Friday, October 07, 2005

Time to Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Like many others in my city I lost my home. I don't say this to get your sympathy, but so that you understand where I am coming from.

As I spent another 2.5 hours on I-10 west this afternoon, commuting to my new home in the sprawling suburb of Baton Rouge. I finally had enough.

After weeks of rants on national television, exaggerated claims of violence, documented claims of property and personal abuse by the NOPD (anyone seen my 2005 silver cadillac?), it's time for me and thousands of other New Orleanians to admit finally that Mayor Nagin is a victim of his own creation.

The truth is that even before Hurricane Katrina was a tropical wave off the Ivory Coast and before our fair city was invaded by thousands of television reporters in hipwaders, Mayor Nagin had failed us. Three years ago we were fooled into promises of new jobs, new partnerships, greater transparency in business and new ideas. Let's finally admit now that none of those things were even close to fruition during Mayor Nagin's watch.

Let me first say that I don't care whether the mayor of New Orleans is black, white, male, female, Asian, Hispanic or Haitian. I want to be able to work with companies with owners of all races. In the end, it doesn't matter, as long as we are all working toward common goals.

That being said, the white middle class in New Orleans, me included, looked at Mayor Nagin and saw potential. Potential for Nagin as a leader and visionary and potential for our city. More than anything, we saw the image of a politician that looked better ethically than his predecessors. As months of inactivity turned into years, we did not demand more from Nagin. We essentially gave him a free pass b/c "at least he's not stealing from us." In a way, Nagin has stolen from us, by wasting his time in office, patting each new idea on the head and saying that big things were on the way.

It's time to admit that there are no big things on the way, as long as we have Nagin as our mayor. In fact, we face a bigger problem... Mayor Nagin with no where to go at all. Today's outlandish announcement about establishing land based casinos in the heart of NO's downtown doesn't even make sense. The mayor has no ability to make this happen. He cannot issue gaming licenses. Plus it would take a charter amendment to do anything close to creating more land based casinos. Nagin writes a letter to Governor Blanco, who is facing her own problems, offering that the two partner in this effort (which is buried among a bulleted list of tax incentive ideas and a bunch of other things you've heard before). Is Nagin going to then blame the Governor when we stand up and unilaterally vote down HIS idea?

This "idea" is going to the same junk pile as Nagin's plan for selling the airport, building a new airport, Job1 initiative, Canal St. redevelopment into upscale residences, new technology in the city and transparency on contracts.

The bottom line is Mayor Nagin is not the person to lead New Orleans. He'll lead us into oblivion. (What happened to my Troy Carter for Mayor t-shirt?).

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

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