Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More blog outsourcing

I actually had a plan for a long Hornets post knocking around "in my head" as Ed Blakely might say. But I've been too busy with other stuff so you'll just have to do with Oyster's take.

Like many New Orleans-based sports observers, I'm still dubious about the Hornets because: 1) They don't have a long or interesting enough history here to imbue their games with the kind of emotional meaning that accompanies a Saints mini-camp practice. 2) They may still leave town. 3) The teal. 4) Coach of the year, Byron Scott is kind of an asshole.

Having said all of that, it's really hard not to like watching this team play. The Hornets play fast and smart and benefit greatly from the fact that David West could hit a 15 foot jumper even with two hands in his face, one on his arm, and Ray Nagin's fist bearing down for a solid cold-cock. They're missing an enforcer type under the boards and allow too many second-chance shots which I think will ultimately be their undoing. But for now, it's all good fun.

And fun is all they are until (and this is one of those big IFs) they're around long enough for local fans to have any real emotional investment in them. I must say, they came very close to actually earning a bit of that "emotional investment" cred last night by nearly blowing a 15 point lead in the final minutes. If they had found a way to lose that one, many of us, I'm sure, would have understood "Okay this is our team now." So in a way, the Hornets are still victims of their own success.

Filler... with links

It's still early but today looks like one of those light posting episodes. Busy day... busy week.. yada yada yada. If I get a chance later I may write something about basketball. Meanwhile see the following links:

Mark Folse on Stacy Head

Moldy City has a WTF I kind of figured might be coming.

More excellent NFL Draft analysis from "Peter Finney"

Woody Jenkins: What a wanker

Ditto: Ben Stein

And that's all I got right now. If you need to read more news, try cracking open a floodwall.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dumbest. Legislative. Session. Ever.

After courageously tackling the crucial issues of state mandated castration, the freedom to ride unhelmeted, proper cell phone etiquette, and a lengthy list of cocktails, songs, arachnids, ball bearings, and hand sanitizers that merit being deemed "Official ______ of the State of Louisiana" the State Senate has finally managed to provide sanity with a badly needed coup de grace by passing an unworkable, unsignable pretend bill to eliminate all state income taxes. Way to go, guys. Somewhere Foster Campbell is smiling.

I believe Barry Ritholtz calls this "Info Porn"

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center has launched a nifty new Google Map of what it's calling repopulation data based on "block-by-block counts of households actively receiving mail, closed Road Home 'Stay and Rebuild' applications and closed Road Home 'Sell to the State' applications".

As with most GNOCDC projects, the data is available for download in Excel format. But the map has all the pretty colors. Check it out.

Sophisticating up the office supplies

Cerasoli wants his stapler back before he has to set the building on fire.

Dragons impervious to licorice

Clancy! Whoops... sorry.. Gambit! (It's so hard to tell which hat Clancy's hiding under sometimes... especially when he's trying not to openly admit a mistake)

An Affirmative Duty
The big cats are grinning. If you think of Louisiana politics as a large-animal circus act, with the state ethics board as the lion tamer, then the tamer now holds a whip made of licorice. When lawmakers passed a set of new ethics laws in February, they also raised significantly the standard of evidence needed to rule against elected officials accused of ethics or campaign finance violations. Instead of cracking down on violators and cleaning up Louisiana's image, the higher burden of proof makes it more difficult to punish unethical politicians — and easier for them to flout the law. This must change. Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal recently basked in the spotlight of Louisiana's new ethics laws. Indeed, some of the new laws approach the so-called "gold standard" of ethics reform, such as full financial disclosure and bans on state contracts. But, even as the public cheered, the proverbial claws were out, gutting enforcement of those new laws by requiring a higher burden of proof.

I think the real lesson here is never hire a Dragonslayer to do a Lion Tamer's job.... or something like that anyway. Hey did anyone see Leno last night?

Taking one for the team

Greg Peters watches Jay Leno so you don't have to. That's not easy to do either. Really. Somebody should buy Greg a beer.

Instant Update: Schroeder was watching too. God bless you guys. Now go take a shower or something.

Not so instant update: OMG it's Leno's most watched program ever!

Even less instant update: Some of the kids these days are using the YouTubes for this sort of thing.


I'm having trouble understanding this. Commuters in D.C. will soon have the option of paying $40.00 per year to use rental bicycles for three hours at a time between a limited number of designated pick-up and drop-off locations. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy free unlimited use of a bike that I paid a one-time price of $80.00 for seven years ago. What makes this D.C. bike sharing plan a better option?

(link via Clio)

There used to be a word....

It was a term applied generally to hucksters and self-proclaimed experts traveling south to build their fortunes exploiting the ruins of a devastated region. What did we used to call such persons? Something to do with flooring material...

I think it started with a V

(note: Yes that WCBF post is a Philly-centric episode in the Alphonso Jackson saga. It and e's series of posts on Jackson are no less relevant, however)

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's the greatest draft in Saints history!

How do we know? Because the instant media reception is decidedly "ho-hum". The Saints' draft gets a "B-" from USA Today and a "C+" from Mel Kiper Grades like this are sportswriters' way of telling you they have no fucking clue what to think while still appearing to give an informed opinion.

SI's intolerable Paul Zimmerman pretends to have given up on "grading" each team's draft right before he proceeds to do just that without actually typing letter grades. He would have done better to say nothing at all as far as the Saints were concerned because what he does write makes no sense. For instance, "Glenn Dorsey, the terrific DT from LSU, was their man. They even traded three places up, to seven, for a shot at him. Sorry, the Chiefs got there first," is wrong since the Saints didn't trade up to 7 until after Dorsey was off the board. And "Suspecting that their corners were perhaps slowing down a bit, the Saints grabbed CB Tracy Porter (4.37) with the next selection," could just as well have read, "I feel obligated to write a sentence about Tracy Porter."

The truth is there's no meaningful way to evaluate a draft. Some of these new Saints will be players. Some of them might even be good. Doubtless some of them will be laughably crappy. We'll be sure to keep an extra eye out for them.

Just as fun will be keeping an eye on the players the Saints could have chosen but didn't such as Tulane running back Matt Forte, who was available when the Saints took Porter, or Leodis Mckelvin, the highest rated defensive back who was still available at pick 10 where the Saints were originally slotted.

Meanwhile, there's not much we can say that's too different from what you'll find at the end of the AG wrap-up:
This year’s NFL Draft was certainly fun to watch, but we’ll have to wait until at least the end of the ’08 season before giving it any kind of grade. It definitely gets us primed for the preseason, though, and I can’t wait until August, when we can watch this team start to come together.

In other words... yeah, we'll get back to you when we actually see them play.

NOLA Disney

I know I'm getting old, but I can remember a time when we did things in this town simply because we wanted to do them... regardless of what we thought the tourists might want... or be willing to pay fifty bucks for.

Note to visitors. If you are interested in paying the exorbitant Ja$$fest admission fee, please... whatever you do... do NOT attempt to save any seating for your young children while they are in the restroom. Otherwise, Stacy Head may call you a "Yankee bitch"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

God bless the Fat Guys

The Saints traded up a couple spots to pick USC DT Sedrick Ellis. While, Deadspin's Mike Tanier makes an amusing case that they may have needed a corner, I think this is just as well. I don't like trading up but they didn't have to give up a whole lot. If they really need that third round pick back, I'm sure somebody will be stupid enough to trade them one for Reggie Bush. Plus, so far, they haven't acquired Jeremey Shockey so that's tentative good news.

Update: I guess if you take a big fat guy in the 1st round, you have to take an eety beety guy in the 2nd. I don't know anything about Indiana CB Tracy Porter but the speed looks good and he's a Louisiana native which is always fun.

Also.... looks like the guy I actually wanted will be a Bear. Finally something about this that sucks lest we get too much cautious optimism in one Saints post.

More pre-draft video clips

Fill the rest of your Saturday morning watching Bill Moyers and Jeremiah Wright discuss exactly how "threatening" and "unpatriotic" Rev Wright and his ministry really are.

BILL MOYERS: What does the church service on Sunday morning mean in general to the black community?

REVEREND WRIGHT: It means many things. I think one of the things the church service means is hope. That tell me that there is hope in this life, almost like Psalm 27 when David said, "I would have fainted unless I lived to see the goodness of the right in this life." Don't tell me about heaven. What about in this life-- that there is a better way, that this is not in vain, that it is not Edward Albee or Camus' absurd, the theater of the absurd. It is not Shakespeare full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. That life has meaning and that God is still in control, and that God can, and God will, some people of goodwill working hard do something about the situation. We can change. We can do better. We can change policy. We can look back and say, "Well, 40 years ago when King was alive, we did not have right before his death, a civil rights act. We did not have a voting rights act." So, change is possible. But I'm getting my head whipped. The average member in the black church five days a week, "tell me that this is not all there is to this." So, they come looking for hope. And as we've tried to do, move a hurt. People who are marginalized, marginalized in the educational system, marginalized in the socioeconomic system -- to move them from hurt to healing, that there is really is a balm in Gilead.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that the members of Trinity leave the world of unemployment, leave the world of discrimination, leave the world of that daily struggle and come to church for-

REVEREND WRIGHT: For encouragement, to go back out and make a difference in their world. To go back out and change that world, to not just talk about heaven by and by, but to get equipped and to get to know that we are not alone in this struggle, and that the struggle can make a difference. Not to leave that world and pretend that we are now in some sort of fantasy land, as Martin Marty called it, but that we serve a God who comes into history on the side of the oppressed. That we serve a God who cares about the poor. That we serve a God who says that as much as you've done unto the least of these, my little ones, you've done unto me, so that we are not alone. Because that same God says I'm with you, and I'm with you in the struggle. Our United Church of Christ says courage and the struggle for justice and peace that is an ongoing struggle.

It's a Bill Moyers show so there's obviously much more than just one quote to distill the whole discussion. But the people who want to vilify this man and use his distorted image to their political advantage are beyond despicable.

Long Year

TPM figures the multiple scenarios by which the Democrats could count "popular vote" as the determining factor in the nominating process (an idea the Hillary campaign is beginning to push) and still finds Hillary to be a very long shot.

On to Puerto Rico!

Long day

The draft doesn't start until 2:00 PM. This means the stupid rumors can bounce around for another four hours. Why are the Saints working so hard this morning to increase their douchebag quotient?

"It's not the preferred technique"

Call me crazy but this explanatory press conference called by the Corps yesterday doesn't make me feel any better about the substandard construction methods (old newspapers) used in 2006 to create the Donald Powell's "Best levee system known in the world"

After reading Celcus yesterday, I (yes gloomy skeptical I) was all set to accept that this was an isolated case of contractor boo boo and that the Corps next move should be to a) correct the problem and b) take legal action against an errant contractor.

As it turns out, however:

Corps officials said Friday that three panel gaps in a flood wall near the Paris Road bridge in New Orleans, near the St. Bernard Parish line, were plugged with newspaper instead of rubber in May 2006, as an "expedient" method to do minor repairs the year after Katrina. Those three gaps were the only ones where such a method was used, Kurgan said.

"It's not the preferred technique," he said.

Because the waterstop is in place, and because the outside of the newspaper filling was sealed, the risk of leaking is minimal, he said. Several engineers pointed to the black rubber filling being installed on one of the Harvey Canal floodwall gaps.

Corps officials said it used its own hired workers in 2006 to put in the newspaper filling, not a contractor.

So in December 2005, Donald Powell commits to building the "best levee system known in the world" and by May 2006, that's already devolved into "expedient method to do minor repairs" by something other than the "preferred technique"

Today we're at "Those three gaps were the only ones where such a method was used" At this rate we'll be at "Rebuild it. Tear it down. You know... whatever it is" probably by.... oh just after inauguration day.

Update: Celcus, again, has more suggesting that there is something supernatural at work in the Corps' methods.
...when they say such-and-such has been built to “industry standards” or the like, that can include newspapers stuffed into joints. Perhaps whatever the Corp does automatically becomes the standard, in some sort of transubstantiation.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Br'er Bernazzani?

Please FBI, don't throw me in that briar patch.

James Bernazzani, the head of New Orleans' FBI office, a silver-maned, tough-talking, Harvard-educated, larger-than-life crimefighter sent to squash public corruption in a jurisdiction notorious for it, was reassigned to the agency's national headquarters Friday after he publicly flirted with a run for mayor.

The abrupt transfer marks the end of Bernazzani's three-year tenure in New Orleans, a tumultous period during which he carved out a prominent niche as the face and voice of a very public war on corruption.

The FBI confirmed the move in a statement sent Friday in response to queries from The Times-Picayune.

"The recent media attention regarding a possible run for mayor could create the appearance of a conflict of interest," the statement read. "Even the appearance of a conflict must be avoided for the public to have the highest confidence in the FBI."

Bernazzani, meanwhile, said late Friday he's not sure if he'll return to Washington, hinting that his political ambitions in New Orleans are still alive.

"The FBI director and myself spoke at length about the circumstances surrounding my comments relative to my contemplation of public office, and it was decided I would better serve the FBI in Washington," he said. "I have not made a decision. But I love the city of New Orleans and I have to decide whether I want to serve the United States in New Orleans or serve the United States in Washington."

Why does no one ever want to serve New Orleans in New Orleans?

Reading this story, one has to ask, is he just cocky enough to believe himself above the Federal Laws he is charged with enforcing... or is he just stupid?

As it happens, the Hatch Act has recently been a concern of the local FBI office.

Barry Bernadas, a former intelligence analyst at the bureau's lakefront office, resigned from the FBI last fall after 23 years so that he could run for sheriff of St. Bernard Parish.

But before he had decided to run, Bernadas said, he was quizzed aggressively by high-ranking agents about his intentions.

"They asked me, 'Are you thinking about running for sheriff?'¤" he said. "I was told by Bernazzani's management team that it would be a violation of the Hatch Act if I even spoke about running."

Questioned about Bernadas' story on Friday, local FBI spokeswoman Special Agent Sheila Thorne said bureau officials "are not at liberty to discuss personnel issues."

Bernazzani told The Times-Picayune on Thursday that he has been careful to pay heed to the limits imposed by the Hatch Act. He sought legal guidance before going on television, he said.

"I'm trying to play this thing down," he said then. "I went on TV to explain the situation. I want to put it away and move on. I don't want to continue with the dialogue; I want to get past it. I've got enough work right now being the head of the FBI. I'm not ready to retire yet."

The answer is, of course, no he can't be that stupid. He wants this opportunity to leave now in case he decides to run in two years.... when I guess we'll finally see him roll out that six month plan of his.

Fred Radtke

Batshit crazy (link via Haney)

The key question for me, whenever the Radtke problem comes up, is to what degree does the city actually sanction this apparent daily sniffing of enthusiasm for gray paint? The signals are always mixed as they are here:

Business owners along Magazine Street have long complained that Radtke, who is not a city employee, has painted on their buildings without their permission. But when told of their concerns, Narcisse said in January that the NOPD has no intention of charging Radtke with defacing of public or private property and praised his efforts in reducing crime and improving the city’s quality of life.

“What he’s doing is work that the city would be doing itself provided we had the resources and manpower,” Narcisse said at the time. “ He’s not doing anything that we aren’t asking him to do. ”

But City Councilwoman at-large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said the city has never authorized Operation Clean Sweep.

“We want graffiti removed but we want it authorized and controlled as to when, where and how he can do it,” Clarkson said. “I know the city would never give (Radtke) authorization to do any of what he is doing, including going on someone’s private property. And he certainly doesn’t have the right to be abusive to anybody, not in this city.”

Again, which is it? Knowing how most things work in this town, the sad answer is it's probably both. As long as some one with some semblance of an official voice appears to endorse Radtke's vandalism, and as long as their is no decisive move to stop it, you're going to read this story over and over.

Unreality Based Economy

Systemic government lying about key economic data is hardly a new issue, but sometimes a graphic is worth a thousand words (1600 Euro-words EDIT: Or is that 1600 US words if you're reading in Europe? Math is hard!).

If you can still afford to do so, you should read the rest of the words in this Ritholtz post as well as those in his links... especially Kevin Phillips' article from the May Harper's "Numbers Racket: Why the Economy is Worse than We know" (PDF)

I can't look

Saints trade talk getting louder Now involves the possible break-up of the "J-Five"

(Note: The earlier replacement of Jeff Faine with Jonathan Goodwin left the J-Five intact.)

Local Rags

Here's a little known fact about Chris Rose's column. It turns out to be incredibly absorbent. So much so that you can actually build floodwalls out of it.

4 Investigates: Floodwalls stuffed with newspaper?

We know from reading his columns that Rose takes the recovery and protection of SE Louisiana very very.. um.. personally. But who knew that his life's work would end of being literally dedicated to this purpose? Way to go, Chris.

Update: It occurs to me that this may be my fault for underestimating the litteral-mindedness of the Corps and its sub-contractors when I decide to call someone a douchebag.

Also... we may all be guilty of not taking the publishers of The New Orleans Levee literally enough.

Upperdate: I iz Contractr!

Uppestdate: Also see Celsus's post which is not as full of snark as these... or as full of old newspaper as a floodwall.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coalition Provisional Authority

Same shit different rubble.
NEW ORLEANS - A new committee will monitor the redevelopment of New Orleans public housing and create a plan to return control of the Housing Authority of New Orleans back to local authorities, Mayor C. Ray Nagin's office said today.

The federal government took over HANO in 2002 after former city leaders were criticized for their financial mismanagement and incompetence.

The advisory committee was one of Nagin's conditions in supporting the release of permits for the demolition of four public housing complexes: B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, St. Bernard and Lafitte. Those sites will be redeveloped into mixed-income developments.

Nagin, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HANO have signed a cooperative endeavor agreement that will create the committee.

"New Orleans is moving toward a critical next phase in our recovery," Nagin said. "HUD and HANO have proposed a rebuilding program that will radically change public housing in our community and will better ensure that all of our residents have access to quality housing. As they do so, it is important that the people most affected feel confident about what is taking place. This agreement will ensure that there is local input as we continue to move forward."

The committee will consist of three members: one person appointed by Nagin, a current public housing resident appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council and one person appointed by the secretary of HUD.

If we stand up, will they stand down? And someone please tell me if the condos are ok.

Update: The condos are not ok.

Upperdate: Neither are the "lifestyle choice" trailers.

Cranky Old Man Road Show

That smell wafting up from downtown isn't only the flaming garbage. There's also a Presidential Candidate in town posing for photos near some of our choice rubble.

The T-P also reports that McCain wore a checkered shirt and ate a brownie but doesn't mention whether or not any reporters demanded that he "denounce and rebuke" his controversial spiritual adviser John Hagee. Do checkered shirts even go with flag pins? Where the hell are all the journalists when you need them?

Update: Cranky Old Man reveals plan to "Rebuild, Tear it down, whatever"

Upperdate: I see "rejecting" but I still don't see any "denouncing" and "rebuking"


Sooo... a small company of Louisiana plutocrats including the CEO of Lamar Advertising and the man who rode this year as Rex are slightly delayed leaving their private island retreat due to minor engine trouble and the headline on WAFB reads Lamar CEO, King of Rex, Among 8 Louisianians Stranded on Island in Pacific

The Dead Pelican has placed a link to this tale of minor travel inconvenience STRANDED LOUISIANIANS at the top of the site. Above the STRANDED headline sits a large photo of a tropical island similar to the very island where the STRANDED vacationers are right now as they await rescue under the most desperate and dire circumstances.
The group last week traveled to Palmyra Island, about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii for what was supposed to be a five day trip. They were scheduled to leave the island last Saturday. As of late Wednesday night, however, they were still stranded on the island.

The island is owned by The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and is home to an international research outpost. A spokesperson for The Nature Conservancy says there is electricity on the island as well as cabins and plenty of supplies.

The group is not considered to be in any danger.

"Not in any danger"? Didn't the reporter read his own headline? These people are STRANDED.
"They're down there having a great time," Neu said of the stranded group. "At least one, possibly some of the others, had some important meetings (back home). But, you know, I guess maybe they can get them delayed or whatever. We're trying the best we can. We only have the one airplane and it's normally the only airplane that goes to Palmyra," Neu said.

Neu says the current plan is to bring a smaller plane to the island and shuttle the stranded people out in small groups to Christmas Island. From there, a larger plane can be used to transport the entire group back to Honolulu. That could happen sometime late Thursday, he said.

Okay so they're not exactly STRANDED in the sense that they're... sitting atop their flooded homes or inside a hot and fecund Superdome waiting for FEMA to show up with food and water while the rest of the country debates whether or not they're getting what they deserve. But, okay... yes... in a way I guess you could say these folks are STRANDED... on a resort island... with plenty of food and electricity... until Thursday (today) when they go to Hawaii.

Why then do WAFB and TDP insist that we concern ourselves with the plight of these STRANDED vacationers? Perhaps there's something they're not telling us about this island "owned by The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii" and "home to an international research outpost." Maybe... just... Oh my god!!!

We have got to get those people off that island!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time of Plagues

Fist-sized snails invade Terrebonne
SCHRIEVER -- With brooms, scrapers and paddles in hand, snail hunters took to the bayous and swamps off La. 20 Tuesday morning to combat a looming invasion of alien intruders.

Invasive apple snails -- fist-sized and yellow-brown in color -- have gained a foothold in the Donner Canal area and possibly the swamps surrounding the highway.

And in a related matter:

Bernazzani mulling request to run for office
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Bernazzani, who has been at the forefront of several recent high-profile corruption and crime investigations, says he has been approached about running for political office in New Orleans and that he will decide within a year’s time whether or not to take up the challenge.

Dead horses do not build adequate flood protection systems

So we must continue to try and beat some sort of reaction out of the disinterested "Cab Drivers" of the Midwest.

John M. Barry in today's LA Times

Although the energy and shipping industries primarily benefit the entire country, Louisiana does gain economically -- as it does from levees -- so one could argue the state has made a devil's bargain. Yet the dams and reservoirs that provide important benefits -- ironically including flood protection -- to states from the Upper Midwest to the High Plains enormously increase the danger to New Orleans, coastal Louisiana and part of Mississippi, but give nothing to them.

The Bush administration, instead of recognizing that hurricane protection for Louisiana is an urgent national problem, is treating this protection as if it were a routine local economic development project. In addition to opposing putting any money for Louisiana in the supplemental appropriation bill, the administration wants Louisiana to pay proportionately the same share of the costs for protection from a 100-year hurricane that local governments pay to build, say, a canal lock.

This is bad policy on two counts. First, failure to put the money into the bill will delay protection for at least two hurricane seasons. New Orleans needs this protection sooner rather than later. Second, the administration wants Louisiana to pay $1.8 billion as its share of the costs. To a region struggling to recover, this is a crippling burden, especially because it comes on top of the $500 million that Louisiana has allotted to such protection this year and next, and a state constitutional amendment that has dedicated all future tax revenues from offshore energy production, estimated at more than $650 million a year, to coastal restoration and protection.

So far, policymakers have not seen the problem as a whole, and they largely perceive federal assistance as generosity. That's the wrong way of looking at it. Given that benefits to states throughout the Mississippi Valley actually created the problem, federal funding is not generosity. It's equity.

via: Varg

Actual Cat Blogging

If it's good enough for Scout, I can't feel that bad about it, right?

Sovereign was admitted to the animal hospital yesterday morning to have a polyp cleared from his right ear via a procedure called a ventral bulla osteotomy. The polyp had ruptured his eardrum but we're told the damage is not permanent and he'll be able come home as soon as the fluid is finished draining and his little head is sewn back up.


This has got to be the most insane proposal in history.
A California native who has been in the "amusement business" since he was a preteenager has asked the city to approve a $70 million plan that would convert Six Flags New Orleans into a "world-class" attraction with twice as many rides and a water park by next summer.

The city's recovery czar, Edward Blakely, said he received the proposal this week from Danny Rogers of Southern Star Amusement Group that included a "commitment letter" from William Prip, a vice president of Six Flags Inc.

"We got it today," Blakely said Tuesday. "We'll assess the proposal against other proposals, including a sports complex, and look at the role the city would play."

This (unincorporated) company is planning to take over a wildly unsuccessful amusement park that has been heavily damaged by flood waters, double its size, add a water park, add an RV park, and open it NEXT SUMMER in a remote and unknown-to-visitors part of an economically troubled city while we sit on the verge of what looks to be a very nasty recession. Wasn't April Fools' Day three weeks ago?

Perhaps my favorite line item from the proposal:

-- Adding five entertainment areas -- with names such as Area 51, Tumble Weed Gulch, Cricket Creek Bog, Fort Thunder and Country Fair -- that "will provide much needed shade" from the sun.


If the utter preposterous nature of the idea itself isn't enough to raise a skeptical eyebrow, please note that the article also prominently features comments from Ed Blakely. And then, of course, there's this:

-- Encouraging entrepreneurs to buy land in front of the park in eastern New Orleans and develop it as a hotel complex that would be later linked to the park by a light-rail system.

Here's a tip. If someone proposing to sell you land (in this case, actual swampland) allows the words "light-rail" to pass his or her lips during your discussion, immediately get up and run as far and fast as you can.

Bonus link: In other Amusement Industry news, U.S. businessman aims to bring 'badly needed' fun to Baghdad

Monday, April 21, 2008

Inspiring Rhetoric

Watching Obama right now on The Daily Show, it occurs to me that if I had to name one person the halting, controlled speech pattern employed by this presumed "inspiring" rhetorician most reminds me of, the first name that comes to mind is Mike Dukakis.

Runaway Hayride

A week and a half ago, I watched Jim Bernazzani call unnecessary dramatic attention to his overrighteous self as he announced the federal indictment of Derrick Shepherd and I had to ask... a bit angrily I must admit... of Benrazzani and US Attorney Jim Letten, "What the fuck are these assholes running for?"

In this week's Gambit Allen Johnson Jr reports:
It's no secret that Jim Bernazzani, the hard-charging state head of the FBI, is pondering life after a long career of pursuing foreign terrorists and corrupt politicians. The mandatory retirement age for FBI agents is 57. Bernazzani, 52, has been entertaining job offers both inside and outside New Orleans, sources say. He recently turned down a top counter-terrorism job with the bureau in Washington, telling a recent meeting of the local FBI Citizens Academy that he is dedicated to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Our sources say some heavy hitters (read: financial backers) with conservative leanings want the tough-talking Bernazzani to consider running for mayor of New Orleans in 2010. Bernazzani isn't talking about that idea, and federal law bars government employees from politicking. However, the prospect of a candidacy has "taken on a life of its own," says a friend of the G-man. A native of Massachusetts, Bernazzani will find that the transition from crusading cop to elective office has been tried by many here, but achieved by few. Former NOPD Chief Richard Pennington lost the 2002 mayoral runoff to Ray Nagin, and former U.S. Attorney John Volz lost a 1995 run for sheriff of St. Tammany Parish. However, the late Joe Giarrusso Sr. , moved from police chief to city councilman at-large and served several terms there. "

Soooo no surprise there.

Meanwhile, how's that freshly won revolution against all that is "Old" "Corrupt" and Dragonesque shaping up? Celcus has an update.

Sports Journalism!

T-P columnist and longtime friend of the Yellow Blog, Chris Rose, managed to put an important question to Hornets center Tyson Chandler during his "60 Second Interview" in Friday's edition
As you surely know, hornets live in nests, not hives. So why is the Arena called the Hive when you play there?

Chandler's answer was insufficient due to an easy dodge provided for him by Rose's earlier unseemly fawning over young cheerleaders. But this "hive" thing also troubles me and I would very much have liked to see it addressed.

Rose is also not the first local newsie-type person to raise this issue. Recently, Gambit blogger, Alejandro de los Rios, has been pushing it for at least a couple of weeks now after the following item appeared in The New Orleans Levee
“Now we’ve got the Hornets, which have nothing to do with New Orleans, and they keep welcoming us to the “Hive,” which has nothing to do with Hornets.

They are cheered on by the HoneyBees. Now, it must be said that any self-respecting hornet would sting to death any honey bee any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The Hornets’ home colors are teal, which is wrong on multiple levels, let alone the fact that it’s not even the color hornets are.”

While this incompatibility between the terms "hive" and "hornets" is annoying, the other quibbles mentioned by the Levee are those of the incompatibility between a relocated sports franchise and its adopted "home" city.

There is nothing particularly reminiscent of New Orleans in the name "Hornets". There are multiple easy fixes for this situation. Certainly this city has a healthy catalog of insects more familiar to locals than Hornets to choose from. (May we humbly suggest "Mumkins" as one example) And ever since the Hornets arrived here, it has been suggested many times that the franchise acquire the name "Jazz" from the city's previous NBA occupant (and the most comically misnamed team in professional sports). But both teams and the NBA frown on such an arrangement. The most often cited reason for this is marketing. The league and the teams claim that changing the name and logo of a team is too risky a disruption in the product's "brand recognition" within its market even though this argument has been applied rather selectively at times. And if professional sports leagues want to argue that renaming a team after something its host city identifies with is any more confusing or off-putting than repeatedly renaming large publicly financed buildings after a team's most recent corporate sponsor then... well... good luck with that.

The unpleasant and increasingly ubiquitous teal is another product of modern sports franchise design which operates under the theory that if these franchises are all basically interchangeable anyway, they may as well all wear the same color. Since arriving in New Orleans, the Hornets have added gold to their color scheme and attempted to play the teal as a "green" to complete a Mardi Gras purple-teal-gold design. Why not just go with green? The old Jazz used to wear purple, green and gold, but they seem to have given up that look in favor of... more teal.

Even as this year's exciting and fun-to-watch from a purely basketball standpoint Hornets open the (interminable) NBA playoffs at home this week, I still struggle to understand how area sports fans can get so... um... "Fanned Up" without engaging in a significant amount of cognitive dissonance. The Hornets are only in New Orleans as the result an act of ill will from the league and the team's current owner toward the city of Charlotte. Recently, this same owner came very close to moving on to Oklahoma as New Orleans struggles to recover from the ongoing effects of the Federal Flood. Currently, this same league is engaged in an act of even more ill will toward the city of Seattle. No one in New Orleans seems to care. I find this very strange.

It's even stranger considering the same New Orleans sports fans who are willing to look the other way now, will soon be screeching indignantly as the one franchise the city truly cannot afford to lose enters into yet another round of brinksmanship against the governing authorities with substantial new leverage. Oh well. Enjoy the playoffs.

One additional note: Obviously sports isn't Rose's regular beat, otherwise he would not have gotten this bit from Sunday's column quite as wrong as he did.
I think most folks around here are divided into two camps: You're either a Mardi Gras person or a Jazzfest person but I fully believe it's possible to be both, to give everything you've got to both of the grand, defining celebrations of our city and then simply while away the rest of the year, reading blogs about one or the other and waiting, just waiting, for the Cubes to be published again the following spring.

Everyone knows that New Orleans's two "grand, defining celebrations" are Mardi Gras and football season. Jazzfest occupies it's own sort of space in the spiritual calendar.... but we've covered this in detail already.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time to make more football players

I'm not sure what the Saints should do with the number 10 pick in the first round this year, but I generally think trading up is a bad idea. Most of the players available in any year's draft are so comically over-hyped that it's better to take the best guy available when your pick comes around than to give something away in order to target one or another of these questionable prospects. Trading down isn't so bad since you end up with additional rolls in the overall crap-shoot.

But a team who trades up is a team who has convinced itself that it KNOWS SOMETHING about one particular guy's future that is demonstrably unknowable given the history of this endeavor. It's the same kind of stupid ego that drives a coach to run a ridiculous trick play late in a game that appears to have already been won. The Saints are on the clock. Secure your grandmothers.

Mere minutes after linking to the AG blog, we see this.

Hey everyone, thanks for checking out the new AG blog. We have a classic good news/bad news situation for you. We just talked to our web designer and he’s going to have a brand new, all original AG site for us sometime next week. The good news is that it’ll feature all the same permalink and blog capabilities that WordPress is giving us now—the bad news is that, if you’ve linked to a story here or bookmarked this page, that link is likely not going to go to the new site and may not work once we’ve launched.

It could be worse. They could have had a "links permissions" policy.

Sometimes the trends buck you

Landrieu, Vitter question higher credit score requirements for homebuyers
by Deon Roberts Online Editor

WASHINGTON - Plans by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise credit score requirements for homeowners nationwide could have a chilling effect on Louisiana's housing market and make it more difficult for thousands of middle- and low-income Louisianians to buy or sell a home.

That was the message of Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, and David Vitter, R-Metairie, in letters sent Thursday to the heads of Fannie and Freddie.

"It is our understanding that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan on charging higher fees for home purchasers with credit scores less than 740 points. From our understanding, this could be potentially harmful to Louisiana where the average credit score totals approximately 663 points. Louisiana has not experienced the same levels of foreclosures and subprime loans as other areas of the country," Landrieu and Vitter said in the letters to Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd and Freddie CEO Richard Syron.

But don't worry, Louisiana, we're still bucking those trends. If you've made a "lifestyle choice" not to deserve an opportunity to buy a home, I'm sure someone will rent you a trailer... or a bridge to sleep under or something.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Site of the Day

Do it because Stacy Head hates you.

via TBP

Crappy Television

Last night I watched a gathering of self-important whiners as they competed for the favors of a team of snobbish, out-of-touch, celebrity arbiters of good taste over the subject of which of them best pretends to identify with the needs and wants of the common beer-swilling football fan archetype.

No, not the Democratic Debate, silly, I was watching Top Chef. As you can see here, here, and certainly here, the debate was far less tolerable.

Simple Answers

At the bottom of yesterday's post, I asked the "simple question", Who's a bigger douche than Stacy Head?

Today, David provides one possible answer... even if it comes with a half-hearted attempt to be "charitable" to Stacy. At the same time, Oyster gives us another... not unrelated possibility.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This morning Chris Rose submitted a column about the surprising way in which his life intersected with Ashley Morris's. Upon seeing the Yellow Blog mentioned in the first paragraph, I became momentarily concerned at 1) The embarrassment at having my name in the paper as a tangential result of a man's death, and 2) The prospect of having various enthusiasts of Rose's column inadvertently and unnecessarily pointed to this minor personal website. But upon further reflection, who gives a shit what I think?

As for the column itself, it strikes something very near the right tone... in, of course, a very Rose-centric way. And more importantly, it has been well received by those who knew and loved Ashley best. As with any Rose column, I have my quibbles but they aren't very important. What is important is that anyone reading right now can still contribute to the fund set up by Ashley's friends for the benefit of his family in their time of need. You may do so by clicking on Chris Rose's goofy little purse-lipped face below.

Besides... who's a bigger douche than Stacy Head, anyway?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh Wow

Could the US Lose its Triple AAA Credit Rating?

Local rags on the internets

ANTIGRAVITY Magazine is now running a companion blog. Update yer links and feed readers.

Need investment advice

Like any good enterprising American capitalist, I'm following the current economic climate and looking for a means of turning it to my advantage. Or, as Varg might say, I'm looking for a racket. And, as anyone who follows the current economic climate will tell you, the most promising racket at this point looks to be hoarding. But I have limited resources and would like to concentrate them in the most profitable area. I also learned this weekend that my apartment building is up for sale so I may also soon be short on warehousing space. So let's hear it. What should I be hoarding right now?

Shoes? Electronics? Bedding?



Meanwhile, the market for draft choices seems to have bottomed out.

And they still need to draft a running back

The best football player on the Saints' roster will be back for the 2008 season.

Don't put the dynamite away just yet

A few paragraphs into today's T-P front page story about restricting construction activity near the Mississippi River levees we find this notable bit of info.

The river stood at 16 1/2 feet at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans on Monday, down from almost 17 feet on Thursday, the day before the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert some of the surge to Lake Pontchartrain. But the National Weather Service predicts it will climb back to 17 feet by Thursday and will stay there through April 22

You can follow the Corps' measurements of the river at the Carrollton gauge here.

Also... Yikes!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A bare bones sketch of French Quarter Fest 2008

The official Last Cool Front Of The Year arrived just in time.

Crowd was huge.

River was huger. I have pics. May post later.

Great day to bike downtown Saturday.

Great day to walk downtown Sunday.

Ran into old friends.

Made some new friends.

Harassed some local shopkeepers.

Danced with SheHateMe to Freddy Omar.

Ovi G and the Froggies is an awesome band name.

Thank God I didn't have to watch Theresa Andersen.

Learned that sunscreen + windswept dust = grimy oily face.

Listened to a trashy drunk girl complain about people who "speak hispanic".

Watched the same girl narrowly avoid a fist-fight outside of the... uh... the place that used to be the Matador.

Molly's on Toulouse, Monaghan's Erin Rose, Molly's at the Market, Johnny White's. Lots of beer, a bloody mary or two, and just enough Irish whiskey.

Duck Po-Boy, Italian Sausage Sandwich, Chaurice Sausage Sandwich, Alligator-on-a-stick, Some kind of chicken and shrimp pasta. Still... nothing outshines the Brisket and Horseradish Sauce from Tujagues.

Awesome awesome awesome weekend. Far and away the best FQF in recent memory. As I was sitting on the ground in front of the Aquarium enjoying my sandwich and my Jockomo IPA, I distinctly remember thinking, "Damn we got it good!"

Are Heads the new Cranes?

See Moldy City.

Be sure to click through to the earlier post for the real laugher.

In other local news, Jim Bernazzani says that local corruption will be cleaned up in six months. Hey, that's what the headline says.

I want a bumper sticker that reads "Sophisticating up the Corruption One Friedman at a Time"


Suck. Watch out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nobody could have predicted

That Ashley Morris's funeral would have been such a spectacular, beautiful, event and (yes) party. The sun and dehydration from dancing in the cemetery while wearing a heavy black suit didn't do much for my stamina at the Bulldog afterwards. I had to go home and lie down after only two pitchers. If you noticed me wobbling on my feet and mumbling incoherently while trying to say hi yesterday, now you know why.

I think Ashley got everything he could have asked for. A little poetry, a little humor, and a whole lot of dancing. If you're looking for pictures, Adrastos will show you where to go.

Friday, April 11, 2008

..And dance.... Before everyone leaves

Take or leave this amateur video. I was just looking for the song.

Fuck the fucking fucks, Ash Mo.

What the fuck are these assholes running for?

Jim Letten and Jim Bernazzani are apparently auditioning for a role in the next K-Ville... or maybe they want to be Fox News anchors or something. Watch their menacing, steely-eyed, super-cop poses as they make their opening statements at yesterday's press conference announcing the indictment of Derrick Shepherd. Who is impressed by this utterly unprofessional, macho grandstanding? Just because Clancy Dubos wets himself over displays of melodramatic Dragonslaying, doesn't meant the rest of us need to see it for anything other than the Spitzeresque political opportunism that it is.

We've already got PBJ around to run for Vice President demagogue against the "old corrupt crowd." Meanwhile, Letten and Bernazzani can spare us the "crusading cop" speech, until they've actually announced their candidacies and just do your their freaking jobs.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rumor Mill

The following dialog took place between r and myself earlier today via text message:

Me: I don't like Shockey

r: What did he do?

Me: I just don't like him. Saints considering trade.

r: Don't like him but kinda like the tough play. He could fill the Kyle Turley void.

Me: We don't want that void filled. He would get along well with Bush from what I hear.

r: Why?

Me: He's kind of a pretty-boy celeb-humping douche type.

r: He is not pretty. I would hump celebs if they were willing.

Remember, you can still help the family of one of the NOLA Blogosphere's (and the world's for that matter) all-time greatest Saints fans by clicking on the image below.

Are all the condos still ok?

I hope they offer really great views of the new urban prairies.

No Dynamite Necessary

After weeks of waffling over this decision, the Corps has decided to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway after all.

The Bonnet Carre Spillway will open at noon tomorrow for the first time since 1997 in an effort to divert water from a rapidly rising Mississippi River.

The order to open the spillway was signed today by Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, who serves as president of the Mississippi River Commission.

It's been more than 10 years since the Bonnet Carre Spillway was pulled from its recreational duties to serve its original purpose - diverting the fast rising and even faster moving Mississippi River from overtaking New Orleans.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been monitoring the river levels for several weeks and had thought that an opening wouldn't be necessary. However, recent rains in the Arkansas, Ohio, and Upper Mississippi River Valley have heightened flood worries.

The opening of the spillway in St. Charles Parish will lower river stages in New Orleans while causing a rise in Lake Pontchartrain. Corps officials said they don't expect to open the entire spillway, and that the opening will probably last between 2 and 4 weeks.

I'm disappointed that the Corps has decided to open the gates before I get a chance to check out the high water levels at this weekend's French Quarter Festival. Luckily, Varg has more photos and video of the swollen river.

There was a farmer, had a dog...

Certainly I am not the only person who noticed that today's T-P front page graphic displaying all the church closings fittingly resembles a well-known Cat'lick revenue generating device.

More here.

Also here.

Update: Also just wondering... Has the Archdiocese considered including in this plan the creation of a "Jazz Church"? Or perhaps a church with a "culinary focus"

Upperdate: Please see this comprehensive post about the church closings from Maitri.

John Pope's Editorial Obituary of Ashley Morris

From Today's T-P here.

You can make a donation to help Ashely's family here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This morning I ran two red lights and one stop sign

And despite the presence of multiple functioning traffic signal cameras in Orleans Parish, I promise you I won't be ticketed for these violations. No, this isn't a riddle. I took the bike to work this morning. I'm lucky enough to be able to accomplish my commute on most days (weather permitting) invisible to the city's nascent traffic surveillance program. And thank God for that.

I mean, yowzers according to that WWL story, nine cameras issued over 1150 citations in one week alone. That's some serious flickering going on there. Tabloid publishers all over the country right now are looking at this and scheming over ways of automating the current "bounty hunter" system which generates America's celebrity candids.

And just like paparazzi, traffic cameras also generate serious moolah for the municipalities which avail themselves of their services. This week's haul for the city is estimated at $115,000 plus another $34,000 in fees. After a while, one imagines a town could purchase some really nice cranes with that kind of money. (Although... you know.... watch where you're driving them.)

On the other hand, evidence is mounting that this revenue bonanza will eventually hit a point of diminishing returns. In some cities, fine collection has dropped dramatically as drivers learn to be more careful at intersections known to be wired up.
Fewer violations = less revenue
Sometimes, as in Dallas, cameras generate so little revenue that they can’t even pay for themselves.

Citywide statistics obtained by NBC affiliate KXAS-TV found that red light cameras do reduce accidents. That is a good thing.

But they do it by reducing red light violations, by as much as 29 percent from month to month at particularly busy Dallas intersections. On the face of it, that, too, is a good thing — but not, necessarily, if you rely on traffic fines to make up a healthy chunk of your budget.

Dallas lawmakers originally estimated gross revenue of $15 million from their 62 cameras this fiscal year, which ends June 30. But City Manager Mary Suhm estimated last week that the city would fall short by more than $4 million.

So last week, the city turned off about a quarter of the least profitable cameras, saying it couldn’t justify the cost of running them.

Dallas, in fact, is one of six cities who became so desperate to goose red light revenue that they actually shortened the length of their yellow signals at key intersections.

Meanwhile fewer ticketable red light offenses have not necessarily meant safer streets. Studies are beginning to show that drivers are either more hesitant to risk a technical violation in order to avoid more dangerous situations or are more likely to cause accidents by stopping suddenly as the light turns yellow. So as New Orleans embarks on yet another public policy already in the process of being discredited nationally, one question remains to be answered. How will the driving skills of Louisiana motorists be affected by the presence of multiple cameras? Luckily, Senator David Vitter has volunteered to participate in the initial round of research.

Monday, April 07, 2008


It is out of respect for Oyster's decision to shut down the snarky political blogging until the Ashley Morris family fund reaches today's $1,000 goal (pay pal button behind the Ash Mo photo in the sidebar, y'all), that there will be no original written comedy from the Yellow Blog with regard to these solemn events of this morning. We are certainly no scabs here.

If you'd like to know where to look, however, we have no qualms about directing you.

Remember Ashley

I borrowed a button Leigh created for anyone interested in contributing to Ashley Morris's family in their time of need. If you are inclined to be so generous please click on the photo of Ashley at the top of the sidebar.

Rising Tide

The Mississippi River at New Orleans is approaching such a high stage that the Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway for the first time in over 10 years.

Varg has some photos up he shot from his West Bank of the unusually high Mississippi. If anything, the swollen river should provide for a fascinating backdrop to this weekend's French Quarter Festival.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Consumer Alert

The following information is from the "Guidelines for Customization" section of the Jersey store on the NFL Shop website.

Language deemed inappropriate, derogatory, or profane will not be accepted

In other words, if you are attempting to order a New Orleans Saints #00 replica jersey with the name Fuckmook on the back, you are basically shit out of luck.

Also of note from the NFL Shop site:
Linking to this Web Site. Creating or maintaining any link from another Web site to any page on this Web Site without our prior written permission is prohibited. Running or displaying this Web Site or any information or material displayed on this Web Site in frames or through similar means on another Web site without our prior written permission is prohibited. Any permitted links to this Web Site must comply will all applicable laws, rule and regulations.

Who knew?

Leigh has inspired me to seek graphical representation of the concept.

Thursday, April 03, 2008



The closest thing to adequate words I have I'll reproduce from an email I sent a few minutes ago.

Ashley was a remarkable human being with an awe-inspiring wealth of experience, an amazing sense of humor, and the kind of anger that is only born of a deep deep sense of humanity. I only knew him from the RT community and a few parties I went to. But he was a person I looked forward to conversing with through his internet presence nearly every day for the past few years. I wish there were something I could do or say that could make this any better for his friends and family.


More from Shelley Midura here

Video of Ash Mo and Oyster here

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oh my goodness

My most sincere sympathies for the family of Dr. Ashley Morris.

Come Crane With Me: An Ed Blakely Timeline

If you're visiting the Yellow Blog today, the odds are you're already aware that New Orleans's "Recovery Czar" and Australia's most famous imaginary crane operator, Dr. Ed Blakely was quoted in yesterday's New York Times delivering yet another Blakely-esque statement on the general ineptitude of the local populace and the insufferable hindrance it presents to Blakely's own righteous awesomeness... or something like that. Most Blakelyphiles know this drill by now.

Being an accomplished Blakely watcher myself, I'd be happy to jump right into the indignant fray over this latest choice morsel of received wisdom. But it has recently been pointed out that excitable commentary on the offensive or insulting rhetoric of local political celebrities amounts to favoring an interest in "outrage over discussion". (Don't know what those quotes mean, exactly, since I'm paraphrasing there)

So in the interest of balancing out the inevitable sensationalist outrage that tends to occasion every new Blakelyism, let us first take a moment to discuss Dr. Blakely's tenure in New Orleans and generate a little context in which to view the most recent statements.

  • On July 15 of 2006 (incidentally my 32nd birthday), Ed Blakely paid his own way from Australia to lobby for the creation of a recovery czar's office. Above all, Dr. Blakely urged that the individual chosen for this position "should not be a local person".
    Blakely said such a leader would be less likely to be influenced by historical, cultural and political factors that can sway the decisions of local residents on issues including which geographic areas, if any, should be off limits to rebuilding.

  • On December 4, 2006, Ed Blakely was introduced as the man to fill the position he had urged the city to create. At his first press conference as recovery czar, Dr. Blakely immediately displayed the flippant, and accusatory grousing behavior that has since become his trademark in his dealings with the media.
    In his first public appearance as a government official, Blakely, 69, was brutally blunt with some of his answers, vague with others and a bit testy toward the end of the news conference when asked to describe how he expected the city to look a year from now.

    "Come back," he said. "I'm not explaining any more today, because that, I think, is not a question that anyone can answer. What are you going to be doing next year? I'm not answering questions unless they're really questions. That sounds like a threat."
    The "threat" presser was an immediate red flag to some of us. It's never a good sign when your practically self-appointed consensus-building leader dude wants to cold cock the media on day one. There was a dissenting view at the time that Blakely was simply demonstrating his "No nonsense Quarterbaking" skillz. As it turned out, however, the addition of a self-aggrandizing "Quarterback" type to an atmosphere already flooded with similarly ineffectual primma donnas is exactly what you don't want.

  • In February of 2007, Blakely again exhibited his Jeff George-esque quarterbacking skills by throwing a temper tantrum before the LRA in Baton Rouge. Blakely declared himself so frustrated with the fact that his office wasn't in control of all state and federal recovery funds destined for New Orleans that "If I don't have it, I go home -- I quit." When faced with LRA board members' concerns about accountability for so much money going through a single office with very little if any oversight, Blakely stated glibly, "I want to be your accountability structure."

  • Blakely didn't quit. Instead, he showed up a month later with a partially disambiguated plan to "incentivize" investment in targeted "recovery zones" through "loans grants and other incentives" although neither the specific mechanics nor a clear explanation of the funding for this program was made clear by the announcement. When pressed for such specifics, Blakely again took the opportunity to snap at nearby reporters telling them
    "I have a very clear idea" of how the zones will develop, he said. "Developers make a lot of money by getting those clear ideas early and getting the jump in the game. And that shouldn't happen in the newspaper. You're a newspaper reporter, not a developer."
    Apparently only a "developer" can get a straight answer out of Ed Blakely in this town.

    Also never answered was the question of how much money would be made available for Blakely's mysterious projects through the use of "Blight Bonds"; that dubious process through which the city borrows against properties it has expropriated ostensibly because of their status as blighted or as "imminent health threats".

    While it has not been made clear how much if any money has been raised through the use of "blight bonds" the city has been marvelously successful at dispossessing individuals of their "imminent health threats" over the past two years. Placing that property back into commerce looks to be a wholly different matter, however.

  • In April of 2007 Blakely granted one of his greatest enablers in the national press, New York Times reporter Adam Nossiter, an interview where he made sure to explain that while any successes seen in New Orleans over the coming months should be credited directly to him, whatever failures occur will certainly be the fault of the city's own population of mostly backwards, racist "buffoons".
    Newcomers, pioneers willing to put up with the city’s present difficulties, could be the salvation of New Orleans and its future, Dr. Blakely suggested. New Orleans now is “a third-world country,” he said.

    “If we get some people here, those 100 million new Americans, they’re going to come here without the same attitudes of the locals,” he said. “I think, if we create the right signals, they’re going to come here, and they’re going to say, ‘Who are these buffoons?’ I’m meeting some who are moving here, and they don’t have time for this stuff.”

    The "buffoon" comment, which we all know made such a big splash locally, was a prime example of Blakely at his absolute worst. It played as much to the New Orleans self-hatred impulse as it did to Blakely's national audience. To the Times readers, Blakely was playing the martyr among the unwashed. Locally, he was taking advantage of familiar fault lines. Natives vs transplants, Dragonslayer reformers vs local pols, whites vs blacks, suburbanites vs city-dwellers, for a whole week everyone got to argue over who the "buffoons" were. This is the sort of thing that happens virtually every time Blakely opens his mouth. He pads his own ego and image while unnecessarily dividing the community he's charged with rebuilding. That's some nice quarterbacking there.

    As if to drive the point home, one month later Ed Blakely told US News and World Report "If this plan fails, it won't be because I failed New Orleans. It will be because New Orleans failed itself."

  • Also in May 2007, Blakely declared the day he officially took his position in New Orleans (Jan 8, 2007) to be "Day Zero" for the city's recovery. At that point we were only five months into the Blakelian Calendar and even the self-styled "quasi apologists" among us were beginning to lose patience.
    Blakely has many obvious weaknesses, but in a weird way I believe his strengths complement Nagin pretty well. I believe he won't hedge and spin if/when the results he promises don't materialize.

    But if, say, cranes aren't in the sky come September, and Blakely passes the buck or blames an undisclosed serious medical condition... then I might not be his quasi-apologist anymore.
    Blakely's promise of "Cranes by September" became a benchmark by which much of the city would judge his performance.

  • In June of 2007, it became clear that a large chunk of Blakely's plan involved half-assedly reshuffling pre-Katrina capital improvements projects so that they fall within his targeted "recovery zones" The legality of repurposing the bond issues for financing this work was in question at the time. And this is shoddy follow through by an amateur blogger, but I don't know if that question was ever resolved. Regardless, this Suspect-Device cartoon published around that time pretty much captures the strategy in action by this point.

  • On July 16, 2007 (incidentally one day after my 33rd birthday) Ed Blakely announced that New Orleans's recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood had "turned the corner." At that same press event, Blakely revealed that because large chunks of his expected funding was tied up due to the city's inability to produce a fiscal audit, he was looking into spending up to $150,000 more to hire a financial consultant.

  • On July 26, 2007 The Times-Picayune published a somewhat pointless but nonetheless hilarious op-ed piece from Blakely in which he told readers about a recent conference he attended where he learned that, because of the automobile, cities are bigger than they used to be. And that in the future they will be more diverse because there will be many immigrants born to the current cohort of people living there. No really that's what he said. He also used the prefixes "bio" and "eco" a lot for no particular reason.

  • The August 21, 2007 Gambit Weekly featured a cover story interview with Blakely in which he once again bashed the local political atmosphere of incompetence and corruption while simultaneously arguing that his job would be easier if rebuilding contracts were meted out by an elite "coterie of people" with broad emergency powers to ignore public input. Ignoring public input is indeed a favorite hobby for Blakely who is said to have once told a neighborhood organization, "I don't talk to little people".

  • On August 29, 2007 CNN's Anderson Cooper reported on the state of New Orleans two years after the Federal Flood. One of the CNN reporters asked Blakely about the whereabouts of his famous cranes. "They're here! They're here!" exclaimed Blakely who then directed the crew to where these cranes could be filmed. They didn't find any.

  • September 1, 2007. No magical cranes appeared to make everything better. Although luxury condo construction was proceeding unabated.

  • On October 12, 2007 USA Today reported that with much of his much ballyhooed "blight bonds" and capital improvements bonds not materializing, Blakely's office was scaling his reconstruction plans way waaaay back from a $1.1 billion dollar grand craning to a $216 million "first step" about which Blakely said "It's certainly enough to lay the first couple of stones." Former "quasi Blakely apologist" Oyster responded
    Lay "the first couple of stones"? This is what we get from this highly paid World Class Reconstruction specialist?! Two hundred million to lay a few stones, and "hope" that "more money will follow"? That's considered a good "first step" at this point? Really!?!

  • In December 2007, Blakely was given greater control over several city departments effectively consolidating the city's former Office of Development and Planning that housed Code Enforcement, Economic Development, Workforce Development and Housing Renewal. At this time Blakely said he finally would have the tools at his disposal to do... whatever it is he was supposed to have been doing all this time,
    "(New Orleans) had economic development activities but we didn't have a classic economic development function," Blakely said. "(The planning office) wasn't organized in the way I see an economic development office, (which is) to have sectoral direction. We were able to react to (a business) who came to town but we weren't necessarily able to make a business plan for the kind of businesses we wanted, how we were going to support them, what incentives we were going to have and how we were going to deliver them and that's what we're doing now."

In Monday's New York Times Adam Nossiter wrote
NEW ORLEANS — In March 2007, city officials finally unveiled their plan to redevelop New Orleans and begin to move out of the post-Hurricane Katrina morass. It was billed as the plan to end all plans, with Paris-like streetscape renderings and promises of parks, playgrounds and “cranes on the skyline” within months. But a year after a celebratory City Hall kickoff, there have been no cranes and no Parisian boulevards. A modest paved walking path behind a derelict old market building is held up as a marquee accomplishment of the yet-to-be-realized plan.

There has been nothing to signal a transformation in the sea of blight and abandonment that still defines much of the city. Weary and bewildered residents, forced to bring back the hard-hit city on their own, have searched the plan’s 17 “target recovery zones” for any sign that the city’s promises should not be consigned to the municipal filing cabinet, along with their predecessors. On their one-year anniversary, the designated “zones” have hardly budged.

After pointing proudly to a patch of grass on a neutral ground as evidence of some progress, Ed Blakely blamed the general inertia of the past two years partially on unrealistic expectations but also on... yup, the backwards people of this town whose attitude somehow continues to prevent him from saving them,
There have been some uniquely New Orleans hang-ups as well, said the recovery director; “lot of tensions in the staff,” revolving around race. “Black people have a hard time taking instruction from white people,” said Mr. Blakely, who is black. There is resentment “if a white person asks them to do something. It’s really bad. I’ve never encountered anything like this.”

We pick on a lot of folks here on this stupid blog. We pick on Chris Rose for being a ninny, Robert Cerasoli for being a cop, Reggie Bush for being a douche, Ray Nagin for being... Ray Nagin. But Ed Blakely really is the worst sort of toad in this collection. He is an imperious fraud who ultimately doesn't care if he does something nice for the city or something awful to it or nothing at all. Whatever happens happens pretty much by default or through the pained efforts of individuals, charities, and volunteers. All Blakely has to do is show up, hire some people to be know-it-alls, stick around long enough to write a book or a paper, update his resume and chase the next ambulance. Anything else that happens or doesn't happen is incidental to him being able to attach "New Orleans" and "Katrina" to his vitae.

Almost worse than the lack of anything positive accomplished by Blakely's presence is the damage done by his divisive comments and his condescending blaming of the local community. Assuming this latest quote derives from difficulties Blakely and his team of consultants have had running the city departments recently placed under his purview, we see the Ed Blakely blame and burn method of face-saving management is once again in operation. Here again, the "buffoons" are incompatible with Blakely's genius. Notice how no one but Blakely is without blame as intractable local racism leads to local blacks not trusting whites which means local blacks don't trust Blakely's wise consultants. Therefore any instance of the locals not trusting the Blakelys is inherently "Those crazy New Orleans black people don't know what's good for them because those awful New Orleans white people are so racist."

In response to Nossiter's article, Leigh wrote an excellent letter to the New York Times which you can read here. Unfortunately today the Times elected to print a less complete but perhaps more sensational response... likely because it parrots Ray Nagin's infamous "hole in the ground" gaffe.

Writing on her blog, Dangerblond was even more blunt.
Yes, little things are happening. Individual people are fixing up their houses, non-profit local groups organize clean-ups, volunteers, bless their hearts, still come down here from all over to help people gut and clean out the muck from their former homes. Nothing has been done toward New Orleans’ recovery that was not accomplished by individuals using their own money. New grass on the median? Kiss my ass, Ed Blakely.

There is also speculation afoot that Blakely may be resigning soon. Given that it was nearly one year ago today when he declared he was leaving "next year" this shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Meanwhile, the cranes are showing up around town lately although not exactly at Ed Blakely's beckoning. Instead, they are here mostly to knock stuff down. They knock down schools. They knock down public housing complexes. They knock down houses. The magic cranes that build stuff are still much more difficult to spot.