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Day 501: It’s About Crime Prevention, Not Posturing

Alexis called last night to inform me that our mayor, Ray Nagin, and police chief, Warren Riley, were at the get-together where signs were made for today’s march. They just don’t get it. We don’t want them to be outraged with us because we’re more than that: we are scared, angry and lack trust. Showing up at a sign-making party is not what we want from the city leadership; we want milestones and results.

As for the accusations of their “co-opting our march,” I don’t care about it as long as we start seeing some positive changes around here. I’m moderately inclined to agree with D that this is not a problem that can be fixed by firing the unholy triumvirate. New Orleans has always been a murder capital for the last thirty years and no change in administration has effected a positive and lasting change. Where I disagree, however, is that this may have been the norm before the Federal Flood, but now it is the latest in a series of setbacks and disappointments that is slowly destroying the collective camel’s back. What next and can we take it?

Inadequate levees, broken pumps, government bureaucracy, corruption, racial mistrust, underachieving schools, hospital closures, underequipped and understaffed hospitals, poverty, teenage druglords, irresponsible judges, fugitives, FEMA, delayed trailers, destroyed infrastructure, rebuilding scams, insurance companies, flickering utilities, city planning fiascos, ungutted houses, widening potholes, closing businesses, depression, alcoholism, bankruptcy, the failed Road Home Program, a missing mayor, a politician for a police chief, an appallingly-low felony conviction rate … and now this. How much more can we take? Is this how we treat a vital port, the birthplace of jazz, the cradle of Cajun and Creole cuisine and culture and the home of Mardi Gras and Jazzfest? More importantly, is this how American people at the dawn of the 21st century ought to live?

Understandably a lot of these problems are inter-related with varying degrees of complexity, but I would like to see at least one of them reach resolution soon. Get all of the flooded homes gutted or demolished for one: if you’re not coming back, you’re not coming back and those here cannot afford to host criminal hideouts, mold, fire hazards, vermin and ghost towns.

In other words, let’s encourage our city leaders to give a damn.

1 comment… add one
  • oyster January 11, 2007, 10:49 AM

    “this is not a problem that can be fixed by firing the unholy triumvirate.”

    Firing some or all of the “triumvirate” might not be a sufficient condition for positive change, but it may be a necessary one.

    “no change in administration has effected a positive and lasting change.”

    Not true. Significant positive change occurred during Chief Pennington’s term. It lasted as long as he was running the show. The murder rate was cut rather dramatically (albeit from obscenely high levels), and Pennington had an 80% approval level in this town.

    Crime crept back after Nagin was elected and brought in Compass, and then crept back again after The Breach during Riley. While that is totally unacceptable– their desire to downplay and underestimate violent crime in N.O. is unforgivable.

    The public must insist that the Mayor fires Riley and hires the best available urban police chief in the country. There are ten or twenty other things to be done as well, but this is one thing is absolutely necessary.

    Insisting that ineffective leaders “collaborate” more is… not gonna be enough.

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