Talk about leadership
Much has been made of Mayor Nagin's and Governor Blanco's leadership in the wake of Katrina's aftermath. Local and national media have been stepping over one another to heap praise especially upon our beloved C. Ray, but some of us, perhaps a lot of us, would like to know a few things, things the media are uniquely capable of reporting to its audience.
First, why wasn't our first line of defense, namely police and fire departments, better prepared for this disaster? Mayor Nagin, the City Council, and other top officials mostly grew up around these parts, so ignorance of what could happen if the "big one" hit is not a viable excuse. If Mayor Nagin knows enough to tell evacuees heading to the Superdome and other last resort shelters to bring several days of food and water, then it is unconscionable for our leadership not to have more than a day's worth of food and water on hand for our emergency personnel.
Second, what happened on the GNO bridge? Gretna says one thing, New Orleans says another, refugees say yet another version. What the hell happened? Without having been there, here's my guess: A) Mayor Nagin tells some refugees to flee over the GNO without consulting anyone on the other side, B) Some of those fleeing include some unscrupulous people who decide the West Bank would be a great place to loot and cause mayhem, especially the Oakwood mall, C) Gretna PD decides it doesn't want that to happen, so they react to protect their citizens and property and barricade the GNO, D) Nagin decides he's on to something, despite having no communication with West Bank authorities, and tells another wave of evacuees to get moving, and E) Warning shots are fired and people are turned back by an understandably zealous police force. If my choices were between sitting on the GNO before the Gretna PD barricade and the Convention Center mob, I'd choose the former; not likely Gretna PD would harm a stationary group of people fleeing what's below. Nice of Mayor Nagin to imply that property and race were the two deciding factors in this case, despite evidence to the contrary.
Third, if it's true that roughly 250 soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard were in the Convention Center, then why were they there and what is the reason for their not attempting to maintain safety and order? Soldiers are supposed to be trained to operate in the absence of, and sometimes contrary to, given orders. However, no soldier can function without supplies. What, if anything, happened here?
Fourth, exactly how many NOPD officers have deserted or are unaccounted for today? We can't rely upon other municipalities to loan us personnel forever, so where do we stand?
Fifth, where were the CDL carrying drivers for all those public buses? The City of New Orleans emergency plan calls for preparing drivers in case of emergency to drive city buses to evacuate our poorest and least able citizens. Yes, it was a weekend and many would have been scared to drive with such a storm approaching. Does this mean, Mr. Nagin, that the emergency plan only operates under sunny skies during the middle of the week?
Finally, how many people can Mayor Nagin blame for this catastrophe before he gets some of the blame himself? (Ok, so that one's rhetorical)