Mardi Gras & Tourism are Economic Stimuli
In recent weeks there has been a lot of debate about Mardi Gras. Should we have it? If so, should it be a shortened version? Earlier this week, the New Orleans City officials announced that Mardi Gras will be shortened to 6 days. Krewes that run before the Thursday before Fat Tuesday will be out of luck. They say that there is not enough money in the Police Department to pay for the overtime needed.
But it seems to me that if you cut Mardi Gras short, then you deny the city millions of dollars of potential tax money. Hotels, restaurants, entertainment, shops, and bars all generate millions of tax dollars that pay for police, fire, and other city services that are needed for such large crowds. If Mardi Gras is allowed in full then the money will eventually be in the system to pay for the police. Mayor Ray Nagin is a business man, and any good business man knows that you need to spend money to make money.
However, if city officials are worried about the current budget(pre Mardi Gras) then they should develop a comprehensive plan to get the tourists back. This can easily be done through advertising in other cities. Have commercials play during nationally televised College bowl games announcing that New Orleans is "Open for Business". First, Thank Americans for their support during and after Hurricane Katrina. Then tell them that the French Quarter and Scenic Uptown are back in swing and that Mardi Gras will be in full force. Promise them a great time with the music and culture that can only be offered here. Ask them to visit our great city to see what they have helped save through their donations. Make America feel like a part of New Orleans. If this is done then tourists will come and money will again flow into the local economy.
However, there are some alternatives for police support if the budget is slim: Ask the Governor to relocate State Police as was done back in the 80s when the NOPD went on strike. Or ask police from other cities that donated their time for hurricane Katrina to come back down to New Orleans and help out. Guarantee them room and board and 1 day on and 1 day off so they can enjoy Mardi Gras first hand. What cop wouldn't take that offer?
The answers to solving the Mardi Gras dilemma are out there. They Mayor just needs get motivated and find them.