Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Master and Commander: Righting the ship

Hello All,

The challenge of being a political leader in many respects is very much like being the Commander of a ship. The ship is the political and geographic entity which one, who has been elected to a leadership post, must keep on course, keep maintained and keep the crew morale high. The ship on the open seas is susceptible to storms, attack by outside forces and the proper or improper maintenance performed by specialized (bureaucratic administration) crew members.

The ship known as New Orleans took on a severe hit on August 29, 2005. We weathered a fierce storm and then trouble, the potential death of any ship, taking on water.

In any chain of command their is the Commander of the ship (New Orleans Mayor) who reports to a higher level of command (Governor) and who in turn reports to the highest level of command (The President).

I use this analogy because it is eerily similar.

The ship took on water, was righted by aid directly from the highest command and now is a vessel run by incompetent leaders.

The truest test of command is to lead in the face of adversity. We as a citizenry were failed by our leadership at all levels. When the leadership fails, the crew must take action to prevent the ship from sinking and destruction. What would be a logical step, mutiny, the ouster of the captain and replacement by, we hope, an able leader.

Given this knowledge we must be prudent to elect leaders that will right the ship and guide us into safe harbor. The citizens of New Orleans must act in the absence of leadership, remember to vote in April and to vote again when the next Governor's election comes around.

In a democracy we are ultimately responsible for the progress of the city, the state and the country.

My message is to never forget the lessons of the last several months and do what is needed to bring New Orleans to glory.


Don't you dare read any more of this!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A lesson in manners...

...is needed.

I want to share with our audience an email which was received this morning from an irate and obviously unstable person who felt that "unsolicited" email is a sufficient reason to email threats of bodily harm. Here's the letter, with all expletives replaced with the corresponding form of the word Nagin and the name of the offender withheld (though not forgotten):

Who gives a Nagin what you think, not I.[sic] Where did you get my email? You have no right whatsoever to have sent [sic] me your stupid thoughts. If you ever send me an email again, I will some how [sic] find you and you will be very sorry you sent me an email. Stop spamming and screwing up what the IP world could be. Such temerity to send someone you do not know an email. It's Nagins like you that [sic] are truly screwing this world up.

Send another email and it will be your last.
First, I've removed this person's email from our list, for, you see, it isn't truly "temerity" until I know that danger exists. This person either doesn't understand the meaning of the word and likes his handy-dandy word-of-the-day calendar or he assumes his reputation for digital violence precedes him. Nevertheless, he's no longer bothered by my titanic attempts to ruin the "IP world".

Second, if you intend to do or threaten harm to someone, is it wise to send it under your full name, a name that can be easily looked up via any search engine to, perhaps, find out where you work or where you filed for Red Cross? Third, it's the actual Nagin's who are screwing up this world, not small-time blogs such as this. Fourth, you won't receive another email from us that much is certain, but be forewarned that the floods make me a little more difficult to locate and I am well-armed.

Finally, if anyone does not wish to receive an email from this blog, please just let us know. I will gladly remove you from our list. But please, please, please, do not insult me or anyone else's opinions and especially do not threaten anyone; I just might forget to withhold your name.

Scott M. Phillips

Don't you dare read any more of this!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ideas, Ideas, and more Ideas

I began my first post with a rant about how we are not considering the radical changes that are needed. To recap, a) New Orleans shouldn't have been built in that location, but it was, b) if we're going to rebuild, then the "same old" is not an option, and c) where's the money for storm surge protection for areas outside New Orleans. Well, here's my suggestions in no particular order:

First, tell everyone in New Orleans low-lying areas to stop remodeling and rebuilding. That time will come later. Let’s start by fixing some of the worst problems. If the city had been at or near sea level, the problems would have been far less severe. This is how to do it: Hire as many dredges a possible, and start dredging the lake, pumping water INTO New Orleans and Chalmette, non-stop for as long as it takes to fill in the low spots. The existing levees will serve well to keep the water in the city, allowing sediment to fall out, and creating an above-sea level barrier for the dredge spoil.

This technology is already used to rebuild barrier islands. For those areas near the river, simply divert sediment rich river water into the areas needing rebuilding. This is the best opportunity the city has ever had or will ever have again in the near future to achieve this. Many people (unfortunately) have little or no value remaining in their properties. After the holes are filled up, we can start rebuilding infrastructure and homes, at or above sea level.

By the way, this is an opportunity to point out a similar albeit smaller example. When NOLA decided to “fix” the I-10 underpass near Metairie Rd., I pointed out to many people that the pumps were a really poor solution. It will only be a matter of time before the pumps fail and the area floods again. The original idea to route the Interstate under the railroad tracks was inept at best, and we have been paying for this idiotic idea since the underpass was built. Where else in the country do you have a 12 foot ruler to measure water depth on an INTERSTATE HIGHWAY. So the City/and Feds spent millions of dollars to install pumps. And yet this past month, less than a year after the pumps came on line, the underpass filled up again, because the power was out to the pumps. DUHHH!! Let’s stop making stupid decisions and apply dollars towards REAL solutions. An overpass is the ONLY solution to this problem.

Second, sorry guys, but Plaquemines Parish is just not a place for people to live. Maybe have some apartment complexes there, but no more single family residential. And as for commercial, you better build your stuff high in the air, and strong enough to survive punishing onslaught from 30 foot waves on TOP of a 30 ft surge. And why not take advantage of technology being developed in the areas like the Florida keys to provide break-away features in residential and commercial buildings. The idea is that during a catostophic event, the storm surge is allowed to go through a building, taking the walls and contents with it, but leaving the steel reinforced concrete columns. Then reconstruction simply rebuilds the breakaway portions, to the intact structural components. And instead of flat surfaces on the upper decks, curved facades are built to help deflect and route the wind/water around the structure instead of creating flat, wind-catching facades.

Third, start diverting as much Mississippi River water as possible to all existing natural and manmade waterways to all of Southeastern LA. This is the only way to stop the loss of wetlands and begin restoring.

Fourth, we better start charging the rest of the country for the oil, natural gas, and refined fuels produced here.


Don't you dare read any more of this!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

31 Flavors of Ignorance

Mayor Nagin announcing his future career plans.
31 Flavors of Ignorance

On a day meant to commemorate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mayor C. Ray Nagin chose to provide a gathering of celebrants at City Hall with his take on the future racial make-up of our city. Claiming that a “conversation” with the late Dr. King was his inspiration for the speech, Mayor Nagin took license with Dr. King’s memory to promise a future for New Orleans that was “chocolate”. We assume this means African-American, and not Rocky Road or Chunky Monkey. Since our Mayor decided to use a little creative license with Dr. King’s memory, we feel the only logical remedy is a small dose of Dr. King’s words.

We must use time creatively.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When Mayor Nagin mentioned that "[God] sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane..." because He is mad at America for a list of ills surrounding both the war in Iraq and black-on-black violence, not once did he note his own lack of planning. This isn’t a case of God taking sides over whether or not someone lied about pre-war intelligence, but poor maintenance of our levee protection, compounded by inadequate planning and lackluster local leadership at the height of the crisis. But let’s say for argument’s sake, Nagin is right and God is actually mad at the USA, does it make sense that New Orleans would be the target of His wrath? Why not Washington, D.C.?

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

If one could reasonably claim such direct contact with the Almighty, where were Mr. Nagin’s pronouncements to heed our impending destruction? No, this isn’t a case of God forewarning one of his people, but rather a leader whose lost touch with reality and feels pandering to our basest emotions will allow his political career to continue.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mayor Nagin on the other hand has a dream of a “chocolate” New Orleans. It sure must be difficult to have such high-minded and lofty goals, Ray.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let us finally put to rest the notion that C. Ray Nagin did anything correctly. Like yesterday’s speech, Mayor Nagin has no one to blame but himself and his administration. When given the time to prepare and ample warning of what our weaknesses were, Mayor Nagin did nothing. Ooops, I almost forgot, he did create a disaster plan. Any idea how that worked out for us?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sadly, Mayor Nagin didn’t and still doesn’t measure up.

Don't you dare read any more of this!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Giving Willy Wonka a Run for His Money

To think I was starting to believe that the traffic on this blog slowed down because we had moved forward with rebuilding our lives. Moving from a state of frustration at the lack of leadership in the city of New Orleans to a new year, complete with insurance settlements and future plans.

Then I see the news today. Somebody should check and see whether they took the real Mayor Nagin and hid him in a basement closet at City Hall. What the hell happened?

"A chocolate city?" Has he lost his mind? Next thing you know, he'll be searching through wonka bars looking for a golden ticket. Then, he'll blame President Bush or Governor Blanco when he doesn't get it.

This time, the Mayor did it to himself. There is no one to blame here. He said those inflammatory things. He went and called out the President for being in Iraq for the wrong reasons. He used derogatory slang to talk about the racial make-up of the city. (Not to mention it was his fault in the first place that he didn't have enough buses to take people out of the sweltering Superdome. Better yet, he was the guy that had no clue that people were starving at the Convention Center.)

The days of waffling and back-tracking need to end now.

Nagin appointed the almighty Bring New Orleans Back Commission and then contradicted them when they wanted to implement a four-month moratorium on building. The Mayor approved a plan with all of the local tourism professionals and other leaders regarding Mardi Gras, then he said he had nothing to do with it.

He has made no progress in short-term housing, presented no ideas for economic development (except for the casino zone, remember that one?), and constantly worked to shift the blame to everyone but himself.

For the smartest guy we've ever had as Mayor, he sure has a habit of looking dumb.

Our biggest problem is that we have no real prospects to take this guy on in the election this spring. New Orleans is desperate for someone with true vision, an understanding of our culture, racial relations and economic future, regardless of their color or religion.

We are starving for direction and our elected officials, especially the mayor and city council, are the last ones to get the joke.

I will credit the Mayor today in one aspect - continued violent crime, such as the shootings at yesterday's second line, will keep everyone away and kill the collective fortunes of the city and our hopes forever.

Every day or so, you wake up and think today we'll get something done. Today, we'll move closer to a safer city, getting closer to home or more business opportunities. Then, you get back to your FEMA trailer or temporary housing 70 miles away and all you want to do is forget everything you saw and heard. Maybe tomorrow, b/c I am ashamed of Mayor Nagin today.

Don't you dare read any more of this!