People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Archive for March, 2007

Home at Last!

Posted by schroeder915 on March 19, 2007

It’s the last PGR move — I promise!

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Posted in Blogger vs. WordPress | 2 Comments »

Here Comes the Sun

Posted by schroeder915 on March 16, 2007

Is there any information more vital for you to know than how safe your neighborhood is before you and your family step out of the door each day?

Citizens have a right to this fundamental information. Momentum is building to officially and publicly request that the New Orleans Police Department supply citizens with the raw 911 data each and every day so that citizens can build their own crime mapping, reporting, and alert system.

Later, the same request for raw data will be made of the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office or Criminal District Courts to get the Docketmaster records. With these two pieces of information, citizens could be alerted to emerging dangers in their neighborhoods and other places they travel throughout the city. They could also track for themselves, from the initial offense all the way to final disposition, the effectiveness of the D.A. and the courts in prosecuting offenders.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, not just for cleaning up corrupt or ineffective institutions, but for identifying problems in neighborhoods so that citizens can proactively engage the appropriate tactical resources at solving those problems.

Why should citizens build their own crime reporting system? Because the city already has a system, and it sucks! Here’s just another example of how citizens can and will take charge where government institutions have failed.

A big part of the problem isn’t just that citizens don’t have access to basic information, it’s that they don’t have access to meaningful dialog with public officials. When officials do offer opportunities for dialog, it’s behind closed doors where promises made may soon be ignored or forgotten.

Promises made by NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley to do a walkthrough with Karen Gadbois through her Northwest Carrollton neighborhood were never fulfilled. Despite frequent complaints she made about drug dealing activity out of abandoned homes, the city and NOPD didn’t respond to her complaints until someone was murdered.

Note, as well, the recent announcement by Riley that the NOPD would now focus on violent offenders instead of harrassing “good-quality citizens” in traffic stops:

“We are going to give them warnings and move on,” Riley said. “We are not going to tie our officers up with good-quality citizens who have no arrest records … We have to get our officers back on the streets and focus on hardcore criminals.”

I thought the original intent of the traffic stops was to focus on violent criminals, but that quickly proved not to be the case. I saw for myself a completely illegible traffic ticket issued to an acquaintence. The officer who wrote the ticket didn’t say what the citation was, and didn’t print clearly enough for the carbon transfer to occur. I’ve heard many other cases of poorly-written tickets being issued, or unnecessary citations issued. I’m a supporter of traffic stops. I know this to be an effective tool for catching violent offenders as they move through the city. Unfortunately, the intent of the order to conduct more traffic stops was lost in its execution. While the NOPD absolutely should be issuing citations for drivers who endanger public safety, right now, wasting time writing citations for broken tail lights or expired brake tags might not be the best use of the time of an already depleted and overextended police force. This was a questionable policy which further eroded public confidence in the NOPD. Had Chief Riley actually sat down with citizens, now over two months ago, to listen to their perspectives about an appropriate crime-fighting strategy, he might have arrived at a better policy sooner.

In their announcement of a plan for greater cooperation, published in The Times-Picayune today, Dumb Ass D.A. Eddie Jordan will be more closely cooperating with the NOPD to prosecute offenders. While it’s good to know that the “ice is slowly melting,” I should think citizens deserve more of an opportunity to demand direct accountability to citizens themselves. Instead, conveniently, Riley and Jordan have insulated themselves from the public by calling for the Police and Justice Foundation to monitor the reforms. With only two cases accepted out of 47 arrests on 162 murders for 2006, and with just one prosecution, are we going to have to wait another year to find out Eddie’s prosecution score? Shouldn’t we be entitled to more open information at any time about what’s going on in the D.A.’s office and the court system?

Citizens should have been given an opportunity to make that claim for greater transparency and more direct accountability. Citizens have little reason to trust that the NOPD and D.A.’s office are finally burying the hatchet, and they should be given a more active role in demanding reforms. In fact, it would have helped Warren Riley’s case to have citizens backing him up in the quest for greater accountability out of Eddie Jordan’s office. But no. Once again, the “community policing” strategy is little more than an empty rhetorical flourish.

Today is Freedom of Information Day, the last day of Sunshine Week. This might be an appropriate occasion to think about what information citizens have a right to so that we can accurately monitor how well our public institutions are serving us. The criminal justice system is arguably the most important of our public institutions. Both Warren Riley and Eddie Jordan need to be more forthcoming with the information we need to evaluate both the safety of our neighborhoods, and the efficient functioning of the entire criminal justice system.

Posted in Crime, Eddie Jordan, New Orleans, NOPD, Warren Riley, Worst D.A. Ever | Comments Off on Here Comes the Sun

A change is gonna come

Posted by schroeder915 on March 11, 2007

Not that I mind people seeing ol’ boneless chicken when they visit, but I truly am falling behind. The Times-Picayune’s Mark Schleifstein, Bob Marshall, and Dan Swenson get enormous accolades for adding kindling to the fire by underscoring how important it is that Louisiana reverse the destruction of coastal wetlands in the next ten years! I may have more to say about that at another time, because I also have some great NASA imagery and reports on global warming and sea level rises that I’ve been holding on to.

Yep, after months of plotting, tweaking, evaluating, and screwing around, PGR is about to make the last move to a new host. Get ready to update those links, because a change is gonna come! This week! Bear with me, and then I’ll put all those juicy sidebar links back that used to be in the Blogger PGR.

I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. For now, I’ll just say I’ve been busy aiding other projects vital for the recovery of New Orleans. I ask everyone to join in these efforts to make a difference for a city we love, and which deserves our love in return.

Posted in Category 5 Storm Protection, Coastal Restoration, Crime Mapping, Hurricane Protection, Louisiana, Media Democracy, New Orleans, Wetlands Restoration | 6 Comments »

Still a boneless chickenhawk

Posted by schroeder915 on March 2, 2007

kfcbucket_bush_300px.jpg

AND WORST! PRESIDENT! EVER!

What an absolutely pathetic boneless bucket of sh*t for a president.

How could any human being visit New Orleans and not recognize that, notwithstanding the challenges, the city is one of the most unique in the world. How could anyone come to our city and not commit to restoring the coastal wetlands destroyed by dredged oil company shipping lanes and by the Mississippi River channeled to accomodate shipping. These factors are largely responsible for the subsidence of the coast and saltwater intrusion which made New Orleans vulnerable to Hurricane Katrina. A Hurricane Katrina sized storm 50 years ago wouldn’t have caused as much destruction as we saw in 2005 because the coastal wetlands have been shredded.

How could any human being witness the misery caused by the failure of the shoddily-constructed federal levee system, and not commit to raising them to a sturdy Category 5 level.

All we heard from our pathetic president was some off-the-cuff trite remark about how, like The Saints, New Orleans residents are fighters. Hey asshole — some of us are losing the fight! Some of us have seen our insurance rates triple or quadruple by gouging private insurers who shouldn’t be allowed to sell policies in any state if they don’t fairly treat policyholders in Louisiana. Hey asshole, some of us, a year and a half later, still don’t have enough money to rebuild our homes! You quip that $110 billion ought to be enough. Well, hey asshole — it ain’t enough! After your Shaw Group, Halliburton, Bechtel, Parsons Brinkerhoff buddies ran their little plantation scheme to siphon billions in taxpayer dollars for themselves while paying immigrants to do all the work for pennies on the dollar, there wasn’t much left for rebuilding.

The Times-Picayune:

The $110 billion in federal assistance for the Gulf Coast is widely misinterpreted. First, the money was divided among the five Gulf Coast states and covers damage from Katrina, Rita and Wilma, which hit south Florida. The LRA figures that Louisiana’s share of that was about $59 billion, but even that is misleading.

About $18 billion came in the form of disaster relief, which includes the kind of post-crisis assistance — health care, evacuee assistance, business loans — the federal government routinely extends in a major crisis. An additional $14.7 billion was in payouts from the National Flood Insurance Program, for which Louisiana policyholders had paid premiums.

By the LRA’s calculations, the state has received $26.4 billion in genuine federal help, including money to rebuild levees, homes, schools and community infrastructure.

“A lot has been said about the $110 billion,” said Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge. “We just haven’t seen it.”

That leaves $26 billion remaining for Louisiana for all of its financial needs, which include far more than the $7 billion allocated for housing rebuilding grants, far more than the tens of billions to rebuild the levees to Category 5 strength, far more than the $14 billion needed to start a vigorous coastal restoration plan, and far, far more to rebuild the shattered sewerage and water system which pumps twice water as goes to the tap thanks to subsidence breaks throughout the city.

There are so many needs unmet by your pathetic leadership, Mr. President, that the imagination staggers to comprehend how you couldn’t see them, or how you could ignore them. Of course, it would help if you actually left the Isle of Denial and visited the remaining 80 percent of the city devastated by flooding to see what the hell is going on there. Maybe you ought to stand with a megaphone on top of the breach in the 17th Street Canal (which still doesn’t have a working pumping facility at the canal gates), as you did in that photo op on the rubble of the World Trade Center towers, and announce that you will do whatever it takes to rebuild this city. Your message would echo across vacant neighborhoods — bouncing back-and-forth against a bleak landscape of still-shattered homes.

It’s no use for you to declare — as you should — that you will work to “break through” the bureaucratic “logjams” to get the money flowing. Thank you, but we’ve heard those platitudes before, as when you stood in Jackson Square and announced you would do whatever it takes for New Orleans to rise again. That was a year and a half ago. Tell us HOW. Tell us what your PLAN is to break through the bureaucratic logjams. Tell us you will waive the 10 percent local share for federal recovery grants as has been done for every other federal disaster in the last quarter century. Give us the details of a specific plan to address our needs.

Since you didn’t have anything new to offer, it was probably a relief for you to be able to mention the proposed $450 million in federal money to help the devastated schools of New Orleans, but … er … that’s a proposal being offered by the Democratic Congress. Oops!

Mr. Bush, don’t you dare return ever again to New Orleans until you have an adequate response to ALL of our needs.

Posted in Category 5 Storm Protection, Coastal Restoration, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina Dissidents, Louisiana, New Orleans, Wetlands Restoration, Worst President Ever | 8 Comments »

President Bush: Commit to Cat 5 storm protection and coastal restoration!

Posted by schroeder915 on March 1, 2007

President Bush,

On your visit to New Orleans today, note that a full year and a half has passed since the federal levee system failed, and you still haven’t committed to preventing such a disaster from occurring again. If you aren’t already aware that it was the levees, not the hurricane, that destroyed New Orleans, go visit Leake Avenue where people with flood-damaged homes have lined up outside the Corps of Engineers’ building to file their Form 95 claims against the Corps.

You, Mr. President, have a responsibility to commit adequate resources to compensate victims, to rebuild this city, to repair the institutional morass that created the disaster in the first place, and to protect America’s most unique cultural city from future disasters.

Your six-month hiatus from New Orleans, and your failure to mention New Orleans in your State of the Union address, are totally unacceptable. You can start to make up for those failures by committing today to a plan, to funding, and to targeted completion dates, for true Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration.

So little has happened in the last year and a half, that I don’t even have to restate the arguments for Cat 5 storm protection and coastal restoration. I’ll just refer you to the post I wrote six months ago, and these letters which reflect the sentiment of all New Orleanians …

T-P letters:

President Bush has proposed allocating another $1 billion to “create jobs and help reconstruction in neighborhoods. . . . to help rebuild from the bottom up, from schools to local government to political interest groups.”

The president was speaking, of course, not about New Orleans, but about Iraq.

As I witness the destruction of my city on a daily basis and hear the continued pain of its citizens, it is surreal that my tax dollars continue to flow to the rebuilding of Iraq.

Kathy Meunier
New Orleans

 

The solution to our crime problem was just answered by President Bush in his address to the country the other day.

From now on, murderers, thugs, drug dealers, etc. will be called insurgents by the New Orleans media and all government officials.

Once we have established to the rest of the country that New Orleans is under attack by these insurgents, President Bush will go to Congress to plead for billions of dollars in aid and to send additional troops to the epicenter of insurgency in the United States: New Orleans.

Lee Scherman
New Orleans

Out of Iraq into New Orleans!

Posted in Category 5 Storm Protection, Coastal Restoration, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Protection, Katrina Dissidents, Louisiana, New Orleans, Rebuild New Orleans, Wetlands Restoration, Worst President Ever | 6 Comments »