Archive for January, 2007
Posted by schroeder915 on January 29, 2007
Good work Gordon Russell:
As former Mayor Marc Morial’s communications director, Denise Estopinal earned $47,460. Her counterpart in the Nagin administration, Ceeon Quiett, makes $122,025 — the same salary as Nagin.
Whether the pay increases Nagin implemented have resulted in a stampede of new talent at City Hall is hard to say. Quiett declined to comment for this story.
I’m all for giving city workers raises up to the value of their work, but I’m also all for holding them accountable for doing their jobs. Has there been a 100 percent increase in the CAO’s performance since 1999 — an effective doubling of value and productivity? A 157 percent increase in communications? What about Mayor no-C Ray Nagin? He ought to be docked 100 percent of his pay!
I should also mention that the city is critically impaired in its ability to recruit and retain professionals, because other than highly-paid people in the mayor’s immediate circle, there have been no significant changes in payscales and job descriptions which are over thirty years old. Visit the Civil Service office sometime and see what they have to offer. If you’re a programmer who’s been to school for four years or more, and you’re holding a lot of debt, you’re not going to take a job working for the city. The same goes for other professional services needed in a city bureaucracy, plus the additional burdens of the disaster New Orleans is trying to recover from. I’d have to say an electrical inspector right now is worth more than that piece of crap mayor.
Don’t all scream at the same time! Quiett down!
Posted by schroeder915 on January 29, 2007
A legal firm representing the federal government issued a gag order against a local attorney who represents public housing residents in New Orleans. The aptly-named firm, “Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann,” ordered Loyola Poverty Law Center attorney Bill Quigley “to immediately cease and desist” from making statements which violate the “Louisiana Rules of Professional Responsibility,” and to “take immediate action to have this recording, the so-called ‘documentary’,” removed from Web sites hosting the audio recording.
I find the selective application of Louisiana’s ethics rules a fascinating curiosity. I was shocked, in the first place, to discover that Louisiana even has professional ethics rules. In any event, it’s truly open to debate whether Quiqley’s statement “that HUD and HANO have been lying to the public” is true or false. Maybe the veracity of their statements really is a matter that should be tested in a court of law.
Posted by schroeder915 on January 25, 2007
George W. Bush spent half of his time in the State of the Union address defending his plan to send more Americans into the crosshairs of an Iraq civil war, but had not a single word of sympathy, encouragement, or support for New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast, still suffering from the ravages of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the federal levee engineering disaster which destroyed New Orleans. He narcissistically delights at the thought of himself as a war president. Were it not for 9/11, he’d have been an ineffective, unpopular president (as he is now, but he would have been denied a second term). Let’s remember how little he’s accomplished in the domestic arena other than tax cuts, which pick our childrens’ pockets tomorrow to enrich the super wealthy today. The “war against terrah” has been so grotesquely mismanaged and exploited for other agendas that even as Bush is talking about surging American troop levels in Iraq, the Taliban and Al Qaeda — who really did attack Americans on American soil — are surging again in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The only answer Bush has for the mismanaged occupation of Iraq is more of the same — more troops in the wrong arena for the wrong cause. In a vain attempt to create democracy from the muzzle of a gun — what Bush himself once derided as “nation-building” — Bush is breeding more animosity and more insurgents. He has never fully engaged the international community — the Arab world in particular — in sharing the responsibility for the outcome in Iraq. His sole interest is securing control of the world’s second largest petroleum reserves under Iraq for his oil company friends. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” has always been a farce — a mere shadow of the international support his father achieved. George W. Bush is creating a giant Sunni-Shia Hydra. There may be no good answer to solving that problem, but his effort to stabilize Iraq by killing more Iraqis will only create more insurgents, kill more Iraqis, and kill more Americans. Meanwhile, by ignoring Americans still suffering from the worst federal engineering disaster here at home, a great American city — a great world city — is being destabilized.
More than 200,000 people remain displaced from New Orleans. Their homes sit idle while they wait for insurance, wait for Road Home grants — neither of which are sufficient compensation to rebuild their homes — wait for streets to be repaired, wait for water and sewer lines to be repaired, wait for street lights to be repaired, wait for the criminal justice system to be repaired, wait for schools to be repaired, wait for hospitals to be repaired, wait … wait … wait. Tens of billions of dollars spent on cleanup amounted to nothing after Bush’s friends grabbed the money. When it was all over, all that remained was $8 billion in CDBG grants for homeowners — a sum of money that George W. Bush has been spending in Iraq every four weeks for nearly four years. Meanwhile, a great American city — a great world city — has been allowed to die. Scores of thousands of more Americans across the Gulf Coast remain without hope.
It’s time for a march on Washington. I propose February 24th — the first Saturday after Mardi Gras — a perfect occasion to take the carnival revolution from the streets of New Orleans to streets of Washington. We’ll need trucks and flatbed trailers to load up with soggy, moldy furniture from houses still not gutted a year and a half after the federal levees broke. We’re going to haul the debris to Washington and dump it on Pennsylvania Avenue as a gesture of our contempt for a president who had nothing to say in the most important report he is required to provide to Congress about the well-being of our nation and her citizens. I’m calling on Americans across the nation who care about New Orleans, who care about the Gulf Coast, who care about the lives of American soldiers and their families, who care about the pressing global environmental issues that need to be addressed right now, who care about an eroding middle class, who care about America and the world being created in George W. Bush’s image. Let us Americans, all of us, march on Washington to tell George W. Bush and Congress that we don’t want their war in Iraq any more. Let’s march on Washington to tell George W. Bush and Congress that we won’t stomach the deaths of any more Americans from oil wars; we won’t stomach the deaths of any more Americans from environmental disasters; we won’t stomach the deaths of any more Americans from bloated bureaucracies and engineering failures. We demand honesty. We demand transparency. We demand accountability. We demand real solutions for the coming environmental challenges. We demand coastal restoration, and Category 5 protection from hurricanes and rising sea levels.
We are Americans. We demand an adequate answer from our elected officials when Americans are in need!
Posted in Category 5 Storm Protection, Coastal Restoration, Failure is not an option, Global Warming, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Katrina Dissidents, Louisiana, Most Revolting President Ever, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans, Wetlands Restoration, Worst President Ever | 37 Comments »
Posted by schroeder915 on January 23, 2007
Posted by schroeder915 on January 23, 2007
Wright Thompson gets it:
As people waited, the craziest thing happened. What started as a funeral turned into a celebration — a celebration not just of a team, but of themselves. The beers they raised were toasts to their own resiliency. Fans screamed. They chanted. They sang that U2 song “The Saints are Coming.”
HT: Jeff, Library Chronicles.
Posted by schroeder915 on January 22, 2007
If you were to host a group of about 100 visiting environmentalists on a misery tour, what salient facts would you offer to support a comprehensive understanding about what happened that caused flooding in New Orleans, and where we need to go from here? I’m looking for anything from levee failures to green building and coastal restoration, scientific facts, and sources. Looking back almost a year and a half, it’s become a daunting amount of information and I wouldn’t like to miss any important facts.
Posted by schroeder915 on January 22, 2007
I was expecting a different outcome when I traveled out to Lakeview to see how residents there were watching the Saints game. I wanted to celebrate the incredible displays of neighborhood solidarity out there, as people assembled in trailers, in gutted homes, in churches and in tents, to watch the Saints game. They demonstrated that a neighborhood is more than just a collection of buildings; it’s a team bound together by relationships and common goals.
I was so sure the Saints would win, and so was everyone else. It just seemed like the stars had aligned for the Saints, that the curse of the dome had been lifted, that our wandering in the desert in search of the promised land had ended, that the gris-gris was kicking in, and that the magic would somehow rub off on us as we struggle to rebuild our lives, our homes, and our neighborhoods.
Alas, the Saints were stopped. Lakeview residents were visibly shocked and dismayed. The blow of defeat hit them hard. They really needed a victory. One woman driving away from a party gestured to me through the driver’s side window — she swept fingers down her cheeks like tears. From the players’ post-game comments I heard, the Saints were playing for a New Orleans’ recovery victory as much as we were cheering for a Saints Super Bowl victory.
Sean Payton said he recognized those expectations — he said he recognized the team spirit attitude of Saints and New Orleanians — which made the sting of defeat for fans and players that much worse.
“The hurt we have now will go away,” coach Sean Payton said. “But there are a lot of people back home, who were a big part of this season, who experienced a greater pain that won’t go away.”
Well, let me try to take the pressure off of the Saints.
New Orleanians have suffered defeats before. Forty years supporting a losing team didn’t stop fans from keeping the faith. Saints fans have always been among the most loyal and supportive of their team despite decades of losing. This year, the Saints finally proved that they can fight back from a near-death experience — maybe because they were near death. They played with the spirit of New Orleans pulsing through their veins, the funky rhythm of her culture setting the beat, and the bonds of community strengthening their play. The teams that could have done this throughout history are few to none. New Orleans inspires — it inspired the imaginations of the Saints to within one game of the Super Bowl. Just four teams were left standing at the end of the season — one of them was the Saints.
I salute the Saints for playing an extraordinarily successful season, for committing themselves to New Orleans, for being the vehicle of our hopes and prayers, and for keeping us in the consciousness of the nation when there is so much more to do.
God knows, New Orleanians aren’t strangers to adversity. I met a couple living just a football field’s length from the new sheetpiling at the breach in the 17th Street Canal levee wall. They know that their decision to be the first ones on their block to rebuild isn’t a rational proposition, but they felt that’s what they needed to do. They’re making a stand. They are model Americans. They possess the finest of the American pioneering spirit, forging a course of action in a hostile environment — not so much the natural environment, because that can be restored and improved — but a hostile policy environment, or should a I say a hostile anti-policy environment.
One of the scenes that strikes me anytime I travel out to Lakeview are all of the American flags. Even though their houses are completely gutted and abandoned, owners still leave American flags mounted in front of their homes. Some of the flags aren’t very well maintained, which I also find interesting. I know the flags aren’t intentionally neglected, but if citizens are having a hard time getting back into their homes because the federal government has yet to adequately live up to its responsibility, then the symbols of that power will inevitably fall into disrepair. It seems such a poignant sign of our times.
Before the Saints started winning, there seemed to be an unofficial war against New Orleans, in the midst of which, quietly, volunteers from around the country came here to help their fellow Americans get back on their feet again. The Saints played for those volunteers as well. Jarvis DeBerry:
When the hurricane struck, folks stranded here begged and screamed for the government to recognize them as Americans, to respond to the emergency with the appropriate urgency. Didn’t happen. Now, word is, we’re America’s Team.
More and more, we’re fighting as a team, staging the first phase of a nationwide revolt against the status quo. It’s becoming clearer to people around the country that as New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation.
Just as Sean Payton groomed the Saints organization to eliminate prima donna players who put themselves before team, New Orleanians are organizing themselves with the support of fellow Americans around the country to eliminate prima donna partisans who put themselves and their friends ahead of citizens and country, and we’ve begun to operate as a team.
Sure, the Saints lost the NFC championship, but by playing as a team, they helped to win back New Orleans — an achievement far more worthy of our gratitude.
One of the things we saw the Saints do this year, for the first time in a long time, was to fight back in the second half, even when they were losing. It’s just half time in New Orleans. The Saints have another season to look forward to, and New Orleans still has a second half to look forward to.
More photos from my visit to Lakeview.
Posted by schroeder915 on January 22, 2007
Louisiana’s Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims are being punished because we elected a woman to the governor’s office? Having read heckuva-job Brownie’s remarks, and given the better treatment Mississippi has enjoyed from Washington, I now have to wonder how much of our problems are being caused by prejudice against Louisiana? How many Louisiana residents died because the Bush administration thought it would be cute to punish Kathleen Blanco for having the temerity to run for high office as a woman and as a Democrat?
Are women, in the attitude of the Bush administration, second-class citizens? Does that then imply that Louisianians are second-class citizens for putting a woman in the governor’s mansion? God forbid we should have elected the brown-skinned guy. I wonder: what other qualities would the Bush administration choose to define people as second-class American citizens? Speaking French or Spanish perhaps? Being a Democrat, an Independent, a Green, or a Libertarian? Being Catholic or Jewish? Maybe we should start wearing yellow stars like Jews were forced to do in Nazi Germany to designate us as undesirable Louisiana Katrina victims. Maybe we should be assigned to work in re-education gulags.
We are, all of us, Americans — at least until Louisiana secedes!
How about a class-action law suit against the federal government for discriminating against Louisiana residents?
This just adds more evidence to the record of malfeasance and incompetence which screams for a Congressional investigation into the White House response to Hurricane Katrina.
Posted by schroeder915 on January 19, 2007
If the Saints win the Superbowl it’s like Katrina never happened, said Stephen Colbert … and monkey boy gets a pass for his pathetic response over the last year and a half?
Nyaaaah. One thing’s for sure, Bush will have to mention New Orleans for the first time since … since … uh … anyone remember?
Library Chronicles’ Jeff tipped me off that Stephen Colbert’s rooting for the Saints over Chicago in the NFC championship game, and why not? The Saints are America’s team (HT: TM, for the link to vote in the poll). Who dat nation is everywhere. This is our year.
Gris-Gris is sometimes referred to as the iron fist of Voodoo due to its hammer-like quality of relentless pounding until the spell takes effect. Once a Gris-Gris spell is cast, the momentum slowly builds until it becomes an unstoppable force.
Hey, nothing will please me more than to see da Bears frozen out of the game. As a once-upon-a-time cheesehead and Packers fan, the rivalry never dies.
Er … well, maybe I can wait after all.