How many people are back in New Orleans?
You know what bothers me about Ray Nagin's protestations over the lower population estimate released by Louisiana Recovery Authority?
It isn't the fact that there may actually be 230,000 people living in New Orleans right now as Ray Ray likes to advertise.
It isn't the fact that Ray Ray's "demographer," Greg Rigamer, does a lot of business selling any numbers his clients will pay for to flatter themselves.
It's the fact that whether the real number is 187,525, or 230,000, "our" boneless chicken mayor never seems very upset that whatever the actual number is, it's nowhere near the pre-Katrina population of more than 450,000 people who called themselves New Orleanians!
Where is the fury he once (just once, and never repeated) displayed in an interview on WWL radio a little over a year ago, which made the man sitting in the most powerful office in the world (until he stole it) look like he couldn't organize a Girl Scout cookie fundraiser. Where is the charismatic character who once or twice fooled some of us into believing he could inspire people to rise to the occasion of doing whatever might be required to rebuild this city for the future.
I happen to think Nagin is highballing the population estimate. The LRA figure, calculated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, more closely resembles the 171,000 population figure calculated by The Times-Picayune in August using US Postal Service change of addresses.
The bottom line is that the residents who have made it back into New Orleans -- they're the easy ones. Getting the rest back is going to be a bit more complicated, and will require real leadership. Sadly, Ray Nagin can't lead if he's never around, and if he can't stay on script with a message that inspires confidence.
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