27 December 2006

2006 New Orleans Saints: The Final Grades Are in

QUARTERBACK (Bye Week A-): Drew Brees is a legitimate MVP candidate. I have him second on my personal list behind Tomlinson. He’s had the best quarterback season in Saints history. Outside of his two bad performances (Baltimore and Cincinnati), he’s been as close to perfect as possible. GRADE: A

RUNNING BACK (Bye Week B): With the exception of the Washington game, the running backs have improved every week. Deuce is still solid, and Reggie Bush keeps getting better. The team’s 4 backs (McAllister, Bush, Karney, Stecker) will account for around 2,800 yards of offense. That includes a 1,000 yard rushing season from McAllister, a 600-yard rushing season from Bush (if he plays Sunday),100-plus combined receptions, 1,000-plus combined receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns (don’t forget the 3 from Karney). GRADE: A-

WIDE RECEIVER (Bye Week B): The Saints have played most of the 2nd half of the season without Joe Horn, and Marques Colston has been out too. Henderson and Copper are adequate replacements, but they’re inconsistent to say the least. But still, they’ve come up with as many big plays as big drops. And Marques Colston should be going to the Pro Bowl. GRADE: B

TIGHT END (Bye Week C-): After Ernie Conwell went down, it even got worse. Mark Campbell is adequate but can’t stay healthy. Billy Miller is, in a word, awful. How he had a big season with the Texans a few years ago is beyond me. GRADE: D

OFFENSIVE LINE (Bye Week B): Like the running game. Take out the Washington game, and they keep on getting better. Jammal Brown is a Pro Bowler. Jeff Faine should have been a Pro Bowler in my opinion. Jahri Evans is one of the top 3 rookie offensive linemen in the NFL. Even Jon Stinchcomb, an unmitigated bust until 2006, had a decent season—further proof that Jim Haslett didn’t have a clue. GRADE: B+


DEFENSIVE LINE (Bye Week B): Will Smith is a deserving Pro Bowler. Hollis Thomas was having a Pro Bowl season until his steroid suspension. Brian Young had his best season as a Saint, and Charles Grant was slightly disappointing (but still solid). The line could use a more consistent second pass rusher, and the run defense has been soft up the middle since Hollis Thomas’s suspension. GRADE: B (C+ without Thomas)

LINEBACKERS (Bye Week B+): They still exceed my expectations. Fujita and Shanle have done a very good job on the outside. Not Pro Bowl good, but pretty good. Mark Simoneau is the weakest of the three. He should take some blame for the soft run defense up the middle, but he’s miles ahead of anything the Saints would have put on the field before they got him. GRADE: B

SECONDARY (Bye Week B-): I’m raising their grade. They stunk up the joint against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Fred Thomas gives up an average of one long touchdown a week lately. But since Cincinnati, the secondary has been outstanding in the next five games. They’ve shut down some reputable quarterbacks, including Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo. Stoutmire and Bellamy have done well filling in for Roman Harper, and Mike McKenzie and Josh Bullocks have put in good seasons. Jason Craft even had a key interception against Dallas. GRADE: B


KICKER (Bye Week A): John Carney had a good season with field goals. They haven’t really need them, though, in the second half of the season. The Saints score touchdowns so often that he hasn’t had an important kick since the Eagles game. You have to drop him though because his kickoffs became so bad that they had to sign Billy Cundiff to handle the duties. GRADE: B+

PUNTER (Bye Week B): I’m dropping him too, but I’m satisfied with his performance—especially considering that nothing was expected of him this year. He’s a middle of the pack punter statistically, which means he gets a middle of the pack grade. GRADE: C

RETURNERS (Bye Week B): Nothing special here either. Bush’s punt return vs. Tampa is still the only highlight of the season. Surprisingly, the return game didn’t improve dramatically with the Beerman’s return. But there haven’t been any crucial mistakes. Bush can make you crazy when he starts running backwards and sideways on punts, but there haven’t been any muffs or fumbles. GRADE: C+

COVERAGE AND BLOCKING: It was better in the first half of the season. They had three bad performances in the second half: the field position in the Steelers game (which can be blamed in part on Carney too), the blown on-side kick in the San Francisco game, and the blocked extra point in the Cincinnati game. But again, they gave no big plays all year. You never really noticed the special teams coverage this year. I guarantee you would have noticed if they were bad. GRADE: B


COACHING: Sean Payton deserves to be coach of the year. He’s taken a 3-13 team to a first round bye. I would consider Payton “outcoached” twice this year (Baltimore and Washington). But he flat-out humiliated his former employers (Dallas and the Giants). He owned Jim Mora, who is hardly proving to be a brain surgeon. The Washington game was the only game where his coaching may have cost a victory (Drew Brees deserves equal blame for the Baltimore and Cincinnati blowouts). There are so many times he’s made questionable decisions (such as going for it on 4th and goal vs. the Giants, and the on-side kick vs. Dallas), but they always seem to work out for him. And speaking of 4th down conversions--how many have they made this year? The only big one he missed was the last offensive play of the Washington game. I’ve only verbally disagreed with two personnel decisions (Terrance Copper starting and playing over Devery Henderson, and Fred Thomas playing injured). But overall, he’s done an excellent job. There is accountability for the first time in years, and there’s no doubt who runs the team (and it’s not the players—like during the Jim Haslett years).



26 December 2006


The New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles gave us the greatest Christmas present of them all.

The New Orleans Saints are still 5 days away from their final game, and everything is already wrapped up. The Saints are the 2 seed. I'm used to the final Saints regular season game being completely meaningless (at least for the Saints), but never like this.

We have a lot to thank the Eagles for. They took Donte' Stallworth from us and gave us a draft pick and Mark Simoneau(x) for good measure. They helped put the Panthers on their slide. They knocked the Giants from NFC East contention right before they played us. And now they beat the Cowboys and wrapped up the 2 seed for us.

I never dreamed that I'd ever utter the phrase "#2" with the Saints again and be happy about it.

And we all must remember: This time last year, the Saints were 3-12. This time last year, I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying it was a 50/50 proposition that we would lose the team. This time last year, we were pretty sure Aaron Brooks and Jim Haslett would get a mulligan because of the hurricane.

And now, here we are. Thank you, Saints. For everything.

And Merry Christmas and all the politically correct phrases to all of you. I will try to write more later. Being on a dial-up connection SUCKS.

25 December 2006

Merry Christmas #1

23 December 2006

City of New Orleans/Earthlink WIFI Network: The Routers

Schroeder at PGR has a post discussing the the City of New Orleans/Earthlink WIFI network complete with coverage map. I've been accessing the internet with the service for the past few weeks but this past Thursday was the official roll out. After being able to access it (with fairly reliable success) I was on the lookout for the router equipment around town--and found them. The routers are attached to light standards fixed to utility polls about two or three blocks apart within the coverage area. Here are some examples within Carrollton of what they look like:

28 DECEMBER 2006 ADDENTUM: Micheal Homan weighs in on the City WIFI service. And yes, I agree with him--as postive a development the service is, it would be more relevant and useful if its coverage included flood-impacted portions of the city such as Mid City, Broadmoor, Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East, etc. . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Earthlink, Carrollton, Municipal WIFI

22 December 2006

Last Days of Old Levee Boards

Levee boards are meeting for the last time. Passing quietly into history. Let's just hope the two new superboards won't fall into the same old traps that the past boards did.

21 December 2006

Camellia Grill Renovation Continues and Possibly Good News on Maple Street . . .

I know I know. There are those out there that believe The Camellia Grill "jumped the shark" in the years previous to KTMB--and to a certain extent, I agree. While patronizing a near-by business last Friday afternoon, I peeked into the windows to see how the interior renovation was coming along. Over the past couple of months the effort has been concentrated on the exterior of the building, but recently work on the interior has finally begun. The entire grill/food prep area has been gutted as seen below. The camellia prints remain on the wall, but the eternal-placed (at least in my memory) grease-stained Mickey Mouse clock has been removed (where that electrical socket towards the ceiling in the photos).

In other Carrollton restaurant news: I don't have a definitive answer on this, but there is some stirring at the closed since July 2005 Cote Sud on Maple Street (they do the traditional French "take the month of August off thing" but never reopened post-KTMB). In the past few months the sidewalk in front of the building was upgraded with pavers and the Cote Sud sign (I think a brand new one) is hanging from the building once again. I really enjoyed this restaurant and the apparent loss of it since was the storm really bummed me out. Stay tuned on this one . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Camellia Grill, Carrollton, Maple Street, Cote Sud

20 December 2006

Photo du Jour: Santa's Wish List Along a Foggy 17th Street Canal

Santa's Wish List stands in the yard of a home along the 17th Street Canal on Bellaire Drive very close to the breach site. From periodically going to the breach for the past 15 months, this family was among the first back on Bellairie and certainly also among the first to permamently return to Lakeview. Their house and yard look perfect to the point where it appears nothing ever happened--but that illusion is shattered by looking across the street.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Coastal Restoration, Lakeview, US Army Corps of Engineers, 17th Street Canal

Rock-N-Bowl News

The new owners of the building at Tulane and South Carrollton are going to renovate and bring in new business. Good. They are also going to leave Rock-n-Bowl as it is. Very Good. At least that is what they are saying now, according to a TP article today. I really hope they get this one right. Mid-City Lanes is a treasure we need to keep.

19 December 2006

Mother Jones: The Highwaymen

Is our state going to fall for this sham? The I-49 Southern Extension perhaps? An expanded Earhart Expressway to the Airport? A third Causeway span--to Lacombe?

You know ICF International has done such a fantastic job with the LRA Road Home Program . . .

*this is my first post using the upgraded blogger. So far: No, sir. I didn't like it. Still quirky.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, I-49 Southern Extension, Earhart Expressway, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, ICF International

17 December 2006

One Last Dig...

Ohhhh, its not funny anymore . . .

I was forced to watch the Rams this afternoon because I live in Rams Country (if there is such a thing). Nothing like being forced to watch a Jim Haslett team in action. But it was sweet today. Haslett and Venturi's Rams D has been stinking it up lately. It's the reason why they're almost eliminated from the postseason. But today they put it all together. The Rams pitched a shutout. In fact, it got so bad that they got the other team's starting quarterback benched.

The quarterback in question that Haslett owned? You guessed it.


And the Saints have already clinched the division.

There. Now I feel better about blowing it today.

Photo du Jour: What Not to Get Me for Christmas

Selling like hot cakes I see in Uptown New Orleans (not). The one that apparently does sell from this sorry airplane food lot: Pizza Hut.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Darden, Uptown

New Orleans Saints: #2 Seed Scenarios

NOTE: This is unofficial. If I understand tie-breakers correctly, this is what I have figured out. And if I am right, the Giants have been eliminated from the NFC East race. They can only be a Wild Card. I will update it if I discover that I am wrong.

The bottom line is this: the Saints STILL control their own destiny. If they win out, they're the #2 seed. But let's examine it a little closer.

1) The Seahawks are eliminated.
2) The Eagles are elminated.
2) The Cowboys are elimnated with a Saints victory over the Panthers, or one more Cowboys loss.

1) The Seahawks could still be alive if they win (I'm not sure about their tie-breakers with the Cowboys and Eagles). But they would still be eliminated if they lose their final game or if the Saints beat the Panthers.
2) The Cowboys MUST lose a game. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles next week, then all they'd have to do is beat the Lions to take the #2 seed from the Saints (the "nightmare scenario"). If the Saints and Cowboys both lose next week, then the Saints would still clinch with a win over the Panthers.
3) If the Cowboys lose to the Eagles next week and the Eagles beat the Falcons next week, then the Eagles would win the NFC East. The Saints have the tie-breaker over them. Therefore, if the Saints beat the Panthers, the Eagles are eliminated.
4) The Eagles are elminated if they lose to the Cowboys.

Any corrections would be appreciated. Again, this is not official. I'd hate to convey false information.


Drew Brees scrambles towards the line of
scrimmage prior to his illegal forward pass.
Good effort to try to make something happen.

I had to put the period on it instead of the exclamation point, because we got in through the back door.

The Saints are NFC South champions because the Falcons and the Panthers lost. Not because the Saints won, because they didn't.

I'm sorry, but I am pissed. And I'm sure Sean Payton is pissed too.

Everything about that game was terrible. The dropped passes. The terrible offensive line play. The questionable play calling. The running holes up the middle of the front seven. There is no way the Saints should have lost to this team, and yet they did.

Now the #2 seed is in jeopardy. I guess God has a special place for overconfident Saints fans. But here's what's going on:

If the Giants win or lose this week, the Saints would eliminate them from the 2 seed next week by beating them. Period. If the Saints lose to the Giants next week and the Giants win this week, they would be tied with the Saints, and would have the tie-breaker over them. But the Cowboys would still have to lose a game for the Giants to win the NFC East.

The Cowboys are tied with the Saints, but they have the tie-breaker over them. The Cowboys have two games left--one is a sure win at home vs. the Lions. The other game is against the Eagles. If the Cowboys win both (which I'm predicting will happen), the Saints would have to win both games to get the #2 seed.

The Seahawks are mathematically alive, but on life support. The Saints need to win one or the Seahawks need to lose one. Like I said in an earlier post, the Seahawks are playing the Chargers next week. I think that they will lose that game.

So, basically, the game in New York next week was just supposed to be a formality. Now it's a must-win.

Ultimately, here's the probable scenario: there's a distinct possibility the Saints will be playing the Cowboys again in the 2nd round of the playoffs. It's just not determined where it will be played. And they won't be pissed off and pumped for that game, I promise.

It's a half-empty day for me. But I would have taken 9-5 and a division title at the beginning of the year. It's just that it could have been so much more if they would have won today.

#2 Seed Scenarios

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister

14 December 2006

Thanks, San Francisco

Well, in one of the rare moments in Saints history, the 49ers helped us out. They beat the Seahawks, which all but eliminates them from contention for a first-round bye. Either one Saints win or one Seahawks loss (and they play San Diego next week) and they are DEAD.

So, true believers, it comes down to this: If Atlanta beats the Cowboys Saturday night and the Saints beat the Redskins Sunday (or, for that matter, win one of their next three games):


I can't believe I'm going to say this, but...OH MY GOD, IT'S GONNA HAPPEN! Please, God, don't strike me down for celebrating too early. Can't we Saints fans enjoy this impending moment without having our boys blow it?

What do you think?

And oh, by the way, if the Falcons don't help us out too and lose to the Cowboys, the Falcons are officially eliminated from the division race. So it's a win/win for the Saints. But I still want the bigger win.

POST SCRIPT: Mr. Clio points out that the New York Giants would still be mathematically alive if they won this weekend. Of course, they'd still have to win out and the Saints would still have to lose out. Thanks for the information.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Drew Brees

The State's Coastal Restoration and Protection Planning Effort

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority which was created by the Louisiana Legislature after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to address coastal restoration and protection issues has generated their Preliminary Draft report: Comprehensive Coastal Protection Master Plan for Louisiana. This report presents the concepts for future coastwide restoration and protection and will be used to guide future expenditures, planning, and engineering designs. This is one of several parallel planning efforts, including efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will be used by Congress to fund our future protection. The State is accepting comments on the Preliminary Draft report until January 5, 2007.

This may be one of the single most important documents for the future of coastal Louisiana. The restoration of one of the most complex and productive ecosystems in North America and the protection of people and infrastructure in all of coastal Louisiana are at stake. It is absolutely imperative that all concerned citizens of coastal Louisiana read, understand, and comment on this report. While reading the report think about the following very important questions:

1. Are the proposed components of this plan complementary or are components being proposed that cannot work together?

2. Is this a sustainable plan?

3. Once implemented, do the proposed components require long-term funding for operations and maintenance? If so, how will this be funded?

4. What will be lost (e.g., environmental, cultural, aesthetic) in order to provide protection for urban areas?

5. Who will benefit financially from the implementation of this plan? Does this cause a conflict of interest?

6. Is this based on sound science? Are the references used to support the concepts in the plan convincing to you?

7. How long will this take to construct and fully implement?

8. How does these project components support core Louisiana industries that are coastal dependent (e.g., fisheries, oil and gas)?

I have briefly reviewed the report and will share some of my initial concerns. Thirty plus years of estuarine research in coastal Louisiana by the best wetland scientists in the world has illustrated that levees, spoil banks, associated borrow ditches and canals greatly impact the hydrologic connectivity of the coastal wetlands and are a major component of wetland loss. However, the Preliminary Draft report recommends a complex levee system across the entire deltaic plain. Termed a leaky levee because the levees do not cross major waterways, they will still dramatically alter the hydrology of our coastal marshes, will exacerbate the rate of wetland loss, are not compatible with large-scale, sustainable marsh restoration projects such as river diversions, and have extremely high maintenance costs. The concept of levees paralleling our coastline contradicts all of the best research conducted at LSU, ULL, SLU, UNO, and Tulane, and the Preliminary Draft report illustrates this by only providing eleven literature citations for the entire report, only one of which is from peer-reviewed literature. Very disappointing. Coastal restoration opportunities are described in the report, but the benefits from most of these are negated by the levee recommendations.

Another thing to note: this report was prepared by Shaw. Shaw is a very large engineering consulting firm that primarily designs and constructs large infrastrucure projects, is headquartered in Baton Rouge, and has very close (intimate, actually) ties with Governor Blanco. Professionally, it is a conflict of interest to allow a large engineering firm that would greatly benefit from massive levee construction along our coast to prepare a report that should be focused on coastal restoration. Many local planning and engineering firms that do not provide construction management support are located in Louisiana and are more than capable of water resources planning efforts at this scale without any real or perceived conflict of interest. With that in mind, there is one more question to ask while reviewing this report: Is this a product of business as usual in Louisiana, where big politically-connected companies and their CEOs get richer on boondoggle projects that do not solve our long-term problems?

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Coastal Restoration, Shaw Group, US Army Corps of Engineers, Blanco

The Demolition of the Carrollton Shopping Center

After a Sunday afternoon spent in the Warehouse District (went to the Crescent City Farmer's Market-sponsored Festivus--which continues for the next couple of Sundays by the way so go check it out) and the Vieux Carre when I exited I-10 at South Carrollton I decided to pull over and take some shots of the ongoing demolition of the Carrollton Shopping Center. The site of course was flooded post-KTMB and although the shopping center had viable tenants and working businesses I would still suggest it was completely underutilized and its potential unrealized based upon its central and strategic location (with direct Interstate access, adjacent to a university) not just in the City of New Orleans but in the region. Additionally, the site represents one of the few large pieces of land in the "core" city suitable (i.e. don't have to tear down tens of existing housing units/historic-aged buildings, take down specimen oak trees, or decommission public street rights-of-way--a la the future Central City Home Depot, etc.) for a modern large-scale shopping development.

More to come on this subject in an upcoming future post . . .

If you want to see what's going on out there firsthand I suggest you go now as just in the days since I took the photos below, more has come down . . .

Site of now-demolished Picadilly Cafeteria. This building got taken down during the Summer and to my knowledge Louisiana-based Picadilly has no plans to return. Thanks, guys.

12 December 2006

Canal Street Line and Riverfront Line Streetcars at Carrollton Barn

The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line continues to be offline with the most optimistic projections not having the line back in service Uptown until the end of 2007--nearly two and a half years post-KTMB. Quite frankly that idea depresses me--and I'd say most people living in the Uptown neighborhoods along the line likely share my feeling. RTA buses running St. Charles Avenue and South Carrollton is just wrong. Work is being done towards recovery of the St. Charles Line (work seems to be recently concentrated towards the CBD) and the good news is that the Canal Street and Riverfront Line vehicles are in the process of being restored one-by-one (as they were flooded at the Canal Street Barn) at the Carrollton Barn. Following are some pictures I took this past Friday:

The funk stain still remains on the exterior of Canal Street Line Car #2017.

Riverfront Line Car #460, St. Charles Avenue Line Car #426 (?), and
Canal Street Line Car #2006--with numbering decals removed.

Riverfront Line Car #460 appears to be prepped for an upcoming new paint job. Riverfront Line Car #461 (not housed at the Carrollton Barn) has already been repainted the future livery of the Riverfront Line: blue. I haven't seen that car yet on the Riverfront Line, but I have a photograph of it I purchased from an exhibtor at the first Mid City Art Market held at Palmer Park back in October. St. Charles Avenue Line: Green. Canal Street Line: Red. Riverfront Line: Blue. Perhaps an Elysian Fields Line can be purple . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Streetcar, Uptown, RTA

11 December 2006

Photo du Jour: Destiny?

Yes, there are three more weeks to the regular season . . . However, tell me if the New Orleans Saints ever delivered more (i.e. a "statement" win) in a game that really, really meant something in the 39-year history of the franchise Sunday night at Dallas? Compare the feeling of this game versus the feelings of that 623 total yard Minnesota game when Dante Culpepper could do no wrong or that Indianapolis game when Peyton Manning had a near perfect QB rating several years ago (both at home on Sunday nights). We are now on the other side of that. The New Orleans Saints are making other teams feel embarrassingly inferior. As for this Destiny thing--we didn't need "hell to freeze over." Instead, for some reason, we had to practically lose our city to a MANMADE disaster and as cliche as it is the New Orleans Saints can be the rallying cry to galvanize and help us overcome everything that is so stacked against our recovery.

And no, the New Orleans Saints are not the newly crowned AMERICA'S TEAM--its OUR team. Sorry.

The upcoming Washington game this weekend I would most certainly categorize as a "trap game." Hopefully the players and coaching staff will remain focused and not fall into that trap and clinch a playoff position--and down the road a first-round playoff bye.

Related: Latest post at World Class New Orleans.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, NOLA, Katrina

10 December 2006

WOW: Saints 42 Cowboys 17

Just WOW.

I have waited all my life for this, and I am almost as old as the Saints franchise.

The Saints, for the first time in their history, played a meaningful, all-the-marbles regular season, and won. AND KICKED THEIR ASSES ALL UP AND DOWN THE FIELD.

Now it's time to start thinking about that 2 seed. All they have to do is win 2 of the last 3, and that's only if the Cowboys and Seahawks go undefeated from here on out.

Remember this date: December 10th, 2006. It's the date that the Saints officially, for the first time in history could be considered THE FAVORITES FROM THE NFC TO GO TO THE SUPER BOWL.

I'd still feel a whole lot better though if they could also somehow, by some miracle, take home field advantage from the Chicago Bears. I don't care if they don't have a quarterback. They're gonna be tough to beat in Chicago in January if both teams get there.

And I'm not even going to bitch about Fred Thomas this week. Or how the Cowboys were shredding the defense on the ground until we started playing keep-away. Instead, I'll concentrate on how the offense looks unstoppable, and Joe Horn isn't playing and Marques Colston isn't 100 percent.

Outside of the one playoff win, this is probably the proudest night as a Saints fan of my life.

POST SCRIPT: I didn't see the headline on wwltv.com or any other place before I wrote it. Sometimes it's just too obvious.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Mike Karney

Times-Picayune's Bob Marshall: You Tell 'Em

Down below is a cut and paste from last Friday's Times-Picayune. Also, HT to Humid Haney. Longtime Outdoor writer Bob Marshall has penned a good summary to the nayer-sayers towards the rebuilding of New Orleans. But first:

We have to justify ourselves and New Orleans' continued existence? What has happened to this country? The challenges New Orleans and Southern Louisiana face with its relationship to the sea aren't unsolveable. Do they present tremendous engineering and environmental challanges? Of course. The confrentation of monumental issues has alledgedly made our country "great" in the past. Are we spent? We have nothing left? Phone it in? Give up?

Oh ya, and did I mention that many of these "challenges" are the direct result of the sacrificial pillaging of our coastline for oil and gas exploration and maritime naviagation to which OUR country is so economically dependent???? It is not clear that the lifestyles afforded by our fellow Americans come at our expense?

BOLD is my emphasis. Here's the piece:

You Tell 'Em

Confronted with clueless folks who question New Orleans' right to get help, or even to exist? Here's what to say . . .

The Times-Picayune
Friday, December 08, 2006/Bob Marshall

The nice lady -- a friend of a friend -- was shocked and angered by my statement, which went something like this: "The way New Orleans has been treated since Katrina is one of the most shameful episodes in our nation's history."

A patriot, she wasn't about to let that stand.

"What about all the money we've spent down there?" she asked. "And what about accepting some responsibility for building in a flood zone, and not having insurance?"

I wish I could say I was surprised, but recent travels had already shown me that most Americans are woefully ignorant of the ugly facts on the ground here in The Big Uneasy. My concern now is that as my fellow New Orleanians hit the road during the busy holiday travel season they may be stunned into silence -- if not apoplexy -- by the questions and statements of the misinformed masses.

So here's a package of talking points.

Isn't flooding what you should expect when living in a hurricane zone?

The flooding inside the city limits was not a natural disaster, but a man-made disaster. The hurricane protection system built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was poorly designed, constructed and maintained by that agency, a part of our national government. The system was never built as high as we were told, and it failed due to faulty engineering. Katrina's storm tides didn't come close to reaching the tops of the walls, and never would have.

This is not my opinion. This was the judgment of the corps after its year-long, $10 million in-house investigation. The corps said "our fault" -- yet Congress has not responded to that confession.

Didn't Congress agree to pay for the damage?

Only a small portion of it. The corps' failures resulted in the destruction of 200,000 homes and businesses at values estimated to surpass $100 billion, yet Congress has appropriated only about $10 billion to rebuild homes.

Well, is it our fault they didn't have any insurance -- or enough insurance?

That's like saying a man killed by robbers was at fault for not wearing a bullet-proof vest. You're blaming the victims.

Insurance is for natural disasters, acts of God and self-inflicted damage such as fires. This is not a no-fault case. The corps -- part of the U.S. government -- has already accepted it was at fault. Fairness means the nation should pay for completely rebuilding those homes. Insurance shouldn't be a consideration.

Remember 9/11? Just five days after that tragedy Congress had passed and President Bush signed a $15 billion bailout for the airline industry, then paid billions to the 9/11 victims.

(My insert: So as Neil Young says, would New Orleans be better off if 'Al Qaeda ' had blown the levees????)

What about federal flood insurance? We subsidize that to the tune of billions. Why should we do that in a hurricane zone?

You're right. The nation shouldn't subsidize environmentally stupid development. But if we're going to start that policy, we must inaugurate it simultaneously coast-to-coast.

So when we yank flood insurance from south Louisiana, we also will stop it for Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Washington, D.C, and New York City, not to mention Houston, Gulfport and the rest of the Gulf.

And while we're at it, we will stop paying for earthquakes in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Alaska.

And what about those people living in tornado alley? Why should we encourage them to rebuild year after year?

What about this Road Home Program? I see people getting money to rebuild. I've seen your politicians thank Congress.

They have been groveling for crumbs -- and that has hurt us more than helped us.

Here's an example that is typical. I have a friend who owned a $200,000 home in Lakeview. He had $14,000 left on his mortgage, and only $40,000 of flood insurance because it had never flooded. He might end up with $100,000 from Road Home. So he pays off his old mortgage and spends another $15,000 having his home torn down.

But the builder says it will cost $325,000 to rebuild the same size house. So, at 55, he will have a $250,000, 30-year mortgage. He may never be able to retire.

He's left in this situation after the richest nation in the world admitted it destroyed his home -- but refuses to pay for the damage. And he's lucky
. There are many retired people who can't get the $300,000 mortgage to rebuild their homes destroyed by an agency of the government. They'll spend their remaining days in small FEMA trailers.

Why isn't anyone telling us this?

They have. But you haven't cared enough to pressure Congress to do the right thing.

That's why I call this one of the most shameful episodes in American history.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana Road Home, FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

08 December 2006

Correcting Campaign Callers--from Texas

As I was writing the previous MRGO-GO post, the phone rang. It was another campaign call--for Karen Carter. First off the caller id read 000-000-0000 which was the first tip off of either a skype call or a telemarketer of some sort. I answer and there is a brief lull--I can hear tens of people talking in the background and then in a monotone drawl the pitch for Karen Carter is read to me. Did you know former Senator John Brew endorsed Karen Carter for the seat? Did you the Times-Pic, pause (background noise), Times-Pica-yone endorsed her too?

I respond: "Uh. Where are you calling from????"
Her response: "Texas."
My reply: "You might want to pronounce those names correctly. Its 'JOHN BRO' and 'Times-PICAYOON.'"
Her indifferent response: "Uh-hu." Click.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, LA-02, Karen Carter, Bill Jefferson

MRGO Must Go: The Report

I was looking all over for this thing earlier in the week: a PDF version of the MRGO Must Go: A Guide for the Army Corps' Congressionally-Directed Closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

Many things mentioned by Junior Rodriguez at the De-Authorization hearing are included in the report.

Credit to Kinch at Building Big Easy providing the link I couldn't find for anything. Check out this 19 page document . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, MRGO, St. Bernard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

05 December 2006

A BIG Blow...

Literally and figuratively.

Hollis Thomas is gone for the rest of the regular season for violating the NFL steroid policy.

Outside of Drew Brees and maybe a couple of linebackers, this is the hardest blow this team could probably take. The reason is obvious for Brees. Lack of depth is the reason for the linebackers. And I think it's also this lack of depth that could hurt the Saints with this suspension.

Thomas has been having a great season. He's helped stop the run, and he's put pressure up the middle on opposing quarterbacks. He's the anchor in the trenches of a defense that (outside of Willie Parker) has done an above-average job of stopping opposing running backs. It's not a reach to say that he's the best all-around DT we've had since 2000 Norman Hand. Yes, LaRoi Glover was great, but he wasn't a run stopper too.

Now it's time for Antwan Lake, Rodney Leisle, and whomever else joins the DT rotation to step up. If the Saints can't stop the run up the middle anymore, it's going to be a LONG December.

But if Sean Payton can get a 7th-round rookie to replace Jammal Brown and not give up a sack to one of the NFL's best pass rushers, maybe he can get a replacement here too. The reason why the Saints have been successful now is because they're a TEAM.

Hollis Thomas' suspension will really put the "team" concept to the ultimate test.

Are We Really the Stupid Ones?


Q:Why would anyone want to live in a place where you can die just by walking out your front door?

A: Because its their home, and they should be able to live where they choose.

Q:Should we abandon everything north of the Mason-Dixon?

A: Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

Q:Do any of these people realize where their heat comes from?

A: I bet they would if we cut them off for one day.

Thank You Kelley Frost for Visiting

While out-of-town in south Texas, I came across the following letter in the San Antonio Express-News this morning. It is a nice reminder that many people still enjoy visiting New Orleans, and that New Orleans is as accomodating as ever.

Letters to the Editor

Web Posted: 12/04/2006 06:45 PM CST

San Antonio Express-News

A note to New Orleans

If I could, I would write a thank you note to the entire city of New Orleans after my recent visit.

I'd thank the Hertz rental car agent who advised us that even though the city's population declined, its traffic hasn't. I'd thank the front desk clerk from Annapolis, Md., who came from a sister property to help while the hospitality industry recovers. I'd thank Louis, the bellman, who was born and raised in New Orleans and would never think of leaving.

I'd thank the New York employee of Saks Fifth Avenue who came for the store's reopening and said it touched her as much as the day the doors opened on Fifth Avenue again after 9-11. I'd thank the antique dealers on Magazine Street for waiting for their streetcar and the tourists to return.

I'd thank Tom Benson for inviting us to see his beloved Saints and the inspiring warmth and appreciation their fans show toward their home team. I'd thank the Southwest Airlines skycap who graciously invited us to come back and asked us to tell others to do the same.

Everywhere we went, we were thanked for coming. The red carpet is rolled out and waiting. The road to recovery is long and hard, and the tourist and convention industry that is the livelihood of one of America's unique towns will thrive once again. Isn't it nice to know that sometimes you can make a difference just by being there?

— Kelley Frost

04 December 2006

Philadelphia 27 Carolina 24

Well, Saints fans, the scenario is pretty simple:

1) If the Saints beat the Panthers the final week of the season, and
2) The Saints win one other game or Atlanta loses one more game:


It's still tough, but it just got a lot easier. The Saints could still keep the Panthers down by just keeping on winning, but the point is this: The Saints can still be champs EVEN if they lose their next three games (which won't happen).

The only thing that can keep the Saints down now is a Jim Haslett/Aaron Brooks-like collapse. And they ain't here no more.

Thanks, Donte', for stepping up in a game the Saints desperately needed.

And, Keyshawn Johnson, you are a chicken-shit cry-baby sore loser.

It's almost time to start talking about that #2 seed, but not quite.

POST SCRIPT: If the Saints beat the Panthers in the final game. The Saints will have a split with the Panthers, a sweep of the Falcons, and a 5-1 division record. Not to mention (at worst) an 8-4 conference record. In this scenario, the Falcons would be 7-5 at best and the Panthers would be 6-6 at best. I didn't consult "official tie breaker rules," but it sounds pretty cut and dry, even in the case of a 3-way tie.

03 December 2006

Reggie Breaks Out: Saints 34 49ers 10

It's gonna be short again. I've missed work since Thursday with stomach flu. We've had 18 inches of snow and ice, and I've been digging out all weekend. But damnit, I made it to the bar for the game! Priorities.

  • It looked like everything slowed down for Reggie Bush today. They've made it this far just using him as a decoy. Now they needed him to step up because their top receivers were out. And he did. Big time. But why did you have to accidently lose the ball out of bounds?????????????????????????? God, that would have been so sweet.
  • Drew Brees just has "it." I don't know how you can escape from so many impossible situations with a big play. Throwing underhanded passes to escape a sack. Turning a botched pass into a desperate incompletion instead of a 20-yard turnover or sack. Completing a first-down pass to Reggie Bush while in the grasp of a tackler. And that first down run in the 3rd quarter left me speechless.
  • Mike McKenzie stepped up. I was worried we were going to lose after the on-side kick, but he responded with the two big turnovers we've been waiting for since September.
  • If Fred Thomas is too hurt to play, GET HIM OFF THE FIELD. I have always liked Fred Thomas, but he is a liability to the team right now. Put him on IR if he's not gonna get better. If not, Terry Glenn will burn him up next week.
  • Great game for Deuce too. He's kind of the forgotten guy today, and he ran for 136 yards.
  • Great job by the run defense taking Frank Gore out of the game. Make Alex Smith win it. That's how you beat the 49ers. The same way you make Michael Vick beat you last week. That's when you start getting easy turnovers.

And now, the PRIMETIME SHOWDOWN. The victory sets up things for the Saints next week. Of course, the fate of the division is still in doubt. But the Saints are playing for a stranglehold on the #2 seed with 3 winnable games left to play. I was worried that this week had "trap week" written all over it, but it was not to be. So maybe the Saints can keep surprising us next week. Time for the student to beat the teacher.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Dallas Cowboys

02 December 2006

The Chicory: Fair-Weather Friends

I like the spunk of this . . .


Given the situation we now find ourselves here in New Orleans, one would be a fool to say they haven't considered the "un-doable" (i.e. leave, give up, abandon the ship, haul ass, bail, sell-out, etc., etc.). But what it comes down to most of us is where are we going to go? There is no where else . . . . . Some may think that's a crazy thing to say or think, but to many of us seduced by her that is our reality. Those that can't comprehend this are the same that don't understand New Orleans in the first place.

UNOP Community Congress II Streaming Online

The Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) Community Congress II is currently underway at the Convention Center (from 9am-4pm today). It is being streamed live online at this address. It is also being televised locally on WYES Channel 12--I just stumbled upon it.

Xavier President Dr. Norman Francis is currently speaking . . . .

"The Federal government doesn't trust us."

"We are going to have to work together."

"This is not enough money for what we need to do."

"We can do whatever we want to if we don't worry about who gets the credit."

"We are going to rebuild New Orleans and Louisiana and for anyone who doesn't believe that come back in three to four years . . ."

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, UNOP, Unified New Orleans Plan, Urban Planning

01 December 2006

Cool Brees

From NFL.com

"Brees and the first-place Saints (7-4) will look to win their first home game in over a month when they face Smith and the 49ers (5-6) on Dec. 3.
The Saints are 2-3 since their bye, but Brees has set an NFL record for passing yards in a five-game span with 1,954. He had 349 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-13 victory Nov. 26 at Atlanta.
"I'm sure they could make up some kind of record for every situation," Brees said. "If we're winning games, that's great. ... I kind of go by the saying, 'You're only as good as your next performance.' "
Brees has passed for a league-leading 3,463 yards, 499 better than Indianapolis' Peyton Manning. "