30 April 2006

New Orleans Saints Draft Day 2: Who the %&#@ Are These Guys?

Seriously. No really seriously. What the hell is going on? My comments:

All the players are projects. Even more than normal than for 2nd day picks.

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis must be the only people satisfied with the linebacking corps.

The pick I like the most was Mike Hass. But he's probably a 3rd-down possession receiver at best. It's nice to have one, because you can't depend on Stallworth on 3rd down.

Most of these guys were drafted well below where most of the "experts" had them going.

Hell, a couple of our guys were projected to be undrafted free agents according to what I read.

I'm glad Payton is trying to clean house of Haslett's scumbags, but these guys had better have the character of Eagle Scouts.

WHAT I LIKED: Reggie Bush, trading down to get two starters (Jeff Faine, Hollis Thomas).
WHAT I DISLIKED: Just about everything else
FINAL THOUGHTS: Of course, you never know. Experts are always wrong. But it sure seemed like there were much better players on the board every time we were up. We had better get more offensive tackles and linebackers in free agency. We still need them. Badly.

Here's the LINK to the Saints website. There a further link to player bios on it.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints , .

29 April 2006

New Orleans Saints: Day 1 of the 2006 NFL Draft

The first day of the NFL Draft is presumably over for the New Orleans Saints. They don't have a 3rd round draft pick, so I'll look at what the team did for the first two rounds.

ROUND 1: REGGIE BUSH, RB (USC): What can you say about the pick? It's obvious that this team needs a lot of improvements on defense and the offensive line, so Bush wasn't an urgent "need pick." But there's no way you can complain about it. This guy can score anytime, anywhere. We have NEVER, I repeat NEVER IN THE 40 YEAR HISTORY OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, had a player like him. Then there's the rest of it. He's the most marketable player in the draft. He instantly becomes the face of the franchise. People who have never cared about the team will pay attention to the Saints . Jerseys will sell out. More season tickets will be sold. It's a great day and a great pick. But don't expect any miracles. This team still has a lot of holes, and they're a ways away from being a contender. But we'll be more fun to watch at least.

ROUND 2: TRADE WITH CLEVELAND, ACQUIRE JEFF FAINE, C (BROWNS): Well, that settles one problem. We need a center. Faine's a starting NFL center. Check. I probably wouldn't expect him to be a Pro Bowler though. From what I heard, he struggled to pick up his position in his first two years. He improved last year, but they brought in (ironically) LeCharles Bentley to replace him. But we needed him, so you have to be at least mildly satisfied with the decision.

ROUND 2: (VIA TRADE WITH CLEVELAND): ROMAN HARPER, S (ALABAMA): I'm going to reserve my final comments on this one, but I have mixed feelings on this one right now. Come on--do we really need another safety? How many are we going to bring in? We've picked up 2 more (Stoutmire and Scott) in the offseason, tried to pick up one more (Keith Davis), and we still have 3 other servicable safeties (Bullocks, Smith and Bellamy) on the roster. On WWL Radio, Mike Detillier says that this means that Dwight Smith is gone. Hopefully, we'll get something decent in exchange for him. But the thing they're constantly talking about with this guy is "character." Payton said it in his press conference. The WWL announcers also pointed it out after they interviewed him too. So that's a plus. If Smith is indeed on his way out, then the pick makes more sense. But while he's still here, I just don't understand it.

The Saints currently do not have a 3rd round draft pick. So this is probably it for today. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more to say about the rest of it.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints , .

New Orleans Saints Select Reggie Bush as Second Overall Pick in the 2006 NFL Draft

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints , .

Saints Draft: Reggie Bush?

You have got to be freakin' kidding me!

Now, I'm conflicted. I don't like the guy. I hate USC. But the guy is good. He could change our team. He could make our team more marketable. Of course, we could hear all that "he'll be playing in Los Angeles in two years" talk too.

Of course, we could trade the pick too.

Ah, screw it. Just pick the guy. I can't believe I'm about to drink the Kool-Aid.

UPDATE, 10:16am: Coach Payton just told WWL's Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan that Reggie Bush "was their man."

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints , .

28 April 2006

Map du Jour: Jazzfest 2006

Two fewer stages. One less day. But that's OK. Day One of Jazzfest 2006 is now underway . . .

Check out this story in today's Times-Picayune about what transpired since August to stage the 37th year of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Listen to WWOZ's broadcast from The Fairgrounds with commentary as well as live feeds of the artists on the Congo Square Louisiana Rebirth Stage. Coolbone Brass Band is on as I write this.

Like Mardi Gras 2006, I am sure it will be emotional when I get out there within the next two hours. Back into the Fall, it didn't seem like Jazzfest was going to happen. But here it is . . . .

Bay Buchanan, You Ignorant Slut

"Expert" Bay Buchanan made the above statement yesterday on the CNN program Situation Room. Could she have made a more insensitive, cold-hearted statement? Its right up there with the Barbara Bush "they don't have it too bad" quip made in early September 2005 in reference to the New Orleans evacuees in the Astrodome in Houston. Bay says Katrina has worn out its welcome. She goes on that the American people are just so tired of hearing about it. In contrast however, nearly five years later, I guess 11 September hasn't worn out its welcome and the American people surely aren't tired of getting that drilled into their noggins every five seconds. Know why? Because 9/11 suits an ideological agenda (Katrina does not) and is the crutch that justifies anything, even things that are in direct violation of the law and the U.S. Constitution, the The Decider Administration does . . .

You know what . . . I don't need to write anymore on this because Suspect Device has nailed it . . .

Read "We've Worn Out Our Welcome." Absolutely perfect.

And I say, along with Ashley: Fine, they're bored with us, then cut them off from our resources. No interest, no shipping. No interest, no port utilization. No interest, no oil and gas.

27 April 2006

Hard at Work

I'm not in New Orleans, so I thought I'd find out what happened with "The Decider" (Seymour's words) in New Orleans. The first place I went was WWL.com. I was shocked, so I then checked elsewhere. There seems to be a consensus out there about today's events. Just look at the first three headlines I saw about W. (now I knew what I'd be getting when I went to Fox News, but that's beside the point):

WWLTV.com: President Pitches In
CNN.com: Bush pitches in with Katrina cleanup
FOXNEWS.com: Bush Lends a Hand in New Orleans

Is that all you need to do to "pitch in" or "lend a hand"? Pose for a picture? How much time do you really think he spent working on that house?

Here's a more appropriate headline for today's events:

"Nation doesn't buy latest Osama Threat designed to divert public from FEMA report and high gas prices; president forced to resort to staged photo opportunity for approval"

The Decider in New Orleans

The Decider looks over the remnants of some New Orleans citizen's life spread all over the street in a smelly, disgusting pile eight months later.
Photo source: The Associated Press. Caption source: me.

The Decider just buzzed overhead of my office building about 500 feet from the ground in a large, noisy helicopter I assume en route from MSY to the CBD . . . .

Amazingly, some people across the street were excited by this jumping up and down giving the thumbs up towards the sky in the street in front of their office building. I guess they believe The Decider is doing a heckuva job. Of course their "New Orleans" likely stops on the westside of the 17th Street Canal.

UPDATE, 5:35pm:
Photo added.

ESPN.com Calls Out the PGA (sort of) Right Before the Zurich Classic

Today I ran across this story on the ESPN.com website. Frankly I'm a little surprised. For those of you who don't check it out, here's the gist of of what is being debated:
  • Shame on the PGA Tour regulars who are skipping the event.
  • The winner should donate his winnings to the city.

The experts who were given those topics agreed with the first assertion (3 of 4). However, only 1 of 4 agreed with the second. I guess I don't have a problem with that.

The New Orleans PGA Tour stop has always had trouble bringing in good players. Most people used to argue that it was because we had a crappy slot: the week before the Masters. Because of that, most American players skipped it to get ready for next week, while a lot of Europeans showed up to get used to things. Now, we don't have the bad slot anymore, and still nobody comes. It's a shame that we still have this problem, even this year.

One of the contributors says that Tiger Woods should get a free pass on this one (presumably because of his father being sick). I say BULLSH*T on that one for two reasons: 1) He never comes. Period. And 2) He had enough time to bungee jump and race cars in New Zealand or wherever the hell he was last week.

I applaud Golfdigest.com's Brian Wacker for making this comment in the article:

If you've seen any recent photographs or images of what New Orleans and surrounding Gulf Coast communities look like, you know that things still resemble a third-world country down there. I'm not one to stand on a soap box and tell people how to spend their time or money, but teeing it up in a golf tournament eight months after the worst natural disaster this country has ever seen would not only lift spirits, but make some much-needed dollars for an area that, aside from anything else, has treated the players well through the years.

Maybe people are listening to us after all. I just hope the righteous indignation doesn't end after the tourney is over.

2006 Jazzfest Tickets: Stick It To the Man

I just returned from the New Orleans Arena box office enjoying my last time to "stick it to the man" by buying non-Ticketmaster ridiculous surcharged tickets to Jazzfest. The Arena box office price per ticket is USD 32.00 if purchasing with cash and USD 32.90 if purchasing with a credit card. You have to specify Weekend 1 or Weekend 2 which requires some degree of planning of who you want to see or not see at Jazzfest. They had three ticket windows open and I didn't have to wait in line but a steady stream of people was coming in. The price of individual tickets at the Fairgrounds on fair day are USD 40.00. That extra eight bucks will get you two and a half beers (assuming they haven't gone up in price for 2006), two extra crawfish breads, one poulet fricasse, jama-jama, and fried plantains, or one more order of Vietnamese spring rolls and pork, chicken, or shrimp vermicelli.

I parked in the street (Sugar Bowl Drive) right in front of the box office door which didn't seem to be a problem. Today is the last day to get this deal . . . I think the box office closes at 4:30pm.

By the way--is this ideal Jazzfest weather or what? There is a coolness to the air and a deep blue sky. As I sit here in my office cave, I have WWOZ on setting the mood for Weekend One. If you're in town, tune your radio to 90.7fm--or elsewhere listen online here.

26 April 2006

Some Easter Holiday Florida Observations

Miami: Condos, condos, apartments, and more condos. And they are still sprouting up like weeds. The scale of these 10+ story buildings alongside large areas of one story concrete homes is quite a contrast. This picture was taken from the 12th floor of a less than two year old condo highrise.

Miami: Wild iguanas (not pets) can be seen in some areas of Miami--including many over three feet long. Driving through this Coral Gables-area park was like being in Jurassic Park--they were practically coming up to the car.

Miami, Dadeland Station Development: This "big box" configuration has always interested me near Dadeland Mall at the southern terminus of the Metrorail. I am not for rampant "big box" development within New Orleans, however this design (using multiple story buildings and multiple story parking garages) seems as if would fit the urban fabric better then the normal suburban lot/box method (i.e. the Lowe's on Elysian Fields or the Lower Garden District Wal-Mart). I could see such a redevelopment scheme at the current Carrollton Shopping Center location, the Jefferson Davis/Earhart/I-1o industrial area, or near Causeway/Labarre/Jefferson Highway in Old Jefferson.

Old Homosassa, FL: In part of my "taking a different way home" strategy, we decided to check out the coastal community of Homosassa which could be described as a prototypical example of "Old Florida." While at a dock there I talked to an older man from New England who expressed his anger and outrage over the New Orleans situation during and post-KTMB. I expressed to him my gratitude for his caring as I explained to him that in my opinion (and many others) it seems most of the country has moved on and is indifferent to our fate and completely unaware of the importance of New Orleans to the welfare and economics of our country. After wetting a few lines with him on the dock, we got back on the road and stopped at the above fruit stand. I went round and round about buying one of those pineapple plants seen on the left side of the photo. I decided not to, only because of the moving around of stuff in the car buying one would require.

Tarpon Springs, FL: The Pinellas Trail is the conversion of an abandoned rail corridor to a recreational trail--a "rail-to-trail." The 34-mile trail, seen above in Downtown Tarpon Springs, connects the coastal towns, cities, and parks of Pinellas County along it's path. An aggressive proposal: the railroad corridor that travels through Old Metairie could be converted to such a trail that would connect the neighborhoods of Old Metairie and Lakeview to City Park. This trail would access the proposed Wisner Bike Trail along Bayou St. John. In the process, the I-10/RR crossing near the cemeteries could be reworked where the roadway is no longer an underpass prone to flooding. Also this change would be a step towards creating an internal polder-like system that could geographically-contain and limit the influence of floodwaters if New Orleans gets a repeat performance of hurricane-induced storm surge flooding. The Old Metairie railroad corridor is now a safety liability and an inconvenience, however the corridor as a recreational trail could be an incredible asset similar to the Tammany Trace on the Northshore. Some rerouting (using existing infrastructure) would have to occur for this particular concept to become a reality, but it would not be impossible. In addition to this rail to trail conversion idea, New Orleans does have the unique existence of suitable right of rights for recreational trails because of the levees that surround the perimeter and the amount of neutral grounds (medians) most of our main streets have. Additionally, if the 17th Street Canal, the Orleans Outfall Canal, and the London Avenue Canal are encased with box culverts, these linear spaces would also be ideal for this use serving as pedestrian-based spines connecting Lakeview and Gentilly to the Lakefront. Houma and Terrebonne Parish had the opportunity about ten years ago to seize an abandoned rail right of way of about 20 miles for such a trail, but the idea was squashed as officials collapsed to "concerned citizens" because of the myth that such trails lead to increases in crime to adjacent areas. Ask people up in Mandeville or Covington how many criminals they see carrying stolen televisions along the Tammany Trace. What a missed opportunity to create an amenity--and a property value asset. Pathetic.

Perry, FL: I paid USD 3.04 per gallon to fill up my car. Ouch.

Pensacola, I-10 Escambia Bay Bridge: Work progresses on the new twin bridges along the existing Hurricane Ivan-damaged bridges. The height of the roadway deck of the new bridge is to be twice that of the existing bridge. Although there is plenty of work left to do (and quite frankly it didn't appear much progress was made on the new bridges since the last time I drove by them about three months ago--but I could be incorrect in that memory), the target completion date is December 2006.

25 April 2006

Gentilly Design Charrette Final Presentation Tonight

The final presentation of the week-long The Gentilly Charrette conducted through the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association is being held tonight at 7pm at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church (2916 Paris Avenue).

Information on the charrette can be seen at the GCIA site.

Andres Duany, like the design charrettes held on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Lake Charles, Vermilion Parish, and St. Bernard Parish, is involved in this one as well but in a completely volunteer effort. Joining him are twenty other design professionals from around the country.

I am going to make every effort to attend tonight's presentation . . .

24 April 2006

What Will the New Orleans Saints Do with the #2 Pick?

Okay, I'm taking a temporary break from election frustrations and going back to sports for a day.

We're now less than a week away from the NFL Draft. The Saints pick second, and I've seemingly heard a hundred different projections related to what they will do. Since it's the topic of debate, I thought I'd break down the most-heard scenarios and rate them in terms of likelihood (as of midday Monday):

  1. The Saints swap picks with the Jets, and take D'Brickashaw Ferguson (pictured above) at 4: The Saints probably don't want to take one of the quarterbacks. The Jets do (possibly Matt Leinart). They may have to move ahead of Tennessee to get him. Ferguson fits into the Saints needs, but 2 is probably too high for him. He could probably be had at 4. The Jets also have 2 first-round picks (4 and 29) to offer the Saints if they want to move up. That could get them the player they probably want (Ferguson) as well as another player God knows they need.
  2. The Saints take D'Brickashaw Ferguson at 2: Like I said, 2 is probably too high for him. But the Jets could still get one of the top 2 quarterbacks (Leinart or Young) at 4. Maybe they won't make a trade at all.


  1. The Saints take Reggie Bush at 2: There's talk that the Texans may not take Bush at 2. There's talk that they're seriously looking at Mario Williams with the top pick. Of course, that could be a smoke screen. Or the Jets could trade with the Texans, because Mario Williams could be had at 4 too. If there is no trade, and the Texans take Williams at 1, why wouldn't they take a shot at Reggie Bush? Deuce is coming off knee surgery. I doubt, however, that Bush drops to us.
  2. The Saints take Matt Leinart or Vince Young at 2, and trade later: Suppose the deal with the Jets doesn't happen. You could probably get a lot of trade value from other teams if you create a panic. If the Saints take a QB at 2, all 3 quarterbacks could be taken in the top ten. One of the teams hoping for a QB in the middle picks (like Arizona) wouldn't get a chance. Maybe they'd make an offer that includes draft picks and players that would be interesting. Or if not, you have scenario #3.
  3. The Saints take Matt Leinart or Vince Young at 2, and keep him: The Saints have made decisions more stupid than this in the draft. Sure, he'd sit behind Drew Brees for years, but who knows if Brees' arm is completely healthy? Again, I still consider this very doubtful


  1. The Saints take Mario Williams at 2: This was the hot rumor for weeks. But there are two things making this scenario unlikely. First, the Saints have two quality defensive ends in Charles Grant and Will Smith. Why would you draft to one of your team's few strengths? Second, there's that talk I mentioned earlier about Mario Williams going first to the Texans. Again, this is probably a smoke screen, but it would make the point moot if it happens.
  2. The Saints swap picks with the 49ers, and pick A.J. Hawk or Vernon Davis at 6: The 49ers have 2 first round picks too (6 and 22). They wouldn't take a quarterback at 2, but could take Williams or Bush there. The saints could still get a need player with the 6th pick, and would get a higher first-round pick with the second than they would get with the Jets. But again, this is more likely if Bush falls to 2, which probably won't happen.

Any comments, opinions, or other predictions?

By the way, for a look at what the Saints look like now, check here and here.

Map du Jour: City of New Orleans 2006 Mayoral Primary Election Precinct Winners

City of New Orleans 2006 Mayoral Primary Election Precinct Winners
RED: Nagin GREEN: Landrieu BLUE: Forman YELLOW: Couhig

In response to Traveling Mermaid's post, I'll start with Algiers. No big surprises here. Forman got the English Turn, Tall Timbers, and General Meyer Riverside vote, Landrieu got Old Point Algiers, and Nagin got most everything else. The one group of people I know that voted for Rob Couhig all actually live in that one precinct in Aurora that was carried by him.

23 April 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs/City Council District A Recap

You gotta just love Quentin Brown's City Council District B homemade campaign signs (using the backsides of carpetbagger advertising signs). Honest. Truthful. To the point. I took this picture across the street from the Uptown Langenstein's yesterday. Similar to that house on Jefferson Avenue near St. Charles Avenue that Schroeder had a picture of a couple of weeks ago, this house has a broad collection of campaign signs displayed in it's yard and along it's fence. Mr. Brown finished fifth in a six candidate field--and as Oyster points out, got almost as many votes in District C as Peggy Wilson got citywide. That makes me laugh. Hell, Kimberly Williamson Butler outgained Wilson. That makes me laugh too.

At the Circle Bar on Ci­rculo de Lee (formerly known as Lee Circle) a sign hangs from the second floor for the mayoral campaign of Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno. The slogan under his name: "A Troubled Man for Troubled Times." Sad, but funny in a sick way. The city's electorate gave Bruno 100 votes.

Another sign that made me laugh that seemed to appear overnight before the election throughout District A were the Democrats for Sal Palmisano signs featuring a really stupid-looking cartoon donkey. Ya, a group of Democrats got together and orchestrated a grassroots effort for My Pal Sal of all people. Nice try, Bootman. How blatantly orchestrated. Once again (as in 2002) Palmisano finished third in the race.

Incumbent Jay Batt received 40% of the vote in the Council District A race with Shelley Stephenson Midura finishing second with 28% of the vote. As expected the Lakeview sections of District A were carried by Batt and the Carrollton/Mid City precincts were not. 60% of the electorate voted against Batt, but 21% of that went to Palmisano and Wagner of which the majority will likely go to Batt in the runoff--but then again you never know. The 2002 District A primary had Scott Shea barely missing the 50%+1 win forcing a runoff with a 9% down Jay Batt which Batt was able to barely overcome to win the 2002 runoff. Look for this campaign to get even uglier than it has already been. I am sure the anybodybutbatt.com crusade will continue. Despite a vocal, unmatched animosity towards one single candidate, Batt will likely get re-elected with something like a 60/40 or 55/45 ratio over Midura.

Back to the campaign signs . . . another post-KTMB thing, the thousands of campaign signs remained on the neutral grounds today. Usually, they are all removed from the public right-of-ways in the wee-hours after the elections are called. I can recall seeing trucks and scores of sanitation or parkways workers after past elections pulling them from the ground in an operation reminiscent of the precision sweep that follows the end of a Mardi Gras parade. The next morning nearly all signs (at least in the neutral grounds) are usually landfill-bound. That's not quite how it works in post-KTMB New Orleans.

French Quarter Festival Day Three/Lusher Crawfish Boil

Today is the last day of the 2006 French Quarter Festival--the warm up for the next two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz and Hertitage Festival. The weather is nice--get out there today if you are here. Also, going on today is the annual Lusher Crawfish Boil at Lusher School on Willow Street . . . Like the chessy woman in those bad "sure shootin'" commercials for gun shows (i.e. Kenner Gun and Knife Show at the Pontchartrain Center)--"I'll probably see you there."


11:00-6:30 Coca-Cola & Coors Light present the World's Largest Jazz Brunch

Southern Comfort Stage, OFFBeat Magazine - Media Sponsor
11:00-12:45 Dukes of Dixieland
1:00-2:45 Jin Jeans Lounge/Peace River presents Samirah Evans and Silktone
3:00-4:45 Al Belletto's Big Jazz Band featuring Leif Pedersen
5:00-6:30 Wanda Rouzan and A Taste of New Orleans

Coors Light Stage, New Orleans Magazine- Media Sponsor (Great Berger Lawn)
11:00-12:15 New Orleans Rhythm and Blues Company featuring Michelle Ploue
12:30-2:00 Pat O'Briens presents The Bucktown All-Stars
2:15-3:45 Music Maker Relief Foundation presents Little Freddie King Band
4:00-5:30 Treme Records presents Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews and Orleans Avenue
5:45-7:00 The Radiators

Zatarain's Stage, LaFabulosa- Media Sponsor (Hibernia Pavilion)
11:00-12:30 The Irvin Mayfield Quintet
12:45-2:00 Angeli presents Ya Ya Sol
2:15-3:30 Mouton Music presents Jeremy and the Zydeco Hot Boys
3:45-5:15 Crosby Tugs presents Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys
5:30-7:00 Zatarain's presents Rockin Dopsie, Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters

Zatarain's Stage Brass Band Stage, OFFBeat Magazine- Media Sponsor (Kohlmeyer Lawn)
11:00-12:30 Spirit of New Orleans Brass Band
12:45-2:00 HaveSoulWillTravel.com presents Have Soul Will Travel
2:15-3:45 Andrew Hall's Society Brass Band
4:00-5:15 The Backbeat Fund presents Brotherhood of Groove
5:30-7:00 New Birth Brass Band

Hibernia National Bank Stage (200 Block)
12:00-2:00 The New Orleans - Helsinki Connection
2:00-4:00 Milton Rich and the Dixielanders

Continental Airlines International Stage (400 Block)
12:30-1:30 Big Papa Henry's New Orleans Jazz Band (Sweden)
1:45-2:45 Kid Bastien Remembered (Canada)
3:00-4:00 Ponchartrain Owls (International)

FrenchQuarter.com Stage (500 Block)
12:00-2:00 John "Kid" Simmons and His New Orleans Band
2:00-4:00 Tom Hook and the Black Dogs

NOLA.com Stage (700 Block)
12:00-2:00 Craig Klein and New Orleans Trombonisms
2:00-4:00 Jack Maheu and the Fire in The Pet Shop Band

Whitney Bank Stage, St Charles Ave. Magazine- Media Sponsor (400 Block)
11:00-12:15 Tropical Isle presents Debi and the Deacons
12:30-1:45 Kerry Irish Pub presents Christian Serpas and Ghost Town
2:00-3:15 Dauphine Investments, LLC presents Old School
3:30-4:45 Tropical Isle presents Kim Carson and the Casualties
5:00-7:00 Dancing at Dusk with The Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra

FQFI Stage (500 Block)
12:00-1:30 Clive Wilson and the Original Camellia Jazz Band
1:45-3:15 New Orleans Jazz Vipers
3:30-5:00 McIntyre Services, Inc. presents The Last Straws

FQFI Stage (700 Block)
12:00-1:00 Tony Green and Gypsy Jazz
1:15-2:15 John Royen
2:30-3:30 Java Swing
3:45-4:30 Neutral Ground Coffeehouse presents Philip Melancon

Classical Music Showcase, Louisiana Life Magazine- Media Sponsor

French Market Performance Pavilion, Dutch Alley
12:00-1:15 John Rankin
1:30-2:45 Annie Young Quartet
3:00-4:30 Dave Rebec Quartet

8:00am-6:00pm Pirates' Alley Juried Art Show, N.O. Arts Assoc. Over 100 artists in Pirates' Alley, Pere Antoine Alley, Cabildo Alley, and Royal St.

10:00am-2:00pm 23rd Annual Gumbo Ya Ya's World's Largest Praline Contest, 219 Bourbon St. Also enter the newest "Pile of Pecans in a Jar" Contest.

12:00pm Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Yacub Addy and Odadaa! perform a free jazz concert at Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park

12:00 2nd Line Parade, featuring Wynton Marsalis & friends, from Backstreet Museum, at 1116 St. Claude St. to Congo Square

1:15 Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Yacub Addy and Odadaa! premiere "Congo Square" (dedicated to New Orleans) co-written by Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Addy. 2nd line immediately following down to Woldenberg Park

11:00am-4:00pm Tulane Hospital for Children hosts children's activities at the Entergy IMAX Plaza with Kids' Arts & Crafts, Face Painting, and featuring Papillion.

My Two Cents on the City of New Orleans Mayoral Runoff Election

Al has already chimed in that Mitch Landrieu will win big in the mayoral runoff election. Here's what I'm figuring:

1. The runoff will become EXTREMELY racially polarized, even more than now.
2. More displaced voters (i.e. minorities) will vote in the runoff.
3. Nagin reportedly has money, and incumbents often pick up votes in the runoff that you normally wouldn't expect.
3. Let's give 75% of the votes that went for Forman, Couhig and Piggy Wilson to Landrieu (which could be a VERY conservative estimate).
4. Let's give 65-70% of the rest to Nagin (the same proportion by which he beat Landrieu in the primary).

By these very conservative estimates, which take into account what I expect to be a pro-Nagin bump from now until then:

Landrieu would barely win 51-49%.

I wouldn't put reinforcements on the doors quite yet.

Some General Observations about the City of New Orleans Mayoral Primary Election

  • I’m surprised Nagin did as well as he did and Forman (and even Landrieu to a degree) showed as poorly. I think a lot of people who were on the fence b/w Nagin and someone else went ahead and voted for Nagin. One thing, though, for Nagin to have a world wide audience only 7 months ago and have the chance to show what true leadership is all about and to ONLY be able to capture 38% of the votes in the primary just shows what a lackluster, divisive, baseless, directionless, smoke and mirrors administration this Mayor is running. Mitch is going to b-l-o-w his doors off in the Runoff. Sugar Ray, you’ve gotten all the votes you’re going to get my friend. What kind of election response would Rudy Giuliani have gotten had he been able to run for Mayor in NYC in April of 2002?
  • My prediction in the runoff: Landrieu 61% Nagin 39%.
  • I can’t believe Manny Chevrolet Bruno corralled 99 of his buddies to come and vote. Looks like he owes a bunch of people some free beer.
  • I thought Virginia Boulet would show better than 2%. She had some of the clearest ideas in the campaign and I would hope when Mitch wins he sits down with her to listen to what he has to say.
  • It’s pretty funny that Peggy Wilson got fewer votes than Kimberly Williamson Butler.
  • It’s pretty sad that Kimberly Williamson Butler got 793 pathetic individuals to vote for her.
  • Is this Assessor thing a joke or what? This is the most important thing that’s not being talked about. We have ZERO tax base right now, hey – wouldn’t real, accurate and fair reporting of property values be a GOOD thing right now? Am I the only one who thinks this is an incredibly asinine exercise in futility that serves little purpose but to keep the wink, wink old system of politics and political favoritism alive and well and keep New Orleans’s chance for real, tangible growth undermined. The f****** assessors are using 1978 technology to run assessments, but, oh, NOW they’re all jazzed up about this new 1.2 million dollar computer system that’s finally going to fix everything AND if they get some MORE MONEY then things will stop being broken. This according to Claude Mauberret in today’s Times-Pic. “Mauberret whose family has held the post since 1904, predicted the new system, if completely (read: enough money to line the assessors pockets) financed, will correct "99 percent of any inequities" on the tax rolls." Guess 102 years of the same family running the show couldn’t fix it…but hey, if we get some MORE MONEY, then, THEN we can get it fixed. Sorry, of my soap box now.
  • Here’s a shocker: ACORN is complaining about the election.
    4/23 Times Pic: ACORN attorney Tracie Washington, who was an observer in the absentee ballot counting room at the Secretary of State's election headquarters, said she is concerned about the number of those ballots that were rejected because of irregularities.

    “I was surprised and disappointed at the number of ballots that were rejected of people who had never voted by absentee ballot before,” she said. “Many were discounted because they didn’t have the correct number of witnesses or because they were signed in the wrong place.”
    Uhhhh, isn’t that legal standard of absentee voting?

The Worst President in History?

Check out this article in the current ROLLING STONE: The Worst President in History? One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush.

In regards to New Orleans and KTMB . . . .
The Bush White House's indifference to domestic problems and science alike culminated in the catastrophic responses to Hurricane Katrina. Scientists had long warned that global warming was intensifying hurricanes, but Bush ignored them -- much as he and his administration sloughed off warnings from the director of the National Hurricane Center before Katrina hit. Reorganized under the Department of Homeland Security, the once efficient Federal Emergency Management Agency turned out, under Bush, to have become a nest of cronyism and incompetence. During the months immediately after the storm, Bush traveled to New Orleans eight times to promise massive rebuilding aid from the federal government. On March 30th, however, Bush's Gulf Coast recovery coordinator admitted that it could take as long as twenty-five years for the city to recover.

Karl Rove has sometimes likened Bush to the imposing, no-nonsense President Andrew Jackson. Yet Jackson took measures to prevent those he called "the rich and powerful" from bending "the acts of government to their selfish purposes." Jackson also gained eternal renown by saving New Orleans from British invasion against terrible odds. Generations of Americans sang of Jackson's famous victory. In 1959, Johnny Horton's version of "The Battle of New Orleans" won the Grammy for best country & western performance. If anyone sings about George W. Bush and New Orleans, it will be a blues number.

2006 City of New Orleans Mayoral Primary Election Final Results

2006 City of New Orleans Mayoral Primary Election Final Results:
Secretary of State Database

UPDATE 23 APRIL 2006: Redone--numbers posted last night weren't the final ones as I thought they were.

x-C. Ray Nagin 41,489 (38%)
x-Mitch Landrieu 31,499 (29%)
Ron Forman 18,734 (17%)
Rob Couhig 10,287 (10%)
Virginia Boulet 2,367 (2%)
Tom Watson 1,264 (1%)
Others* 1,247 (1%)
Kimberly Williamson Bulter 793 (less than 1%)
y-Peggy Wilson 772 (less than 1%)

*-Johnny Adriani, James Arey, F. Nick Bacque', Elvin Brown, Manny Bruno, Roderick Dean, Sonja DeDais, Marie Galatas, Greta Gladney, James Lemann, Mac Rahman, Norbert Rome, Leo Watermeirer, and Shedrick White.

x-denotes Runoff Candidates (20 May 2006)
y-damn, she ran even worse than I thought she would.

Total Votes Cast: 108,153
(134,000 cast in 2002 Primary)

22 April 2006

Mayor's Election: The Irony Should Not Be Lost

I'm posting this message while reading election results on the Internet. It's looking like Landrieu & Nagin are in a runoff, unless Forman's early numbers aren't a fluke.

I just thought I'd make the following comment, because I haven't heard a lot of people mentioning it. If people are talking about this already in New Orleans, I apologize (it's definitely not being discussed nationally).

For all this time, we talked about how things need to be "different." We can't have "business as usual" anymore. We need "new blood." We need to "send a message." So we get our chance and what happens?

We're on the verge of a runoff between the incumbent mayor and the son of a former mayor.

Krewe Char de Guerre/TBofNO City of New Orleans Mayoral Primary Election Predictions

For what it's worth, following are some percentage predictions for today's mayoral primary by Krewe Char de Guerre/The Third Battle of New Orleans contributors. A review of both the 2002 primary and runoff election can be seen here. The total amount of votes in the 2002 mayoral primary was about 134,000. It will be interesting to see how the turnout in today's primary compares to four years ago.

5:15pm UPDATE: According to WWL TV, 16,691 absentee ballots were requested and 9,209 of those were returned and officially cast. Additionally, 20,409 "early" ballots were cast. Using the 134,000 number of total votes in the 2002 primary, the cast absentee ballots would represent 7% of the total votes and the "early" ballots would represent an additional 15%. Combined that would account for almost 1/4 the total vote if that 134k total number of votes is duplicated in today's 2006 primary.

Seymour D. Fair:
Nagin 30%
Landrieu 28%
Forman 19%
Couhig 8%
Boulet 6%
Others 6%
Wilson 3%

Al Scramuzza:
Landrieu 33%
Nagin 30%
Forman 22%
Couhig 7%
Boulet 5%
Others 3%

Sen. John Blutarsky:
Landrieu 25%
Nagin 20%
Forman 20%
Boulet 10 %
Watson 5%
Wilson 2%
Others 3%

Hollis P. Wood:
Landrieu 27%
Nagin 25%
Forman 17%
Couhig 13%
Boulet 7%
Others 6%
Wilson 3%
Watson 3%

Landrieu 27%
Nagin 23%
Forman 20%
Couhig 15%
Boulet 8%
Others 4%
Wilson 2%
Watson 1%

Feel free to post your prediction as a comment . . .

21 April 2006

Ron "Bert" Forman

Since Seymour pointed it out in an earlier post....

20 April 2006

Photo du Jour: A Levee Experiment

Damn, overtopped--just like in New Orleans East, St. Bernard Parish, and Plaquemines Parish . . .

19 April 2006

The MSNBC/WDSU Mayoral Debate--and a "Cut Them Off" Rant

I am currently in South Florida so I was able to watch the WDSU debate here on MSNBC. Was it me or did Chris Matthews look ill? Norman Robinson seemed to be the guy driving the car--Matthews looked like a sick passenger. Mr. Softball contributed nothing to the debate in my opinion.

I was jumping up and down before the "debate" even started as MSNBC injected the infamous Bob Bennett "ten feet below sea level" quote into the opening montage. WDSU should know better to have allowed this, but I'm quite sure it was created by the Secaucus, NJ MSNBC folk with no direct involvement of WDSU. With all of the soundbites and all of the vivid imagery pre- and post-KTMB to chose from, to use the Bennett clip in the montage proves my point: if a statement is repeated over and over again, it becomes assumed fact regardless of scientifically-provable reality. Is someone besides myself and other local bloggers going to bring the careless use of false fact to attention to make it stop? The Times-Picayune, WWL, WDSU, WVUE, WGNO, WWL Radio, Gambit Weekly--do your damn job (at least on the local level) on this particular "fact." More than half of The Third Battle of New Orleans--the battle for New Orleans' (and Louisiana's) continued existence and relevance--is about being on the right side (and factual side) of perception. Can we at least have facts guiding the perception to the rest of our country and not have myth and downright lies dominate what our fellow American citizens (yes, we are part of the United States in "this part of the world," we're Louisiana, not Liberia) use to gauge whether New Orleans is, gasp, worth saving?

And about the insulting "worth saving" question:

Hey, fellow Americans . . . You like the oil to run your car? You like the gas to heat your home and to cook your food? You like the petrochemicals used to manufacture the plastic which is used in almost everything you own? You like the tons of crap you buy at Wal Mart imported from China? You like being able to get your agricultural product from the Midwest to the markets of the world via ocean-going ships? You like to eat seafood? Fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, crawfish? You like Tabasco or Crystal to flavor your bland cardboard food? You like to drink coffee in the mornings or after your dinner? You like any semblance of culture or historical substance at least one place in the United States?

With no New Orleans and no Louisiana I'm not going to say that access to the above things for American citizens would no longer exist, but I'd definitely say those things would be more difficult to come by and their access seriously impacted without New Orleans and without Louisiana. Chew on that, fellow countrymen. We contribute all these things to the entire United States--at a detrimental cost to our environment and to our own welfare--and there is even the audacity for a question of "worth saving?" Is there any sense of gratitude whatsoever?

Are we at the point that in order to convey the importance of New Orleans to the United States that perhaps the people of this country should be deprived of what New Orleans and Louisiana contribute to the national economy and modern existence of the United States? All ocean-going ships that utilize the Mississippi River rely upon State of Louisiana (not federal) river pilots. What if each ship was charged a fee of a million dollars for the expertise of the river pilots as well as for utilizing the 200 or so miles of ocean-going ship accessible Mississippi River from Southwest Pass upriver to Baton Rouge? What if the gas and oil lines were cut off to the Midwest and the Northeast? Would these things perhaps make those in the other parts of the United States take notice of our unforgivable and inexcusable plight (as a part of the United States mind you) since August 2005?

As long as access to all of the above things continue unabated, then to many (including the current Executive and Legislative braches of the federal government) things are good enough in New Orleans and Louisiana despite anything heard to the contrary. No where to live. No health care. No child care. Insurance company run-around. FEMA indecision and incompetence. Oh well--too bad. But the oil and gas is flowing. The multiple ports (New Orleans, South Louisiana, the LOOP, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, etc.) and petrochemical infrastructure are open for business. Well, maybe we Orleanians and Louisianans need to physically send a message to our country by taking these away and depriving the country their necessities . . . . I am not joking. Governor Blanco threatening not to sign the upcoming offshore oil and gas leases is a good start. Perhaps going even further than that is in order.

This is a good summation of the geopolitical importance of New Orleans--written two days after the MANMADE flooding swamped New Orleans.

About the debate, the original purpose of this post . . .

Three local takes on the WDSU/MSNBC debate:


Your Right Hand Thief

Library Chronicles (plus another post about the peppy WGNO debate held last night)

My quick impressions:

Virginia Boulet: Not her best showing. She looked really bad on her UNO-to-Downtown idea brought up by Nagin and didn't defend it very well in my opinion. I think she is sincere in her caring of the city and is a serious champion of equity to all. She also was at a disadvantage as many of the left field questions thrown out by the Matthews (i.e. do you approve of The President) came to her first not allowing her to think through a response as the other candidates were able to do.

Rob "Inconceivable" Couhig: I like to call him "Doomsday" as he continuously plays the doomsday future card. He raises legitimate points and is obviously intelligent and devoted to New Orleans, but has been abrasive. I think he thinks he has to do this to get noticed. He referred to his "suit of armor" commercial as the best in the history of politics. Wow.

Ron "Bert" Forman: My inlaws referred to him as a puppet, and then--even better--they thought he looked like Bert from Bert and Ernie/Sesame Street. He just didn't have to much to say on this night--and when he did he seemed to mis-speak. Not sure what The Times-Picayune is thinking on their endorsement. Yes, Audubon Zoo turned it around. Yes, Aquarium of the Americas has been a success story. Anything else to say?

Mitch Landrieu: Most polished. Cool under pressure. Appeared highly competent. He handled the "makeup" accusation quite well which if handled badly could have significantly damaged him.

C. Ray Nagin: He appears to be in mellow, cruise-control mode just hoping not to screw up to get to the runoff. It will probably work.

Tom Watson: One issue candidate--racial equity. He has an Al Sharpton effect as he says the things no other candidates will touch.

Peggy Wilson: Where to start. Why in earth was she even involved in this? I was waiting for the hook to come from off-screen and pull her off the stage. Just pathetic. She comes across mean and vindictive. I didn't like her in the early-1990's and I don't like her now. I bet she still gets at least 3% in the primary.

20 APRIL 2006 UPDATE: The Washington Post's most recent story on the upcoming election.

Hurricane Countrywide

One would think that insurance companies and mortgage companies would be among the hardest hit industries from a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. Well, I have quickly learned another lesson about how big corporations get bigger by screwing over individuals. As impossible as it has been dealing with insurance providers following Katrina, my mortgage company, Countrywide, has made repairing the damage to my home nearly impossible.

I needed a new roof; my slate roof was damaged beyond repair due to Katrina. I narrowly missed being flooded and I can't imagine how those who were flooded and lost everything (instead of just a roof) are able to sanely deal with their mortgage company if they are being treated similar to the way I am. I have fought with my insurance for 7 months and still have not come to a resolution, however at least the insurance company has issued a check to me (which was approximately half of the replacement value of my roof according to contractor estimates) and fully admits that they are just overwhelmed. They sent out a second adjustor 7 weeks ago to update the claim estimate so they should get around to making me whole by about mid-summer. What a joke. But at least they pretend to care.

However, Countrywide Mortgage is involved in unfair and unusual business practices associated with processing insurance claim checks. When you have a lien on your home, the insurance company writes the check payable to the homeowner and the mortgage company and both must endorse the check. In my opinion, this is a good practice if your lender is reputable. It allows your lender to have some say in the process of making repairs and insures that their investment in the property is protected. If your lender is Countrywide it is a nightmare.

I finally received a substantial check from my insurance company on March 10th. I went to a local Countrywide service center as soon as I could after receiving my check, which happened to be March 14. The staff at the service center had me endorse the check, they took it and said they were overnighting the check to their offices in California for endorsement and the money would then be sent back to me. Sounded good, so I hired a contractor to replace my roof. It had to happen and I could not wait any longer. Well, little did I know that Countrywide lies every time you talk to them. They actually take the money, deposit it in a 'special' account and then refuse to give the money to you. Each time you call them they give you another story, a new requirement to meet, or more paperwork to complete.

The contractor completed the work on my roof in about 10 days after he was hired and did an excellent job. I felt obligated to pay him (Countrywide's unfair business practices are not his fault) and paid him out of my savings. Countrywide actually sent out an inspector 12 days ago and filed the inspector's report stating that the work on my house is 95% complete (basically agreeing that I paid for the repairs to my house from Katrina out of my own pocket). Countrywide has admitted to me that they have this report but then sent me more paperwork to complete such as a certification of completion that requires notarization and a waiver of lien to be signed by the contractors that worked on my house and also notarized! Everytime you get past a hurdle in this process with Countrywide they make up another one! I sent this to them and now they are still working on processing the paperwork.

The truth is this : Countrywide has had my insurance check (sent to me and Countrywide to complete the repairs on my home) since March 15. They have found numerous ways to keep that money in their 'special' account. I have been forced to pay for the repairs out of my own pocket, negating the reason I had insurance coverage in the first place. In the interim Countrywide has sent out their own inspector and confirmed the repairs are complete. So why does Countrywide behave in this way? Because they are making a tremendous amount of money on interest by holding individual's claim money for as long as possible. If the average Katrina claim check is $30,000 and Countrwide can keep 1000 of their mortgagor's checks in their 'special' account by slowly rotating money in and out of that account, they would have $30 million to invest and collect interest on. I fully believe that this is the explanation for their behavior and they are not able to demonstrate that they act in any other manner.

It is time for Charles Foti, our Attorney General, to file a lawsuit against Countrywide. No more threats, half-hearted investigations, or sucking up to big businesses. These business practices are unfair, individuals in Louisiana are being taken advantage of, and a California corporation is getting richer from our hardships.

18 April 2006

City of New Orleans Mayoral Candidate Endorsements

The Times-Picayune: Ron Forman

Gambit Weekly: Mitch Landrieu (a surprise in my opninion)

New Orleans CityBusiness: Mitch Landrieu

The Louisiana Weekly: Mitch Landrieu

C. Ray Nagin is the front-runner and yet he has no media endorsements.

Again, may I recommend the League of Women Voters of New Orleans site for a good overview/interview of all candidates in all City of New Orleans elections.

15 April 2006

Photos du Jour: Florida-bound Window Shots

Holy Thursday Baton Rouge-bound traffic jam on I-10 West over the Labranche Wetlands. St. Charles Parish: US90/I-310 and Ashton Plantation Development.
Thanks, oil and gas industry.
Failed dike in the 1960s led to the square lake above in Lafourche Parish.
Grand Isle, Terrebonne Bay, Barataria Bay and dissapearing wetlands.

Will Kimberly Williamson Butler please go away.

I can't write it better myself so I'll use the words straight from the website http://community.livejournal.com/neworleans/2116 :

This is too rich. Some sharp-eyed blogger came across Kimberly Williamson Butler's "Vote 4 Me!!! website and noticed something strange on the opening page: a pic of Kimbo standing in the French Quarter.

Only...it looked a little too clean to be the Quarter. And Kimbo seemed to be Photoshopped in. And from what I know of the Quarter, none of the streets seem to curve...

Yep. Kimbo used an official picture of herself and had it Photoshopped into a picture of New Orleans Square at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

She's really the gift that keeps on giving.

13 April 2006

Photo du Jour: The New New Orleans Streetname Sign

Many intersections throughout both previously flooded and high-ground neighborhoods within the City of New Orleans are currently unidentifiable because the iconic New Orleans-blue streetname signs no longer mark them post-KTMB. I can imagine the lack of signage makes it difficult for the army of carpetbaggers (y los ejarcitos de aventureros) to find their way around the field of dreams that is their New Orleans. No doubt some of the signs were legitimately lost because of the flooding and general destruction such as falling trees from the storm (and hauled off with debris), but I've noticed in the past six months (since October) that more and more of them have simply disappeared from the utility poles, stand-alone sign poles, or traffic light poles they were affixed to. Is it that our street signs have become like our water meter covers or our statues and religious artifacts from our cemeteries? Bastards.

Last weekend's Times-Picayune had an article entitled "Signs of the Times" about an Uptown group "taking matters into their own hands" regarding the street signage problem. They took to making their own signs as the city could give no timetable for issuing new official signs. The sign up above is in Carrollton (not done by the group in the article). Nice fleur-di-lis . . . .

12 April 2006

If You Tell a Lie Big Enough and Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It PART 3: Former FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown

Source: State of Louisiana LIDAR Data/USACE Post-Katrina Aerial Imagery.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
--Joseph Goebbels

In early March 2006 tapes were obtained by the Associated Press of a 28 August 2005 pre-storm teleconferences between FEMA, the National Hurricane Center, Gulf Coast states emergency preparedness agencies, Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff, and The President. This allegedly "leaked" footage to one side proved The President's "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" statement a few days later displayed complete incompetence or worse was a downright lie and to the other side the footage amounted to "nothing new to see here--move along." This post isn't meant to re-examine that question, however the tape did feature a remark by then-FEMA Director Michael Brown worthy of review--and correction.

The point of my "If You Tell a Lie Big Enough and Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It" posts are to identify and scientifically disprove false, fabricated, and fictitious "high profile" statements that irrevocably fog perceptions concerning the realities of rebuilding and re-investing in New Orleans. Such incorrect "facts" by those with publicized voices whether intentionally spoken to mislead or honestly misinformed mistakes, perpetuate unfounded myths that do not help and garner outside support or favorable public opinion for New Orleans post-KTMB.

Here's the Michael Brown quote in question:

"As you may or may not know, the Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level ... "

THE LIE: The ground elevation at the Louisiana Superdome is 12 feet below sea level.

THE TRUTH: See maps above. The first one categorizes the elevations of the immediate CBD vicinity of the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Area in 2.5 foot increments. The entire footprint of the Superdome/Arena falls within values of sea level (0.0 elevation) or above. The second map displays select spot elevations around the perimeter of the stadium/arena complex. (The High-res version of this map covering entire perimeter of the facility can be seen here). As proved in the previous "If you tell a lie enough . . ." post, the sites within New Orleans that are 10 feet (or more) below sea level are limited to specific drainage and underpass locations, so therefore Michael Brown's 12 foot below declaration of the elevation of the Louisiana Superdome is completely erroneous. If the base elevation of the Louisiana Superdome was 12 feet below sea level, the building would have filled up with Lake Pontchartrain floodwaters to the depth of 14.5 feet. At that depth the first 1/3 of the plaza level of seats (the lowest tier) inside the Louisiana Superdome would have been completely submerged. That's not quite what happened there . . .

For those that would argue I am getting caught up in semantics, my response is simple. Yes, yes I am--because when these semantic mistakes are made repeatedly by multiple "credible" sources that spawn the "Goebbels' Effect" (again whether intentionally or not--it does not matter). Then they get repeated and distorted even further by secondary message-carriers until the accepted, unquestioned truth is no where near the reality. How many radio call in shows or pundits on cable television have I heard since August 2005 repeat the exaggerated below sea level claims? I hear it nearly every day.

If something is repeated and claimed over and over it must be true, right? This is rule #1 of propaganda. Perhaps Brownie intended to say that the facility was near or below sea level and was in a precarious place to utilize as an evacuation shelter if the floodwaters swamped the City of New Orleans. Fine. Except that's not what he said . . . . and it's not what is repeated over and over again by people like Utah Senator Bob Bennett and Tim Kusky. . .

I'm sure PART 4 of this series will surface . . .

If you are interested in maps such as the ones above for specific areas of New Orleans, send me an email.

Loyola University Dumping Broadcast Communication Sequences

There has been a lot of grief expressed about Tulane's decisions to cut programs in light of post-KTMB economic realities. Well, now there's word of more academic cutbacks at major New Orleans colleges and universities. And this one makes even less sense to me: Loyola University is getting rid of its broadcast communication sequences.

Now I admit that I am biased here. Loyola is also planning to get rid of other programs, as the WWL TV article states. And I admit that I am a professor of communication in another part of the country, but hear me out. Loyola University of New Orleans played an important role in the mass communication history of New Orleans and the Deep South. Loyola is the reason why WWL 870 AM and WWL TV 4 are the media kingpins that they are today.

For those of you who do not know media history in New Orleans, this 2002 press release from Loyola tells it all. WWL radio began in 1922 on the campus of Loyola University. It was the first radio station to broadcast in the Deep South. God knows where we would have been post-KTMB without what has now become a 50,000-watt superstation keeping people informed. WWL TV channel 4 shares the same origins. Both stations were owned by Loyola until 1989, when, as the press release states, the university sold it to build its endowment.

Now, Loyola is dumping its B.A. degrees in Broadcast Journalism, Broadcast Production, Communication Studies, and Film Studies. There will still be a communication presence on campus. According to the strategic plan available on the university's website, there will be a Communications Department on campus, but it will concentrate on advertising, journalism and public relations.

So why is this taking place? I don't have any inside information on the situation, but I know general things about how communication departments run. I feel that I can safely tell you that it probably isn't because broadcasting is an unpopular or undynamic major. In fact, it is a hugely popular major and a widely expanding career field. So why is this being done? My experience tells me there's only one reason: MONEY. Broadcasting (and computer disciplines--which are also being cut) is an expensive major to have on campus. If you are going to be up to date, you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have up-to-date facilities. And there's no return on your investment. The facilities are there strictly for hands-on use by students. It isn't the same as spending millions of dollars on, say, science labs and research facilities. If you create those, you can get millions of dollars in return from grants, fellowships, research, and so on. Few students ever set foot in these facilities. The stuff in there is too valuable to be wasted on them.

So, are they making a student decision or a business decision? You know what I think. I know from personal experience that colleges have become more "corporate" than many businesses in the corporate world.

But one thing is clear: the one university in New Orleans that is most synonymous with New Orleans broadcasting history will no longer have a broadcast program.

A copy of Loyola's strategic plan is here.

10 April 2006

New Orleans Mayoral Debate To Be Broadcast Live on MSNBC 17 April 2006

I'm sure you have all heard this by now. The April 17th New Orleans Mayoral Debate will be aired on MSNBC. Chris Matthews of Hardball will moderate with Norman Robinson of WDSU here in New Orleans. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12167858/

I hope that the 7 candidates invited to participate realize that they will be on a national stage representing "our" city. The term "the world is watching" has never had more meaning to us.

Photo du Jour: A Lakeview Sunflower

Saturday and Sunday were ideal New Orleans spring days. The sky was blue and there was a slight hint of coolness in the air as the humidity remained low and breezes blew. Days like these are the type you hope for at least one of the two weekends of Jazzfest at the end of this month. Its now been 225 days since New Orleans was overcome by Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and St. Bernard were swamped by Lake Borgne, Chandeleur Sound, and Breton Sound. Although the houses and buildings in neighborhoods in these areas remain ruined and uninhabited as if time froze on that summer afternoon seven months ago, mother nature has other ideas for the land these structures stand upon. This climate paired with the richness of these soils create maintenance issues in normal times: plants, weeds, grasses will grow anywhere and everywhere in Southern Louisiana. Most non-trees--bushes, shrubs, specimen plantings like sagos--in heavily flooded areas died after being underwater for over two weeks, but from what I can tell most trees over ten feet in height (minus Southern Magnolias which are dead all over the place--even in areas that got less than two feet) seemed to have survived. There may be long-term implications of course, but I have been surprised how well most heavily-flooded trees made out--at least seven months out.

As the weather turns warmer (and wetter--at least normally) the unmaintained for, abandoned properties are going to become jungles of weeds, wildflowers, vines, and eventually "trash" trees such as Chinese Tallow, Hackberry, etc. This is going to cause significant problems with rodents and other animals. Grounds cannot be left "un-manned" in this environment as they will quickly become unmanageable. This is the reason I seriously question the notion of "greenspace" in areas "deemed not redevelopable" as proposed in the BNOB ULI plan. City Park's 1,300 acres represent maybe 1/8 of the area that could be added as "greenspace" if permanently abandoning certain areas comes into fruition. These 1,300 acres alone have been troublesome to upkeep (not knocking the City Park staff--its just an incredibly huge beast to tame), so how on earth are another 8,000 or so acres going to maintained enough to simply pacify basic public safety much less any "amenities?"

Ok--enough rambling. The above picture is of a sunflower on one of those back allies that parallel the north/south streets throughout Lakeview. Seemed like I saw sunflowers all over the place in Lakeview. All sorts of plants--mostly weeds, but some "domesticated" plant materials as well--are growing like mad now. The lesson of this post: life will persist no matter how bleak appearances may be. The same can be said for the City of New Orleans and her citizenry . . . .

Tim has a similar post today . . .

I've been taking a bunch of panoramas lately. More to come . . .

09 April 2006

2006 Saints, version 1.0--Part II (Defense & Special Teams)

Part II of Saturday's post. Now to look at the defense and special teams:

DEFENSIVE END: As far as starters go, this is the strongest part of the team, even with Darren Howard signing with the Eagles. The starters are Will Smith and Charles Grant. The team loses depth right now, considering that Howard is gone and the top backup (Willie Whitehead) may wind up starting at defensive tackle. This is where the "experts" say the Saints will go in the first round of the draft. They say the Saints are interested in Mario Williams.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: The Saints will go with two defensive tackles for now, even though new Defensive Coordinator Gary Gibbs likes the 3-4. One starter is Brian Young. After that, it's anyone's guess. Jonathan Sullivan should be the other starter, but we've been burned before; let's assume he won't. If so, that leaves converted defensive end Willie Whitehead and former Seahawk Cedric Woodard competing for the other spot. Rodney Leisle hasn't let me forget that we could have had Chad Lavalais with his pick. I'd think the Saints will draft at least one more player at this position, or move Whitehead there full time.

LINEBACKERS: This is the other position (besides offensive line) that most people are afraid of. Former Cowboy Scott Fujita is okay and is familiar with Gary Gibbs' defense, so we'll put him in as one of the starters. Colby Bockwoldt will probably get one of the other spots. That leaves free agent Anthony Simmons and holdover Courtney Watson fighting for the last starting position. Alfred Fincher still has a chance to show something, and James Allen is still hanging on for now. Sedrick Hodge signed with the Dolphins.

CORNERBACKS: This is another easy one, and I wish we had more depth here too. Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas are the probable starters. Jason Craft is still there and will probably still see a lot of action. Fakhir Brown is gone, joining Jim Haslett in St. Louis. Joey Thomas and Fred Booker are on the roster, but I'm not excited about them. Look for a cornerback to possibly be drafted or signed as a free agent too.

SAFETIES: This has not been a reliable position for the Saints since Sammy Knight left. But for some reason, the Saints finally have some depth at the position. Dwight Smith and Josh Bullocks will probably be the starters, but they have picked up two capable backups in Omar Stoutmire and Bryan Scott. The Saints still have Jay Bellamy too. Steve Gleason is special teams-only. Mel Mitchell is no longer with the team. It's a shame he suffered that freak injury a few years ago. I thought he was going to be a good player. Oh well.

KICKER/PUNTER: Mitch Berger is the punter, and that's fine with me. But it may be time to start looking for a replacement for John Carney. He's over 40, and just had his second-worst season as a Saint. Nate Fiske is the only other kicker on the roster, and I don't know anything about him.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Michael Lewis just re-signed with the Saints. That should solve the return game problem if he's healthy. Last year wasn't the same without him. Aaron Stecker, Chris Horn and Donte' Stallworth all have experience as backups. Steve Gleason and Fred McAfee are two of the team's top special teams defenders, but I don't think either guy has a guaranteed roster spot right now.

OVERALL: When did the Saints lose all their depth? Do you remember when the Saints had good players and decent backups at most positions? It wasn't that long ago. It's clear that the Saints are now paying for bad free agent and draft decisions during the Haslett era. Fortunately, the team has made some improvements in the off-season to get some NFL-caliber players in here. There are a lot of people who think that bringing in Drew Brees puts the Saints back in possible wildcard contention. I just don't see it yet right now. He could be running for his life if the offensive line doesn't get better. And the defense has to get a lot better up the middle and at cornerback. Stability should do a lot to improve the team, but I don't know how much. Maybe enough to double their win total? Unfortunately, that would still mean a 10-loss season.

I hope I'm wrong

08 April 2006

New Orleans Levee Failure - Who Is To Blame?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking a lot of heat for the Katrina floodwall/levee failure in New Orleans. Although much of the blame may be well deserved, there is more to the story than has been recently told by the Times-Picayune, levees.org and politicians. The civil works process is incredibly complicated and my guess is that most of these entities have little to no experience with the Corps' civil works process and truly do not understand how a flood control project gets built in this country.

A civil works project such as a flood control project requires congressional authority at two levels before it is implemented. First, Congress must authorize a study. Studies are done in two phases: an initial reconnaissance study to determine if there is a feasible solution and then a feasibility study to analyze alternatives and pick the project that best meets Federal and local needs. Therefore the Corps uses the study process to determine if there is a need, if there is Federal interest, and most importantly, if there is a local sponsor available. Local sponsors can be state, county, local or tribal entities. Some studies are authorized under the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) which is a biennial act of Congress. Most studies are authorized as a survey resolution. Survey resolutions are authorized in geographic areas where the Corps has conducted previous studies.

If the Chief of Engineers makes a recommendation on a project based upon the study, Congress typically authorizes funding for project construction (under the Energy and Water Development Appropriation). Congress must make appropriations for specific projects. Prior to 1986 almost all flood control projects were fully Federaly funded. Since 1986, all projects have required a cost-share with a local sponsor. Congress has allocated less and less each year for civil works projects such as flood control, from about $4 billion annually in the 1960s to about $1.4 billion in 1999. Currently the maximum Federal share for construction costs on a flood control project is 65% (meaning that a local sponsor must pay 35% of the cost).

Two things have happened to the civil works program over the past 20 years that has caused the Corps to work differently (and probably less effectively): a decline in congressional funding for civil works projects and an increased reliance on funding from local sponsors. Less money for Corps' civil works projects has caused a general decline in the quality and quantity of flood control projects. Less money for the Corps means less engineering positions and less interest by engineers to work for a government agency that is doing fewer projects. An increased reliance on local sponsors (and their money) means that the Corps must compromise to make the local sponsor happy. Compromises can include contracting with an engineering consulting firm or construction firm that is in a close (often too close) relationship with the local sponsor, having to make design and construction compromises to minimize costs to the local sponsor, and finally having to get design approval from the local sponsor to finally authorize the expenditure of local funds.

Because the Corps has broad shoulders and many highly qualified, responsible professional engineers, they will likely take the blame for what has happened in New Orleans. And that is unfortunate. What needs to happen is for some hard-charging journalists to start making FOIA requests and start knocking on doors to find out the history of the decisions that were made on the design and construction of all of the flood control components in the New Orleans levee system. My guess is that many compromises have been made as politicians have pushed pork-barrel projects onto the Corps at the request of local sponsors who then got their brother/uncle/good buddy's engineering firm to do the engineering design and construction work. Many internal battles probably occurred between engineers at the Corps and local sponsors and the local sponsor's preferred contractors. Although the Corps takes final ownership of all designs and construction, numerous private contractors (who are professional engineers with liability requirements for their designs) produced those design documents and helped to convince Corps employees that they were doing the right thing. The question needs to be asked - were local sponsors and their preferred contractors just as responsible for design flaws, and if so, will these same entities be allowed to be involved in future flood control projects in New Orleans?

2006 Saints, version 1.0--Part I (Offense)

The NFL free agent signing period has all but played out. The draft is a few weeks away. Minicamps have begun. So I figure now is as good a time as any to talk Saints football. Since there have been a lot of changes lately, and many of us weren't really paying attention to the team last year anyway, I figured I'd help out with what I see:

QUARTERBACK: Aaron Brooks is out. Drew Brees is in. You already knew that. This has been scrutinized to death. What Brees lacks in arm strength and athleticism, he makes up for in leadership and intensity. He is the anti-A.B.. Todd Bowman and Aaron McPherson are still on the roster. You have to think that the Saints will bring somebody in later to challenge them for the #2 job. Obviously, the Saints are no longer interested in picking a quarterback in the first round.

RUNNING BACK: Saints fans are praying that Deuce McAllister comes back from last year's season-ending injury. If not, the Saints have two decent backups. Former Viking Micheal Bennett is unbelievably fast and dangerous, but he is inconsistent and injury prone. Aaron Stecker will stick around because he is a good receiver and special teams contributor. Antowain Smith is not on the roster. Fred McAfee is 94 years old, but still has a chance to make the team on special teams only.

FULLBACK: Mike Karney is the starter, and he's pretty good. That's about all you need to know.

WIDE RECEIVER: The big three receivers are back. Donte' Stallworth is gradually replacing Joe Horn as the #1 receiver, but he is still inconsistent. Devery Henderson still needs to improve if he wants the third-receiver position. Former Chief Chris Horn will probably replace Az Hakim as a backup receiver and kick returner (at least on kickoffs). Nate Poole is still here. Chase Lyman is still an intriguing prospect, but his knees keep exploding.

TIGHT END: I hope Drew Brees isn't expecting to find an Antonio Gates on this roster. He will be sorely disappointed. Zach Hilton has a lot of promise, and could be the opening day starter. I don't know if he's a Pro Bowl-caliber player though. Ernie Conwell is okay (when healthy). They also have veterans Shad Meier and Mark Campbell fighting for roster spots, but they're backups at best. Boo Williams is gone.

OFFENSIVE LINE: This part of the team scares the hell out of me. Maybe even more than the linebackers. LeCharles Bentley signed with Cleveland. Wayne Gandy was traded. Kendyl Jacox was cut. So this is probably how things will shake out: Jammal Brown moves to left tackle, Montrae Holland and Jamar Nesbit will be the guards, and former Jet Jonathan Goodwin may be the new center. That leaves free agent bust (up to now) Jermane Mayberry, draft bust (up to now) Jon Stinchcomb, and a bunch of people you never heard of trying to get the final tackle position. You have to hope that the Saints aren't through bringing in new talent to compete for the jobs. You'd also think the Saints were interested in selecting tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson in the draft, but the national "experts" are under the impression that they are looking at other players and other positions.

Defensive positions to come in a later post....

07 April 2006

The Third Battle of New Orleans March 2006 Flickr Photostream

As Lake Pontchartrain began to recede from it's storm surged height (and therefore the lakewater trapped within the failed levee protection system of the City of New Orleans as well), a new problem arose: fires. What's that adage about "water, water everywhere?" Well, in this case, it wasn't needed to drink but to put out fires by a stretched-thin, exhausted New Orleans Fire Department. Getting the equipment to the site of the fire was the first challenge. The second one: fighting a fire with little or no water pressure. One NOFD firefighter told me back in January that there were a couple of times in the post-KTMB "Brownie" days firefighters were down to throwing rocks and bricks at the burning buildings to try to get certain walls or beams to fall a certain way because fighting the fire with water wasn't an option. My greatest fear was that the portions of New Orleans that actually survived the flooding--the areas with the greatest historical value and importance--were then going to burn down to the ground. Luckily, in the weeks following the storm my worse-case scenario did not unfold, but a fair amount of houses and buildings were destroyed from fire in the weeks following 29 August 2005.

The picture above taken yesterday shows an area overcome by fire on South Carrollton and Pritchard Place where six (or seven) houses, including the one above which was the former home of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, have been reduced to charred rubble. The black lines on the base of the Pritchard Place lions statue continue to serve as proof of the two to three foot floodwater along this portion of South Carrollton Avenue.

More pictures of these houses, along with a variety of shots taken around New Orleans over the past month can be seen here:

The Third Battle of New Orleans March 2006 Flickr Photostream

Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Flooding: The Result of Admitted Levee/Floodwall Design Failure

15 September 2005 (204 days ago) at JACKSON SQUARE: "Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again."

Make sure everyone you know--and everyone you don't know--(especially beyond New Orleans and Louisiana) is aware of this very important FACT:

The flooding of most of the City of New Orleans was not the result of a natural disaster, it was the result of an admitted MANMADE mistake by the federal government--specifically the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hurricane Katrina was simply the catalyst to reveal the design error.

Now (over seven friggin' months later) it is the federal government's responsibility, or better yet--it's moral and ethical duty, to right the wrongs of August 2005 to New Orleans and it's citizens. Period. There is no need for debate, Mr. President (see above), Donald Powell, Senator Bennett, Representative Hastert, et. al. If the United States is truly the great country we all claim it to be, then this challenge should not be an impossible one.

Constructing "never again" hurricane flood protection (a la post-the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927) in conjunction with substantial coastal wetlands restoration are the first steps towards mending New Orleans and her citizens, but other key steps must be implemented as well. Two examples would be fair compensation to help citizens rebuild the homes and businesses destroyed by the floodwaters (inlcuding resolution of the ongoing insurance fiascos many remain saddled with) and secondly, the publicly administered rate regulation of the insurance and private utilities industries to ensure New Orleans' viability as an affordable place to live. No one is asking for a handout as certain "pick-yourself-up-by-your bootstrap" pundits insist--the federal government's mistake led to this disaster. Therefore, the federal government must play a major role in correcting it.

The seven-month, 300,000 diaspora-ed citizens later mea culpa:

From today's Times-Picayune:
In the closest thing yet to a mea culpa, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged Wednesday that a "design failure" led to the breach of the 17th Street Canal levee that flooded much of the city during Hurricane Katrina.

Lt. Gen. Carl Strock told a Senate committee that the corps neglected to consider the possibility that floodwalls atop the 17th Street Canal levee would lurch away from their footings under significant water pressure and eat away at the earthen barriers below.

"We did not account for that occurring," Strock said after the Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "It could be called a design failure."

A botched design has long been suspected by independent forensic engineers probing the levee failures. A panel of engineering experts confirmed it last month in a report saying the "I-wall" design could not withstand the force of the rising water in the canal and triggered the breach.

But until Wednesday the corps, which designed and oversaw construction of the levees, had not explicitly taken responsibility for the mistake.

"We have now concluded we had problems with the design of the structure," Strock told members of the subcommittee that finances corps operations. "We had hoped that wasn't the case, but we recognize it is the reality."

Markus' take at Wet Bank Guide: It makes clear, however, the obligation of the nation to restore us and protect us. This was not a natural disaster. It was a failure of the government to do what is promised. It failed to protect us. The last time the government failed so stupendously, they emptied the public purse into the lap of New York, and declared wars to cover for their ineptitude.

Kinch's take at Building Big Easy: I also hope that this admission sheds light on the government's role in this disaster that public pressure can be put to bear on the government to make ammends for its failure.