New Orleans CityBusiness Editorial: New Orleans Needs Unity in Recovery
I think this piece from New Orleans CityBusiness is dead-on:
May 12, 2006 2:57 PM
NEW ORLEANS — A variation on the insolent "It’s the economy, stupid" rallying cry that accompanied George Bush Sr. along the way to becoming a one-term president is serenading Mayor C. Ray Nagin during these final few mayoral campaign days.
It’s the recovery, mayor. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof.
New Orleanians have waited for the mayor to work closely with the state and federal government to shift this recovery into a higher gear. It hasn’t happened. In listening to the mayor campaign, there’s no sense of the urgency many of us feel about how slowly the recovery is progressing.
CityBusiness called for visible actions from city government following Katrina, which would have encouraged citizens and instilled confidence in federal decision-makers. It has not happened.
Our mayor’s poor planning capability, illustrated most recently by his incomplete evacuation ideas undeveloped beyond the brainstorming stage nine months after Katrina, have betrayed this city and robbed it of opportunities.
For example, New Orleans remains littered with cars that should have and could have been hauled away long ago. The performance by Waste Management Inc. in terms of its garbage collections is a disgrace yet the city continues to tolerate its finicky pickup policies.
City finances, shredded by the loss of business sales tax receipts and property taxes from citizens, remain a puzzling question mark. The only plan the mayor seems to have is to rely on federal largesse.
The city should be marketing New Orleans fiercely with all the financial incentives the Gulf Opportunity Zone and other programs have to offer. This is not happening in any appreciable way. If it is, the mayor has not communicated that message.
The mayor also has remained mum on the intensifying crime rates that continue to erode the feeling of safety in the city. Murder rates have already returned to the unacceptable levels that existed pre-Katrina.
Worst of all, and to his great discredit, the mayor has divided the city by his campaign remarks rather than trying to mend its splintered spirit. His Chocolate City comments remain the most obvious reminder of his inability to speak to the coalescing and unity needed to further our recovery.
The next mayor must make it clear that government is not going to save New Orleans. He must call on citizens to volunteer time and effort, much like the Katrina Krewe has done, to augment insufficient city services. We must start taking care of ourselves.
In return, we deserve active and urgent leadership intent on showing the entire world that New Orleans will recover. The recovery will not just happen. It takes careful planning, aggressive lobbying, constant monitoring and the ability to prioritize.
It takes a thoughtful unifying presence in City Hall. United, we can stand again. Divided, we’ll continue to fail.
Last night I attended a fundraiser for my child's school. In the general conversation with other parents, the mayor's race inevitably came up with several of them. Everyone I talked with has come to the same conclusion: Nagin's shelf life as Mayor of New Orleans has expired. His divisive comments post-KTMB as well as his ineffectiveness and his "hey, man--its all going to work out but I don't have any hard facts to back anything I say up" demeanor thus far in 2006 demands his removal from office. The national perception of Nagin is so tainted that this city giving him another term as our mayor is nearly the equivalent irrationality of Washington, DC re-electing Marion Barry in 1994 following his infamous video-taped drug incident. Perhaps that comparison is a bit extreme, but from a national perception angle it has similarities. How much of a joke was the District of Columbia when Barry got elected? What New Orleans doesn't need now is to be anymore of a punchline.
The challenges facing New Orleans on every level are incredible and unparalleled--no doubt. But they aren't impossible to overcome given effective leadership. I voted for Nagin twice in 2002 and up until January 2006 believed he was doing an adequate--and perhaps even admirable--job given the grim realities of a post-KTMB New Orleans. (This belief may change upon completion of Douglas Brinkley's THE GREAT DELUGE.) The past five months of Nagin's leadership in 2006 have gotten progressively worse and it is now simply a time for a change. I know many have reservations about Mitch Landrieu's family background (some would call a political machine), but I believe the City of New Orleans has a much better opportunity for recovery with Mayor Landrieu than a re-elected Mayor Nagin.
And finally, Rob Couhig (someone who I actually have always liked before he had his political aspirations)--should be ashamed of himself . . . All his support of Nagin does is sell the City of New Orleans out for the assumed long-term gains of his party statewide. They have no care whatsoever what happens to New Orleans in the short-term--all that matters is getting the Governorship and the Senate in 2008. In fact, the more deplorable the conditions are within New Orleans the better for them in their eyes--thus the support for the next-four year punching bag "hey, man" Nagin.
TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Election, Nagin, Landrieu, Couhig