30 June 2006

Photo du Jour: Unhappy Lake Terrace Neighbors Speak Through Spray Paint

As a supplement to Tim's "What Does Your Yard Sign Say" post, I offer the above TBNO Photo du Jour taken about two weeks ago. This spray-painted sign sits in the overgrown lawn in front of an uncleaned once-inundated home at the Y-intersection of Leon C. Simon and Robert E. Lee Boulevards in Lake Terrace/Gentilly near the University of New Orleans--and the infamous London Avenue Breach. The last two words, not able to be clearly read because of the high grass reads "Inconsiderate Owner." I haven't made it back by the property since to see if the message on the sign provided any motivation for the owners or relatives of the owners to clean the site. These are the sort of frustrations that abound throughout previously-flooded portions of New Orleans. If these owners have chosen to move on and settle elsewhere--they've "had enough," then fine. But they (or their kin) should respect their former neighbors who have made the opposite decision to return and resume their lives in New Orleans and in their old neighborhood. I don't know the particular situation, but the fact this sign was created by a neighbor who likely knows the owner gives me the impression this owner is just being thoughtless and would rather just walk away from the mess instead of having to deal with it. Anyone know the details?

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Gentilly, Lake Terrace, Flood, Sign

29 June 2006

A Letter to Our Friends Across the Pond . . .

Dear Northshore Residents:

Would you tell your people over there to stop blaming all their crime problems on New Orleans. It's laughable. Four people get killed in a trailer park over a drug deal gone bad and now all of a sudden your increases in car theft, burglary, and other petty crimes are 100% New Orleanians fault. Oh, oh this is the best: the various police agencies in St. Tammany Parish need help from the Louisiana State Police. HA.

Houston already did this in the hope of securing some FEMA money. Nice to see St. Tammany follow suit. St. Tammany Parish got what it wanted and deserved. Remember the plan: Grow, grow, grow so "your kind" can leave New Orleans and the Southshore. You know, put subdivisions, walmarts, and all the other accomidations anywhere and everywhere to be the "big city". Well you wanted to be the "big city", so here have some big city problems. Don't ask the state to bail you out when the population has overgrown its police force.

The fact is if YOUR parish government hadn't whored itself out to developers for so long and actually restricted development, home prices would be too high for "them" to invade your happy little town. I know that supply and demand thing is really tricky.

I'm not even going to entertain the notion of criminals driving 35-45 minutes to the Northshore to commit crime because of the National Guard and State Police in New Orleans. It's freaking ridiculous. Do they pay the $3 toll too? In your eyes they were too poor and didn't have the means to leave New Orleans when a killer storm was coming, but now they can afford to come to your happy little town.

So I ask thee, ole fleer across the pond: Is this what the people in your "hood" really think?

Because if you do then I think the St. Tammany police departments were waiting for something like this to happen. When it did, it was a sign of relief because now by blaming New Orleans they can beef up their Pre-Katrina already understaffed police forces with state/federal money.

Lastly, so I don't sound too negative I offer a solution. If New Orleans is such a drain on your community, blow up the Twin Span and Causeway and get a job over there. After all, the City of New Orleans is nothing but a drain on your community and removing that link will ultimately get rid of 100% of your crime problem.

Someone sick of the @#!

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana State Police, Houston, NOPD

Photo du Jour: Rooster's in Mid City

Senator John Blutarksy, Paul S. Pierce, and I headed into Mid City this morning as Mr. Pierce wanted to check on the progress with the construction crew of the reconstruction of his once-flooded, now in full steam renovation mode Victorian Double. Another purpose of the trip: lunch. The Mid City Juan's Flying Burrito (the one before the storm I'd refer to as the one I can bring my mom to--versus the Magazine Street location) has been renovated and is back open for business as of this week. One problem--they don't open (for now at least) until noon. I stuck my head in and JFB employees were there getting ready, but were not ready to open yet. The place looked good. So instead we decided to try a new post-KTMB restaurant--Rooster's Grill and Bar. Rooster's is on North Carrollton directly across from the still shuttered Venezia, A. Brocato's, New York Pizza, and Pho Tau Bay and is in the former location of the short-run pre-KTMB Lil' Ray's. All three of us ordered sandwiches and all three thought the food was good enough to give the place future business. The French Bread on the sandwiches was up to New Orleans par. The head guy came out to talk to us and said for now they were going to concentrate on lunch and dinner for the time being and hopefully in the future be able to be a breakfast place--as was the pre-KTMB predecessor Lil Ray's. We got there a bit early for lunch so there weren't many patrons, but by the time we finished several tables had filled up. The adjacent former Hola has permits in the window and from the outside appears to be nearly fully renovated and ready for to open for business. Nothing on the permit indicates exactly what it is due to become other than a food establishment. Wit's End on the corner appears to be fully renovated and back open as well. This particular stretch of North Carrollton sat under four-plus feet of water following the floodwall failures ten months ago (to the day) in August 2005.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Carrollton Avenue, Louisiana

28 June 2006

The Great South Carrollton/South Claiborne Walgreen's Debate: Now to the Orchestrated PR Campaign Level

I recieved this email from a Carrollton resident a few minutes ago:

I was driving past the intersection this morning around 10AM and observed two news cameras and several suits in front of the camera with a large diagram on an easel. Being the busy body I am, I parked, got out and stood around to hear whatever I could hear.

I am not sure what they were up to, but those in front of the camera were all wearing stickers saying "Tell Councilwoman Midura Carrollton Neighbors Want a Grocery Store." The story line was how dangerous the corner is, even to the extent of saying several murders happened there and all they were asking for was a setback variance for parking. At the conclusion of the event, they handed out a copy of the footprint they were trying to get approved. When I asked for one, the guy asked, "Who are you?" He reluctantly gave me one . . . .

Ah yes--the old FEAR tactic. "Several murders." Really? How about this novel idea? The property was purposely allowed to deteriorate to it's current pathetic condition over the PAST SEVEN YEARS in the hopes some crime incident would occur, thus allowing whomever to cite the crime element as the reason to relax the rules. No need to be concerned with the South Carrollton-specific overlay zone created by the city planning department with sound urban planning methodology to make sure uses on the properties along this street are appropriately designed and site planned. This orchestrated PR campagin is trying to use fear and the fact that most people don't understand what this whole overlay thing is all about--its more than just moving the building back feet from the street.

Guys, I hate to tell you this, but there is a good chance the proposed grocery store is intended only as a carrot to dangle in front of the residents and politicians to legitimize the laxing of laws so residents will say, "Well--if allowing the Walgreen's to be built even if we don't need another one and even though they have a bad history of abandoning stores in our city is what it takes to finally get the grocery in Carrollton that we longer have because of Walgreens in the first place, than so be it." That's the point. The inclusion of an adjacent grocery store (not even legally part of this project) is a diversion. I have no proof that the Robert Fresh Market will not ever come into frution if this variance is granted, but I can say from looking at the proposed site plan that if I am Mr. Robert, I'm not happy with the sight lines or the location of the store in the current plan--its doesn't give him or his store the absolute best chance for success. This site plan is all about Walgreen's and not any grocery store. The ridiculous thing is that this could all be solved with the proper design for both combined in a side-by-side layout, but Walgreen's must have their drive-thru and only does stand alone stores now.

Of course, the big free-for-all is tonight. Care to see preservationists contend with an orchestrated, corporate-funded PR campaign--make it over to the City Hall Council Chambers tonight at 7pm. Fun, fun.

Oh ya--and a special hello to the online Walgreen's PR crew up in Wheeling, Illinois. I hope you've learned a few things reading TBNO about what's happening down in "our part of the world."

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

Suspect Device: Latest Cartoon

Check out Suspect's latest cartoon "Bring It On, Bitch" which can be seen here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Nagin, Blanco, Vitter, Levee

26 June 2006

Roving Band of Transvestite Shoplifters Terrorize Magazine Street?!

Uhhh, did anyone else catch this? You can't make this kind of stuff up. A roving band of transvestite shoplifters working as a team, preying on shops on Magazine Street. Unbelieveable.

This after David Lee Roth goes bluegrass. We are truly living in Bizzaro World.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Magazine Street, Uptown

South Claiborne/South Carrollton Intersection Redevelopment Town Hall Meeting: 28 June 2006, 7pm at City Hall

Current proposed Walgreen's site plan with offsite Robert's "pad" (they are separate projects) before the New Orleans City Council. No label on the site plan marks the terminus of the St. Charles Streetcar Line a few hundred feet away from the main entrance to the store. I guess the engineering firm in Pensacola that put it together was unaware of the proximity to one of the main modes of transportation potential consumers would utilize to get to the store. Way to do that site inventory guys and way to show absolutely no sensitivity towards the site. That would be Design 101. Bravo.

Just received a bulk City Council District A email with an attached flyer from Shelley Midura's Chief of Staff Alex Morgan. A web-accessible version can be seen here.

From the flyer: The Council will vote on issues related to the building of a Robert's Fresh Foods grocery store and Walgreen's Drugstore on the corner of Carrollton & Claiborne this Thursday.

The "issues" refer to a needed zoning variance to allow Walgreen's to place a parking lot between the proposed building and the intersection. The current zoning law at that location does not allow such a "setback" site plan more suitable for suburban locations than inner city ones. This corner has such significance as a major intersection in the city and also as the terminus to the St. Charles Streetcar Line that the urban fabric must be preserved. From an urban planning design standpoint, it is a no brainer not to allow the as is proposal. An "urban" design solution needs to be found--not a suburban "plop and drop" one from Walgreen's Autocad Template #21. Granting this variance would be a major mistake which could potentially foster a dangerous precedence on South Carrollton and other major thoroughfares throughout the highly urban "old" areas (non-New Orleans East/Lower Algiers) of the City of New Orleans. South Carrollton Avenue from this intersection to the Pontchartrain Expressway has already been sacrificed to the suburban drive thru worshipping gods because of the acceptance by the city of construction in the 1970s and 1980s ane even 1990's in no way suitable for such a delicate, urban environment. In this day and age where New Orleans fights for it's continued existence, we cannot knowingly repeat such a mistake.

It is critical that the City Council and Our Mayor (tm) understand the majority of residents in the adjacent neighborhoods of Carrollton, Broadmoor, Fountainbleau, Gert Town, and Hollygrove are adamantly opposed to this proposed design and that the law in place must not be allowed to ammended for Walgreen's insensitive "maximized sight line," car-based proposal. Personally, I have no interest in a new Walgreen's at that location given the proliferation of drug stores throughout the city. Additionally, Walgreen's (along with Mr. Robert and his Robert Fresh Foods) already has an indifferent history of littering our city with abandoned stores (Canal Street/Jefferson Davis Parkway and South Carrollton/Earhart Boulevard). Both of these entities has done nothing to remotely deserve any concessions. Also, Carrollton residents are in the position of no grocery store in the first place because of . . . . Walgreen's--when they swept the lease away from the Riverbend Shopping Center Winn Dixie back in 1997 or 1998 by offering the building's owner substantially more money. Yet another reason to not give one inch to them.

The priority is a grocery store. Period. If its got to be Robert Fresh Foods, then so be it. The real world reality is that Walgreen's owns or is in legal contract to own/lease the commercially-zoned property giving them the right to build a store on the site. I recognize this. However, the City of New Orleans and it's citizens make the rules, not Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen's (phone number 847/940.2500). If we are stuck with yet another scar in the 50+ year old "Uptown Drug Store Wars," it should at least be built following the law and beyond. No half-assed compromises. Please make every effort to attend the town hall meeting this Wednesday or minimally send an email to Mrs. Midura to voice your opinion on this proposal. WE, the citizens decide OUR future . Ask Jay Batt.

When: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 7pm.
Where: New Orleans City Hall, City Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido Street.

This has already been a bad few days with the Coliseum Square Baptist Church debacle courtesy of J.T. Curtis and GIOE's Truck Hauling and Demolition and our apparently inept, city government. Where was HDLC in this?????? Lets see if our city government can not mishandle this affair. The future of the City of New Orleans depends on it. Still more to come on this past Saturday's fun, by the way . . . .

UPDATE, 27 JUNE 2006: I attended the MCNO meeting last night and had an interesting conversation with a very good source regarding the Walgreen's proposal. Long story short--apparently there is a good possibility the Fountainbleau neighborhood group is going to come out in favor of the granting the zoning variance. Their logic: they just desire something, anything, to happen with that property. Hey guys, this is exactly what Walgreen's wants, was their strategy, and is the reason they've let the exisitng buildings sit there and rot for the past severn years so eventaully the city and the neighborhood groups would be begging them to just do something regardless of any laws on the books. Please don't fall victim to their trap. Force them to follow the law, minimally.

Previous TBNO posts on this particular subject can be seen here and here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning

25 June 2006

And on the 300th Day Post-KTMB . . . Something Smells--In Addition To My Neighbor's Rotting Refrigerator in Her Courtyard Part 1

Coliseum Square Baptist Church: September 2005, Post-KTMB

Oh, boy. What a day today (or yesterday now) was. I needed a drink after it and got several at the official bar of Krewe Char de Guerre (ok, ONE of the official bars of KCdG), or how about the official Vieux Carre Bar of the KCdG--The Chart Room. I'm tired now and need to go to bed . . .

Therefore, read Maitri and her VatulBlog on the travesty that occurred Friday and Saturday regarding the ramrod opportunistic, let's hurry up and tear this bitch down before anyone can stop it demolition of the recently fire damaged Coliseum Square Baptist Church. Loki at Humid City also has extensive coverage including video on the hit job.

I am told OUR MAYOR (tm) is in Maryland today, man. I am glad he was around to act as the leader he is supposed to be, man. J.T. Curtis (you know--as in Football for Jesus), reportedly pastor of the chuch (I thought his dominion was limited to HaraRidge), paid for the demolition but happens to be currently vacationing in Hawaii. Amen. Over the past 300 days Post-KTMB it takes the City of New Orleans Government weeks to do virtually anything given the unprecedented challenges currently beleaguering this city, yet amazingly less than 48 hours after the last cypress beam and pile of bricks had stopped smoldering the wrecking ball was mercilessly unleashed. Something smells foul. And New Orleans just got one step closer towards the dull un-fulfilling soullessness of Everywhereelse, USA. Yippppppppppee. Give credit to newly elected councilperson Stacy Head for making at least a token stand of voicing her displeasure of the demolition this morning . . . Her effort is appreciated.

I'll write the narrative of my adventure at Coliseum Square tomorrow . . . but all you need to know is this:

Recite main chorus from Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" which is:

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

Repeat 25 times. Then, you'll understand. Today's farce I am afraid is just the beginning.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Lower Garden District, Coliseum Square, Nagin

23 June 2006

Finn McCool's Thanks its Supporters

Ever since Finn McCool's Irish Pub has opened it has been a favorite for Mid-City residents as well as all New Orleanians. It is known for it's truly diverse ethnic crowd and the best pint of Guiness in the city. The owners have put together a very touching 'Thank You' video that chronicles Finn McCool's brief but rocky history. BRILLIANT!

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Finn McCool's, Video

Festival of Neighborhoods: Saturday, 24 June 2006 at City Park Botanical Gardens

From 10am-4pm tommorrow the Festival of Neighborhoods, a collabrative event sponsored by several non-profits including the Preservation Resource Center and Mid City Neighborhood Association, will be held at the City Park Botanic Gardens. The purpose of this event is to showcase the grassroots efforts by the various City of New Orleans neighborhoods that have taken place over the course of the last ten months.

Check out the Neighborhoods' Planning Network site for more info.

Be there . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Neighborhood, Festival of Neighborhoods, Urban Planning

22 June 2006

WBG: America Cuts and Runs

Read this from Markus at Wet Bank Guide and forward the address or the text to everyone you know, especially those elsewhere . . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, NOPD

Cameron Parish: 21 June 2006

I have in-laws that live in Sulphur--to the west of Lake Charles. They took my wife and me down to the coastal reaches of Cameron Parish Wednesday afternoon. We're now approaching double-digits in months since Hurricane Rita made landfall, and the coastline remains a shell.

Our first stop was the Holly Beach area. It was to the Lake Charles area what Grand Isle is to Southeast Louisiana. You may recall that it was completely obliterated. Well, it's still virtually empty. I saw some cars on the beach. The number of beachgoers was less than 10 and this would have normally been a weekend where the beach would have been wall-to-wall with visitors. Precious few pre-Rita camps are still standing (and the ones that remained were gutted or destroyed). Five to ten new buildings are being worked on, but that's about it. It's still virtually a ghost town. Cars are twisted and bundled like nothing I've ever seen before.

After Holly Beach, we took the ferry east to the Town of Cameron. There's some work being done there, but it remains a disaster. Buildings, machine shops, offshore facilities and houses are still down. According to the in-laws, the school in Cameron has recently been bulldozed, so that's completely gone now too. It's just sad. There's a closed, makeshift snowball stand in town that is using aluminum foil to seal the corners of the structure. Trash and rubble are still everywhere. I took some photos at the designated Rita dumpsite. It's just several rows of hundreds and hundreds of yards of junk, sometimes packed what looks like about 50 feet high.

As we headed north back towards Lake Charles, we drove through the community of Creole. Pretty much nothing there either. As you head from Creole to the high-rise bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway, you see houses cast about in the vast wetland areas miles away from any highway or any road. These apparently were picked up and settled many, many miles from where they once were. The in-laws told me that one family found their house FOURTEEN MILES from its original location.

Nope. They're not okay in Southwest Louisiana either.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Rita, Cameron Parish, Holly Beach


Evan of evanmather.com is a filmmaker and a native New Orleanian whose parents did the Red Stick Shuffle in the early 1970s resulting in his growing up in Baton Rouge. We became friends in the late 1980s while both attending college in the same major. His not-yet-completed current project is entitled SCENIC HIGHWAY which he refers to as a portrait of Baton Rouge. His films have a unique visual style--especially his computer animated ones--and highlight his wry sense of humor.

Via YouTube, click on the image below to see the faux Centroplex Gun and Knife Show commercial to be featured within SCENIC HIGHWAY:

His webpage contains over twenty years of his film work viewable online. I'd suggest checking out FANSOM THE LIZARD, ICARUS OF PITTSBURGH, BUENA VISTA FIGHT CLUB, and the golden oldie classic QUENTIN TARANTINO'S STAR WARS.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Evan Mather, Baton Rouge, Films

150 Year Old Church Gone. More Fire.

Yet another fire overnight.

Is there going to be anything left to New Orleans???? How bout we just take out the whole block--its just the Lower Garden District. A Cracker Barrel could go there. Or how bout an Olive Garden.

Ten years from now: Ya, I used to live in New Orleans. I survived the flood, but didn't survive the fires.

Excuse the sarcasm, but this is getting ridiculous.

Footnote on the story: According to neworleanschurches.com, the church was built in 1854 and sustained major structural damage during Hurricane Besty in 1965. The church was listed as structurally unsafe to enter even before the fire.

So an abandoned/unused church just spontaneously combusts???? Poof. Something smells.

UPDATE from NOLA.com: The fire left Coliseum Place Baptist Church, at 1376 Camp St., in ruins. The church, which was more than 150-years old, sat in historic Coliseum Square but has had no utilities since 2004, firefighters said

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Fire, Lower Garden District, Camp Street

21 June 2006

2Millionth Web Log/Suspect Device: Told to Stay Quiet Despite What Was Witnessed

Read this from 2Millionth Web Log. I dig the "Southern Strategy" assertion and I agree 100%.

And then this from Suspect Device (the second part of the post specifically, as the first part doesn't pertain to New Orleans, but is worthwhile reading because it illustrates yet another example of the habitual lying).

The most notable part of the original WWL content that both above posts link to:

The video they shot of the levee breach was used in the recently completed Congressional investigation. And while they testified, they were told to stay quiet about what they saw until it was over.

TOLD TO STAY QUIET?????? WHY? Because the reality didn't match the contrived story circulated as the truth. So for those first several crucial months from August to say, November or so, the reported ironclad truth was that the overtopping of the 17th Street Canal floodwall and London Avenue Canal floodwall led to most of the catastrophic flooding of the City of New Orleans. Not a design or not a structural failure--not a MANMADE failure, but that the Lake Pontchartrain-fed lateral canal water simply rose above the height of the floodwall and overtook it. Under this false assumption, the resulting wasteland the majority of our city became is specifically no one's fault because the flooding was simply an unstoppable natural disaster. This company line is reported for months and months and in the mind of that asshole cab driver in Detroit there is no individual culpability for the destruction of New Orleans. Its no one's fault. And Mr. Cab Driver (cue the Lenny Kravitz) dismisses Orleanians as being stupid for living here (not caring or understanding the geopolitical relevance or importance of New Orleans and its location) and moves on to the new news cycle and/or the latest Distraction du Jour.

But yet, here we have videotape taken by several NOFD firefighters on the morning of 29 August 2005 high above West End in a multi-story building that directly contradicts that story--the myth. They were told to stay quiet until the Congressional inquiry intending to determine what happened was complete. What? Huh? Can you think of other incidents in our country's history where people (er, witnesses) perhaps with contradicting information to the official story were told to "keep quiet?" I certainly can.

The City of New Orleans drowned because of inadequate flood protection--mostly dealing with poorly concieved, designed, and constructed floodwalls, not because the natural forces were beyond the limits of protection. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District is the federal agency with the duty of providing the flood protection of New Orleans--since 1892. They are (now admittedly) responsible for the flooding of the City of New Orleans, however, it is not that their staff are complete incompetents or their rationale is completely flawed. There are many factors that affect Corps-constructed projects from concept, to design, and to implementation and TBNO Contributor I.D. Reilly discussed this in a post in April. He is correct and without getting into specifics, trust me--Mr. Reilly knows what he is talking about. For instance, the repeated slashing of funding for the Corps in recent pre-KTMB years earmarked for flood control projects certainly didn't help New Orleans.

Now granted, the truth of what really happened (design failures) has come out in the past several months thanks to independent, scientific-based (reality-based) research teams. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to their credit, has publicly admitted their culpability, but the announcement by Lt. General Carl Strock didn't quite get the fanfare it should have received. I heard the crickets chirping upon its announcement . . . But because overtopping and a uncontrollable natural disaster was the story-line in the months proceeding 29 August 2005, the vast majority of our fellow countrymen reached their conclusion a long time ago. Reality has nothing to do with it.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Levees

19 June 2006

Militarization of New Orleans

St. Charles Avenue at Fern Street, November 2005

Here they come again. The first time during the past year that the National Guard and Louisiana State Police came to New Orleans, they came to rescue people stranded by one of the largest man-made disasters in the history of the United States. Now they are coming because of rampant crime, including murders, in New Orleans. Blanco was quoted as saying,

"I will not tolerate criminal behavior. We must protect our citizens. Having more law enforcement patrolling the streets is a direct deterrent to the criminal element. Criminals are not welcome in New Orleans or anywhere else in this state."

Huh? Where was all of this concern before Katrina? Crime has just suddenly appeared in New Orleans since Katrina? Or maybe Nagin and Blanco are just trying to make the new illegal immigrant population feel more at home by having the military stand in the streets with automatic weapons.....

I understand the need, especially now with fewer police officers, to make sure the city is as safe as possible considering the devestation and abandonment that has occurred since Katrina. But if you want to truly scare away conventions and tourists during hurricane season, as well as former residents trying to make the decision to return back to New Orleans, make sure you tell them that you have to call out the National Guard and State Police to stop all of the murders and to get control of crime in the city.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, NOPD, National Guard, Louisiana State Police

Abandon Houston

OK, maybe abandon is a harsh word. How about relocate? Bottom line.....Houston is flooding again. Heavy rains made portions of I-10 and Beltway 8 impassable. William P. Hobby Airport was closed for two hours. The mayor took a helicopter tour and said he saw "block after flooded block"


Anyone remember Tropical Storm Allison? It was June 2001 and it flooded Downtown Houston.

That's twice in five years and neither instance was a hurricane event. I think we should consider relocating Houston. It is clear that they will continue to flood and the city can't seem to do anything about it.

I especially love this quote from the mayor of Houston about this weekends flooding:

"We live in Houston, Texas, and you can't be surprised at flooding in Houston," White said. "When you have this much rain in a short period of time at a place that's near sea level, then you still have some real risk."

The bold is my emphasis.

Check out the pictures from TS Allison (2001):

Look familiar? Imagine a Cat 5. I think its time to relocate Houston.

Hollis P. Wood

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Houston, Flood, Texas

City Council District A "Town Hall" Meeting Tonight

A New Orleans City Council District A "Town Hall" Meeting is being held tonight at Jesuit High School. According to an email sent by a District A Councilwoman Shelley Midura staffer, the meeting is to specifically address the proposed construction of a Walgreens and a Robert Fresh Market at the former location of the National/Canal Villerie and Rite Aid/K&B on the corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne Avenues.

Previous TBNO posts on this particular subject can be seen here and here.

Time and place:
Monday, 19th June 2006--7pm
Jesuit High School/St. Ignatius Hall, 3rd Floor
4133 Banks Street, Mid City

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton

18 June 2006

Newcomb Boulevard Aspiring to be Audubon Place: Evidence for Concern for the Future of New Orleans

A few weeks ago I noticed the appearance of a "No Outlet" sign on Newcomb Boulevard at its intersection with St. Charles Avenue. Additionally, I have observed an off-duty police patrol car (sometimes unmarked, sometimes Orleans Parish Levee Board Police, sometimes NOPD I think) at that corner virtually every time I've driven past that intersection since then. In KTMB distraction-derived ramrod policy #5,023, seems the City of New Orleans has allowed Newcomb Boulevard to essentially become a private, practically-gated community (Audubon Place, Jr.) by blocking off the access to Freret Street making it a dead end from St. Charles. I do not recall any public discourse on allowing or disallowing the removal of Newcomb Boulevard as a publicly accessible right of way. A few years ago, residents of Trianon Place in Fountainbleau lobbied the City of New Orleans to restrict that public street's access. Those homeowners were successful in getting the city to block off the lakeside end of the street, but from what I recall there was a process involving the opportunity for public comment on the proposed modification. One of the main issues brought up with the Trianon Place proposal was that the accessibility of garbage trucks, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles to the street is severely impacted by cutting it off with no design modifications (i.e. a cul-de-sac or a turnaround spur) to the street itself. The same issue applies to Newcomb.

To my knowledge there has been no public process in the Newcomb Boulevard case--the "you can't come in here" signs and Green Zone-like concrete barriers just up and appeared one day in April or May. Was a vehicular circulation study done to forecast the volume impact on other streets in the area once Newcomb is basically removed from the grid? Somehow I doubt it--especially since the City Planning Commission staff has been widdled down to like six people which is absolutely pathetic given the tenuous position the City of New Orleans finds itself in post-KTMB. People such as myself living in adjacent portions of Uptown and Carrollton that sometimes utilize Newcomb as an alternative to Broadway to get lakeside towards Freret Street from The Avenue no longer have that option. And that, of course, is the stated purpose of closing the street--coupled with the fear-driven belief that closing the street off to the public and having its own private security (off-duty police officers) will make its residents safer.

Hey, Newcomb Boulevard . . . You want to live in a gated community on a cul-de-sac? Might I suggest you shouldn't live in Uptown New Orleans. Move to a place that is a master-planned community like Kingwood, Texas full of cul-de-sacs by initial design. The fact that most of our city is a grid that developed over time with no master plan pre-dating the existence of police powers (zoning) in many areas is part of what makes our neighborhoods what they are. I suspect that the limiting of access of public streets through gates and other methods (walls, bollards, etc.) and the decomposition of the fully accessible street grid that makes up most of New Orleans will be proposed and supported in the post-KTMB redevelopment of certain areas of the city--especially Lakeview and maybe Gentilly as well.

The Newcomb Boulevard situation represents yet another instance of policies and decisions given a pass by our city government that pre-KTMB likely would not have happened or at least minimally would have at least been given opportunity for public discussion and an opportunity for galvenized opposition (i.e. the Uptown anti-high rise effort two years ago). I have real concern with this Administration with what other "improvements" are going to be forced upon New Orleans in the name of progress (especially demolition of historic buildings). This city has resisted that song and dance since the 1950s and even earlier thus allowing us to retain our character unlike virtually every other major American city. Now after one watershed event nearly sixty years of preservation are going to be allowed to chipped away because of a complete reversal in previously unquestioned "preserve at all cost" principles. Drive around our city today. Notice how a building here and a building there have been demolished. Its happening every single day. And I am not talking about less than thirty year old buildings inundated with 7-10 feet of water in Lakeview or Gentilly or New Orleans East. A Mid City friend tells me a building on the St. John Church property (next to the Canal Street Robert Market shell) that pre-KTMB would have never been allowed to be taken down (or again at least without an opportunity for voiced opposition such as the Stuart Hall Affair three years ago).

Mayor Nagin's "unprecedented building boom" coming soon to a theatre near you worries me greatly . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Newcomb Boulevard, Uptown, Louisiana

16 June 2006

Mid-South Wrestling Lives On . . . In Monroe

Imagine its 4:30pm on a Saturday afternoon in New Orleans in the early 1980's. Tune your television to Channel 26, WGNO. This isn't the ABC Monday Night Football Channel 26 of today. Instead, its the independent, the no nightly local news, the playing the really bad 1960's monster movies to be watched with the 3D glasses distributed by Time Saver, and the round-the-clock Seafood City commercial-playing WGNO. The program you'd see on this channel at 4:30pm on a given Saturday afternoon in 1982?? Mid-South Wrestling . . . .

I was 12 in 1982 and TBNO contributor Hollis P. Wood was 13 in 1982. Together we would watch the regionally syndicated Mid-South Wrestling not because we thought it was real, but because we knew it was so amateurish and fake. I remember laughing practically to tears watching it back then. My memory is that most of the televised matches always seemed to be taped in Shreveport, but I remember seeing advertisements for non-televised matches held at the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium and even recall some for "mega" matches held in the Louisiana Superdome. The tour had a regional circuit in places like Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Houma, Morgan City, Lake Charles, and towns in Mississippi and Arkansas. I think the St. Bernard Cultural Center in Chalmette was also a regular circuit stop. When it came through my town, I always wanted to go see it in person but my parents refused to allow me. About two or three weeks ago, the topic of Mid-South Wrestling came up between Hollis P. Wood and I and we both agreed we'd love to see some of that vintage footage.

While in Northern Louisiana this past week for my job, I learned dreams can indeed come true. Monday after a full day of working "in the field," I made it back to my hotel room in Monroe and turned on the television. As I flipped around the channels, I stopped on the Monroe UPN affiliate because to my complete disbelief and amazement, Mid-South Wrestling--from July 1982--was there to fulfill my recently stated desire. Keep in mind this is in the 6:30pm-7:00pm weekday timeslot, for god's sake. Does not that seem like a high profile time to be showing 20+ year old wrestling matches? Perhaps, but not in Monroe. Wow.

All expectations were met: the footage was about as cheesy and as dated as possible and it featured a good portion of the "talent" with notable exception to JYD (Junk Yard Dog) and Kumala, Ugandan Warrior. Here are some screen shots to savor:

This flashback brought to you in 2006, just as in 1982, by SEAFOOD CITY (1826 North Broad) and UNIVERSAL FURNITURE (home of The Chairman and The Chairwoman--who happens to be Becky Allen).

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid-South Wrestling, WGNO, Louisiana

15 June 2006

PGR: Neighborhood Planning Rules to be Decided on Saturday

See Schroeder's most recent post.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Neighborhood, Louisiana Recovery Authority, Louisiana

Stat du Jour: 2005/2006 NOFD Fires, Staff, and Firehouses Comparison

Source: NOFD/15 June 2006 Times-Picayune (print copy only)

NOFD Reported Fires*:
First Half 2005: 1,457
First Half 2006: 1,054

NOFD Firefighters/Staff:
2005: 741
2006: 689

NOFD Operating Firehouses:
2005: 31
2006: 16

So although it seems like there have been an incredible amount of fires in the first five months of 2006, the numbers surprisingly indicate fewer fires than last year . . . Are the fires just getting more local press than before because of the "what could possibly happen next" post-KTMB atmosphere within New Orleans????

*-"First Half" in above matrix refers to 1 January 2005/2006 thru 1 June 2005/2006.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, NOFD, Fires, Louisiana

14 June 2006

...And These Two Guys Aren't From New Orleans

Reggie Bush, with help from his shoe company (Adidas), is donating $86,000 to get City Park Tad Gormley Stadium ready for this year's high school football season. As you all know the stadium looked more like a swimming pool when KTMB-related flooding submerged New Orleans. Reggie and Adidas hope to raise enough money next year to put in Field Turf--which is what is now used in the Superdome.

If Reggie can perform on the field as well as he has off it, it will be a good year.

Also, I beleive it was on WWL News last night, City Councilman Arnie Fielkow has contacted officials of the NFL, NBA and MLB about participating in the rebuilding of NORD (New Orleans Recreation Department). Just like every other aspect of New Orleans city goverment, NORD was wrecked by KTMB. Mr. Feilkow is using his connections and experience in professional sports to get something done. I know nothing has happened yet but, I take this as a great first step. After all, Mr. Fielkow has only been on the New Orleans City Council for a week.

Both stories are good news for kids and sports in New Orleans.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints Arnie FielkowTad Gormley Stadium .

Gentilly Civic Improvement Association: 10 June 2006 UNO/CUPA Powerpoint Presentation

The UNO/College of Urban and Public Affairs Powerpoint Presentation to the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association can be seen here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Gentilly, UNO CUPA, Louisiana

The Saulet Apartments: Yep, New Construction Blows

About time there is some mention of what is going on with the Saulet Apartment complex in the Lower Garden District. I noticed (braces placed on balconies) and had heard before KTMB that the place was built very poorly which the above article discusses. This is the sort of thing that really concerns me regarding the supposed upcoming building boom in New Orleans as well as the ongoing repair/renovation work by our carpetbaggery friends.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Soulet Apartments, Lower Garden District, Louisiana

10 June 2006

William Jefferson and David Vitter

William Jefferson and David Vitter are examples of congressional representatives that are incapable of true leadership. Furthermore, they are an embarrassement to Louisiana's citizens. No matter your partisanship, or political views, one must recognize that William Jefferson and David Vitter are well educated, well travelled individuals that should be capable of honest and knowledgeable leadership and representation. Both Harvard educated and representing the New Orleans metro area, one would expect that they are intelligent and politically savy, and capable of helping New Orleans at its time of greatest need. Unfortunately they appear to be pandering patsies at best and perhaps no more than dishonest, disreputable bums.

Let us start with Senator Vitter. On CNN he told the world that on the issue of gay marriage: "I don't believe that there's an issue more important than this one. I think this debate is very healthy, and it's winning a lot of hearts and minds. I think we're going to show real progress." Wow, Mr. Vitter is obviously a fool. Maybe he needs to take a slow drive through Lakeview, Gentilly, MidCity, the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish again and rethink his priorities for his constituents. I guess all of the dead U.S. soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are fairly inconsequential to Mr. Vitter. I suppose a spend-happy Congress that is going to put our children's children in a fiscal crisis from which they may never recover does not matter to him. Rising health care costs, and uninsured hard-working citizens are no big deal. Don't worry about corporate America continuing to illegally hire illegal immigrants and getting away with it because gay marriage is our real problem. Mr Vitter, if you have any sense of decency, apologize to the people of south Louisiana immediately for this thoughtless, pandering statement.

Now on to William Jefferson. Although he has not yet been charged with any crime, Mr. Jefferson's actions give him the appearance of someone who is quite guilty. He is in the middle of a corruption scheme that has found him with $90,000 of cash in his freezer of his Washington home, FBI raids of both his houses in New Orleans and Washington, the use of National Guard troops to help him get belongings from his New Orleans' home immediately after Katrina, and has been a part of an FBI probe, including recorded conversations of bribes. Most recently the Justice Department raided his congressional office creating more publicity as other congressmen question the separation of congressional and executive powers. None of this is good for New Orleans. As a poweful congressmen on the House Ways and Means Committee, Jefferson has a tremendous amount of influence in providing assistance to the rebuidling of New Orleans. Unfortunately, another corrupt Louisiana politician is exactly what everyone outside of Louisiana expects from us. Furthermore, the Federal government must be asking how they can trust Louisiana politicians with recovery money. Will it all end up in Mr. Jefferson's freezer? Although the FBI probe and William Jefferson scandal began before Katrina, it is now impacting the all important recovery efforts. The scandal overshadows what should be most important to William Jefferson: the welfare of his constituents. In order to avoid any further damage to New Orleans, William Jefferson MUST resign and allow this scandal to pass before even more New Orleans and Louisiana corruption bashing occurs in the National media. He owes it to the people that have trusted him as a leader for the past 15 years.

Actions are what define leaders. The actions of both William Jefferson and David Vitter show that they are not capable of leading the people of New Orleans and Louisiana at a time when leadership is most needed. Instead they are fools making all of us look like we don't know how to elect decent thoughtful citizens to represent us. Louisiana and New Orleans have a bad enough political reputation; we don't need William Jefferson and David Vitter to make it worse.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, David Vitter, William Jefferson, Louisiana

09 June 2006

Mid City Neighborhood Organization Planning Session

Mid City Neighborhood Organization Planning Session
When: Saturday, 10 June 2006--10am.
Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal Street.

Info on Saturday's session from the MCNO site.

As I wrote in a post back in April, as Mid City goes New Orleans goes. I still believe this to be true.

See ya there.

UPDATE, 16 JUNE 2006: Channel 6 on Cox Communications within the city is runinng videotape of the meeting on heavy rotation. Be on the lookout for it . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Planning, MCNO

A Tropical Disturbance Brews in the Northwest Caribbean Sea

WWL TV's Carl Arredondo said tonight he believes the system will be in the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Hurricane Season 2006, Louisiana, NOAA

08 June 2006

Lake Okeechobee: South Florida's Inland Storm Surge Threat

New Orleans and Southern Louisiana are not alone. There is somewhere else in the United States that has a levee problem--or actually a dike problem. While spending this past Christmas in South Florida, I met a Palm Beach County drainage department employee who upon learning my home was in New Orleans informed me of the similar flooding potential to Palm Beach County from Lake Okeechobee. I believe the exact term he used to describe the situation: a "timebomb." Slightly larger than Lake Pontchartrain (630 square miles), Lake O (730 square miles) is an inland freshwater lake surrounded by a 143 mile dike along its entire perimeter. Similar to the 1927 and 1965 flood events which both led to the construction of New Orleans' and Louisiana's Mississippi River and hurricane protection levee systems, the Herbert Hoover Dike was constructed following the 1928 "Okeechobee Hurricane" in which 2,500 persons died from storm surge inundation pushed from Lake Okeechobee to adjacent lands.

Recently, there has been a renewed interest (I wonder why) and question about the condition and strength of the Lake Okeechobee dike system--also under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Palm Beach Post has a special section on South Florida's timebomb which appears to get updated with new related stories every few days or so.

UPDATE, 21 JUNE 2006: The Washington Post discusses the "800 pound gorilla" of the Lake O Dike.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Lake Okeechobee, Palm Beach County, Herbert Hoover Dike

New Orleans Saints: The Overhaul Continues

And the overhaul also continues on the Louisiana Superdome . . .

The Saints continue to be active in the off-season. And I am trying to keep those moves current in my 53-man roster projections.

Updated offense is (here.).

Updated defense is (here.).

Long story short, we finally have a roster full of NFL linebackers. And Jonathan Sullivan and Courtney Watson are gone. I'm pretty underwhelmed by what we got for them. But you couldn't have expected anything more for those jackasses. I'm just glad they're gone. The aggressive overhaul continues, and I'm grateful.

I will continue to update. You figure that Michael Bennett and Dwight Smith might be the next dominoes to fall. I will be looking, and will do a complete overhaul when training camp begins.

Keep the Faith.

TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints NOLA .

07 June 2006

The Third Battle of New Orleans May 2006 Flickr Photostream

Various photos taken in May 2006 around New Orleans can be seen here.

Mucho panoramas can be seen here (when I put the new ones up in the next day or so).

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flickr, Photos, May 2006

06 June 2006

Elvis Costello's (Latest) New Orleans Album

On the way back from duck hunting with the boys in Houston, we listened to a selection of desert island discs notably Bobby Zimmerman's 1989 record Oh Mercy - his hypnotically, haunting atmospheric Lanois-produced tome recorded in the Lower Garden District. Probably the best New Orleans record as recorded by a non-Yat at that. I nearly drove off the road when Davey reminded me that EC's new album with Allen Toussaint was coming out on 6/6/06.

You can follow the tracks that place EC (a good, fish eating Catholic) in New Orleans with Allen: Macca recorded "Listen To What The Man Said" at Sea Saint in the early-70s; Macca meets EC over pinball during the Tug of War/Imperial Bedroom sessions; EC records Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice" with Allen producing in 1983; Allen playing piano on EC's "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" on 1989's Spike - also recorded at Sea Saint; EC joining the Dirty Dozen Brass Band even on 1990's version of Batholomew's "That's How You Got Killed Before". Et cetera. Elvis Costello loves New Orleans.

So it was really no surprise that when KTMB put EC and Allen together at a slew of benefit concerts in NYC that Declan would not only perform that incredibly memorable rendition of Toussaint's "Freedom For The Stallion" - but that something else would come of it. When I saw Lee Harvey on Camp Street six weeks after - he let me in on a little info: EC and Allen were participating in the first recording sessions in NOLA since KTMB. The result is The River In Reverse - part duet, part Toussaint songbook, part new stuff. The title track was famously penned by EC late one night during those benefit concerts and has been performed in several recent concerts - including their stint at JazzFest with the Boss.

Now, Guy will tell you about what kind of EC fan I am - I am not partial and make no secrets about my love for the man. He can go from rock to punk to country to pop to soul to classical and back to rock seemingly effortlessly - as evidenced by his incredibly prolific output of the last 30 years. His music is smart, tight, and rewarding. EC even got his feet wet in 2004 with his delta blues record The Delivery Man.

So now the Man has jumped right in and done an official New Orleans album. Allen produces and sings on at least one track. And while it sounds vintage and it sounds like Toussaint, it also sounds like Costello. "Tears, Tears, and More Tears" would not be out of place on Punch The Clock; "Ascension Day" is a slowed down Professor Longhair; "Six-Fingered Man" sounds like an outtake from Brutal Youth; plus a great version of "Freedom For The Stallion". A beautiful party record and a great testament to the influence of our city's musical heritage. Buy it. Show your love.

And I'd like to wish you and yours a wonderful Easter Sunday.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint, Music

Another Reason to be Angry in New Orleans: Architectural Theft In Our Historic Neighborhoods

There are many things to be very angry about as vast portions of the City of New Orleans continue to languish in ruin now for over nine months. For instance, many in the rest of the country don't understand or prefer not to understand that the majority of damage inflicted upon the City of New Orleans was not via a natural disaster--instead it was a MANMADE disaster because of an inadequate flood protection system. And although birdbrain hacks such as Chris Matthews can infer the so-called legendary catch-all Louisiana political corruption is to blame for the storm surge failure of levees and floodwalls surrounding New Orleans, the reality--something Tweety knows nothing or bothers to care about--is that the single federal agency responsible for the MANMADE disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has finally after nine months admitted their responsibility for the devastation of New Orleans and it's people. This should have been page one news with a 72 point font headline in every newspaper in the United States, but it wasn't. More on the Corps--and why the feds are involved in New Orleans and South Louisiana's flood protection anyway, etc. to come in a near future post . . .

The reason for this post is to mention another reason we as New Orleanians have to be angry: architectural theft. Want to get angry, Orleanians? Read this article in today's Times-Picayune concerning the ongoing pillaging of fixtures, doors, spindles, wrought iron, shutters, stained glass, and other elements of New Orleans' unique architectural heritage. Can New Orleans be brought to her knees anymore?

This isn't Houston or Atlanta or Chicago. We renovate and keep old houses intact (including and especially the detail elements) regardless of their condition, not demolish them. I recall the story the week after the storm when some Chicago firefighters in New Orleans to "help out" decided to show off some new demolition equipment upon an exterior brick wall of a wind-damaged 100+ year old building in the CBD. They weren't rescuing or saving anyone. No, no. They were just showing off their new toy to the other gathered fireman from other city departments. When they were questioned on this later in the day by an irate preservation advocate, the firefighters didn't understand what all the fuss was about. One replied (paraphrased): "In Chicago, we'd take down a building in this condition." Exactly. Here we save them, everywhere else they're torn down. Thus the reason New Orleans has managed to look the way it does and most other major cities have the charm of a K-Mart.

Apparently, stolen statues and artifacts from our historic cemeteries aren't enough. Sewerage and Waterboard water meter covers stolen from our sidewalks and yards aren't enough. Some of the things that help make our soul in New Orleans are viewed by the vultures as a commodity to sell to the soulless. The 35-mile from the city (I sound like James Kunstler) McMansion outside Houston or Dallas or Atlanta or St. Louis is still a McMansion even dressed up with authentic looted Victorian-era architectural details.

Man, this really pisses me off. I knew a large section of our historic structures in and out of the MANMANDE flooding were in trouble the day after the storm due to: "beyond repair" flooding, fires, over-zealous developers and over-accommodating "pro-business" politicians, etc. But architectural looting???? Jesus Christ.

Like Randy Newman says in Louisiana 1927: "They're trying to wash us away." And by more than the floodwaters . . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Architecture, Looting, Flooding

05 June 2006

The New Orleans Assessor Situation-Is Everyone Paying Attention?

The Times-Picayune today has a story that a bill to consolidate our seven assessors into a parishwide one moved a step closer to reality by passing a House Panel. There is a similar bill in the senate. Neither have made it to the floor for debate yet. However, the two legislators who are repeatedly opposed to this legislation are Rep. Alex Heaton whose brother is 7th Municipal District Assessor and Rep. Jeff Arnold whose father is 5th Municipal District Assessor. I hope that everyone in their respective districts are paying attention to this. Throw these bums out. For those of you who dislike "political families", are you paying attention? This is the kind of bulls*&t that the rest of the world is looking at. If the City of Chicago can have one assessor than the City of New Orleans can have one assessor.

Both Seymour and I have posted about this before. I just want to try and make sure that everyone is still paying attention . . .

Check out Seymour's past post for details on each district. They have been in the same family for decades.


TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Assessors, Consolidation, Louisiana

01 June 2006

Who the Hell is Glenn Beck?/Keith Olbermann on Bill O'Reilly

I didn't know who this prick was until I accidentally stumbled upon him last night on CNN Headline News.

His "newsgirl" was feeding him stories, a-la Robin Quivers and Howard Stern. So she was giving him the softballs he could knock out the park. The last story she gave him last night was about how the City of New Orleans is sinking. So what does he do after the story is over? He goes into the "YOU SEE?????????? I'VE BEEN QUESTIONING ALL ALONG WHY WE SHOULD HELP NEW ORLEANS. AND NOW WE HAVE PROOF THAT THE CITY IS SINKING! YOU SEE????????????????" rant.

I'll give you a reason, Glenn Beck: BECAUSE IT'S F&%KING AMERICA, you stupid asshole.

In other media content unrelated to New Orleans, I caught this Keith Olbermann tirade last night on "Countdown." I've considered him a friend of the cause since his "City of Louisiana" rant 9 months ago. Now check out how he attacked Bill O'Reilly tonight.

UPDATE: Olbermann/Countdown link fixed.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, Olbermann, O'Reilly

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Takes Blame for New Orleans Flooding

From Yahoo News about 5pm Central, 1 June 2006:
(BOLDING is my emphasis.)

By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS - A contrite U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took responsibility Thursday for the flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and said the levees failed because they were built in a disjointed fashion using outdated data.

"This is the first time that the Corps has had to stand up and say, `We've had a catastrophic failure,'" Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the Corps chief, said as the agency issued a 6,000-page-plus report on the disaster on Day 1 of the new hurricane season.

The Corps said it will use the lessons it has learned to build better flood defenses.

"Words alone will not restore trust in the Corps," Strock said, adding that the Corps is committed "to fulfilling our important responsibilities."

The $19.7 million report includes details on the engineering and design failures that allowed the storm surge to overwhelm New Orleans' levees and floodwalls Aug. 29.

Many of the findings and details on floodwall design, storm modeling and soil types have been released in pieces in recent months as the Corps sought to show it was being open about what went wrong. But the final report goes into greater depth.

The Corps, Strock said, has undergone a period of intense introspection and is "deeply saddened and enormously troubled by the suffering of so many."

Katrina damaged 169 miles of the 350-mile hurricane system that protects New Orleans and was blamed for more than 1,570 deaths in Louisiana alone.

Robert Bea, a University of California at Berkeley engineer and Corps critic, called Strock's comments and the report signs of "a leadership in growth."

"They're catching up with the 1,000 years of progress of the Dutch," Bea said, referring to the Netherlands' long, and mostly successful, history of battling the North Sea.

The much-anticipated report — prepared by the 150-member Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, assembled and headed by the Corps — is intended to serve as a road map for engineers as they seek to design and build better levees and floodwalls.

Serious work began on New Orleans' hurricane protection system in the 1960s after Hurricane Betsy flooded the city in 1965. But over the decades, funding slackened and many parts of the system were not finished by the time Katrina hit.

The result was a disjointed system of levees, inconsistent in quality, materials and design, that left gaps exploited by the storm, the report said.

Also, engineers did not take into account the poor soil quality underneath New Orleans, the report said, and failed to account for the sinking of land, which caused some sections to be as much as 2 feet lower than other parts.

Four breaches in canals that run through New Orleans were caused by foundation failures that were "not considered in the original design of these structures," the report said. Those breaches caused two-thirds of the city's flooding.

Thursday's report urged the Corps to shift its formulaic cost-benefit approach on how it decides what projects are worthwhile. The agency was urged to look at potential environmental, societal and cultural losses, "without reducing everything to one measure such as dollars."

The report did not directly address questions raised in other studies regarding the Corps' organizational mindset.

Last month, a report by outside engineers said the Corps was dysfunctional and unreliable. That group, led by experts from the University of California at Berkeley, recommended setting up an agency to oversee the Corps' projects nationwide.

In response to criticism after Katrina, the Corps has made fixing New Orleans' flood protection system a top priority and tried to incorporate the task force findings.

The Corps already has spent about $800 million for repairs and improvements and plans to spend $3.7 billion over the next four years to raise and strengthen levees, increase pumping capacity and install more flood gates.

A thorough assessment of the region's current flood defenses found no "glaring weaknesses," said Col. Richard Wagenaar, the Corps' district chief in New Orleans.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30. William Gray, a leading hurricane forecaster, said Wednesday that the 2006 season should not be as destructive as 2005, which set records with 28 named storms and four major hurricanes hitting land. Gray's team is forecasting 17 named storms this year, nine of them hurricanes.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Levees

New Orleans Centre/Hyatt/City Hall/National Jazz Center Redevelopment Plan

An incredibly ambitious plan was announced Tuesday for the redevelopment of 20 acres of the New Orleans CBD bound by the Louisiana Superdome, the Hyatt Regency, and Duncan Plaza. The plan calls for the demolition of the Louisiana Supreme Court Building, the Louisiana State Office Building, the 1950's Urban Renewal 101 City Hall Building, the Civil Court Building, New Orleans Centre, and parts of the base floor "maze" sections of the Hyatt. Also, marked on the map above from the Times-Picayune also are "various low-rise buildings" riverside of Loyola Avenue marked for demolition as (marked #7) to be replaced with new presumably multi-story residential buildings. The current buildings are the remaining older 1920s or older properties that managed to escape the unfortunate great Houston speculative free-for-all take down in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for office towers that never materialized. Instead, the modern high-rise buildings wound up eventually being constructed along the Poydras corridor ten to twenty years later. The lone exception in this area: the asbestos-laden Plaza Tower--currently being retrofitted to become high-end condominiums--whose original developers gambled the high-rise corridor would be Howard Avenue and/or Loyola Avenue. Today, these handful of surviving mostly dilapidated buildings stand surrounded by large swaths of asphalt used as "pay" lots for the nearby office buildings. Its been obvious for years that the long-term chances of these buildings being retained was minimal at best.

The Times-Picayune article compares the design/concept to the recently opened Millenium Park alongside the Chicago Loop. Seems to me another comparison might be the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta which is another modern grand scale inner city public space. I am not necessarily against such a grand plan and reuse of this space--it is an interesting idea in a section of the CBD that sits there as a sort of no-mans land beyond events at the Dome. The elevation of the proposed public space above ground level (above floodstage) appears to be at the same level as the plaza surrounding the exterior of the Superdome and the existing New Orleans Centre entrance facing the Dome. In the proposal, the park space and a pedestrian bridge passes over a block or so segment of Poydras Street conceptually creating a gateway to Downtown. (I assume this is what the designers are thinking.) The one rendering that has been shown on several of the local news websites and on television is difficult to read. I look forward to seeing more renderings--and from different angles. There's not much on the web at this point showing many details of the layout.

Besides beer sales before Saints games at the Horn of Plenty convenience store, the New Orleans Centre during its 15+ years of existence never really had the sort of success surely anticipated. Lord and Taylor closed it's New Orleans Centre store before the storm and Macy's announced they would not be reopening their store post-KTMB after initially indicating they planned to. It's no surprise that the New Orleans Centre is viewed as expendable by developers. In the article the Hyatt guy states that his hotel sits isolated from the Vieux Carre and the Convention Center-aided boom in the Warehouse District over the past ten years. They see this project as a way to create an attraction at their front door. I thought it was also interesting in the article that the current site of the Hyatt was chosen in the early 1970's expecting large convention space (in addition to the Dome) to be developed in that area--I assume perhaps located between the Dome and the railroad tracks, the current location of the New Orleans Arena. The extension of the streetcar line along Loyola Avenue from Canal to the UPT (Union Passenger Terminal) has been the long-term goal since the Canal Street Streetcar Line re-introduction was in it's conceptual planning stages 15-20 years ago. In fact, the idea is that the Loyola extension would actually loop around the CBD into Central City and the Lower Garden District (Felicity Street) hooking up with the Riverfront Line.

It will be very interesting to see if this project becomes reality . . . I think the Hyatt Regency's parent company's involvement gives it a damn good chance.

I am sure I'll have more to say on this in the future . . . Not sure what I think about the concept or the design at this point.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, National Jazz Center, Superdome, Central Business District

Why Does the Media Have to Make Everything About Effing New York City?

God, I am hating the "national" news media more and more. And this is coming from a professor of it. In retrospect, this complaint didn't exactly come out of left field. I knew it was coming all along. But it still makes me unbelievably angry.

The media have found a goldmine with hurricane coverage. But there's one problem. Everyone has "Katrina fatigue." Bay Buchanan says she doesn't want to hear about it anymore. The country as a whole is tired of us. But the media can still get lots of ratings scaring the entire nation with hurricane coverage. So how do they reposition the story so that it can be "fresh," and impact a larger segment of their audience.

It's simple: make hurricane stories about New York City.

And that's exactly what they've done.

Go to MSNBC.com, and enter the keywords "hurricane 'new york,'" and see what you get.

My personal favorite is the May 22 transcript from "Scarborough Country":

Now, for the next 60 minutes, we will tell you what the government‘s predictions for this year‘s hurricane season means for Mississippi, New Orleans, and yes, New York City.

Yes, New York City, Joe. Not Florida. Not Texas. Not Alabama. Not the Carolinas and Georgia.

And of course, Sean, you talk about the 64 percent, I believe you said, possibility of hitting the East Coast. Some, of course, are talking about the possibility of a category three hurricane or above actually hitting around New York City. The Weather Channel series, “It Could Happen Tomorrow,” actually shows us what a hurricane in New York might look like.
Talk about that. Talk about the possibility of a hurricane in New York or in other East Coast cities, and what people in the Northeast should be doing to be prepared for these type of—these killer storms.

There they go again. Throw out the undocumented "some people say" to legitimize your assertions. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the documentary "Outfoxed." And, to be exact, what I've read says that the "64 percent" number is misleading. There's a 9 percent chance of one hitting between New York and Boston. And of that 9 percent, Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have a significantly greater chance of being affected than the Five Boroughs because of geography.

But can you imagine a hurricane coming out in the Caribbean and holding together long enough to make it up into the New York City area? And again, statistics show that it is a possibility in the Northeast. It‘s been due. It‘s been several decades since a major hurricane has caused damage in the Northeast. We‘re just going to have to wait and see, Joe.

Oh, I see. New York is "due." Just like the Chicago Cubs are "due" to win a World Series. And during those "several decades" where New York hasn't even come close to a hurricane, how many hurricanes have affected the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast up to the Carolinas?

Look, I don't want to see any city or state to be affected by a hurricane. And New Orleans is still getting a lot of headlines. But give the New York angle a rest. We still need help, but you're busy scaring the country with a hypothetical that will probably not happen this year--at least category 3 or higher?

It's just like the way the AP framed the Homeland Security money story today. Now, in the story, it points out that the money is supposed to go to cities especially vulnerable to terror attacks and natural disasters like hurricanes (although the story is sure to point out that natural disaster areas get a lesser percentage of the money) But later the story, there is the colorful quote from the New York congressman, voicing his "outrage" that his city only gets 124 MILLION DOLLARS.

Later in the story, it is briefly mentioned that New Orleans gets 4.6 MILLION DOLLARS. Gee. I guess you were right. Natural disaster areas do indeed get less consideration. But where's the "outrage" there? Where are the colorful quotes from New Orleans officials or state congresspeople? Where's the outrage that New York gets MORE THAN 25 TIMES the money that we do? I guess that angle would have made too many East Coast people angry.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, New York City, Hurricane, DHS