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Archive for the ‘Hurricane Katrina’ Category

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 »

What would the world be like without New Orleans?

Posted by schroeder915 on February 23, 2007

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What would America the world be like without New Orleans?

There will be another opportunity to find out when WYES channel 12 re-broadcasts “New Orleans” on The American Experience, Saturday, at 10:30 p.m.

The program Web site features this interesting map of the city which traces the development of New Orleans neighborhoods along with improved drainage made possible by the Wood screw pump:

amexperience_neworleans_map.jpg

Related: New Orleans topography and flooding.

On an unrelated topic — I called the Secretary of State’s office in Baton Rouge to find out what New Orleans would be like without District Attorney Eddie Jordan. We’ll have an opportunity to find out in 2008 when we get to vote him out of office (if we don’t recall the SOB first). The D.A. serves a six-year term. Jordan was elected in 2002, and assumed office in 2003. The primary election is October 4th, 2008.

Posted in 2008 Elections, Eddie Jordan, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Worst D.A. Ever | 1 Comment »

Let’s keep the keys to the city

Posted by schroeder915 on February 20, 2007

When Nagin gave away the keys of the city to the king of Rex, relinquishing leadership he doesn’t exercise, he made uncomfortable jokes about not having to do his job anymore.

Let’s keep the keys, and give no-C Ray the boot!

(I couldn’t find video of the handing away of the keys on any of the local TV newscast archives or NOLA.com, though I did see it on the 10:00 news last night).

Related:

Carnival, in order to be enjoyed, requires that rules and rituals be parodied, and that these rules and rituals already be recognized and respected. One must know to what degree certain behaviors are forbidden, and must feel the majesty of the forbidding norm, to appreciate their transgression. Without a valid law to break, carnival is impossible. During the Middle Ages, counterrituals such as the Mass of the Ass or the coronation of the Fool were enjoyable just because, during the rest of the year, the Holy Mass and the true King’s coronation were sacred and respectable activities. The Coena Cypriani quoted by Bachtin, a burlesque representation based upon the subversion of topical situations of the Scriptures, was enjoyed as a comic transgression only by people who took the same Scriptures seriously during the rest of the year. To a modern reader, the Coena Cypriani is only a boring series of meaningless situations, and even though the parody is recognized, it is not felt as a provocative one. Thus the prerequisites of a ‘good’ carnival are: (i) the law must be so pervasively and profoundly introjected as to be overwhelmingly present at the moment of its violation (and this explains why ‘barbaric’ comedy is hardly understandable); (ii) the moment of carnivalization must be very short, and allowed only once a year (semel in anno licet insanire); an everlasting carnival does not work: an entire year of ritual observance is needed in order to make the transgression enjoyable.

Carnival can exist only as an authorized transgression (which in fact represents a blatant case of contradicto in adjecto or of happy double binding — capable of curing instead of producing neurosis). If the ancient, religious carnival was limited in time, the modern mass-carnival is limited in space: it is reserved for certain places, certain streets, or framed by the television screen.

In this sense, comedy and carnival are not instances of real transgressions: on the contrary, they represent paramount examples of law reinforcement. They remind us of the existence of the rule.

Carnivalization can act as a revolution (Rabelais, or Joyce) when it appears unexpectedly, frustrating social expectations. But on the one side it produces its own mannerism (it is reabsorbed by society) and on the other side it is acceptable when performed within the limits of a laboratory situation (literature, stage, screen …). When an unexpected and nonauthorized carnivalization suddenly occurs in ‘real’ everday life, it is interpreted as revolution (campus confrontations, ghetto riots, blackouts, sometimes true ‘historical’ revolutions). But even revolutions produce a restoration of their own (revolutionary rules, another contradicto in adjecto) in order to install their new social model. Otherwise they are not effective revolutions, but only uprisings, revolts, transitory social disturbances.

In a world dominated by diabolical powers, in a world of everlasting transgression, nothing remains comic or carnivalesque, nothing can any longer become an object of parody.

Umberto Eco, “The frames of comic ‘freedom’,” _Carnivale!_, Ed. Thomas A. Sebeok. Berlin: Mouton, 1984.

Posted in Carnival, Katrina Dissidents, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Worst Mayor Ever | 3 Comments »

Empower New Orleans citizens; support open source solutions!

Posted by schroeder915 on February 19, 2007

To create a successful information-driven society, and a well-informed citizenry, public policy should promote the open source development of services, and make every effort to eliminate ownership over raw data. When data becomes an exclusive domain, citizens may not get the information they need to make critical decisions. This could be a life-and-death issue when that data could reveal to citizens critical information about the safety of their neighborhoods. For too many years, the City of New Orleans has manipulated and reported crime information as a tool to control public opinion, arguing that it has an exclusive right to the raw data. Wise citizens should be wary of private entities trying to do the same thing — limiting access to information for private benefit and, thus, stifling the data transformation solutions which might arise from open access to the raw data.

New Orleanians have always wanted easier and more timely access to information about crime, arrests, and prosecutions (or releases). Citizens have been advocating more loudly than ever before that they should have access to those records. The first hurdle — what ought to be the easiest one to clear — is asserting citizen ownership the raw 911 calls for service records. These are the records of every call placed to 911, warehoused in city data systems. The NOPD receives a daily file of those 911 records via an electronic file transfer. It would be simple to add another file recipient to the list of destination addresses.

The question, then, is who else should receive that file? One wouldn’t want to have ask the city to manage a list of recipients. It would be far better to identify a single unbiased, non-governmental entity to receive and host the data for any citizen who wishes to use it. Then, the value of the data wouldn’t be the data itself, but what citizens themselves decide to do with the data in an open society. The true value isn’t in the data itself, per se, but instead in the ways that the data can be transformed into more meaningful ways — tables, charts, maps: data transformation services.

Citizens want to know some basic facts: Where, how much, and what types of crime are occurring in their neighborhoods? Is crime rising or falling? Are there identifiable patterns of crime? Is the criminal justice system responding in an appropriate manner to emerging threats? There are a number of different ways to represent answers to those questions.

No one entity has all of the solutions, nor should one entity be trusted to publish accurate reports. This is precisely why a society which permits a free flow of raw data — allowing developers to openly access the data and to provide meaningful answers — will inevitably produce a result which far exceeds what any private entity could accomplish. Furthermore, open access to data guarantees that those information services don’t just cease when a private entity no longer sees a private benefit from using the data.

A letter to the editor today underscores a deficit of understanding in the community about how the open source principles I’ve outlined above would better serve citizens than private, exclusive principles.

Residents want to see crime statistics reported accurately and in real time, which has not been done by the police on their Web site.

A proven program called NOCrime has been endorsed by the City Council 7-0, though the council did not provide money. This program would take reporting the crimes out of the hands of police and politicians who have an interest in keeping the crime statistics low.

Such a program could help residents understand the crime in their neighborhoods, work with the police to prevent crime and ensure transparency in crime reporting.

Rusty Berridge
New Orleans

The writer is supporting an initiative being marketed around town lately to provide citizens with a crime mapping system. Unfortunately, there are, at best, exaggerated claims made about what the system was in the past, and what it will provide in the future.

The first issue citizens should consider is that the NOCrime “proven program” was a short-lived crime-mapping initiative which has now been defunct for more than ten years. Citizens really should ask what happened to the NOCrime Web site and advocacy after funding dried up? Secondly, if the NOCrime concept is so brilliant, why are there, at present, no crime mapping systems on the NOCrime Web site? There’s nothing on the NOCrime Web site now but a bunch of links to other organizations. All citizens are told by NOCrime marketers is that if their idea is supported financially, it “could” help residents.

Why not start helping us now? Indeed, the open source solutions to provide crime mapping, reporting, and alert systems already exist. What might once have required a significant investment ten years ago, when the NOCrime concept was first conceived, now only requires tapping into the freely-available mapping services in a Google maps, or Yahoo maps, mashup. All that’s lacking is the raw crime data. Indeed, there are already a number of developers who have demonstrated an interest in mapping crime, and who have resorted to very creative approaches to finding data — albeit not current data — in order to get around the lack of access to the raw 911 calls for service data.

http://noladishu.blogspot.com/2007/02/crime-mapping-update.html

http://www.geocities.com/neworleanscrimemap/

http://www.citizencrimewatch.org/

So why isn’t NOCrime supporting an open source solution, by which anyone in the community could access raw crime data to develop services for the community? Why isn’t NOCrime supporting the concept of a third party entity hosting and sharing the raw 911 calls for service data? Could it be that NOCrime has outlived its usefulness, and therefore, the only thing left to latch onto is owning the raw data for private benefit? NOCrime should be required to prove that it has the capacity to develop its own privately-owned services by sharing access to 911 calls for service data with competing citizen initiatives.

The ownership distinction is subtle — ownership of data vs. ownership of services — but it is absolutely imperative that the community not work to ingratiate one entity or another, and that it get behind an initiative to empower all citizens to develop their own robust data transformation services which outlive the interest of private entities. Moreover, in the case of reporting crime information, the best solution will be obtained when community ownership over services — not just data — is promoted as public policy. Never should rewards be derived from clutching onto data for control over information and financial resources. Neither does private development of data transformation systems serve the community effectively and in perpetuity. With open access to data, and open source development of services, the community always owns the information systems it relies upon. There is no other alternative which provides the community with absolute ownership of, and confidence in, the information they have a right to know.

The City Council is hedging on this issue, being won over by persistent NOCrime marketing tactics. Citizens need to be vocal in their support of open access/open source solutions — now — before a decision is made by the Council to support a private entity whose track record fails to demonstrate a true commitment of service to the community.

Posted in Crime, Crime Mapping, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans | 3 Comments »

Our stoned mayor

Posted by schroeder915 on February 18, 2007

If I can be audited by the government, and I can be required to submit information about where and how I earn my money, then certainly public officials responsible for guiding public policy and investment dollars in a city with 200,000 damaged homes ought to be required to do so … oh, my bad. No-C Ray Nagin isn’t guiding public policy or investment dollars, so there really isn’t any opportunity for malfeasance. Maybe the worst mayor ever should just stick to countertops.

Looking for some new marble countertops for the bathroom? The mayor just might have a deal for you.

State records list Nagin and his two sons, Jeremy and Jarin, as the investors in Stone Age Granite & Marble. An employee said Friday by phone that the store relocated several months ago to its new Earhart Boulevard address from another location.

Stone Age LLC was incorporated in January 2005, but the degree to which the mayor and his sons are involved in the enterprise is a mystery.

Asked for comment on the venture, Nagin replied by e-mail Friday that the questions were “out of bounds.”

He said he would have no comment “on my personal investments that are totally outside of any city responsibilities.”

Any attorneys or accountants want to make a request to see Nagin’s books?

Related: AFO Investments.

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, Recall Nagin, Worst Mayor Ever | 4 Comments »

“Where’s Schroeder?”

Posted by schroeder915 on February 8, 2007

So asked an anonymous commenter who only referred to himself as “Where’s Schroeder.”

Sorry folks. The anticipation is killing me too. There’s so much going on right now, but so little time. I do, in fact, have a lot to report since my absence.

I’ll start right here — I want this thing enlarged poster size to hang on my wall …

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And here …

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The first image is a drawing made by Nagendra at a Saturday meetup of neighborhood activists. The diagram represents the new linkages between neighborhoods which began to form after Hurricane Katrina. Circles represent the nodes, or cells, of neighborhoods. Lines between the nodes are the arbitrary political boundaries drawn by politicians long before Hurricane Katrina because, Nagendra said, that was the only way they said they could govern. After Hurricane Katrina, those boundaries were washed away. Now, citizens are talking to and collaborating with whomever they chose. Linkages are forming with residents who live in distant neighborhoods based upon common needs. This was best demonstrated by the 5000-strong march on City Hall against violence, in which every neighborhood was represented — every race, every class, every age.

The second image is a prototype online crime mapping, reporting, alert, and analysis system. The public needs to start making noise for the raw 911 calls for service data to be made available to citizens at the same time the NOPD gets the data, in order to further develop this resource as a timely service for the community. Later, the demand for other criminal justice records can be made to complete an understanding about what’s happening in the criminal justice system, and to give citizens more powerful tools to demand greater accountability. There will be a brainstorming meeting to determine where to take this initiative in the future, Mon. 2/12, 7 p.m., Sound Cafe, 2700 Chartes St. (RSVP briandenzer@yahoo.com in case the venue changes).

I’m still debugging my effort to move PGR to a final home on my own Web host. This will be coming soon, and then I’ll finally put back all the sidebar links which used to be on the old Blogger PGR.

Posted in Crime, Crime Mapping, GIS, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans | 6 Comments »

Krewe du Vieux 2007

Posted by schroeder915 on February 4, 2007

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It’s the first parade of the Carnival season, as well as the most profane, roasting any public official reviled by New Orleans residents. More photos.

The parade was moving way too fast to get clear photos, or to even read some of the political roasts on floats and costumes. Last year’s parade was possibly the best Krewe du Vieux ever. I hollered at Ashley, but he was moving too fast as well. I didn’t get a glimpse of any other nefarious characters.

I apologize for falling behind on posts. There’s just a lot going on lately, including a project to completely migrate PGR off of WordPress.com to my own host.

My hope today: that Payton Manning and the Colts do to Chicago fans what Chicago fans did to New Orleans fans — finish what the Great Chicago Fire started (compare how New Orleanians treat visiting fans here).

Related: Community Gumbo podcast — Saints pride displayed in Lakeview.

Posted in Carnival, Dollar Bill, Kathleen Blanco, Katrina Dissidents, Krewe du Vieux, New Orleans, Political Corruption, Recall Nagin, The Saints, Worst Mayor Ever, Worst President Ever | 19 Comments »

Quiett declined to comment

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.

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Don’t all scream at the same time! Quiett down!

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Recall Nagin, Worst Mayor Ever | 10 Comments »

Public housing attorney threatened

Posted by schroeder915 on January 29, 2007

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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 in Affordable Housing, Government Corruption, Katrina Dissidents, Media, New Orleans, Recall Nagin, Worst Mayor Ever, Worst President Ever | 6 Comments »