People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Archive for August, 2006

Help clear Ms. Regina’s yard

Posted by schroeder915 on August 31, 2006

I was going to send a message to all the local contacts I have to help clear Ms. Regina’s yard, but I haven’t had time to assemble a mailing list. For now, just to keep this in play and get it done, I’ll post here what I’m thinking:

  • I’d personally like to do it on Saturday, but I’m not available until about 11:00 Saturday morning — which is not to say that I have to be there when the work starts.

  • Karen suggested Sunday, and I would be fine with that, but that’s my birthday and I might make other plans for Sunday afternoon — which leaves Sunday morning when, of course, many people will be in church.
  • It might be better for everyone to agree on a time they want to do it, and I’ll stay out of the those discussions, since I don’t want to be the one to get in other people’s way.
  • Sheik said this would be a heck of a lot easier than removing the insides of the house. He’s willing to help with the lot clearing.
  • I talked to one of Ms. Regina’s neighbors, Wendell Bloodworth. Check this out people: Wendell is singlehandedly responsible for keeping all of the public greens in the neighborhood cut, and he also keeps the lawns cut for a number of neighbors — voluntarily! He offered to do Ms. Regina’s lot as well, but I think most everyone would agree that it isn’t fair to unload that responsibility onto someone else — at least not the initial clearing.
  • Tools — people would have to bring tools: machetes, chain saws, strong weedwackers.

What do people think?

Respond to the above, and I’ll assemble a list from those responses (and previous offers of assistance). Then I’ll take the discussion offline to an email list.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Help clear Ms. Regina’s yard

Posted by schroeder915 on August 31, 2006

I was going to send a message to all the local contacts I have to help clear Ms. Regina’s yard, but I haven’t had time to assemble a mailing list. For now, just to keep this in play and get it done, I’ll post here what I’m thinking:

  • I’d personally like to do it on Saturday, but I’m not available until about 11:00 Saturday morning — which is not to say that I have to be there when the work starts.

  • Karen suggested Sunday, and I would be fine with that, but that’s my birthday and I might make other plans for Sunday afternoon — which leaves Sunday morning when, of course, many people will be in church.
  • It might be better for everyone to agree on a time they want to do it, and I’ll stay out of the those discussions, since I don’t want to be the one to get in other people’s way.
  • Sheik said this would be a heck of a lot easier than removing the insides of the house. He’s willing to help with the lot clearing.
  • I talked to one of Ms. Regina’s neighbors, Wendell Bloodworth. Check this out people: Wendell is singlehandedly responsible for keeping all of the public greens in the neighborhood cut, and he also keeps the lawns cut for a number of neighbors — voluntarily! He offered to do Ms. Regina’s lot as well, but I think most everyone would agree that it isn’t fair to unload that responsibility onto someone else — at least not the initial clearing.
  • Tools — people would have to bring tools: machetes, chain saws, strong weedwackers.

What do people think?

Respond to the above, and I’ll assemble a list from those responses (and previous offers of assistance). Then I’ll take the discussion offline to an email list.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Eddie Jordan is a great big cry baby!

Posted by schroeder915 on August 31, 2006

The top prosecutor in New Orleans stormed out of an interview when he couldn’t rationally answer a question posed by ABC News journalist Brian Ross:

“There has been growing criticism by senior people in law enforcement who say even with the acknowledged problems caused by Katrina, the district attorney has not efficiently dealt with a huge backlog of cases.”

Apparently, Jordan brought along an aide, Leatrice Dupre, to be his surrogate mother and bail him out of tough questions. She stepped in front of the camera to end the interview when Jordan started getting insolent.

ABC Nightline video and story.

How would Jordan’s childish behavior play out in a courtroom?

Judge: Mr. Jordan, your witness.

Jordan: Don’t tell me how to do my job. I’m doing my job and I have the evidence to support it. That’s stupid! I’m taking care of my responsibility. This is ignorance and stupidity on the part of people who don’t know how our system works. I’m leaving. This trial is over!

Jordan later explained to The Times-Picayune:

“I was outraged,” he said. “This reporter, the crux of his argument was that the DA’s office is not prosecuting cases, or only a couple since the storm, and he didn’t seem to understand we need a courthouse or courtrooms to prosecute a case.”

Sooo … Eddie — why wouldn’t you use the opportunity on national television to explain your needs, and make an appeal before a national audience to have them addressed?

Oh … right! I forgot. That might lead to questions about how you owe citizens $3.5 million.

By the way, since you say you can’t do your job without more courtroom space, do you think that $3.5 million might help clean up the damaged court building, or might be used to rent out rooms at a hotel to hold court?

Related:

Do you believe in the tooth fairy?

G Bitch — The Meaning of “Kafkaesque,” NOLA Style

Adrastos — Part of the Machine: Bah, Homburg on Nightline

Update:

Jordan was interviewed this morning on WWL by … “aaah” …. Bob …. “aaah” … Del Giorno and Monica Pierre. They asked “gimme” questions which only served to aggrandize Jordan, validating Jordan’s behavior by reserving until the very end of the interview a quip about how Brian Ross “didn’t do his homework.” Jordan celebrated a 70 percent prosecution rate in juried trials despite problems caused by Hurricane Katrina, saying that his office has moved over 300 cases through the system since the storm. I would have asked how those figures compare to pre-Katrina cases: 1) What was the rate that cases moved through the court system pre-Katrina; 2) What was the prosecution rate pre-Katrina; and 3) What kinds of cases was he talking about, e.g., urinating in the streets and marijuana possession, or murder? Nyaah — WWL is the all-Saints-all-the-time station again.

Finally, this may be the quote of the week. Judge Arthur Hunter:

“The entire criminal justice infrastructure in New Orleans is being held together with spit and tape, and it is just a matter of time before the system collapses.”

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary | Eddie Jordan

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New Orleans, 1 A.K.

Posted by schroeder915 on August 29, 2006

The alarm on the cell phone I never had before Hurricane Katrina went off this morning at 5:15. There are so many things that are going through my head today, I don’t even know where to go with this. Every time I touch that phone, I’m reminded that it’s an artifact of Hurricane Katrina — of the need to communicate with people in new ways from the diaspora. A lot of us carry around Katrina phones, but that’s a petty observation.

So many things were different then. I was married and had a house note. Today, I’m divorced and I’m a renter again.

Should I recite facts? Bill Quigley, the Brookings Institution, and others have already done it so well, and besides, the facts don’t even begin to tell the story of each and every one of hundreds of thousands of lives that were devastated and transformed forever, by Hurricane Katrina, by levees that failed, and by government negligence and incompetence at every level — but especially at the executive level in Washington.

That negligence and incompetence of the White House continues today, exacerbating a continuously unfolding tragedy. WWL’s Garland Robinette said last week that 300,000 businesses in Louisiana are failing. Meanwhile, The Times-Picayune is reporting today that the SBA had dispersed through August 18th a mere $174.9 million of $1.26 billion in approved SBA loans — a year after those loans were needed!

Yes, the unmentionable person is in town today. Velvet_rut suggested that the press should deliberately not report his activities — that news camera operators should protest his patronizing photo op day by filming each other instead.

As I started moving around the house this morning, I was thinking about all of the people who, one year ago, would in the course of hours be lost in the blast of the levees exploding.

Yes, notwithstanding arguments I’ve made previously, I’m asserting here in stronger language than I’ve used before that the levees were blown — not with dynamite, but with water — blasted apart by years of criminal incompetence and negligence at all levels of government, but the real blame can be laid at the feet of the Corps of Engineers.

Other people who survived the initial torrent would in a matter of hours be frantically sloshing around the insides of their homes as the floodwaters raced to claim them. They would gather their loved ones and try to escape any way they could. Many made it into their attics. Over a thousand people would not.

Hundreds of thousands are still suffering one of the greatest tragedies to strike this nation — and it’s a tragedy that could have been avoided. It’s a tragedy that we have perpetrated upon ourselves. All of us can be blamed for this tragedy which took decades to unfold. We as citizens (not just here in New Orleans) failed to exercise our duty to be vigilant of the agencies that serve our needs.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m still in as much a state of confusion about how to interpret what has happened, and what is still happening, as I was a year ago watching it from a safe distance on television (once the power came back on).

That’s when I started losing it. That’s when I started spending all day watching television coverage, devouring town hall forums, looking for flood maps, worrying about my job and so much more.

I’m worried today that others are still feeling what I was feeling in that first couple of weeks after the storm — unemployed, homeless, displaced far away from family and friends, in places they wound up living in not by choice, but out of desperation.

Today, writing this post from C.C.’s on Magazine Street, I’m grateful for many things. I’m grateful that I have a job. I’m grateful for new friends — many of whom are local bloggers. I’m grateful that hundreds of people are pouring into the coffee shop talking about mundane things. Many more like me are reflective. But this is still not the norm.

The norm for most New Orleanians — for well over 200,000 of us — is what Ms. Regina is going through.

Her sister, Ms. Sandra, is seen here trying to salvage what she can of her family’s heirlooms. Gone are the family photos. At her feet is a soggy bank book containing all of the payments her mother made on the house that will now have to be bulldozed.

Ms. Regina and Ms. Sandra drove down from Michigan, where they’ve been displaced for the past year, to deal with their mother’s house. No one had stepped into the house since it was flooded to the roof last year. Neither Ms. Regina nor Ms. Sandra had driven such a distance before, and they had to rent a car to do it. They were forced to make the trip because the City Council voted to require all property owners to gut their houses within a year of Hurricane Katrina, and to make the property look decent, or the city would condemn the lot and confiscate the property. Both are in their 60’s. Their mother is in her 80’s. And they’re still thinking about rebuilding the house. What else could they do? This is their home. This is their neighborhood. All of their family and friends have lived in the same neighborhood for years — for generations.

This was on the refrigerator removed from the house.

So much more is needed — still. Groups like the Arabi Wrecking Krewe, which helped Ms. Regina and Ms. Sandra, continue trying to help residents put their lives back together in what may very well go down in history as the most incompetent recovery in the history of the United States.

People like firefighter Brian West, and his friend Armand “Sheik” Richardson, a Vietnam vet, are American heros, hazarding the black mold and soggy floors of destroyed homes, opening kitchen drawers still full of rancid water, climbing over mountains of furniture to salvage family treasures, gutting homes for people who can’t do it themselves, with each operation, offering hope and trying to save, literally, the cultural soul of New Orleans.

Sheik has himself organized and/or participated in over 80 houseguttings. Here’s what he said in an email he sent this morning:

So we go in, house after house. And the story is always the same. At least by recovering some treasured possessions we may be able to at least ease the suffering some.

Imagine knowing tens of thousands of people who are in Ms Regina’s situation? That’s where I am every day. …

All I can tell you is that I am going to continue on … and do everything I can because this is my Home Town … and I can’t think of anything more significant to do with my life.

Let’s hope that we can all make a difference … and save as many houses, and lives, as we can.

Ms. Regina called yesterday from City Hall, frustrated with the red tape that forced her to drive down to New Orleans, and asked if I knew anyone who could clear the vegetation growing around the house. She was in a hurry to get out of New Orleans, but was getting quotes from lawn services in the hundreds of dollars. I told her not to worry about it — that if I had to do it myself, I would take care of it. She started sobbing.

It’s vitally important to recognize the contributions of the thousands of volunteers who have donated resources and come down here to help people salvage their lives.

Thank you. You are the most important part of this recovery, not just for what you do to physically rehabilitate the city, but for the quiet inspiration that your efforts represent to people who are losing hope.

There’s so much more to do. Please, if you read this, commit yourself to visiting New Orleans in the next year to do volunteer work, and be a part of the rebuilding of lives that are the heart and soul of this unique city.

Also, “Failure to Effectively Manage Anything,” and “Fix Everything My Ass.”

So often at times like this, I think of music. This morning’s selection:

Arvo Part, “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.”

Tags: | | | | | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

New Orleans blogs

Posted by schroeder915 on August 29, 2006

New Orleans Blogs | 
New Orleans Bloggers
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New Orleans Bloggers
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New Orleans Bloggers
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New Orleans Bloggers
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It’s a year later, and Ray Nagin can’t fix a hole in his head

Posted by schroeder915 on August 27, 2006

The first Rising Tide conference this weekend ended with local bloggers assisting the Arabi Wrecking Krewe in gutting 84-year-old Cora Foster’s Hollygrove house which had floodwater up to the ceilings.

Ms. Foster is herself a pianist, organist and choir teacher. She was raised in a family, and in a neighborhood, that fostered musical training. Some of her uncles were Sam Dutrey (Preservation Hall clarinet player), Honore Dutrey (played with Louis Armstrong in the seminal King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band), Buddy Bolden (who’s playing inspired King Oliver and Louis Armstrong), and Jelly Roll Morton (who contributed significantly to the dissemination of jazz to other cities). Here’s an interesting history of New Orleans jazz written in the 1930’s.

Thanks to Ray in New Orleans for organizing the housegutting project, as well as Your Right Hand Thief oyster, Morwen, Maitri, Lisa, Dangerblond, and other bloggers interested in the well being of New Orleans, for organizing and participating in the Rising Tide conference. Another special thank you to Dangerblond, the hostest with the mostest, who has an incredible collection of Lenin busts and costumes, for entertaining the contingent of bloggers with an evening social on Saturday.

I was reminded by Dangerblond’s Lenin bust art collection about an idea I’ve had for years. Russia has been struggling to determine what it should do with the embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin. I have an answer: Take Lenin on a world tour of major cities like the King Tut exhibit. Charge admission. Harkening back to the Soviet Union’s bread lines, people would stand in line for hours wearing bleak gray or brown trenchcoats to see the revolutionary’s corpse in repose. As another blogger suggested, visitors could be given a loaf of hard bread. No, I’m not joking. I think this would be a fantastic idea. Anyone want to fund the Lenin Tour?

I arrived late to the conference, so I didn’t absorb much. One thought, however, stands out. Irish Channel community activist Ed McGinness mentioned his concern that, despite a lot of frustration with the UNOP process, Concordia, and Steven “Bungler” Bingler in particular, the UNOP process is “the only game in town,” and it has to move forward. He said we have to make it work somehow.

I agree. I think Bungler should be asked to step aside to make way for a planner with a bit more competence.

Quoting someone else, McGinness said that politicians are more powerless than we might think. We have to empower them to champion our issues. He was suggesting that citizens and neighborhood organizations need to identify the issues they want addressed, and give politicians the power to represent them.

While I appreciate the sentiment, some politicians are plain incompetent, or pay lip service to community issues while getting paid off to work for other interests.

At the bar after the conference, Lisa and Ashley engaged in a bit of post-Katrina blues scheming by browsing listings for New Zealand real estate. If things don’t work out in New Orleans, maybe we could just transplant a new New Orleans community in NZ?

Finally, find out why Carl Brauner is glad Hurricane Katrina happened, and why Rebecca Solnit thinks New Orleans might be ready for a revolution, by listening to the latest Community Gumbo.

Ray Nagin: Every New Orleanian ought to get a turn at bitch slapping you. Shut the fuck up asshole!

Sunday music: Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

8/28/06 update: Oh — how could I forget to mention this! One of the most entertaining Rising Tide bar conversations was one where K. and Becky joked about adding porn to the whole blog/neighborhood community activist mission. Bloggers could tap members of the neighborhood for content, and finance their rebuilding from the proceeds of online purchases. Then, we could tell the federal government, “No thanks. We don’t need your money.” A uniquely New Orleans solution if I ever heard one!

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Ray Nagin | Hurricane Katrina One Year Anniversary | UNOP | Unified New Orleans Plan | Steven Bingler | Concordia

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

It’s a year later, and Ray Nagin can’t fix a hole in his head

Posted by schroeder915 on August 27, 2006

The first Rising Tide conference this weekend ended with local bloggers assisting the Arabi Wrecking Krewe in gutting 84-year-old Cora Foster’s Hollygrove house which had floodwater up to the ceilings.

Ms. Foster is herself a pianist, organist and choir teacher. She was raised in a family, and in a neighborhood, that fostered musical training. Some of her uncles were Sam Dutrey (Preservation Hall clarinet player), Honore Dutrey (played with Louis Armstrong in the seminal King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band), Buddy Bolden (who’s playing inspired King Oliver and Louis Armstrong), and Jelly Roll Morton (who contributed significantly to the dissemination of jazz to other cities). Here’s an interesting history of New Orleans jazz written in the 1930’s.

Thanks to Ray in New Orleans for organizing the housegutting project, as well as Your Right Hand Thief oyster, Morwen, Maitri, Lisa, Dangerblond, and other bloggers interested in the well being of New Orleans, for organizing and participating in the Rising Tide conference. Another special thank you to Dangerblond, the hostest with the mostest, who has an incredible collection of Lenin busts and costumes, for entertaining the contingent of bloggers with an evening social on Saturday.

I was reminded by Dangerblond’s Lenin bust art collection about an idea I’ve had for years. Russia has been struggling to determine what it should do with the embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin. I have an answer: Take Lenin on a world tour of major cities like the King Tut exhibit. Charge admission. Harkening back to the Soviet Union’s bread lines, people would stand in line for hours wearing bleak gray or brown trenchcoats to see the revolutionary’s corpse in repose. As another blogger suggested, visitors could be given a loaf of hard bread. No, I’m not joking. I think this would be a fantastic idea. Anyone want to fund the Lenin Tour?

I arrived late to the conference, so I didn’t absorb much. One thought, however, stands out. Irish Channel community activist Ed McGinness mentioned his concern that, despite a lot of frustration with the UNOP process, Concordia, and Steven “Bungler” Bingler in particular, the UNOP process is “the only game in town,” and it has to move forward. He said we have to make it work somehow.

I agree. I think Bungler should be asked to step aside to make way for a planner with a bit more competence.

Quoting someone else, McGinness said that politicians are more powerless than we might think. We have to empower them to champion our issues. He was suggesting that citizens and neighborhood organizations need to identify the issues they want addressed, and give politicians the power to represent them.

While I appreciate the sentiment, some politicians are plain incompetent, or pay lip service to community issues while getting paid off to work for other interests.

At the bar after the conference, Lisa and Ashley engaged in a bit of post-Katrina blues scheming by browsing listings for New Zealand real estate. If things don’t work out in New Orleans, maybe we could just transplant a new New Orleans community in NZ?

Finally, find out why Carl Brauner is glad Hurricane Katrina happened, and why Rebecca Solnit thinks New Orleans might be ready for a revolution, by listening to the latest Community Gumbo.

Ray Nagin: Every New Orleanian ought to get a turn at bitch slapping you. Shut the fuck up asshole!

Sunday music: Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

8/28/06 update: Oh — how could I forget to mention this! One of the most entertaining Rising Tide bar conversations was one where K. and Becky joked about adding porn to the whole blog/neighborhood community activist mission. Bloggers could tap members of the neighborhood for content, and finance their rebuilding from the proceeds of online purchases. Then, we could tell the federal government, “No thanks. We don’t need your money.” A uniquely New Orleans solution if I ever heard one!

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Ray Nagin | Hurricane Katrina One Year Anniversary | UNOP | Unified New Orleans Plan | Steven Bingler | Concordia

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

“Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm”

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2006

God bless ’em — on ABC World News and 20/20 tonight (HT: Anthony):

State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders’ claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News. …

“Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm,” says Cori Rigsby.

At one point, they say State Farm brought in a special shredding truck they believe was used to destroy key documents. …

The sisters say they saw supervisors go to great lengths to pressure outside engineers to prepare reports concluding that damage was caused by water, not covered under State Farm policies, rather than by wind.

They say reports that concluded that damage was caused by wind, for which State Farm would have to pay, were hidden in a special file and new reports were ordered.

ABC viewer/reader comments.

Related:

ABC News — A Tale of Three Engineering Reports

Tags: | | | | |  |  |  |  |  | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

“Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm”

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2006

God bless ’em — on ABC World News and 20/20 tonight (HT: Anthony):

State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders’ claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News. …

“Katrina was devastating, but so was State Farm,” says Cori Rigsby.

At one point, they say State Farm brought in a special shredding truck they believe was used to destroy key documents. …

The sisters say they saw supervisors go to great lengths to pressure outside engineers to prepare reports concluding that damage was caused by water, not covered under State Farm policies, rather than by wind.

They say reports that concluded that damage was caused by wind, for which State Farm would have to pay, were hidden in a special file and new reports were ordered.

ABC viewer/reader comments.

Related:

ABC News — A Tale of Three Engineering Reports

Tags: | | | | |  |  |  |  |  | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Community Gumbo Katrina anniversary radio special

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2006

Don’t miss Carl Brauner’s story, and an interview with Rebecca Solnit, on the next Hurricane Katrina anniversary edition of Community Gumbo, Saturday morning, 8-10 a.m., WTUL New Orleans, 91.5 FM, or streamed at WTUL.FM.

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