Sunday, May 21, 2006

Maybe now Nagin will come up with an evacuation plan?

A few weeks ago, Nagin announced an evacuation plan for the city that was later revealed to be, really, just an evacuation theory. None of the systems were in place. There were no buses in place. There were no shelters identified. And rottweilers, he said, could travel under the bus--this last part was also was fiction.

I'm not sure Mitch Landrieu would have been much better, but it is hard to imagine that he wouldn't have been at least a smidgeon more effective. Prior to the storm, Nagin's chief acheivement was a glossy city hall magazine touting his accomplishments. During the storm he seemed to really take charge of an insanely over the top situation. Post storm, he's mostly been just over the top. With the city desperate for support from the outside world--tourists, businesses, the federal government--one has to wonder what message his re-election sends. Will the money start pouring in? Were people waiting to be sure that Nagin stayed in place before helping us out? Will the abandoned cars finally be removed?

In my own district, the race for city council came down to Kristin Palmer and James Carter. During the primary, Kristin's main rival appeared to be Jane Booth, who had used her connections to wrap up a number of endorsements. When she still wasn't able to get the votes, Booth endorsed Carter. The Times Picayune endorsed Carter. Why Carter? Good question. Carter claimed to be a corporate lawyer with a crime fighting background. In fact, he's a criminal lawyer with an ad in the yellow pages soliciting a very narrow clientel: sex offenders, drug dealers, etc. (The ad is pretty amazing, because it actually lists these possible offenses in bullet points.) His main community experience seems to be casual involvement in a few government sponsored programs. His slick brochures offered the vaugest possible promises. At forums he had no opionion on controversial riverfront development and found gay and lesbian issues and "inappropriate" topic. Of course he was going to win.

Palmer, meanwhile, has worked for the past fifteen years helping to renovate homes and turn them over to first time homeowners, particularly in previously "blighted" areas. She's involved in the schools. She had no big business contributors. She had specific ideas on how to use existing funds more effectively. But people were suspicious, because she lives in Algiers. Carter also lives in Algiers, but for him this wasn't an issue. Palmer planned to be a council person full-time. Carter has no plans to give up his day job. Palmer opposed new hotels in the French Quarter; Carter had no opinion on the subject. Their district includes the French Quarter and the Marigny, areas with obvious preservation issues and dense gay and lesbian populations. In the final days of the election, "someone" floated rumors that Palmer was homophobic and that she had actually petitioned to remove a gay couple from her neighbhorhood in order to keep them away from children. In reality, she's been active in that community since she was in college nearly twenty years ago. But voters don't concern themselves with reality, so Palmer lost. (She is also a friend, so I may be a little bitter, but it really does suck.)

So here's what we have to look forward to: lots of big business, lots of riverfront development, lots of high rises breaking into residential neighborhoods.

No comments: