KING MIDAS IN REVERSE

Mon, 04 Sep 2006 05:35:10

“He’s King Midas with a curse.  He’s King Midas in reverse”

No this post is NOT about the classic Hollies tune from 1967. It’s also NOT about President Beavis but the title works for him too. Instead I’m talking about C Ray after the apparent failure of this part of the Exploding Pie Tour. His jive ass sales pitch seems to have fallen on deaf ears man. Bummer man. There are many reasons for this debacle: holding the spin sessions on the Labor Day weekend and the prominent presence of Al Sharpton are two that come to mind. The primary reason is C Ray himself: he is seen as the failed mayor of a failing city and worse as a clown. His swaggering self-love buffoonish demeanor verbal diarrhea and erratic policies are scaring investors off. Would you place a bet on C Ray? Investors will put money into Debrisville in spite of C Ray not because of him. I suspect that Go Zone tax credits will be the real reason some developers will ante up their money in NOLA.

The other reason I’ve come to think of C Ray as King Midas In Reverse is his history of replacing competent people with clueless C Ray clones. Like his pal President Beavis C Ray thinks that anyone or anything that is associated with his predecessor is bad. I know that it’s unfashionable to say anything good about Prince Marc BUT along with the cronies and hacks Morial made some very good appointments: Kristina Ford and Collette Crepell at the City Planning Commission and Elhrei Thibodeaux at the Historic Districts & Landmarks Commission spring to mind. Nagin flushed them all and made recently departed CTO Greg Meffert his planning Kaiser. Meffert who was both anti-historic preservation and inept was a disaster. He was responsible for neutering the CPC which is one reason that the post-K planning process has been such a mess. Instead of private consultants like Steven Bingler the CPC should have been properly funded and placed in charge of the planning process. Why? The CPC’s actions have the force of law and they are *still* involved in the so-called United Planning Process. Talk about an oxymoron: it’s not united and it’s not much of a process. It remains FUBAR. (I’ll take a whack at the planners selected by the Binglerized UNOP in a few days. ) The whole mess confirms my suspicion that C Ray does not want a plan preferring the invisible hand of the free market to rebuild the city. Adam Smith come on down. Additionally an unplanned rebuilding process would absolve C Ray of the blame for depopulating parts of the city that were largely occupied by African-Americans. He wouldn’t want to tarnish his image as a civil rights hero now would he? How could he face Al Sharpton?

Back to King Midas In Reverse Nagin’s tendency to replace competent people. C Ray has decided not to re-appoint Tulane Law Professor Tania Tetlow to the New Orleans Library Board. Tetlow was appointed by you guessed it Mayor Morial aka Satan. Her replacement is Irvin Mayfield who is a wonderful musician and all-around good egg but Professor Tetlow should have been retained because she got things done. Tetlow has so impressed her fellow board members that two of them (Bill Settoon and Marge Sherrod) have offered to step aside if C Ray re-appoints her to replace them. Here’s the money quote from Frank Donze’s article in the Picayune on Saturday: “While scores of New Orleanians have stepped up since the hurricane Settoon said Tetlow was the driving force behind a major restoration of the Alvar branch in Bywater and the Children’s Resource Center in Uptown. He also said she has forged solid relationships with the Gates Foundation the Bush-Clinton Fund and other philanthropic groups.”

C Ray’s flunkies are claiming that Tetlow is being flushed as part of an effort to “refresh” the boards that he controls.  It’s interesting logic given some of the people C Ray is leaving on other boards. Whack him again Mr. Donze:  “As for Nagin’s desire to “refresh” municipal boards there are many examples of other mayoral appointees who continue to serve even though their terms have expired.

The most notable is Sewerage & Water Board member Benjamin Edwards who was originally appointed by former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy and retained by Morial. Nagin has not reappointed Edwards but has allowed him to continue serving although his term expired in late 2003.

Federal investigators are examining the connections between Edwards and six companies that may have received S&WB contracts after Hurricane Katrina according to two grand jury subpoenas sent to the agency in June. By his own account Edwards spent more than $200 000 trying to get Nagin re-elected paying for billboards and radio ads in various evacuee hubs including Atlanta and Houston.”

But I thought C Ray was a reform Mayor who has been cleaning up the Augean stables fouled by corrupt Prince Marc? That’s been the Picayune line until recently. I’m glad to see that the Picayune’s political and City Hall beat reporters are finally doing their jobs as is Bayou St. John David. I only wish that they would have done so before we were stuck with 4 more years of King Midas In Reverse.

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