Be on the lookout for Ray Nagin handing out "Dollar Bills" from an ice chest.
This was what Halloween was like last year, just two months after Hurricane Katrina.
[ make levees, not war ]
Be on the lookout for Ray Nagin handing out "Dollar Bills" from an ice chest.
This was what Halloween was like last year, just two months after Hurricane Katrina.
That was Community Support Organization advisor Terrel Broussard's reaction to the level of participation at the last Unified New Orleans Plan district-level meetings. He added that if more people don't start showing up for planning meetings, the legitimacy of the process may be questioned.
The solution: UNOP managers Steve Bingler and Troy Henry are revolutionizing civic participation in New Orleans with the "21st Century Town Meeting®".
Another problem with civic participation, according to WWL's Garland Robinette, is people who scream and shout at public meetings. Well, Bingler and Henry have seen to taking care of that.
It's important to ask exactly who Robinette is referring to in his imagined world, who is being affected by the approach Bingler and Henry are using to engage citizens, and critically, if any group of people benefits over others.
Robinette disparaged civic participation, falsely, on WWL Thursday while interviewing Bingler and Henry on the Unified New Orleans Plan process (right-click to download the mp3 recording -- another essential interview not available on the WWL archive).
When the Bring New Orleans Back Commission aired their final report -- and it was a public meeting -- you could barely hear what the report was about because of the protestors that came up to the microphone. And this, I would think, is as volatile as the BNOB thing. How do you control that part. How do you communicate along these lines. The people that plan on coming to the Saturday meeting, are they gonna hear a lot of screaming and shouting, or facts and figures and what's being done?
AmericaSpeaks’ 21st Century Town Meeting Town Meeting restores the citizens’ voice in public decision making by creating an opportunity for the general public to give those in leadership positions direct, substantive feedback on key public issues. Each meeting effectively restores the balance of the 'political playing field' by engaging thousands of general interest citizens at a time (up to 5,000 per meeting), effectively and quickly summarizing citizen input and widely disseminating the results through media coverage. AmericaSpeaks’ role as neutral convener increases confidence among citizens and decision-makers that the content, process and outcomes are fair and balanced.
Among the participants I saw walking out of the meeting was Bishop O.C. Coleman from Greater Light Ministries. His entourage of four was far less than one might expect from a self-appointed leader in the community. Where were the buses Bishop Coleman? Coleman was reported to have donated $10,000 to Ray Nagin's re-election campaign. His company, Management Construction Consultant Inspection Inc., received $2.5 million after Hurricane Katrina to inspect the city's sewer and water systems, but MCCI wasn't incorporated until December 2005. A federal grand jury investigation of Coleman and his associate, Rev. Benjamin Edwards, is underway into corruption in the awarding of Sewerage and Water Board contracts to MCCI. Edwards sits on the Sewerage and Water Board. He admitted to spending $269,000 on radio ads and billboards to get Nagin re-elected. Meanwhile, Coleman's "False Prophets" page is still under construction.
Becky Houtman -- The Ballroom Speaks
PGR -- New this fall: Citizen clowns do back flips in the planning fake democracy circus reality show
3/25/2006 Community Gumbo
"Low-level nukes," he said.
I couldn't get through on the phone to demand that WWL apologize, or fire Robinette.
It's the second time in a couple of weeks that he's suggested the United States should actually consider using nuclear weapons.
The first time was in a conversation a couple of weeks ago when Robinette asked a guest if bombing Iran with nuclear weapons was an option.
Robinette opened up the phone lines on Wednesday's
"think tank" toilet tank to ask listeners what the United States should do about Iraq -- stay the course, win the war, or pull out.
In his little tirade -- using that phony, deep-throated radio voice he projects to feign a self-righteous, educated opinion -- Robinette asked ad nauseum why the United States wouldn't just do whatever it has to do to win the war.
He characterized Iraq, and the entire Arab world, as filled with Islamic-crazed terrorists, suggesting that the only way to defeat them, is to hit them hard, over and over again, and to keep pushing them back.
What he fails to recognize is that it is that very attitude which is used to recruit more terrorists. If there's anything we should know by now, it's that the United States can never win hearts and souls by bombing the shit out of poor brown people. What he fails to conjure in his feeble mind is the notion that a lot of those people he's talking about nuking aren't terrorists, but don't want the sort of "freedom" or death tradeoff the United States is offering at the end of a rifle. Maybe Iraqis question the intentions of the United States, since we are the reason why "freedom" wasn't an option for them for over thirty years while the United States propped up Saddam Hussein. Maybe we're the terrorists Mr. Robinette!
Bottom line: People who suggest that we "nuke" countries lack the education and restraint to host radio shows broadcast across the United States, and as Mr. Robinette likes to advertise, streamed on the internet around the world.
Part of the problem is that hate radio has been allowed now for almost twenty years, ever since Ronald Reagan killed the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.
The Fairness Doctrine was a quaint FCC policy which Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party argued was limiting debate. What they really meant, was that the Fairness Doctrine limited their radical, right-wing views from being aired, because they would be immediately challenged and lampooned.
Witness the rise of Rush Limbaugh since 1987. Has debate on issues increased? Of course, you'd have to know what broadcast debates were like before 1987, but we could still ask the question, do broadcasters present their views, minimally with objective facts to support their arguments, or do they just ram the American public with the day's talking points to achieve partisan goals? If we still had the Fairness Doctrine, for example, would any broadcaster have allowed unchallenged Rush Limbaugh's statement that Michael J. Fox was opportunistically faking his Parkinson's symptoms to promote stem cell research?
Is it any wonder why the American middle class doesn't feel like it's being represented in the public sphere when people like Rush Limbaugh occupy the public air waves with their hate-filled rants and inconsequential filthy partisan attacks?
It's people like Rush Limbaugh who have trained an entirely new generation of broadcasters to promote the view that public participation in politics is futile.
And exactly who is served by that view?
WWL's "Spud" McConnell is worse. He's just a fat redneck hick. He still seems to think that Iraq attacked us on 9/11, and he projects the view that if anyone criticizes (i.e., Rush Limbaugh's arch-rival, Ted Kennedy) the Bush administration's incompetence in the execution of the war in Iraq, it could only mean that those critics are playing into the hands of the terrorists, rather than that they're trying to save American soldiers' lives:
We can't just pull out. I'd rather it be there than here. When you're own political opponents in your country say things, and they are quoted by our enemies ... If I were Ted Kennedy, and they were quoting me ... we're still Americans. I don't know.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting -- The Fairness Doctrine: How We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back
PBS' Now -- What Happened to Fairness?
Alternet -- Time for a Digital Fairness Doctrine
It's Ray Nagin again, telling a contractor recently to buy real estate in New Orleans, because "dirt in New Orleans is like gold."
It makes me wonder, yet again, (as Dambala pointed out) why Ray Nagin is hesitating to engage pro-actively in a process of recovery that guarantees people can get back into their homes. At the same time, he's joined his former campaign finance director David White in what looks like it could only be a real estate venture, AFO Investments.
So exactly who stands to benefit from Nagin's market-based recovery philosophy -- where the wealthy are allowed to profit from the plight of the poor?
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | America's Wetland | Ray Nagin | Worst Mayor Ever | Recall Ray Nagin | Rebuild New Orleans | We Are Not OK | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option
This almost falls into the pain perdu category, but it really merits attention. It might be the understatement of the year from "our [boneless] mayor":
I am overexposed.
Edwards is also in a key position on the Sewerage and Water Board, where he has used his position to steer contracts to friends like Bishop O.C. Coleman of Greater Light Ministries. Coleman, oddly enough, is a principal in a company that does business with the Sewerage and Water Board, Management Construction Consultant Inspection Inc., or MCCI.
Guess who got the New York Times editorial board to finally advocate for Louisiana getting a fair share of offshore oil royalties?
It wasn't Republican Senator David Vitter or Republican Senator Bobby Jindal.
Here's the story (HT: Ashley).
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | America's Wetland | Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Bush | Worst President Ever | Rebuild New Orleans | We Are Not OK | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Katrina One Year Anniversary
There have now been 2,803 American soldiers killed in Iraq, 21,077 injured (not counting those suffering psychologically), and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed and injured.
Nearly $337 billion has been spent to date in Iraq. About a half trillion has been allocated for the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Veteran John Shuler wrote:
Most Bush backers are cowardly chickenhawks who love to talk about kicking our enemies' butts as long as someone else is doing the kicking. Have a Republican senator seriously bring up the subject of the draft, and Bush's base of flag-waving patriots will evaporate.
The young Republicans' motto is, "You go join the Army; I'm too busy studying to be the next Jack Abramoff."
If you doubt that many young conservative Republicans will serve in the military now, offer them a ride to the nearest Army recruiting station.
I have no doubts about my patriotic credentials. I don't have to wave a flag, and I don't have to put a magnet on my truck.
What do you call a long, multi-year flip-flop?
BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]
BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]
BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]
BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]
BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]
BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]
BUSH: Well, listen, we've never been "stay the course", George. We have been, "We will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics." [ABC This Week, 8/22/06]
Nobody knows how Iraq will play out in the two years the president has left in office. But what I can tell you is that he is committed to the fight and believes in it with all his heart.
Is that enough for victory? It's impossible to tell. But I'm praying it is.
A spry President Bush hops out of a vehicle last week before boarding Air Force One to attend a fundraiser. O’Reilly says the president is secure in his commitment to Iraq.
And finally, new rule in two parts: (A) You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid; and (B) If you're someone from one of these think tanks that dreamed up the Iraq War and who predicted that we'd be greeted as liberators, and that we wouldn't need a lot of troops, and that Iraqi oil would pay for the war, that the WMD's would be found, that the looting wasn't problematic, that the mission was accomplished, that the insurgency was in its last throes, that things would get better after the people voted, after the government was formed, after we got Saddam, after we got his kids, after we got Zarqawi, and that whole bloody mess wouldn't turn into a civil war, you have to stop making predictions.
Active-Duty Troops Launch Campaign to Press Congress to End U.S. Occupation of Iraq (HT: The Katrinacrat).
For my money, it's his best column ever (it might be his longest as well).
I actually met Chris Rose and his wife Kelly years ago at a popular restaurant they frequented before they were married. She's a magnificent woman anyway, but for her to stand by him while they both struggled with his descent into illness -- and back -- she's earned bonus points in heaven. She's a keeper, and I know Chris is good to her. He became a changed person around her.
There isn't a honey-do list long enough to reward that kind of loyalty Chris!
I've both celebrated and criticized his columns in this forum, but he's earned the journalist's "get-out-of-jail-free card" with this last column.
Nice job Chris. Thank you for your courage in going public with your illness -- your "brainstorm" -- and for your effort to shed light on the misconceptions. Thank you for doing it so eloquently. And thank you for explaining that medication doesn't have to mean a change in the way one sees the world.
I only wish you might have clarified further how every person's "brainstorm" is different, how the side effects of medication are sometimes intolerable, and in no way is suicide the inevitable outcome for every person. You also missed another major issue. Symptomatic of the "brainstorm" illness is the logical opposite of depression: mania. It's in fact one of the reasons why some people don't want to get off the roller coaster. The inspiration that comes from the "lows", as well as the "highs", is difficult to let go. And in any discussion about this type of illness in which people can function -- nominally -- fairly well in society, it should be remembered that nobody is "normal".
Still, I can't recall the last time I've read such a courageous personal testimony, and I sincerely hope your treatment continues to work for you.
Chris Rose, "Hell and Back" (my emphasis):
I stopped talking to Kelly, my wife. She loathed me, my silences, my distance, my inertia.
I stopped walking my dog, so she hated me, too. The grass and weeds in my yard just grew and grew.
I stopped talking to my family and my friends. I stopped answering phone calls and e-mails. I maintained limited communication with my editors to keep my job but I started missing deadlines anyway. ...
Hopeless, helpless and unable to function. A mind shutting down and taking the body with it. A pain not physical but not of my comprehension and always there, a buzzing fluorescent light that you can't turn off. ...
In his book "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" -- the best literary guide to the disease that I have found -- the writer William Styron recounted his own descent into and recovery from depression, and one of the biggest obstacles, he said, was the term itself, what he calls "a true wimp of a word." ...
"Told that someone's mood disorder has evolved into a storm -- a veritable howling tempest in the brain, which is indeed what a clinical depression resembles like nothing else -- even the uninformed layman might display sympathy rather than the standard reaction that 'depression' evokes, something akin to 'So what?' or 'You'll pull out of it' or 'We all have bad days.'"
Styron is a helluva writer. His words were my life. I was having one serious brainstorm. Hell, it was a brain hurricane, Category 5. But what happens when your own personal despair starts bleeding over into the lives of those around you?
What happens when you can't get out of your car at the gas station even when you're out of gas? Man, talk about the perfect metaphor. ...
I started talking to Kelly about plans -- a word lacking from my vocabulary for months. Plans for the kids at school, extracurricular activities, weekend vacations. I had not realized until that moment that while stuck in my malaise, I had had no vision of the future whatsoever.
I wasn't planning anything. It was almost like not living. ...
Measuring depression is not like measuring blood sugar. You don't hit a specified danger level on a test and then you're pronounced depressed. It is nuance and interpretation and there is still a lot of guesswork involved.
But here's my doctor's take: The amount of cortisol in my brain increased to dangerous levels. The overproduction, in turn, was blocking the transmission of serotonin and norepinephrine.
Some definitions: Cortisol is the hormone produced in response to chronic stress. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers -- that mediate messages between nerves in the brain, and this communication system is the basic source of all mood and behavior.
The chemistry department at the University of Bristol in England has a massive Web database for serotonin, titled, appropriately: "The Molecule of Happiness."
And I wasn't getting enough. My brain was literally shorting out. The cells were not properly communicating. Chemical imbalances, likely caused by increased stress hormones -- cortisol, to be precise -- were dogging the work of my neurotransmitters, my electrical wiring. A real and true physiological deterioration had begun.
I had a disease.
This I was willing to accept. Grudgingly, for it ran against my lifelong philosophy of self-determination.
What do planners do behind the scenes in the post-Katrina citywide Unified New Orleans Plan rebuilding process?
Who the hell knows?
Speaking of which, the expression about hell being paved with good intentions may apply here.
There's no (real) accountability. There are no financial books to look at. The communications plan relies entirely upon consultants, and marketers, and official media (i.e., big dollar media purchases), rather than on basic grassroots communication. There's no answering for mistakes or unfulfilled promises.
The people we elected to represent us aren't involved in the planning process. If we don't like the job being done by the people appointed to plan the rebuilding of our city, we have no recourse.
What isn't reported anywhere but here in blogs is the conversation that's going on among citizens as they react to what they're going through.
Here's a snippet of one of those conversations:
1) One role for us would be to make sure we ask all the actors what the assumptions are in their model. If they say they are "neutral" process or tech folks, run for the hills and watch your wallets and purses.
2) In every venue, ask the accountability questions: Who benefits ultimately .... Who ultimately do we have to go to get an answer? Who decides? For whom? How did you arrive at that decision? What is the impact of that decision on my neighborhood? Why should we trust you?
3) Many of the decisions that are being made or not made have incredible implications on race and class here. They also have the potential for racial and class conflict the likes of which we have not known since the last century. We need to continue discussions about how that can be confronted for the peace of the city. My question is always: what are the impacts in terms of race and class issues of that decision? I just believe that raising the issue, though sometimes difficult to talk about, needs to be on the front burner. Some believe we can simply draw maps and red dot ourselves to bliss, while ignoring the real Katrina questions. I think it takes hard work inside -- me more than most -- and outside.
4) I hope that the report on the day to day grind of planning of UNOP ... is made available the very day it is finished. That should be a really interesting story. Indeed, what do planners do? It can be the script for a reality show?
Perhaps what we were discussing without actually saying it was an oversight commitee.
Who is doing oversight? I would like to see the contracts and sub contractors. The issue of COI came up with Acorn. I believe that it exists with other entities as well. Any and all decisions, contracts,mou's or entities involved in this process should be clearly revealed and it should be sooner than later.
There will be backlash and we would do well to mitigate it by demanding as much information as possible as soon as possible.
But then again, what do I know?
My take is that the political leadership from Washington on down just punted into a fake democracy circus, where we are all the clowns doing back flips in the center ring while the consultants sell popcorn to the crowds.
Rather than an oversight committee ... I would just keep asking the questions of accountability which we all talked about last night. Sure the LRA is the lead actor. But what is the city's role, the council and mayor's roles, the planning commission role? Also, how do we say and bluntly state that incompetence of the planners is one of the key issues we would like to discuss?
And that the time parameters involved in this process are so drawn out, that it is so clumsily constructed, that a decision has been made already that the Diaspora is gone, out of it, history. Every day they wait to repopulate, more of the Diaspora lose hope. It is simply not fair, it wrenches my gut to know it. As one of us pointed out, it may indeed happen that as adults, people, knowing their options, make a choice to not come back. Sadly, the don't know their options; some would say their options are deliberately being muddled. But many in the communities I listen to DO ascribe the clumsiness of the process to racism and classism. That may not be paranoia or conspiracy theorists on a kool-aid high. It may be one of the core truths of this process.
The Unified New Orleans Plan Web site recently posted the Concordia Powerpoint presentation delivered to the Community Support Organization advisory board meeting on October 14th (the Web site is down right now -- they must be busy uploading that schnazzy new "Recovery Data Atlas" full of "windshield data" and "grassroots data points" they intend to load into their "action-oriented menu of key projects").
Watch for the Recovery Data Atlas, scheduled to be completed before this Saturday's Community Congress. There would be little point in holding the Community Congress without it, since citizens are supposed to use the atlas to make decisions at the Congress. I'll be interested in seeing what all these fancy planning words mean when translated into practical ideas that tangibly help people get back into their homes, and rebuild their neighborhoods.
The next CSO advisory board meeting is this Thursday, in the City Council chamber, at 5:30 p.m. Note that ticket Nazis were out in force last time. I got ticketed at a metered spot where the meter was broken (i.e., it had absolutely nothing mechanical inside the meter) and the new electronic credit card machine was totally covered. So you're screwed either way. This is, after all, the "New" New Orleans operating under the logic of "our mayor". Another attendee who got a ticket suggested we send them to UNOP or Concordia. I think I will, since they try so hard to convince everyone that their process is open and democratic.
PGR -- What is the narrative of New Orleans?
b.rox -- Deaf
Becky Houtman -- District 2 Planning - Needs and Goals Day
VatulBlog -- Day 417: Bill Moyers On The Internet
Emily Metzgar -- The currency of democracy
New Orleans needs stronger dikes.
Trixie La Femme.
Ruthie the Duck Lady
This is one of the houses posted under the City of New Orleans "Good Neighbor" program. The city will confiscate posted properties if owners don't gut the houses and clean the lots. Some owners don't care about their properties, and let them fall into blight (demolition by neglect). In those cases, the city might be praised for applying a strict standard. There are a significant number of New Orleans homeowners, however, who can't afford housegutting, who aren't physically capable of doing it themselves, and who are still displaced far outside Louisiana (Ms. Regina, for example) -- I'd guess tens of thousands of homes fall into this category. Owners can show that they are acting in good faith if they get their home on a volunteer housegutting list, but those waiting lists are months long due to lack of volunteers.
The city's Web site makes it sound like it's offering this program as a gift to help homeowners.
City Offers New "Good Neighbor Program"
In order to provide all of the citizens of New Orleans the opportunity to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives, The City of New Orleans Good Neighbor Plan has been developed to provide guidelines for the restoration and maintenance of homes in New Orleans. By strategically safeguarding citizen’s property while providing a framework for reinvestment that protects the financial investments of returning citizens against the spread of blight through inaction, the Good Neighbor Plan provides a better sense of security for all citizens.
It's already too late for tonight's bout -- it's sold out (unless you can get some scalped tickets on the street), so you better get your tickets for the next bout as soon as you can.
Probably because his statements are are so factual (bwah ha ha ha haaa) ... er ... at least they're fun-filled -- Fox News commentator Bill "falafel" O'Reilly got to interview the preznit this week.
Monkey boy is once again claiming to have direct communication with (capital 'A') "the Almighty" in such matters committing the United States to an un-Constitutional war against Iraq, which is now a quagmire worse than Vietnam, while risking the lives of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Oh, but the rest of us who have a more nuanced appreciation of spirituality, and who seek guidance for life and death decisions in more appropriate ways -- like using honest intelligence information and international consensus -- are pitiful heathens:
O'REILLY: The secular progressives don't like you because you're a man of faith.
O'REILLY: You know that.
BUSH: Yes. That causes me to be sad for people who don't like somebody because he happens to believe in the Almighty.
O'REILLY: But you know that's in play.
BUSH: Absolutely. They think you are some kind of evangelical. God tells you what to do and you go out and do it. And they hate that.
BUSH: I guess that I have pity for people who believe that. They don't understand the relationship between man and the Almighty, then.
The stakes couldn't be any higher, as I said earlier, in the world in which we live. There are extreme elements that use religion to achieve objectives. And they want us to leave, and they want us to -- and they want to topple government. They want to extend an ideological caliphate that is -- has no concept of liberty inherent in their beliefs. They want to control oil resources, and they want to plot and plan and attack us again. That's their objectives.
Gary Younge, in The Nation:
"Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793," wrote Albert Camus, referring to Louis XVI's execution. "But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever."
Ray Nagin, at a speech on Tuesday (HT: Da Po Boy):
“Anybody got a Road Home check in here?’’ he asked sarcastically, but no one in the audience of nearly 150 people raised a hand. “I’m searching for one, just one.’’
“I’ve tried everything under the sun to accelerate the LRA money. We’ve done everything."
The mayor said when people complain that the city’s recovery and rebuilding should be moving more quickly, he simply responds, “Quicker compared to what?’’ Kobe, Japan, Oklahoma City and New York City were not case studies in quick recovery.
Harry Anderson, frustrated by the shakedown citizens are getting by Entergy, insurance companies, and the city, is leaving New Orleans:
"New Orleans is like a woman you never stop loving, but you can't live with her either. I have never been less sure of anything I've ever done. I always feel like I could live in the French Quarter forever. And if it weren't in New Orleans, I would."