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Ray Nagin- Driving New Orleans to Oblivion

Well, Hizzonor the Mayor has establish a panel to rebuild New Orleans. The newspaper report does not give all the names of those involved but from what they do list, I think I've heard enough to know how this is going to turn out.

Nagin introduces city's rebuilders Group called on to shape N.O.

With much of New Orleans still in shambles and a national debate growing about the cost of rebuilding the city, Mayor Ray Nagin on Friday introduced a panel of movers and shakers who he hopes will be the architects of a new and better Crescent City.

The 17-member group faces the gargantuan and unprecedented task of returning parts of the city nearly annihilated by Hurricane Katrina to their pre-storm condition, while simultaneously addressing chronic problems such as New Orleans' deplorable public school system.

Nagin's team includes attorneys, academics, business people and church figures, many of them lifelong residents. ...

The commission will be co-chaired by two native New Orleanians: community activist Barbara Major, executive director of the St.Thomas Health Clinic, and Mel Lagarde, chief executive officer of HCA Delta Division, a major health care provider.

Mel Lagarde and who? Lagarde is well known in the city and probably a good choice, the other name I had not heard of so I was off to google where I found this not-so-confidence-inspiring resume.

Barbara Major is a community organizer and trainer with over twenty years experience in many local, national,  and international community development efforts.  This work includes everything from nurturing leadership development efforts [What? ed] within local communities to assisting institutions in developing strategies to de-institutionalize racism. [Both useful skills when building a city. -ed]

Originally trained in social work, Barbara is a native of New Orleans.  Her home base is in the St. Thomas/Irish Channel area where she formerly served as the chair of the community driven  St. Thomas/Irish Channel Consortium, a nationally acclaimed model for holistic community and institutional transformation.

She is a core trainer for The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and for Crossroads Ministries where she connects her local organizing to teaching anti-racism to people and institutions that live in or work with struggling communities. [What does the verb "connects" mean here exactly? ed]   Presently, she is the Executive Director of the St. Thomas Health Clinic, a non-profit health clinic providing services to the underserved and uninsured population of the St. Thomas/Irish Channel community.

OK, so her primary qualities are that she has in incomprehensible resume and she is a black female. GREAT! Letting people like this run New Orleans has worked so well in the past! But maybe I'm judging her too fast.... Let's get to know her better in her own words.

"I am honored to have been asked to be a part of this commission," Major said. "I don't know if I'm more scared than honored. But fear is a good thing because it brings about caution."

Major said she is committed to rebuilding a New Orleans "with the inclusiveness that it never had before in terms of equity and access. That everybody has a right to return to New Orleans. Not to the old New Orleans but to a better New Orleans where there is decent housing and quality schools and health care for all."

Rudolph Giuliani she ain't.

What we really need in oversee arguably the largest business and cilvil engineering project ever undertaken is a social worker who has no apparently applicable job skills. Wonderful.

You would think after the failed Louisiana politics on display this past month, that this commission would be made up of people who -you know- had some talents we could apply and not some politically correct nonsense appointments.

New Orleans does not need social workers with psycho-babble resumes, we need capable leaders.

Update: Oh great! From another TP story (not worth linking)

Nagin on Friday named the 17 members of a blue-ribbon panel that will serve in an advisory role on rebuilding efforts. The City Council, not to be outdone, is establishing a similar body. And Gov. Kathleen Blanco has set up her own rebuilding team.

We're officially doomed.


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Comments (35)

My opinion of "qualified" s... (Below threshold)
epador:

My opinion of "qualified" social workers continues to fall below the water line.

I hope that regardless of w... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I hope that regardless of who is in charge of rebuilding the city, the first law they pass is that everyone living below sea level must have flood insurance. Make it mandatory for every structure. If you don't want to pay for it, then you can't live in N.O.
That way, the next time it floods (and it will) they won't have their hand out for the rest of America to pay for it.

Reading Paul's post, and for other reasons, I'm not hopeful for N.O.'s chances, though.

As an academic myself, I do... (Below threshold)
jc:

As an academic myself, I don't think it's a good idea to include academics on a city-rebuilding team. An academic is someone who tries a simple solution to a problem and finds out that it works, and then says, "Crap, I'll have to try something different if I'm going to get a paper out of this."

But Paul, I'm sure that non... (Below threshold)
kbiel:

But Paul, I'm sure that none of these rebuilding commisions will be made up of the political cronies of Naggin, Blanco, or the various city council members. And surely they will spend the hundreds of millions of dollars they will control with wisdom and only on what is needed.

Oh hell, I couldn't stop from laughing while writing this.

Paul,Move to Texas... (Below threshold)
RiverRat:

Paul,

Move to Texas!

I am sure they'll all FEEL ... (Below threshold)
epador:

I am sure they'll all FEEL GOOD while they do it though.

I am sure they'll all FEEL ... (Below threshold)
epador:

I am sure they'll all FEEL GOOD while they do it though.

Common sense is to rebuild ... (Below threshold)
Garhent:

Common sense is to rebuild the city in the parts ABOVE SEA LEVEL. Do a federal buy out and level out the ruins of New Orleans. Rebuild New Orleans further inland.

Its not going to happen though, New Orleans is going to be rebuilt in the exact same location. Its going to get hit with another Cat V hurricaine prolly w/in another 50 years and have a repeat. I wonder if New Orleans will have paid of the rebuild costs by then?

I read that Brandford Marsa... (Below threshold)

I read that Brandford Marsalis is also on the rebuilding team. I fail to see the logic in that; he's a musician who hasn't lived in the City for years.

Garhent -- rebuild the City in the parts above sea level? That would mean relocating the entire city to the two-square-mile area of Gentilly Ridge (or thereabouts), the highest part of the City, which is, last I remember, a mere 2 inches above sea level. Rebuild New Orleans further inland? There's no such thing as "inland." It's completely surrounded by water.

I, myself, am torn between wanting to return to help rebuild by City, and already realizing that it's a lost cause.

"I don't know if I'm mor... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

"I don't know if I'm more scared than honored. But fear is a good thing because it brings about caution." - Barbara Major

This sound bite does NOT inspire confidence. But at least she gets a boost to her ego and that certainly helps. Hello, Atlantis.


We're officially doomed. - Paul

RiverRat beat me to it. I think it's time you moved and stay moved.

Paul, there's some lovely r... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Paul, there's some lovely real estate available up here in Cow Hampshire...

Seriously:

No, not seriously. I can't take this seriously.

A SOCIAL WORKER? A professional, licensed, certified SOCIAL WORKER to help oversee the salvaging and reconstruction of a city? I feel a truly horrible satire coming on...

J.

Now if this would only happ... (Below threshold)
silversurger:

Now if this would only happen in LA....

My recommendations here:</p... (Below threshold)

My recommendations here:

On the Levees of New Orleans, Update 19

Les, the only way to get fl... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Les, the only way to get flood insurance in the Greater New Orleans area is through the feds. No private insurance company will write or issue a flood policy there.

As for Ms. Anti-Guiliani and the rest of Louisiana political bullsh*t, the only thing that hasn't happened is for Edwin Edwards to worm himself in the middle of all that gorgeous reconstruction cash...

...YET!!!

/a chalmette native laughing hysterically

The <a href="http://www.nyt... (Below threshold)

The NYT has a more thorough listing of the members of the panel (from 9/30):

~Tulane University, Scott Cowen,
~Businessmen Joseph C. Canizaro
~Donald T. Bollinger Jr., who have close ties to the White House.
~David White, a business executive often described as the mayor's closest confidant,
~ musician Wynton Marsalis.
~ Barbara Major
~ Daniel F. Packer, chief executive of the New Orleans subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation
~ Alden J. McDonald Jr., who for 33 years has run the Liberty Bank and Trust Company
~ Maurice L. Lagarde, a New Orleans native, who runs the Delta region for the hospital giant HCA

Hope that's helpful

Paul understates the true p... (Below threshold)
ts:

Paul understates the true potential for the rebuilding commission to become the largest metaphor for failure since the Titanic. It's not much of a reach to see Ms. Major as one who will quickly become an obstructionist in the name of equal access.

"The City Council, not to b... (Below threshold)
Redhand:

"The City Council, not to be outdone, is establishing a similar body. And Gov. Kathleen Blanco has set up her own rebuilding team."

But who's going to be on the coordinating committee for these three august bodies?

How long will it be before ... (Below threshold)

How long will it be before they decide to incorporate all three commissions under the control the New Orleans Secretaryof Housing Inundation Tribunal. That way when someone asks, "That social worker Barbara Major works for who?" the answer will be "NOSHIT" because when they find out they're gonna say it anyway.

I have no idea if this woma... (Below threshold)
Chris:

I have no idea if this woman is qualified for this role or not. But I am struck by the general tone of ridicule here that a social worker would be included. Do you really think that a social worker can't have a positive impact on rebuiding a city that was afflicted with terrible poverty and an obvious divide between the haves and have nots, as well as the kinds of racial issues that afflict many big cities? This whole process is about more than constructing buildings. You're trying to rebuild the life of a city. There's huge societal issues involved. What is so bad on the face of it about including a woman whose career has been spent dealing with neighborhood groups on racial issues? I've noticed every time the word "racism" is raised, there's a lot of scoffing and ridicule, as if racism could never be an issue. You don't have to think Bush hates black people to think that racial issues need to be addressed. By the same token, a lot of the economic engine of the city has been based on tourism and culture. I think it's entirely appropriate for Wynton Marsalis to be a part of this. These commissions aren't composed of people who are going to all quit their jobs and do this work full time. You want a combination of people with planning experience and people with influence and contacts. I suspect Marsalis has a little more pull than Aaron Neville or Fats Domino.

RE: Chris' notes (October 2... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Chris' notes (October 2, 2005 11:05 AM)
I have no idea if this woman is qualified for this role or not. ... What is so bad on the face of it about including a woman whose career has been spent dealing with neighborhood groups on racial issues?

Hmm. Based upon the hyperventilations of racism in New Orleans we've been hearing, it would appear that you've answered that "qualification" question.

Well, Chris, yeah I got a r... (Below threshold)
donald:

Well, Chris, yeah I got a real problem with a social worker being on this kind of commission. I'm guessing here qualifications for a positive impact are between zero and negligible. As a New Orleanian, I'm saddened because I know that this cannot turn out well.

Hmmmm.Why on earth... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Why on earth is the federal government rebuilding New Orleans? Isn't that what insurance is for?

I hope no one in NO who did... (Below threshold)
Laddy:

I hope no one in NO who didn't have flood insurance gets "made whole." I'm tired of bailing out people who live in flood plains, especially those who don't pay for flood insurance. I thought this was settled after the 1993 Mississippi River floods, i.e., no rebuilding in the flood plain and no payments to those without flood insurance. Heck they moved a whole town in IL from within the flood plain to the bluffs above the River. Rebuilding NO the way it was is insane. I lived there for 10 years and loved it, but we need to be future directed in this case. Within a few years NO wll be on the Gulf proper due to wetlands erosion due to the leveeing of the River in the first place. Second, The River will change course sooner or later leaving NO essentially high and dry from the River. The COE has been fighting a losing battle at the control structure above Baton Rouge. They will lose this battle eventually. The Atchafalaya has already captured the Red River and as soon as the control structure is undermined sufficiently, it'll have the Mississippi River flow as well.

Wander-" No private ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Wander-
" No private insurance company will write or issue a flood policy there."

Gosh, I wonder why that is? I wonder if there is a good reason for that?

Chris-
"..Do you really think that a social worker can't have a positive impact on rebuiding a city that was afflicted .."
It is because of social 'workers' that many societal problems are exacerbated. Or at least, the Liberal version of social 'work' we've endured for the last 40 years.

"I've noticed every time the word "racism" is raised, there's a lot of scoffing and ridicule, as if racism could never be an issue."

Nobody thinks racism could never be an issue. The very real racism of not holding people accountable because they are a certain race (and we know them darkies are too backward to be treated as adults, eh? wink wink) is the biggest obstacle holding Blacks down. But we can't have a real conversation about race unless it's the same old Liberal-social-worker meme 'Whites are racist against Blacks; end of story'. Just ask Bill Bennett.


ed-
"Why on earth is the federal government rebuilding New Orleans? Isn't that what insurance is for? "

ed, you insensitive slut.
Don't you know that if Joe Shmoe loses everything in a house fire in Batavia, NY or Walla Walla, WA or Cleveland, OH that it is not the same as Joe Shmeaux losing everything in New Orleans, LA? Who cares if both are taxpayers and both are citizens and both are supposed to be treated equally under the law? The fact that the Shmeaux's have national television exposure means that they can suck the Government teat until they are good and fat.

If nagin was a star ship ca... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

If nagin was a star ship captian he would be in the middle of the ROMULAN NUTRAL ZONE and the romulan birds of prey would be swarming all over

The fact that the ... (Below threshold)
capitano:
The fact that the Shmeaux's have national television exposure means that they can suck the Government teat until they are good and fat. Posted by: Les Nessman at October 2, 2005 01:34 PM

And if they are photogenic and articulate, they will be called upon to testify as experts on issues ranging from terrorism to engineering to the environment -- you know -- kind of like a Cajun version of the Jersey Girls.

Because, dammit, it's not their fault that they vote for incompetent crooks. And besides they had to spend several nights in the Superdome with no hot meals and it smelled bad.

Les, no argument from me on... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Les, no argument from me on why private insurance won't write flood policies in NOLA area. I was responding to your comment regarding making people buy flood insurance policies so that taxpayers wouldn't have to pick up the tab - my point being, since private insurance won't provide flood insurance coverage, policy or no policy, taxpayers WILL pick up the tab for flooding there.

To expand on the flood insurance issue: historically, many oceanside cities in the US allowed people to build homes right on the water's edge, where those homes were exposed to the full force of hurricanes and storms (often having been built in front of the natural sand dune, thus both exposing the home to the sea AND destroying whatever natural flooding defense nature provided via the sand dune in the first place). Private insurance companies refused to cover flood risks for these homes, so when they inevitably got wiped out (usually by a hurricane), homeowners and municipalities expected the taxpayer to pick up the bill, through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This silliniess went on for years, until finally NFIP began refusing to write policies on structures built in front of the natural sand dune. Hardest hit towns (e.g., places like coastal North Carolina) also began rezoning so that homes could not be rebuilt on the sea side of coastal roads after storms wiped them out. I am in full agreement that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for a person's lifestyle choice, when that choice involves building and living in a home located in an area known to be at significant risk of flooding, once that risk has been demonstrated by the forces of Nature.

A knowledge of local geography should also assist the discussion. The oldest part of New Orleans (French Quarter and surrounding areas) did not flood. While levees on the Mississippi are not a new thing (some online have been acting as if levees were just magically invented by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE) in 1927), the oldest levees were relatively small and easily breached. The Mississippi River's annual floods prevented development of low-lying areas until levees could be built tall enough to protect them. This protection was mainly designed to work on annual river flooding, NOT hurricanes. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of hydrodynamics will tell you that water is going to go where it wants, eventually, no matter what you try to do to prevent it. When your flood control policy depends on essentially mud and electricity (i.e., levees and pumping stations), a well-aimed, slow-moving hurricane is going to shred your plans, plain and simple. To compound the problem, the levees in NOLA create a "bowl", ensuring that if flooding does happen, it hangs around for a while.

As to the crap in the MSM about race, keep in mind that flooding was no respecter of financial demographics. To wit: Katrina's devastation and flooding wiped out New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward (poor), St. Bernard Parish (predominately middle-class), and most of Metairie (middle to upper class).

Finally, I agree that US ACoE efforts to contain the Mississippi River are ultimately doomed to fail. Locals know that three hundred years ago, the River delta was located in East St. Bernard Parish, towards Hopedale, instead of where it is now. Every year, efforts to contain the River's movements towards the Atchafalaya river basin become more and more difficult. New Orleans got a taste of the future of the River back in 1987, when (because of low flows thanks to droughts up North) a "tongue" of salt water moved all the way up to Baton Rouge. When (not if) the River eventually gets its way, the existing section of the River from Baton Rouge on down will become a stagnant salt-water canal.

So if by some miracle, common sense could possibly prevail (not likely in Louisiana, I know), you'd see something like this:

* Payouts to locals in areas experiencing the worst floods - but ONLY on the condition that they not rebuild in the same neighborhoods

* Installation of a desalination facility to provide drinking water to NOLA

* US ACoE changes policy to let nature take its course, more and more each year, via the spillway above Baton Rouge (instead of the current 70/30 split that favors the Mississippi, more water into the Atchafalaya)

* City planning for residents on the West Bank that prepares the lowest neighborhoods for the eventuality of flooding, by enacting zoning that supports NFIP policy of no flood insurance protection to known, high-risk areas

* Removal of flood control structures below Chalmette or Meraux, with zoning to either prevent resettling, or at least to mandate homes be built on pilings 15 to 20 feet high (which won't protect against a hurricane, but at least will prevent the home from being flooded annually) - and NO flood insurance offered to residents who choose to live there

I grew up in Chalmette. Anyone who lives there will know that there have been many so-called "hundred year" floods triggered by rainfall since May 3rd, 1978. Flooding in the Parish was more or less a way of life, and we were used to it.

/ranting off

Chris said:"Do you... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Chris said:

"Do you really think that a social worker can't have a positive impact on rebuiding a city that was afflicted with terrible poverty and an obvious divide between the haves and have nots..."

You see most of us envision rebuilding the city without all those problems. I guess you could rebuild it exactly the same, but I would think you would want to improve it.

For the record, my wife is ... (Below threshold)
Chris:

For the record, my wife is a social worker, and she's not a bleeding heart who thinks blacks can do no wrong and only need to be understood. But of course that's too subtle for so many of the people on this board who have to stereotype everyone as either with us or against us. Do you really think that because some people made irresponsible comments about racism, that means race shouldn't be considered when trying to rebuild a city that's 70 percent black? I have yet to hear what's wrong with having a social worker involved, other than that she's a social worker, which is somehow supposed to be self-explanatory. Who exactly is going to be relied upon to take these issues into account? The president of Liberty Bank and Trust? (And no, I'm not satying he's a bad guy or a racist, I just assume he's on the board for his financial expertise, not his expertise in addressing social issues.) I know many of you think the approach to social issues should be "buck up and quit your whining," but there's a little more to it than that. Among other things, I imagine there's a huge element of the population suffering from something very much like post-traumatic stress disorder. It's silly to try and mobilize the population without taking these issues into account.

Perhaps you should keep eva... (Below threshold)

Perhaps you should keep evacuating, to...shall we say, Vermont?

It sounded to me that Major... (Below threshold)

It sounded to me that Major sounds more socialist than black. Hopefully, her influence will be minimal.

Chris, maybe you just don't... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Chris, maybe you just don't "get it."

New Orleans has been run (in the ground) by all of these types of people who don't know how do do shit.

Read her resume. What would YOU hire her to do?

To connect her inner feelings to her views on social racism exclusion on her transcendental plane of reality???

I'm sure your wife is a wonderful fine caring person. Do I want her in charge of rebuilding a city? Hell No.

Major has made a career convincing people that racism is a problem. She does not want to end it. If she did, she would be unemployed. It is a sad reality of urban life that the people who whine about racism the most are the ones who perpetuate it.

What exactly would you hire this woman to do? She is a professional whiner. We don't need whiners, we need doers.

Chris said:"But of... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Chris said:

"But of course that's too subtle for so many of the people on this board who have to stereotype everyone as either with us or against us. Do you really think that because some people made irresponsible comments about racism, that means race shouldn't be considered when trying to rebuild a city that's 70 percent black?"

Speaking of stereotypes, what does the fact it is 70% black have to do with social workers being necessary?


This is from an anchorman f... (Below threshold)
HAll:

This is from an anchorman from Baton Rouge, La.
Yesterday the Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up in Baton Rouge, I wished he would have showed up in Sheriff Harry Lee's office as we would have NEVER heard from him again, he said, "Bush has NOT appointed a single Black to head up this Katrina Relief, the Black Caucus and Black Leaders all over America are upset with him putting the Black folks on the side and it is OUR people who are sitting on their roof tops waiting for rescue, OUR people who are standing in line at the Superdome waiting on food, water and a ride to a safe place, OUR people who have been locked down in poverty!" And so on...

George Sell the Anchorman for TV 9 news responded to Jesse:

"Rev. Jackson,the Mayors of New Orleans and Baton Rouge are Black, the police chiefs of New Orleans and Baton Rouge are Black, the head of the LA State Police is Black, the head of the Army conducting the Army's operation on the ground in New Orleans is Black, the congressman from New Orleans is Black and for the last 40 years, the leaders of LA have been members of the Democratic Party, YOUR party, don't blame us like you are doing, look in the mirror! You pull the race card every time you don't get your way. We are in a terrible crisis and right now we need to come together and here you come to Louisiana and holler racism, just like you always do and it is NEVER EVER your fault, it's always racist, always someone else's fault, but here you are - sitting high and dry. Why don't you go out in to the waters where they are shooting at the rescue personnel and help in the rescue???

There was no response from the Rt Rev. Jackson.....







It gets WAY BETTER!<p... (Below threshold)
Mike:

It gets WAY BETTER!

Alden J. McDonald Jr.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/05/business/05liberty.html?ex=1286164800&en=ef3d9ad0275ed1e7&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss

Honestly I did not know who this guy was until I read this NY Times article.

You read it and tell me he should be on this committee. As a Banking proffesional I cannot believe that FDIC let these guys operate. Every single failure was an indicator that nothing...nothing was in place as per FDIC guidelines!!!!

Guess he IS A GOOD reflection of why we are in this mess afterall!!!!!




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