser footprint. This means allowing radically new and forward-looking development in the unflooded parts of town. This will make status-quo people very unhappy.
  3. We've got to make this place more friendly to public transit and bikes. NOLA is a perfect place for that. This means building things (tracks, paths, etc.) that might have to change some 'hoods. But we'll all end up better off.
I don't hear many people saying things like that. The BBNO Plan pretty much says it, but nobody in power has the guts and follow-through to try to implement it.

We have to change. The planet is changing--in part because of human behavior--and we have to adapt. In the long run, we have to change behaviors that are making the planet worse off, and that "we" is everybody in the industrialized world. In the short run, we (on the coast) have to deal with the consequences of a changing planet--rising tides, stronger storms, subsidence. South Louisianans are reaping the consequences first for the behavior of everyone else. We have a responsibility to call LOUDLY for changes, but we also need to deal with those changes until we can get the ship turned around.

A Loss, but Props to the NOFD

The building housing Earthsavers and Jean Therapy on Magazine was ablaze last night around 9 p.m. when I went out for a ride in my 'hood. I watched the NOFD do an incredible job of getting it under control in about 10 or 15 minutes. Given how close together the buildings are on that block, the NOFD guys saved a lot of property. It was a windy night, and there was a lot at stake.

(NOTE: My original post said that it was the St. Joe's Bar building that was on fire. Sorry about that--I was on Camp watching this and was off by a block. The St. Joe's is safe.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraqis Are Worthy; New Orleanians Are Not

According to a Nobel-winning economist and a colleague, the Iraq War and Occupation will tally $1 trillion by 2010. That's $1,000,000,000,000. Bush's people's early estimates were $60 billion. The obvious point is that they were a little off.

Please note, however, that Orleanians are forced to beg and haggle over less than $100 billion just to recover in a minimal sense. Another $100 billion would almost settle the wetlands issues. So $1 trillion will go to "solving" Iraq, no questions asked. We beg for less than $100 billion, and a good bit of that is rightfully ours given past insurance premium payments and Army Corps incompetence.

The President threatened to use his first veto over selling port operations to Dubai. I haven't heard him once threaten to use a veto in order to help us out.

Life is often simple. If you're not with us on stuff like this, you might as well be actively seeking to ruin a World Class city.

I can't get Ashley's Sinn Fein post out of my head lately.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mitch Said Katrina Revealed Who We Really Are

Not long after the manmade flood ruined things here, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu said that Katrina was a great revealer of truth and that it had stripped away all masks to show who people really are underneath. It revealed both angels and demons.

That speech has stuck with me. It rings true.

Further evidence comes here in a NY Times article about the Hornets taking their first (???) tour of devastated areas of the city. Hornets forward David West said:
"Your heart goes out to a lot of folks. You don't know where they get the courage to stay."
No, David West, YOU don't know where they get the courage to stay. We do.

(That last sentence sounds O'Reilly-esque. I'm frightened by what I become every now and again. Please indulge me this. I just need to unload on the Hornets. This footsy-stuff they're playing is getting old. I wish they'd just give us the &**$%# exit penalty money and leave. Then it would be obvious what they and their owner are about. We already know in New Orleans; I just don't want them to have the fig leaf [extra small] of respectability that covers what little they have in the gonad department.)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Solid ABIEMO Candidate

Laureen Lentz does a great service for those of us in District B by interviewing Quentin Brown. I saw Mr. Brown on the televised debate for the Alliance for Good Government. When asked what he thought the number one problem facing New Orleans right now, he held up a handwritten (in Sharpie) piece of paper that said, "No B-S No More."

I'm going to find it very difficult to vote against the guy. I'm thinking about organizing a block party or something for him. He promises to tell it like it is.

I'm putting together a nice slate of candidates in my head that runs the full gamut--Quentin Brown as my City Council rep, Arnie Fielkow as my at-large rep, and Virginia Boulet as mayor. I haven't made any final decisions, but if we really are a diverse city, why shouldn't our city government reflect who we are?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

New Orleans: World Class Playah


New Orleans is the man I'll never get over. But Chicago is the man I'm supposed to marry.

A friend of the Times-Picayune's Bruce Nolan said this. (Thanks to People Get Ready for the link.)

This image intrigues me. Most times, New Orleans is imagined as a lady.

I don't mind being the man somebody never gets over. But what happens when that guy really gets his act together and focuses?

We're gonna be devastating, people.



Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"We Rollin', Y'all!"


I like the emphasis that the state's new TV ads places on "Thanks." Our fellow citizens (of America and the World) have displayed person-to-person and group-to-group acts of generosity and even sacrifice that have been truly overwhelming.

This ad made me feel great about our future. It also inspires me to say "Thanks" to folks in more ways than just asking them to come and spend money in our state. How should we thank those goodhearted folks who have helped us out?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Easy Method of Voting for City Council: ABIEMO

ABIEMO.

Repeat after me: ABIEMO.

How is this pronounced? Uh-bai-mow.

What does ABIEMO mean?

"Anybody But the Incumbents, Except Maybe Oliver."

Every one of the idiots on the City Council needs to go. I am willing, however, to consider Oliver Thomas for an at-large seat.

Why? Here goes:

District A: Jay Batt. OUT. A big "not in my backyard" guy. Need I say more?

District B: Renee' Gill Pratt. OUT. Opposed the Mayor's Rebuilding Commission Plan BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ANNOUNCED. A big panderer. Has trouble putting two thoughts together. Currently my council member, but NOT FOR LONG.

District C: Jackie Clarkson. OUT. She's jumping to run for an at-large seat, which is great because now I can VOTE AGAINST HER WITH GLEE. Clarkson is a big NIMBY wench, PLUS she opposed the Mayor's Commission Plan BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ANNOUNCED. What a great combination.

District D: Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. OUT. Opposed the Mayor's Rebuilding Commission Plan BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ANNOUNCED. Unlike Pratt, she seems to be able to put thoughts together, and I actually have been impressed with her spirit. However, it's time for a clean slate.

District E: Cynthia Willard-Lewis. OUT. Opposed the Mayor's Rebuilding Commission Plan BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ANNOUNCED. If, before Katrina, a kid was floating a little homemade raft made out of a piece of two-by-four on Lake Pontchartrain, and the little 6 inch raft was washed out by the storm surge, Cynthia thinks the kid has a right to rebuild it on the Lake on the same spot using federal money. Not only that, before Katrina she was hosting the single worst television program in the history of human communications.

AT-LARGE: Jackie Clarkson. OUT AGAIN. It's so great to be able to dismiss her TWICE. I think Oliver Thomas deserves a look here, but I'm not committing yet. As a close associate of Dillyberto, I've also got to give Arnie Fielkow a good look. I think Oliver and Arnie could work well together.

So remember. ABIEMO. It's so easy. The result could be a City Council we can be proud of.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It's Important That We Read Things Like This . . .

link and then use it as bulletin board inspiration to kick a** as we remake our beloved city. Thanks, Mr. Tim Harford of Slate and the Financial Times.

This excerpt is exactly the kind of thing that makes me ready for any challenge:

A successful city is home to countless interpersonal networks that create innovation, or efficient economic production, or simply a good place to live. The architecture and city planning may help to establish those networks, but it can always be recreated quickly if damaged. That may be why disasters rarely interrupt growth in a thriving city, while disaster reconstruction rarely prevents decay in a stagnant one. . ..

For New Orleans, a charming place for tourists but a desperate clump of poverty and poor schooling, the question is not whether the current reconstruction plans will create a thriving city—they will not. It is whether there are any that could.

I think this catastrophe and the failure of governmental and other institutions along the way have energized "countless interpersonal networks that create innovation" here in metro New Orleans.

Look out.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

World Class Electoral Slate

New Orleanians have a World Class slate of mayoral candidates to choose from this time. We should be proud of the list; it's more than hacks and kooks.

I am happy to hear that Ray Nagin, Mitch Landrieu, Ron Forman, Rob Couhig, Leo Watermeier, Tom Watson, and Peggy Wilson are running--and those are just the folks I know even a little about. There may be a better candidate among the 17 other people (well, 16--I'm not voting for Ms. Williamson Butler).

I was a bit disappointed that Mike Hammer dropped out. Apart from have a cool bumper sticker--"It's Hammer Time!"--he also had one of the boldest, most interesting proposals: incorporation of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes into one parish. I like that proposal for a couple of reasons:
  1. I think it fosters a regional approach to issues like policing, public transportation, economic development, and education.
  2. It makes the kind of people uncomfortable who I WANT to feel uncomforable: white people in the 'burbs who moved (or who are the children of people who moved) in order to get away from darker and poorer people, AND black politicians and officials in the city who have their jobs not because they're good but because they know how to jerk around disadvantaged people.
As I've proposed before, I think some cool coalitions would develop. African Americans would no longer have majority status in a parish, but I don't think anyone could win without multiracial coalition-building. And that would be a good thing. Nagin, Harry Lee, and Henry Rodriguez couldn't get away with race-baiting comments like they've made in the past and still get elected.

Hammer has endorsed Forman. I'd like to hear if Forman wants to stir the pot by being open to multiparish incorporation. He'd be an interesting candidate to do so.

NEXT: My proposal on how to vote for your next City Council member.