Category Archives: Recovery

PLANNING DEJA VU

PLANNING DEJA VU Fri, 26 Sep 2008 15:50:07

Hippies were big on deja vu the trippy notion that stuff repeats man. The powers that be in Debrisville are also big on deja vu man. There are more fracking planning meetings. In this instance they’re for a master plan as opposed to a recovery plan BUT the recovery planning meetings often covered ideas to be used in a master plan. Additionally there was a  completed but never voted upon master plan pre-K. Do we really need to go back to the drawing board and shell out more consultant fees?

Whassup with this? I realize that some people *love* meetings but the latest planning frenzy seems a bit fishy to me. The pre-K master plan leaned in the preservationist direction which probably made it insufficiently pro-demolition to suit C Ray Kaiser Ed and developers. I gave up in disgust on the planning process after only attending 444 meetings but many of my readers perservered out of either dedication or… uh…perversity. Any of you lot have any thoughts on the latest round? I could be wrong BUT my experience with the planocrats has made me suspicious. 

Speaking of hippies and deja vu here’s CSNY:

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THE NEO-YIPPIES

Sat, 22 Dec 2007 06:00:10

It was a nasty Friday in New Orleans: gray damp and foggy which was fitting weather for the day after the debacle at City Hall. The weather also matched my mood but I did have a brief moment of clarity (sunshine?) when I realized who the loony left activists who have hijacked the public housing debate remind me of: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who dubbed themselves Yippies. In reality they were the Abbott and Costello of the Sixties New Left: they were in it for the theatre and nothing else.

Abbie HoffmanRubin-Pig

L: ABBIE HOFFMAN DEEP THINKER. R: JERRY RUBIN & A PIG.

I’ve heard from several people who were in the Council chamber at the beginning of the day that the whole punch-up looked staged to provoke an overreaction from the Council and cops. If that’s so it worked as did the gate rattling by the neo-Yippies outside. While it may have been great drama it was a disgrace: both the police and demonstrators acted badly. I intensely dislike the use of tasers; if applied to a person with heart problems they can be fatal. Mercifully that didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

I think that the neo-Yippies will only be in town for as long as they can have their antics splashed on teevee and all over the internet. What’s more worrisome is the way that more sincerely motivated local activists have allowed these clowns to hijack their cause. The neo-Yippies are in it for the theatre: they don’t care about poor people in New Orleans. They’re into bringing bullhorns into public meetings and live to brag about lying down in front of bulldozers. Drama for drama’s sake is what the Jay Arenas of the world crave. 

Back to the original Yippies: Hoffman and Rubin. They were experts at hijacking worthy causes and turning them into violent farces by provoking the police to use the weapons of the day: nightsticks and tear gas. On black Thursday we saw tasers and pepper spray used at our very own mini-riot. Here’s hoping that it’s not just a warm-up for a bigger conflagration.

Finally,  my favorite Abbie Hoffman story. At Woodstock Hoffman briefly commandeered a microphone during the Who’s set. The Who were neither Yippies nor Hippies so when Pete Townshend realized they were being upstaged by Hoffman he did the only sensible thing possible: he kicked the Yippie foole in the ass and off the stage. Talk about direct action…

 

THE MELEE AT CITY HALL

Fri, 21 Dec 2007 15:55:34

The best thing that can be said about the public housing debate/debacle is that it’s over. And it’s over not in the sense of the original Roy Orbison version but in the way that Michael Caine croaked the song at the end of Little Voice. The end came as a death rattle which led several of the national newscasts last evening. Another proud moment for us. Hey the punch-up might make Oddball on Countdown: Keith is quite fond of fights in legislative chambers after all. We begin in New Orleans…

In spite of all the lofty and moralistic rhetoric this episode brought out the worst in everyone. Of course cant and posturing always seems to do that. I’m inclined to think (wishfully?) that the most violent moments were initiated by non-locals. Why? New Orleans is a violent place but like good Mediterraneans NOLA violence is usually *personal* and not political. And thank God or whatever for that. Council meetings here feature a lot of screaming and posturing but not much punching until today that is.

I’m feeling somewhat Shakespearean tonight so all I can say is a pox on both your houses. I’ve also got the flu which makes me feel poxy or something like that and I’d love to use epoxy to seal certain mouths shut. The extremists on both sides made a rational debate on this complicated issue impossible so emotion and humbuggery were the order of the day. Pro-demolition forces-including the local rag-engaged in suspect and ofttimes slimy tactics and the pro-projects status quo demonstrators played right into their hands. The punch-up in the Council chambers provided cover for Carter and the Cynthias to vote yea. Are you happy Jay Arena? 

I’m too ill and disgusted to say more this evening and I’m not sure that I plan to revisit the subject in any event. Since I made a Roy Orbison reference at the beginning of the post I’ll end with some beauty amidst the ugliness now that it’s all over but the shouting:

DOLLAR BILL’S HOUSE OF CARDS…

Wed, 20 Jun 2007 16:58:38

…appears ready to fall down and go boom-boom after the latest shoe dropped. Jeez talk about tortured as well as mixed metaphors. Former NOLA School Board President and Jefferson ally Ellenese Brooks-Simms had pled guilty to taking a bribe from <drum doll> Dollar Bill’s big brother Mose. Mose Jeff was paid $500K as a “consultant” by a software company and he in turn slipped $100K to Ms. Brooks-Simms.

Brooks-Simms was <you guessed it> first elected to the School Board as a “reformer” and “fiscal watchdog.” So her plea washes away the alloy of hypocrisy that clung to her during her tenure on the board. There’s nothing worse than people who steal from school children and I’m glad to see her hoist on her own petard. But at least she’s not a cheap crook: $100K is a nice piece of change.

This story is reminder of why we have the cumbersome bifurcated post-K public school system. The NOPSB cannot be trusted. Like Ms. Brooks-Simms they all claim to be “reformers” when they run for office but the reformist urge seems to pass upon victory.

It will be very interesting indeed to see who in Dollar Bill’s extended family will follow him and Mose Jeff into the dock. Dollar Bill’s allies (and enemies too) have treated the Orleans Parish school system like their own private piggy bank for years. I think those who steal from children should be placed in the stocks at various locales throughout town to be pelted with rotten fruit and veggies.

Oyster has more on this delightful delicious and de-lovely development. LINK.

LETTEN NAGIN OFF EASY?

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 16:33:18

The NOLA blogosphere’s lone investigative Zombie Ashe Dambala has yet another interesting post. It’s based on the comments of an anonymous reader about *why* the otherwise hyperactive US Attorney Jim Letten has left C Ray and his cronies alone. The information is unverified but it makes a world of sense. What follows is informed (I hope) speculation.

Here’s the gist of the post and my extrapolations therefrom: C Ray was a Republican until running for Mayor. His former aide and ex-Repub State Legislator Garey Forster (who also brokered the Couhig endorsement) spoke to Karl Rove about NOLA politics and told him that C Ray was the best Mayor they were going to get in NOLA. The upshot of this conversation was that C Ray has been left alone whilst they’ve investigated the hell out of the Morial administration which has the added benefit of bugging Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu as you may recall was elected by a whisker to her first term in 1996 and went through a Senate investigation as to whether her victory was due to Morial based voter fraud. A Senate committee chaired by John Warner (R-Va.) didn’t find any voter fraud and Mary was seated.
Back to Jim Letten. In the last few months we’ve learned a lot about how the Bush Justice Department is run. The US Attorneys who did NOT play ball politically were fired by Gonzo and his henchmen at the behest of the White House. Jim Letten who is a career prosecutor survived the Gonzo gate purge. He must have been playing ball on the focus on Morial scheme which also made sense from a prosecutorial sense: the Morial administration was rife with patronage and corruption. In short Letten could have his political cake and eat it too without becoming a complete Bush sycophant and whore. He appears to be a very gifted bureaucratic infighter as well as a talented courtier.
The recent raid on the LIFT production company offices indicates that any forebearance that Letten had for Nagin and his cronies may have ended. The Nagin regime was actively involved in the Treme film studio scheme that may be part of the Federal investigation into LIFT.
As I said at the beginning of the post I’m drawing inferences and trying to connect the dots on this thing. Dambala’s information comes from an anonymous source but it makes sense. I also don’t mean to cast any aspersions on Jim Letten: on balance he’s been a very good US Attorney. BUT career prosecutors are rarely appointed US Attorneys; especially not in the Bush-Ashcroft-Gonzalez years. Letten was in fact acting US Attorney for years after then Governor Foster’s choice Fred Heebe withdrew after giving everyone the heebie jeebies over allegations that he abused his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend.
Anyway it’s going to be very interesting to see how the LIFT story unfolds and how Letten’s office handles cases involving C Ray’s cronies in the future. Jim may no longer be Letten Nagin off easy.
Jeffrey and David have more on this story.

NO, NO JOHN BREAUX

Wed, 23 May 2007 18:42:06

I wanted John Breaux to run for Governor and was disappointed when he did not. That is until I read a letter to the editor from the former Senator in Tuesday’s Picayune. What bugged me about  Breaux’s letter? Breaux came out against the Charity Hospital System and by implication the plans to build a large teaching hospital in downtown New Orleans.  This is the passage that bothered me the most:

“And we should applaud all of the private and non-profit hospitals and community physicians that have stepped up to serve all patients including the uninsured often without compensation. These providers have brought high-quality convenient care to uninsured and underinsured patients since Hurricane Katrina and want to continue to do so. I am proud to be working with the Coalition of Leaders for Louisiana Healthcare a group of health care and business leaders who have made it their priority to continue the work of the Louisiana Health Care Redesign Collaborative. “

It all sounds very lofty doesn’t it? Sneaky is the right word: Breaux fails to mention that the law/lobbying firm he works for Patton Boggs represents the Wal-Mart wannabe of local medicine: Ochsner Clinic. So John Breaux is out to help Ochsner and the insurance companies line their pockets in the name of  “patient choice.”  I put quotes around the last phrase because it’s a fictional conceit; especially in physician-lite post-K Debrisville. In the past I avoided going to Ochsner docs because of the clinic’s convoluted and inept billing system. But Ochsner has swallowed the competition in its quest to become the Wal-Mart of New Orleans metro area medicine. Some choice.

The Charity Hospital system ain’t perfect but it’s necessary. Doctors around the world get their training in public hospitals treating poor people.  Louisiana is NOT the only state that has public hospitals but that’s what anti-Charity interests want people to believe. The proposed downtown teaching hospital is important for the future of our state and city. If Ochsner gets away with its attempt to monopolize health care in our area we are screwed.

Back to John Breaux. He has the right to sell out to the highest bidder but he shouldn’t cloak the interests of his lobbying firm beneath highfalutin words and noble sentiments. I’m glad that he’s not running for Governor.  He might have been the temporary savior of the Louisiana Democratic party but he would have destroyed the Charity Hospital system in the name of reform. I’m not sure what Bobby Jindal’s position is on the downtown teaching hospital BUT it couldn’t be worse than John Breaux’s.

Finally Oyster has an excellent post about Breaux’s Gubernatorial campaign tease. LINK.

WALKING THE PRESERVATION BEAT

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 04:59:59

In Wednesday’s Picayune there was a rosy report about changes at NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) and how it’s going to save the city by dealing with blighted properties. Picayune man Frank Donze swallowed whole the assertions made by the Nagin Administration that NORA’s authority has been dramatically expanded, which is, to say the least, an exaggeration. NORA has long had the authority to deal more aggressively with blight but it has been an underused, underfunded and ignored agency. The presence of authority in its name is the oxymoron’s oxymoron. Btw, C Ray entered office pledging to fully fund NORA; yet another unkept promise. I hope he means it this time around.

I did get a kick out of Donze’s thrill over the new show horse NORA board appointed by Nagin. Sarcasm alert: Scott Cowen will obviously be deeply involved in NORA’s activities. I’m sure that Jim Singleton will do an excellent job representing political hacks and his protege, Oliver the Actor. Rob Couhig was probably appointed to keep his developer pals in the loop so they can swoop down and claim seized property and add to the city’s supply of luxury condos. Btw, who the hell is going to live in a luxury condo at the site of the soon to be demolished Winn-Dixie across from St. Louis Number One and the Iberville Housing Project? That’s just what the Quarter and Treme need: pricey condos instead of a grocery store. I expect that the project won’t be long for this world either in spite of all the money the feds have spent on it. Wasting money is what the federal govmint does best, after all.

Back to NORA, let’s hope that the new-n-improved NORA won’t allow the sort of demolition by neglect that occurred at 1139 St. Philip Street in Treme. This classic demo-by-neg culminated in a fire that dealt the coup de grace to this historic building last Saturday. The tragedy of this episode is that all sorts of people wanted to renovate and thereby save the building. But legal maneuvering, politics and NORA’s ineptitude aided and abetted the demo-by-neg. Morial/Nagin crony (yes, chirren, Satan and “Mr. Clean” have many mutual cronies) Roy Rodney helped put the kibosh on one particularly promising potential purchase. (I love the smell of alliteration in the morning, y’all.) I’ll let NOLA preservation diva Meg Lousteau have the last word on this sorry affair:

“So this extraordinary building, which could have been sold and renovated many times over given the immense buyer interest, will be reduced to a pile of rubble,” Lousteau said. “NORA is directly responsible for this shameful outcome. They have had the power for years to put it back into commerce, but instead perpetuated its blight until this sad event. I don’t think there’s any better illustration of the utter failure of NORA to carry out its mission of removing blight.”

Now let’s talk about demolition by boom boom. (Yes, I know most small scale demos aren’t done by explosives but demolition by boom boom has flair or is that flare?) There have been reports of unauthorized demolitions throughout Debrisville post-K.  It’s even happening in neighborhoods designated as historic districts as reported recently by the intrepid  Editor B. The City commission charged with reviewing demolitions should change its name from HCDRC to the Blow Stuff Up Commission or BSUC. Post-K the HCDRC hasn’t met a demolition it doesn’t love. Wearing my neighborhood leader hat, I’ve opposed a series of demolitions and they’ve all been approved. KAPOW. KABLOOEY. BOOM.

Finally, for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the wanton post-K destruction of our architectural heritage, check out Karen Gadbois’ swell web site, Squandered Heritage.

UPDATE:  I neglected yesterday to link to an excellent piece from the Third Battle Of New Orleans. Also, Bayou St. John David has added his distinctive voice to the chorus, such as it is.

SPIN CITY VERSION 2.1

Thu, 14 Sep 2006 04:59:59

I have a rather vile cold today so I’m going to skim the surface of C Ray’s 103 Day “plan” press opportunity. Skimming the surface is what the buffed-n-bald one does after all. One thing C Ray is good at is hijacking other people’s work and taking credit for it: he must have learned that in the corporate world. Yesterday he claimed that C Ray’s Wrecking Service was responsible for towing away abandoned and/or flooded cars. The state however took the lead on that front after the Naginites repeatedly dropped the ball and/or shot themselves in the foot. You pick the image: they do a lot of both.

I was also amused by the notion that the planning process has been a continuum rather than a messy series of false starts backtracking and backsliding. The Mayor’s chart makes it look as if the BNOB was never intended to formulate a plan and was merely a prelude to the Binglerized (my new favorite word) so-called Unified New Orleans Planning process. As my main man Bayou St. John David said earlier that’s bullshit. But the entire Nagin enterprise is built on BS and wishful thinking. I guess that’s the why the streets smell so funky and I do NOT mean that in the Art Neville or James Brown sense of the word funk…

Speaking of stinky streets and trash, born again Naginite Rob Couhig claims that trash collection has “returned to something like normal.” Oh yeah? Maybe on Planet Nagin but those of us who live on Planet Debrisville have gone from twice weekly trash pickup and weekly recycling collection to one weekly garbage pickup and NO recycling. And we’re still paying for the pre-K level of service.

I’m also struck by how thin the Naginite bench is: he has 3 count ’em 3 former opponents advising him and Virginia (Big Box) Boulet and Rev. Tom the Rebuker are as hapless as Couhig. Every time Virginia Boulet talks about bringing big box stores to Debrisville a voice in my head asks: Where? Big Box Boulet keeps her own counsel which means that such businesses will never come to Orleans Parish or more likely they’ll try and stick them in historic and unflooded neighborhoods Uptown or in the Marigny.

 Also C Ray is finally considering appointing a recovery co-ordinator which is something that should have been done last winter. Being a Republican at heart C Ray plans to hire consultants to run a search process which will delay things further. It fits his philosophy which is to kick the can down the road and hope that the FEMA fairy sprinkles money dust on Debrisville.

Here’s C Ray’s message in a nutshell: I’m responsible for all the good stuff and someone else is to blame for the bad stuff.

For other views on C Ray’s recent activities check out David at Moldy City; G Bitch and a surprisingly negative editorial in the Picayune. I guess publisher Ashton Phelps has been hobnobbing with non-NOLA nobs lately or somthing…

UPDATE: Maitri had an encounter with the Bald One at One Shell Square.

UPDATE TOO: That sly dog Markus is channeling Shakepeare’s Henry V in explaining how and why Nagin fails to inspire us. And Schroeder batters deep fries and serves up C Ray on a platter.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Tue, 12 Sep 2006 16:11:20

I’ve decided to take a break from my new career as a tabloid blogger and take a brief look at some recent reforms made to the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender Program (IDP.) There was an article in today’s Picayune about the culture clash between new IDP honcho Steve Singer and Judge Terry Alarcon. Singer is an academic (Loyola Law) who is attempting to implement his ideas in the rough and tumble of the real world. The Judges aren’t very happy thus far and with good reason: the reforms have had unintended consequences  6 of the most experienced defenders have quit. Why? The IDP is no longer allowing defenders to work part-time. In the abstract this sounds like a good thing but in the real world it has led to the resignation of 2 experienced lawyers who handle capital cases. It would have been wiser to phase in the reforms and to grandfather in people like Robert Jenkins who is one of the ablest criminal law practicioners in the South.

I must confess that turning over the IDP to academics gives me pause. Singer does have some real world trial experience but he’s mostly motivated by a crusading spirit. Let’s hope he doesn’t get worn down by the day to day grind of dealing with incompetent ADAs cranky judges and lying clients. The system clearly needed reforming pre-K I only hope the new IDP board and their lawyers have staying power. The criminal justice system has a way of  turning idealists into cynics. It will be interesting to watch.

PART OF THE MACHINE: BAH, HOMBURG ON NIGHTLINE

Wed, 30 Aug 2006 19:23:43

The once mighty Jefferson machine continues to unravel. Dollar Bill faces a tough re-election fight and probable indictment on corruption charges. His lackey on the City Council Renee Gill-Pratfall was handed her head by Stacy Head. And Dollar Bill’s former law partner and handpicked DA Eddie Jordan seems to be melting down. I’ll get to Jordan in a minute but this post requires a set up. Here it is:

There was a piece on ABC’s Nightline last night about crime in Debrisville. It was called (what else?) Big Easy Crime Wave. I lost interest in Nightline when Ted Koppell was replaced by 3 headshots so I watched the video online after reading about it in the Picayune.

The piece was reported by veteran hardass/hard news reporter Brian Ross. It starts off with some clips of media savvy Deputy NOPD Chief Tony Cannatella. Reporters love Cannatella’s bluntness and brashness: he’s an old school cop with information age skills. Tony gives good sound bite y’all.

Ross moved on to a formal interview with hapless DA and Dollar Bill stooge Eddie Jordan. Jordan was immediately on the defensive: he obviously has never seen Brian Ross’s stuff and/or was poorly briefed. He made the cardinal mistake of losing his temper when on the Rossian grill. His press aide Leatrice Dupre interrupted the interview when Jordan pitched a fit and started ranting about stupid questions. Then Jordan made things even worse by stomping off like a mustachioed toddler. Rumor has it that he held his breath until he turned blue refused to eat his veggies and then stomped on his homburg.

Jordan’s infantile meltdown was entertaining television but yet another civic embarrassment for New Orleans. Hell I voted for Jordan because I *thought* he’d been a good US Attorney. I was wrong. It’s increasingly obvious that his right hand man and replacement career prosecutor Jim Letten was the reason Jordan looked good.

Even pre-K Jordan’s office was a joke. It never recovered from the way Jefferson henchchick Stephanie Butler handled the transition. Butler’s heavy handedness in firing white holdovers from the Connick regime led to the discrimination lawsuit that Jordan lost. The plaintiffs are still trying to collect from Jordan’s office. Talking about trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

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