Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ray Ray needs a spanking

Ray Nagin, hot on the heels of an upset victory over a more sensible choice for mayor, displayed a flippant disregard for business at a church service speech he delivered on Sunday:

Responding to a reporter who said he overheard a pair of corporate powerbrokers at Landrieu's election night party Saturday say that Nagin's victory would prompt them to move their companies out of New Orleans, the mayor said he will continue to reject the kind of patronage that has defined the city for generations.

"If they decide they want to opt out of that, then I don't know where they're going to go," Nagin said. "Where are they going to find a New Orleans of 1840? It just is not there. So I hear all that rhetoric about them leaving. I don't believe it. Business people are predators. And if the economic opportunities are here, they're going to stay. . . . I hope they stay, but if they don't, I'll send them a postcard."

With his handlers circling him like nervous cats, Nagin, who showed no desire to walk away from the microphones, smiled wickedly as he pledged to welcome his former supporters back.

"Once they get over the shock of me winning this election, I think they will be OK," he said. "Six million dollars is a lot of money. I wish I would have had that. I probably would have advertised in Africa somewhere."

New Orleans of 1840? What's that supposed to mean? Send businesses that quit on New Orleans a postcard? Will you be able to afford the postage? Advertise in Africa? Is that your constituency?

Will somebody among Nagin's advisors putting together the 100-day plan please -- I mean PLEASE! -- tell the man to shut his effing trap!

I had a draft of this post working when I read on the front page of this morning's Times-Picayune that some business leaders had the same reaction to Nagin's gaffe:
"If we're encouraged to leave, then I think it gives many of us doubt on whether we should stay here. Frankly, I'd like to see the rhetoric change," said Gregory Rusovich, president and chief executive of TransOceanic Shipping Co. Inc. "We are struggling to keep our business in Louisiana, which is not the easiest place to operate a business."

At least there was one positive comment on Sunday by Nagin. This is the kind of message we need to hear more from Nagin:
"Here was a young brother who was out there doing what he was doing, taking advantage of this economic boom that is hitting the city. That's the New Orleans I want to see, where whites and blacks and Asians and Hispanics are all working together to expand this pie. And it's going to be a big pie."

Lolis Elie in The Times-Picayune interpreted Nagin's victory as a gesture of solidarity by black voters:
Black voters weren't going to spank Nagin in public, especially if white voters were going to join in the spanking.

Nagin would benefit, I think, from a vigorous spanking.

I truly hope I'm wrong, but Nagin voters might come to regret their decision:
The outcome of the election on Saturday reminds me of what former New York Mayor Ed Koch said when he lost his re-election bid to David Dinkins: "The people have spoken. It is now time for them to be punished."

Bill Wessel
New Orleans


At 5/23/2006 11:09:00 AM, Blogger bayoustjohndavid said...

I missed the six million claim, Landrieu spent 3.5M--he's still lying after the election. It wouldn't be nearly as important if it weren't forthe emergency powers. I don't want a mayor who's that dishonest tobe able to disregard the council and other safeguards.

At 5/23/2006 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous adrastos said...

Hey, you beat me to the Ed Koch quote. I may have a paddle to smack C Ray with somewhere in the attic.

At 5/23/2006 12:08:00 PM, Anonymous Sophmom said...

All this talk of spanking! Yikes!

I watched from afar, not feeling the right to an opinion, but I have to say the whole thing was pretty surprising.

You're right that he needs mouth shutting, or at least to impose some consideration prior to speaking. Of course, Cynthia McKinney is my congresswoman, and I've come to take comfort in the fact that she says what she's really thinking all the time, no matter how absurd it might be (even when she's asaulting Capitol guards).

I have to hope Ray Ray rises to the occasion.

Nice post, Schroeder.

At 5/23/2006 02:09:00 PM, Blogger BadTux said...

For what it's worth, I did not read Nagin's comment as an invitation to leave. I read Nagin's comment as an invitation for new blood to come because Nagin was going to make New Orleans a business-friendly place to be, a "big pie" as he put it for investors all around the country to invest in, and if this irritated some of the oldtimers, well, goodbye to them, any business that left just opened up more possibilities for the businesses that want to come. Indeed, I can almost salivate over the possibilities -- if there was adequate flood protection. New Orleans has the three things that matter most to a business -- Location, Location, Location. New Orleans could be the New Miami, gateway to Central America thanks to its port and airport, in the hands of leaders willing to break the cycle of ignorance, apathy, and consistently bad governance. With the new free trade agreement with Central American governments, and a city government that isn't on the take and is welcoming of business, there's a lot of opportunity there. But not if my investment is just going to get washed away in the next hurricane...

In the end, who is mayor is almost irrelevant if those #$%@ levees aren't fixed and flood protection brought up to Dutch standards. Hurricane Betsy struck a huge blow against New Orleans's economy back in 1965, a lot of companies moved away because they could not justify being in a city where they could go underwater anytime a big storm came through the Gulf. It looks like Katrina is going to finish the job.


At 5/23/2006 03:24:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

A paddle would suffice -- one strike for each malefaction?

Most people know, badtux, that he's just saying whatever pops into his head, which as sophmom said, could be a comforting characteristic because he's always just being plain frank Ray.

I'm not so sure he's not alienating business people. Furthermore, he makes of the city a laughing stock.

It would take some pretty magnanimous, festive CEO's to see the humor in a mayor who has loose lips, and not much else going for him.

At 5/23/2006 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Lady Morwen said...

I've got a whip, and I know how to use it.

At 5/23/2006 06:37:00 PM, Blogger bayoustjohndavid said...

"Most people know, badtux, that he's just saying whatever pops into his head, which as sophmom said, could be a comforting characteristic because he's always just being plain frank Ray"

Schroeder, I'm surprised at you. Don't take this the wrong way, but you're starting to remind of Stephanie Grace--an intelligent person who should know better falling for C. Ray's act. Just don't start talking about his loose limbed walk and wicked grin.

It might be true in some cases, more often it's a cultivated act to send coded (or not so coded) messages to one group and placate another. Think about it, you don't rise that high in the corporate world by being a loose cannon.

It's still important, IMO, because I think we're going to see what amounts to a second campaign over the mayor's emergency powers and control over the city's share of the reconstruction money.

I don't mean to be hard on you, but if even his critics help maintain that image, it helps him keep the power to make some irrevocable decisions. I wouldn't want any mayor--Landrieu, Forman (even if he were every thing his fans thought) and certainly not mayor "I don't know what happened to the paperwork on the landfill."

Sorry to keep harping on it, but the sooner we get rid of well-meaning, shoot from the hip image, the sooner we have an intelligent discussion of the issues.

Guess i just repeated myself.

At 5/23/2006 07:55:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

"You don't rise that high in the corporate world by being a loose cannon."


How high is "high" when you're working for a monopoly cable company. Because it isn't forced to compete for customers (or wasn't when Ray Ray was there) I really doubt that Cox was an intellectually-demanding company to work for.

It's an excellent point you make that Nagin knows what he's doing, and has ulterior motives, but his success at achieving them will be despite himself.

At 5/23/2006 09:31:00 PM, Blogger bayoustjohndavid said...

I don't want belabor the point, I was afraid that the comment might have been too harsh, but the sticks his foot in his mouth criticism actually helped him get re-elected and could actually help him handle criticism to come. However, I'd assume that there's always cutthroat competition, that involves a lot of office politicking for $500k jobs. It seems to me that the main job requirement in that kind of position is to be able to present the company's case well to regulators, rate setters and the general public. They don't want a guy with diarrhea of the mouth making the case for rate increases.

What I can see happening is people demanding an end to some the ridiculous contracting decisions that he started making pre-K. Nagin saying something inflammatory to appeal to blacks, by implying that it's just whites trying to take back the city. At first everybody, most white Orleanians anyway, gets upset but then we're reminded that it's just his normal way of speaking and the controversy dies down. In the meantime, he keeps his emergency powers.

At 5/27/2006 01:59:00 PM, Blogger J. Mark English said...

Bill Wessell is my brothers father in law...I gave him that Ed Koch quote!

At 5/28/2006 11:07:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Hey Mark -- I think a lot of people got a good laugh out of it (or a good cry). You obviously hit a nerve. It's not often the T-P prints a letter.


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