Thursday, October 31, 2013

Did no one even think to call him Pistol Pierre?

The New Orleans Pelicans made their regular season debut last night in front of a nearly full house (nest?).  I say "nearly full" because some of us apparently had difficulty finding a ride.

Those fans who chose not to burn their tickets were treated to an entertaining basketball game. Or at least a large portion of one. The Pelicans couldn't quite finish off the Pacers after having led for most of the game.

There were many positives, though. The young re-vamped Pelicans roster is athletic and versatile.  During the first half in particular they looked especially quick on defense. Their guards disrupted a lot of passes. They scored "points in transition" which we are often told is a good thing. Jrue Holliday is as good as advertised.  Eric Gordon looks a little taller in the new uniform, although maybe that's just because he's standing up. Tyreke Evans didn't really do anything to impress me but I like the idea of him coming off the bench.   Anthony Davis has a goddang 20 foot jumper! This is going to be a fun team to watch.  It's a little sad that they couldn't win the home opener. But, if you're among the record number of season ticket purchasers this year, do not set those tickets on fire just yet.

Anyway, none of that has much to do with the actual story from last night which is this. The Pelicans' new mascot is downright horrifying.

Wait. Sorry. That's not him.  Here he is.

This is Pierre the Pelican, the mascot that the New Orleans Pelicans have chosen to represent the team's totally badass namesake. Pierre the Pelican is not badass and does not really look like a Pelican. He is terrifying and awful.

This beast is perfectly armed to terrify. From a distance, it's cute and cuddly enough to make you think you shouldn't be afraid, but then you get up close and catch a glimpse of that gaping, "smiling" maw which is the portal for your soul's devourment. Bravo if this is all a Halloween ploy.
Luckily the internet was created to polish such turds for us.  It did not disappoint last night.  By now there are far too many Pierre-themed one-liners, GIFS,and Photoshop jobs to collect in one place. But SB Nation and B & G Review do a good job of getting you started.

Naturally there is also the obligatory contrary argument.  Gambit's Alex Woodward writes
That's the story — awful knee-jerk hyperbole — from last night's game. Not the impressive first-half start and commanding lead and strong defense (keeping the Indiana Pacers to 35 percent), not what led to the deflated momentum in the second half. Not even, "Hey, New Orleans has a new mascot."

What does one look for in a mascot: spirit, somewhere between youth pastor and rodeo clown, and a sense of humor. If your first thought looking at Pierre is "sheer terror": well, good, I guess that means the Pelicans have another asset in its mascot: striking fear in the cold, cold hearts of its enemies.
Reading Alex regularly over the years, I've come to understand that internet-borne "knee-jerk hyperbole" is something of a pet peeve of his.  But I don't think the reaction to Pierre the Pelican is an appropriate example to apply this complaint to.

For one thing, the multiple pilings on from all corners certainly can be said to exhibit a sense of humor. Some are funnier than others, of course, but the general thrust of these posts is not that the commenters are literally terrified.  They're laughing at a mascot that the majority feel has missed its mark somehow.

I agree with Alex that a mascot is an essentially goofy thing. Sports, themselves, are goofy activities that nonetheless inspire irrational communal passions among groups of otherwise loosely affiliated people. A proper mascot is a kind of performance art commentary on how absurd the whole situation is.

The reason Pierre fails to do this, though, is he appears to be taking himself a little too seriously.  It's as though the artists who designed him bent a little too much to the misguided criticism that Pelicans was not "intimidating" enough to serve as a nickname for a sports team.  If you think your team's name needs to intimidate foes, you're probably taking the wrong approach to this to begin with.  Besides, real life pelicans are quite frightening. If you really want to scare some children, put a live pelican out on the court.

But we don't actually want to intimidate anyone with our costumed buffoon. We want to entertain people. We want to dance around and do some pratfalls for them. We want to fire some T-shirts to them out of a pneumatic tube.  Pierre just isn't enough of an avuncular goof for these purposes.

Instead he looks designed to convince some imagined naysayers that a pelican damn well could get out and play some ball if he wanted to.  Check out Pierre's wristbands.  Notice the costume's athletic build.  See the look of mad determination on his face.  That freaking mohawk. This is a Peli-bro we are looking at.  He looks like he was focus-grouped into being to appeal to some composite 12 year old boy who doesn't exist in real life.  We've seen this before. It's classic "Poochie-ism"

This is why everyone is laughing. The problem isn't only that Pierre is "too scary" it's that he's trying to be an "intimidating" presence in a position that doesn't actually call for that. He's ridiculous for the same reasons Greg Schiano is ridiculous. Sure it's funny and absurd and we like those things. But it's unintentional humor. I'm glad we got to have a our laugh at its expense, of course. But that still doesn't make the thing a success.

P.S. The name Pierre is also terrible. Like they just looked around the room and said, "New Orleans is kinda French, right?" I appreciate the symmetry of having a Pierre and Drew on the Saints and a Pierre and a Jrue on the Pelicans but, clearly, this was not an intentional joke either.

Happy Halloween

Still not sure what to do about Ye Olde Spooky Sinkhole. Maybe if the bush growing out of it were shaped like a C or an I they'd send someone out to hack it away. Meanwhile it continues to ensnare lost souls. We captured this on video a couple of weeks ago. Here it is again just because.


Get a load of these assholes.
I believe there was a concerted effort on the part of the Mayor to oust the people from the Advisory Committee he didn't like and replace them with his own cronies.  I've also suggested that LSU and Tulane colluded with the Mayor's wishes by removing their appointees in order to replace them with folks who would follow the Mayor's wishes, Ron Gardner and Anthony Lorino.

Once these cronies were appointed, they immediately followed Sherman's lead to fire the Wisner Trust's counsel on the BP lawsuit, Waltzer and Wiygul, and replace them with the JV attorneys you see listed in the email thread above.

It's pretty vulgar stuff.
I guess it's more grown-up to just shrug off this behavior as the matter-of-course that it obviously is.  But I think it's worth stopping every now and again to just remind ourselves what colossal assholes the people who play the game of running stuff for us invariably are.  It may not be immediately helpful to do this. But it's always instructive.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rob Ryan's Trick-Or-Treat

Who Dat Halloween

I'm sure the players are all very adorable in the costumes he made for them.
METAIRIE, La. – Cameron Jordan is a great white shark, Malcolm Jenkins a black panther, Kenny Vaccaro a king cobra and Curtis Lofton a grizzly bear.

But not everyone on the New Orleans Saints defense got so lucky with the “inner animals” that were bestowed upon them by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan at the beginning of the season.

“Everyone on defense has their own animal, and you don’t get to have any input,” Lofton said with a smug smile. “Some people like theirs, and some people don’t.”

Outside linebacker Junior Galette was dubbed a sakis – a monkey that sports a full, bushy beard like Galette’s, which teammates find hilarious. Rookie defensive end Glenn Foster got stuck with seahorse. Deep-thinking cornerback Jabari Greer is a morning dove. And linebacker Ramon Humber is a wombat.
 Say what you will. It still makes more sense than  Gregg Williams's weird-ass Powerpoints

Speaking of stupidity

Mary Landrieu's "fix" for Obamacare is grandfathering in insurance policies that violate the reform's new standards. That's basically a "fix" by nullification.


Bernie Sanders isn't afraid to call stupid stupid.

Can't imagine it will do much good, though.

And I thought we only couldn't afford "C" and "I" anymore

Street signs

Now we can't even afford whole words.
Head said she followed up Sept. 30 with each person who reported a missing sign to track the city's progress and was not happy with the results.

More than 45 percent of the signs had not been repaired or replaced compared to 28.4 percent that had been replaced. She said 25.9 percent of the people failed to respond to the update request.

"Constituents believe that Council members in some way have meaning in this city and we worked really hard to try to get the list of street signs and to try to help y'all do your job," Head said to Jernigan. " I am embarrassed that that diligence resulted in such abysmal failure on my part. I don't understand what happened and I think it's completely inexcusable."

The city has installed 8,200 signs this year including 2,700 street signs and is committed to installing an additional 300 street signs by the end of the year, Jernigan said.

The proposed 2014 budget would decrease the money for the city's traffic sign shop to $204,238 from $269,531.

Lies and statistics

According to the Inspector General, there may be many more pickpockets running around the Quarter than we have previously been ware of.
New Orleans police officers in the French Quarter-based 8th District improperly downgraded 177 thefts of wallets or purses in which victims reported unauthorized charges on their credit cards, labeling the purloined cards as “lost” rather than stolen, according to a report released today by Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux’s office.
Better buy some more billboards.  This crime is right in the middle of the Hospitality Zone so you can buy either kind.

At least Benson didn't decide to call them the Tomcats

I might have gone for this idea, though.
The primarily teal color scheme of the past has been replaced by dark blue, gold and red.

While the team said the gold represents the team’s ties with the Saints, Tom O’Grady, president of Game Plan Creative, a Chicago-based branding and marketing agency, said he was surprised that black wasn’t chosen instead.

“The Saints look so good in all-black,” O’Grady said. “You would have had the look they do in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, Penguins and Steelers. That would have been a real home run.
 I'm sure O'Grady meant to say, "That would have been a real slam dunk," but the point is still a good one. Don't these ad wizzards know anything about how to brand a city?

Oh.. apparently not.
New Orleans Will Need You

You are New Orleans, and you can make a difference. It’s as simple as staying informed and supporting tourism. Spread the word to your neighbors and be welcoming to all our visitors. They bring gifts.
Last year, during Mardi Gras a tourist brought me the gift of pee on my doorstep.  I tried to spread the word to my neighbors. Not sure it helped. 

Update: I noticed the chatter about this "NEW ORLEANS WILL" campaign yesterday but didn't see this FOX 8 report on it until this afternoon.
Local tourism industry leaders' five-year goal is to increase the number of tourists from 9 million to 14 million people a year. But Schulz says the $13.5 million budget isn't enough to market the city and reach that mark.

In comparison, she says it's $4 million less than Denver's marketing budget, $6 million less than Atlanta's, and $25 million less than Orlando's.

She says one way to get more money is by having local hotels sign up to pay a new voluntary assessment fee.

"That will allow the hotels to assess a fee, and for that fee to go into marketing for the city of New Orleans," Schulz said.

They hope local support will encourage the businesses to sign up and to persuade politicians to increase funding in the future.

In other words, the NOCVB has hired a marketing firm to agitate for a revival of last year's "Ho-Zone" special taxing district to provide them with... more marketing money.  In the meantime, they're just dipping into the public money they already have far too much of while the city budget can barely afford "C" and "I" anymore.

I was just talking to someone who says this is "kind of like a NOLA 4 Life campaign but for tourism."    Could be. But I figure as long as they're spending tax money I might as well get some free swag out of it.  I signed up to receive a "WILL POWER Pak Business Kit" from their website. It includes posters and a lapel pin and many more bumper stickers than the number of cars I own.  I hope it arrives before the next major convention.

Lacing 'em one more time and giving it a go?

Tuesday afternoon we learned that Edwin Edwards said this.

When asked whether he would consider running for political office in the future, Edwards had this to say:

"Lately, for some strange reason, I'm beginning to think it might be a nice thing to do. But, I'm not going to make the decision based upon that. I'm going to make the decision based on whether I think I can win and whether there's a need for me because I don't want to end what I consider to be a successful political career on a sad note. But I love this state and I think I could do better than what has been done. And if I saw the opportunity and I thought that people would warm up to it, I would consider it."

Which is really just an excuse to link to this article about Brett Favre which asks several important questions such as, 
"Do you think that it would be great if Brett Favre could lace 'em up and give it one more go?"
And also,
"Do you feel as though there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Brett Favre, a retired quarterback who could nonetheless come out of retirement and play for an NFL franchise?"
And, of course, 
"Do you think that Brett Favre could show these kids a thing or two?"
Note also, "I could do better than what has been done," is hardly a commitment to run for anything. It's just a purely factual statement we could apply to anyone at this point. Even Brett Favre. 


This column is about Russel Honore's continued effort to organize Louisianians of various stripes whose lives, livelihoods, and futures have been adversely affected by the oil and gas industry's activities over the years.  But the interesting thought is offered by Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs via this Harper's article Moseley cites.
During our conversation he [Briggs] vented about topics ranging from the fracking rules the EPA was scheduled to release later in the year, which he warned could shut down the domestic oil-and-gas industry, to what he saw as a shameless scramble by residents along the Gulf of Mexico to get a piece of the $20 billion compensation fund created following the Deepwater Horizon spill. “BP is getting raped and pillaged by anyone who had any sort of business on the Gulf Coast,” he said with a snort."
OK, then. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Worse than we thought

Heated d_s_uss_on at the __ty budget hear_ngs today where the vowel department argued they shouldn't have to sacr_f__e the same amount that the _onsonants have be_ause the_r operat_ons would be d_sproport_onately affe_ted. But _noun__lwoman _ynth_a Hedge-Morel was adamant _n rem_nd_ng them we are all do_ng more w_th less.

And you thought you were having a bad day. Pity the gardener at New Orleans City Park who absentmindedly cut down two of the letters in New Orleans City Park's iconic topiary sculpture before realizing his mistake.

The bushes that have for years spelled CITY PARK on City Park Avenue now spell TY PARK. A small portion of the I remains.

"That would be called a mistake," City Park spokesman John Hopper told Gambit this afternoon. "Some mistakes are bigger than others."

Saying that a contractor had made the error, Hopper stressed that "the park assumes full responsibility. Somebody should have been supervising the work."

Taking kids to get a glimpse of the ghost

I had to check out the Krewe of Boo Saturday night if, for no other reason, than to see what an "environmentally friendly" parade looks like.

It looks like a parade. Only it's a bit smaller than a typical Carnival parade. I counted only about 10 medium sized floats with generic Halloween themeing.


McMain High led the parade and were the lone marching band.


New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp President  (and current voice of the Louisiana Superdome) Mark Romig served as the parade's King.

Mark Romig

The rest of the procession was filled in by a collection of popular Carnival marching clubs; Muff-a-Lottas, 610 Stompers, Pussyfooters, all  of those suches and such.  Here's a photo of the Dragons who we usually see leading the Tucks parade each year.


Because it uses full sized floats, the parade didn't technically roll through the French Quarter but it did travel down S. Peters street where the big red tour buses are still allowed. And that's fitting, in a way. While everyone there had a nice time, there's something about Krewe of Boo that feels a bit stale.

I caught Krewe of Boo just as it passed in front of the French Market. Because we were (sort of) in the Quarter there, it was a little bit like waiting to see Krewe Du Vieux. Except it was also nothing like that. Whereas KDV is a community organized event whose creative irreverence and brass powered sounds herald the start of a season for celebrating an established order overturned, Krewe of Boo is a promotional event staged by the Kern company and tourism marketers for the express purpose of getting mentioned on listicles like this.  So it's considerably more tame which is maybe not exactly the atmosphere you're looking for during  Halloween. But the folks seemed to enjoy it.

And, of course, it's "environmentally friendly."  The idea is to use fewer Chinese manufactured plastic beads in favor of locally sourced artisanal tchotchkes.  But really they just throw food. I caught a Halloween themed bag of Chee-Wees.


And a spooky packet of PJ's coffee.

PJ's Packet

It's spooky because it's purple... I think.

In any case, the Krewe of Boo was certainly a thing that occurred this Halloween season.  Luckily it isn't the only thing.  We still have other parades to see and, I guess, trick-or-treating to do, if you're into that sort of thing.  And then there's the part where we find the most sincere bar in New Orleans and patiently await the arrival of Rob Ryan dressed as The Great Pumpkin so he can buy everyone a drink.

We might even get around to exorcising the potholes but we aren't sure there's enough money in the budget for that.  Or maybe that department is just stuck in the elevator.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Somebody's got a case of the Mondays

Not sure why they can't continue the budget process as is.  Being stuck in an elevator isn't very much different from budgeting. It all begins with figuring out who to eat first. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Kicking Democrats in the butt"

Kind of refreshing when they say what they mean.
Yelton attempted to explain away the charges of racism — always a good idea — by: 1. Insisting that one of his best friends is black; 2. claiming that the photo of Obama dressed as a witch doctor that he shared on his Facebook page was making fun of his "white half"; recalling how, when he was young, black people were called "negras"; and bemoaning the fact that black people can use the word "nigger" but he can't.

"You know that we can hear you, right?" asks a visibly nonplussed Mandvi.

But Yelton wasn't done yet: In a stunning acknowledgement of the law's true intention, the GOP leader admitted its main purpose was not to prevent alleged voter fraud, but "to kick Democrats in the butt."
This guy was a Republican precinct chairman in North Carolina. He had to resign today.   Why do you  think that was?  Was it because he said some overtly racist things on television? Small time Republican caveman statements like his aren't really all that rare these days.

It's more difficult to come by a party operative who will openly admit that a voter suppression scheme really is a voter suppression scheme.  If I had to guess at why Mr. Yelton is no longer and official party spokesperson, I'd say this is the more likely reason.

Nagin trial delayed again

They say they weren't ready.

NEW ORLEANS - Just days before it was to begin, the corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been delayed until January 27, U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan has ruled.

The motion to delay the trial for Nagin's defense was granted by Berrigan "to enable defense counsel to adequately prepare." Berrigan added, "the considerable number of documents that the government intends to offer against the defendant militate in favor of granting the requested continuance."

 Maybe their website wasn't working.

Update: More detail.

Also the gerrymander

Here's a fun little cartoon that looks at the flood of ant-abortion laws coming out of state legislatures over the past few years despite overwhelming support for reproductive rights among a majority of the public.  

What the cartoon doesn't say, though, is that the reason this surge is allowed to occur despite its appeal to an extreme niche of the electorate is because 1) state legislative districts have been badly gerrymandered to protect extremist candidates and 2) extreme crusading like this helps these candidates raise money.

In other words, it's the same situation that allowed the shutdown to happen.  And, the way things are currently structured, its engineers (again, much like the Tea Partiers responsible for the shutdown) face no negative repercussions to speak of. 

Safer driving imperils municipal budget

Even by the time New Orleans started installing these, other cities were already taking theirs down due to diminishing returns.  So it comes as no surprise that...
The council was told that even though revenue from the city’s traffic cameras has fallen from $17.3 million in 2011 to $11.1 million this year, the number is expected to climb to $12 million next year as the city addresses a number of what officials called “technical challenges” with the cameras.
I wonder what the "technical challenges" were.  Yellows not short enough

Where does it all go?

Here is a comment from Cousin Pat on a post from earlier this month about the NOLA real estate market.
Having grown up in Georgia's version of Vacationland, I say again and again there are plenty of ways to mitigate this that never, ever get past the surface conversation of "gentrification" and "hipter hating." The first and foremost policy issue is and will always be property taxes. How in the world is NOLA selling properties at these values and still running a shoestring budget with less than standardized services? Because property taxes are currently set in this city in a way that rewards both speculation on blighted or underutilized property and ownership of second, vacation homes. The city cuts huge tax breaks to out of town business that move here. Meanwhile, a lot of homeowners are getting clobbered on property taxes, which means that only folks with deep pockets have enough start up capital to own homes, and if they own more than one home, they have to charge a whole lot in rent. Unravel that monster and rearrange the priorities and incentives, and a whole lot of these gentrification issues become much more manageable.
 And here is what happened at yesterday's City Council budget hearing.
The New Orleans City Council started its 2014 budget hearings Wednesday with the fundamentals: the proposed tax collections and revenue estimates that are the basis for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s $504 million general fund proposal.

Landrieu’s budget would keep the city’s property tax rate steady next year, though city economist James Husserl predicts collections will increase modestly to $114.9 million, from $111.6 million currently forecast for 2013. But the 2014 figure is still below the $115.7 million that appeared in the 2013 budget as originally passed.

Councilwoman Stacy Head said the city’s budget relies too much on property taxes. Collections have increased steadily over the past decade, even as the city has shrunk. The Landrieu administration increased property tax rates in the 2011 budget, and assessments have risen sharply in recent years.

“There is a smaller population than we had in 2005 that is paying $40 million more in property taxes,” Head said. “I firmly believe that there is an overburdening of taxation among a smaller group of people.”

Though the city has about 70,000 fewer people than it did pre-Katrina, property tax collections in the budget proposal are up 38 percent, from $83 million in 2005. The increase in property tax collections accounts for nearly all of the increase in the general fund budget, which has gone up from about $466 million in 2005 to next year’s proposed $504 million.
This is pretty much the city's "boutique strategy" in action.  Anyone who has been paying attention since roughly ten days after Katrina will recognize it.

A few blocks from Mr. O'Dwyer, in an exclusive gated community known as Audubon Place, is the home of James Reiss, descendent of an old-line Uptown family. He fled Hurricane Katrina just before the storm and returned soon afterward by private helicopter. Mr. Reiss became wealthy as a supplier of electronic systems to shipbuilders, and he serves in Mayor Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority. 

When New Orleans descended into a spiral of looting and anarchy, Mr. Reiss helicoptered in an Israeli security company to guard his Audubon Place house and those of his neighbors. 

He says he has been in contact with about 40 other New Orleans business leaders since the storm. Tomorrow, he says, he and some of those leaders plan to be in Dallas, meeting with Mr. Nagin to begin mapping out a future for the city. 

The power elite of New Orleans -- whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. -- insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters. 

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

Reiss didn't have to go Galt after all. While New Orleans continues to experience profound income inequality eight years later, in absolute terms, there are certainly "fewer poor people" living here.

So from the James Reiss perspective, things are going great.  Only, for some reason, the city is still broke.  Stacy Head sees this and thinks the problem is we're collecting too much in property tax revenue. But, if the boutique city really is booming the way the realtors say it is, doesn't seem instead like we aren't collecting enough?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serpas Signal

Here they come again.
Tomorrow night October 24, 2013, the New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Section will conduct a Sobriety Checkpoint beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M. and concluding at approximately 5:00 A.M. in Orleans Parish. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.
It's getting close to Halloween now so be extra careful looking out for those ghost cops.

Drive carefully. 

Human shields

Would you and your children like to serve as props in Bobby Jindal's defense of his absurd school voucher scheme in federal court?  Sure, sign me up for that, you might be saying.   But gosh darnit, if they aren't trying to "muzzle" you.
Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday for opposing the request of four families to join the state as defendants in a federal lawsuit over school vouchers and desegregation. The families, whose children participate in the voucher program, are being assisted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and Judge Ivan Lemelle must decide whether to let them intervene in the case.

"The Obama administration wants to deny a voice to the very people who will be harmed by this ridiculous lawsuit," Jindal said in a statement, accusing the department of "trying to muzzle parents who simply want to express an opinion about why their children should have the opportunity to escape failing schools."

Feeding time has come and gone

My read on the recent shutdown drama seems to be at variance with much of the punditocracy.  I don't think the GOP "lost" all that much.  Sure they're polling poorly in national approval ratings.  And they're sniping at one another. And, of course, they look pretty stupid on cable news and all.

But the 2010 gerrymander all but guarantees the House will remain safely under Republican control. You can find people willing to argue about that right now but I'm not one of them. Plus the entire exercise sure did raise a lot of money for Republicans. Ted Cruz's PAC took in almost $800,00, for example.  

So there may not be much dignity in Tea Party politics these days, but at least it pays well.  And just to be sure no money is left on the table, Karl Rove has assured Republican leaning donors that they can also spend money on anti-Tea Party conservatism... whatever that might be.
The leading establishment “super PAC” co-founded by Mr. Rove, American Crossroads, has already started a new initiative called the Conservative Victory Project that is quietly working to head off Republican challengers whose victories in primaries, in its determination, would put party seats — or potential party seats — at risk of falling to Democrats in general elections.
Suffice to say the shutdown crisis, whatever the "optics" might be, won't leave the Team R war chest any lighter during the midterms. 

Oh and it's helpful to remember the Republicans didn't "lose" a single thing policywise. For one thing, they've been playing with house money ever since the sequester went into effect.
Because the deal only includes minor concessions, the Beltway consensus is that it represents a resounding defeat for Republicans, who “surrendered” their original demands to defund or delay Obamacare. In the skirmish of opinion polls, that may be true, for now. But in the war of ideas, the Senate deal is but a stalemate, one made almost entirely on conservative terms. The GOP now goes into budget talks with sequestration as the new baseline, primed to demand longer-term cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And they still hold the gun of a US default to the nation’s head in the next debt ceiling showdown.

Surrender? Any more “victories” like this and Democrats will end up paying tribute into the GOP’s coffers.

And, of course, they didn't repeal Obamacare. Nobody expected that to happen. What's interesting, though, is that if only they had known just what a stupendous clusterfuck the launch of open enrollment was going to turn out to be, they might have just sat back and let it fall apart all on its own.
His spokesman, Jonathan Kott, said Manchin opposes a bill proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to delay the mandate for a more indefinite period of time while problems with the insurance exchanges persist.
But there would have been less campaign money in that so... all's well that ends shitty, I guess. 


"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big! "

Trashy facade

After years of squabbling with the two largest garbage contractors over the number of addresses each should be compensated for servicing, the city has finally agreed to just accept their numbers. The ingenious reasoning is, well maybe they'll grow into it.
The administration is betting the city’s population will continue to grow while the cost of trash pickup — still more than the mayor would like — will remain almost flat, representing a relatively stable figure in a budget that has otherwise been under assault from ballooning and sometimes unpredictable expenses.

The garbage contracts are among the city’s biggest, taking up about 5 percent of the annual operating budget.

“As long as New Orleans continues to be the fastest growing city in America, which it has been for the past few years, and we fix those house counts, this is a very favorable agreement,” Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said in presenting the details Tuesday to the City Council’s Sanitation Committee.
Maybe that will work out for them eventually.  It might be interesting to note, though, that despite the growing population, usage of another major city service has only just exceeded half its pre-Katrina numbers.
Public transportation in New Orleans has steadily expanded since Hurricane Katrina decimated the network in 2005. While the number of riders every year is nowhere near the 34 million who took a bus or streetcar trip in 2004, the system could provide as many as 18 million rides by year's end, said Stefan Marks, Veolia's director of planning and scheduling for the RTA. The RTA has logged 13.9 million riders through September, a 12-percent jump over the 12.5 million passengers that used the RTA during the first nine months of 2012.
 Naturally they're asking for a fare increase.

But back to the disposal companies.  What might account for the supposed padding in their contracts are the unique challenges  New Orleans presents. Recall, for example, the ugliness that erupted when Veronica White's sanitation department introduced suburban style trash bins to the narrow French Quarter streets.
The anger over the issue clashes with general delight with the performance of the Quarter's new trash collection service. But many French Quarter residents say the free 32-gallon, wheeled, lidded "carts" -- although just a third the size of those the city is requiring in most other neighborhoods -- are too big to store on their small lots or in narrow side alleys.

The commission fears that bins left on sidewalks for many hours after garbage trucks have passed will be eyesores and will hinder pedestrian traffic.

Mayor Ray Nagin has promised "Disney-like" cleanliness in the French Quarter and Central Business District, with twice-daily trash collection and continuous sidewalk cleaning, as a way to promote tourism and economic development.

Leaders of the two principal organizations of Quarter residents recently took their complaints about the bins to the mayor, but Nagin and Sanitation Director Veronica White remained adamant.

A frustrated Ralph Lupin, the Vieux Carre Commission's tough-talking chairman, told the commission Tuesday, "I don't understand Ms. White's obstinance other than that she's a bitch."
Then there was the time when the Nagin administration spent half a million dollars on "bomb-proof" trash cans and then decided they didn't want them after all
New Orleanians, it appears, will never get to find out whether the "bombproof" trash cans the city bought for $750 a pop three years ago were worthy of the title.

That's because all 600, purchased for a steep $450,000, have been junked.

Now Mayor Ray Nagin's administration, which staunchly defended the original trash can purchase, has begun replacing them with a different model. Unlike the old ones, the new ones do not feature advertisements -- nor do they claim to frustrate terrorists.

In a recent interview, Nagin said he was never a fan of the squatty cans, bought with a no-bid contract at the direction of former Chief Administrative Officer Charles Rice. Rice left city government in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina.

"Those little munchkin trash cans? We got rid of those," Nagin said, referring to the trash can deal as "a Charles Rice special."

The mayor's chief beef, apparently, was that the receptacles, known as "Jazzy Cans," were too small.

"I said to Charles, 'Where'd you find these trash cans?'" Nagin recounted. "They're about this tall," he added, holding his hand at the level of a table top. "I had to bend over to put stuff in 'em."
Nagin's backaches likely would have been in vain anyway. Earlier this year the city experienced a brief period of hysteria over the frequent appearance of various "suspicious packages" none of which ever was actually placed inside a trash receptacle where the supposed "bomb-proofing" might have provided some benefit. 

But it's not only bombs that require careful attention. There's also the matter of spectral decontamination which, can be a tricky issue on some lawns.

Yard demon

Bone yard

This morning, in the first day of budget hearings, the City Council considered a proposal to shut off residents' water service should they become delinquent in paying the sanitation fee attached to their bill.  Stacy Head seems like she wants to punt the decision on this enforcement policy back to the Mayor.

Some may wonder why the sanitation fee appears on the city water bills in the first place.  But, as we demonstrated the other day, some of these specialized pick-up jobs have been known to emerge from the sewers anyway.

Sinkhole ghoul

The city estimates that it can raise an extra $1.6 million in trash fees simply by adding the water shutoff threat.  That seems unlikely to me.  But if it turns out they can't wring out that last bit, and they absolutely need help fulfilling these sanitation service obligations, they can always go out and find a new contractor

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Showing off all the locally sourced handicrafts

Blaine Kern's monstrous Halloween parade thingy boasts all sorts of unusual throws.
Costume designer, environmentalist, Bearded Oysters Dance Troupe and Krewe of Kolossos founder and all-around Carnival juggernaut Katrina Brees has a new mission: convince krewes to use locally made throws. In 2012, she founded I Heart Louisiana, an organization that provides krewes with eco-friendly, locally made throws, props, costumes and entertainment. This Saturday, Krewe of Boo will use I Heart Lousiana’s throws in its annual Halloween parade, which rolls at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 through the perimeter of the French Quarter and into the CBD. Here’s an interview with Brees for more about the throws and I Heart Louisiana’s mission.
Let's not concern ourselves too too much with the term, "all-around Carnival juggernaut" or even the question of whether or not "Katrina Brees" is just about the most lame and cloyingly cliche stage name this side of "Gumbo Party  Robicheaux" or even "Blake Pontchartrain."   Encouraging the use of locally produced throws is a good idea.

Someone will have to explain to me how these throws are more "eco-friendly" than the regular thing, though. Besides the fact that there are likely to be fewer of these, I don't see the big difference. I suppose if it's your purpose to just have less throwing altogether, this works. Maybe if you didn't grow up chasing Carnival throws as a kid, such an idea would be appealing. I wouldn't know.

Anyway, what's most amusing about this is the "eco-friendly" and meticulously local-sourced Halloween parade is quite clearly an event staged with tourists and only tourists in mind.

The route doesn't touch a single neighborhood where you'd find many locals.  But it does hit all the hot spots of the booming hotel scene.

"We are a good, robust market for investors to come in and buy real estate," ( developer Pres)  Kabacoff said.

He said, to investors, New Orleans beats out other cities by topping the list for things such as the high number of entrepreneurs, the most-improved public school system, and one of the highest increases of gross domestic product.

"That encourages an investor to say, 'its okay to invest here,'" Kabacoff said.

However, he warns that if the city is to continue the sharp investment trend, it needs to get a better handle on protecting the coast and eliminating poverty.

"We have to work on both of those, but it's much better to have a robust economy to deal with those issues," Kabacoff said.

More businesses and more hotels means more room for visitors.

Kabacoff says the city tourist commission is working to increase the number of visitors from eight or nine million to 13 or 14 million a year, which will keep the robust economy growing.
I'm tempted to say something about that "most-improved public school system" canard but let's not get bogged down in every lie a callous liar tells when he's in the middle of a good pitch.  I'm more interested in that "robust" target of an additional 5 million annual visitors the tourist commission wants to fly in and let loose all over the adult Disneyland they're building downtown. I wonder how "eco-friendly" that whole thing is.

Update: I've been informed that Katrina Brees is actually Katrina Brees's real name.  And that pretty much eliminates any angle I have to razz her.  I really do support the idea of promoting locally sourced Carnival throws, for what it's worth.

Upperdate: And so now... actual fact checking occurs. Well, okay, more like casual Googling but here we are.
The spanking new Krewe of Kolossos is seeking to “create a new breed of parade,” utilizing tradition while drawing on ideas of environmental sustainability and reuse, art director Steven Donnelly said.

The idea for the krewe came from a partnership with grand marshal-elect Karina Nathan, the artist a.k.a. Katrina Brees. Donnelly’s drum cart creation, a mobile performance art drum show and Nathan’s Bearded Oysters, an all female marching and social group. Both share a love of a good party, and Kolossos was formed with this in mind.
 So there.  "Katrina Brees" Why?

Some day, if I become a very ineffective artist, I may change my name to Karen Ingram.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Les Miles and clock management is kind of an old joke

If he could go back in time, Les Miles would have liked to have saved more time. 
With more than 20 seconds left in the game, Miles said the coaches were deciding whether to run the clock down and use the timeout to ice kicker Andrew Ritter and try to block the field goal. However, Miles said with six seconds left he realized that blocking the kick was unlikely since they had already blocked a Ritter attempt earlier in the fourth quarter. At that point Miles called the timeout and said he wished he'd done so sooner.

"We've already blocked this team, we could not be in any better position to go onto the field and at that point in time I wish we could have had every one of those seconds back," Miles said at his Monday press conference. "Again, the plan was to ice and block, and we should well have, in retrospect, gone after those 20 seconds that we could have had at the end of the game."
 But, hey, now there will be plenty time to think it through.

Like while he's at home watching one of the major bowl games this year. 

The city and the Sherriff's office have come to an agreement

They found about $2 million to put toward implementing consent decree reforms this year.

Not sure how that affects the budgeting process for 2014, though.
The court order, however, specifies that “nothing in this agreement obligates the city to provide specific levels of funding in 2014 and beyond.”

That means the City Council must sort out who must pay, and how much, next year and onward.
“While today marks an important milestone, the hard work is only beginning,” U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk wrote in his order approving the agreement.

The city must continue to pay the sheriff $22.39 per inmate, per day, as mandated by a decades-old court order.

The mayor presented his proposed budget for 2014 to the City Council last week, but included no funding for the jail consent decree. The administration said it was leaving it up to the council to decide how much the city should pay to implement the reforms.
Looks like they'll be digging under more couch cushions. 

Budgeting for unpredictable outcomes

Hope everybody enjoyed the budget show last Tuesday.  It sure did sound dramatic.
Landrieu: "Hand in hand we have run toward the fire. These are difficult challenges ... We will find a way or make one."
I have no idea what that could mean but it seems very exciting.  It could be that we're running toward the fire because we no longer pay firefighters to do that for us.  But I'm still waiting for the movie to come out so don't spoil it.

Anyway the budget proposals are available for you to read here.  Council hearings begin this week.  As you look through the budget.. or at least follow other people's summaries of what's in the budget.. keep in mind how fluid and changeable a document it is, and can continue to be even after it's adopted.  This can be for any number of reasons.

For example, NOLA.com highlights $20.3 million in the capital budget set aside for converting Charity Hospital into the new City Hall.  But, obviously that contribution (actually a combination of state capital outlay and FEMA funds, according to the budget) is just one small portion of the estimated cost of the job.
The entire project is expected to cost $270.1 million with $100 million theoretically coming from the state, $33 million from historic tax credits, $18 million from new market tax credits, $11 million from FEMA, $30 million from recovery dollars and nearly $78 million from city-issued revenue bonds.
Also it isn't clear that any of that is going to happen. At least not in 2014. 

Then there's this passage in the operating budget that acknowledges some unfinished business.
The City is currently in litigation with the OPSO, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center related to the conditions in the Jail. The litigation has resulted in the approval of a consent decree that may supercede prior consent decree provisions related to the level of City funding for the jail. In addition, the City is working with the Sheriff to effect additional changes – such as the population of the jail, the number of non-City inmates housed at the Jail – that will also have an impact on FY 2014 funding.
What that's saying is the OPSO consent decree could leave the city with a 7- 22 million dollar obligation this budget doesn't account for outside of a 4 million dollar reserve.
When The Lens asked Landrieu how much he had budgeted for the jail consent decree, Landrieu did not name a figure. He noted that U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk, who approved the agreement in June, has yet to set a dollar amount.

“The conversation is ongoing,” Landrieu said.
Another ongoing conversation is taking place in civil litigation where the city has just won the preliminary battle in a struggle to control the lucrative Wisner Trust property.

So the budget contains outlays that might not happen, acknowledges costs that it doesn't quite cover, and projects revenue estimates that it doesn't have a firm handle on... as well as some that seem a little absurd.
The city also expects an additional $1.3 million in sanitation fees from the Sewerage & Water Board, resulting from a soon-to-be introduced ordinance allowing the utility to shut off water service for customers who fail to pay the $24 monthly trash fee.
They can't possibly believe people who can't afford to pay their whole water bill each month are sitting on an extra $1.3 million.  Or if they do, I've got some sub-prime mortgages they might be interested in buying.

All of this is perfectly normal.  Municipal budgeting is complicated stuff. And yet the Mayor insists that we're faced with a "zero sum game" when we put together the budget and so must make some "tough choices." He calls it a "moral document." If that's the case, it's a morally ambiguous document and one that is very much shaped by the Mayor's sense of what is important.

Mostly, though,  the capital budget looks promising.  This is thanks in large part to the continued availability of FEMA recovery funds.
Repairs to streets all around New Orleans, a new 2nd District police station, improvements to two dozen parks and playgrounds, renovations at Louis Armstrong International Airport, projects at both Audubon Park and City Park, a new coroner’s complex — and meantime the FEMA money keeps rolling in, to the tune of more than $1 billion since Hurricane Katrina.

Presentation of the capital budget — often seemingly just an afterthought compared with the headlines produced by the city’s operating budget — sounded almost like the reading of a Santa Claus wish list last week as Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration outlined to the City Council what it expects to spend next year on infrastructure and other capital projects.

Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant said the 2014 capital budget totals $247.4 million, with the lion’s share — $152.9 million — going to the Department of Public Works for street projects.
It's a good thing too, since some of these potholes are starting to get a little out of hand. If we spend the money fixing it now, maybe we won't have to add the ghouling fee to everyone's water bill next year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Elections today

More signs
Corner of Louisiana and St. Charles on Friday. D. Nicole Shepherd campaign workers set up to waive signs in the shadow of an 8 foot tall Nanak Rai billboard. 

Never a dull moment.
The anonymous campaign flier, signed by a bogus election committee, features a warning stamped on the front: “Please keep out of the sight of children,” it says.

And thus began the latest mud-slinging episode in an already-nasty battle among eight candidates competing to be New Orleans’ next Traffic Court judge in Saturday’s election.

“Before you even consider voting for this indiviual [sic] for judge, think about it long and hard,” the flier reads, next to a picture of candidate Richard Perque.

On the back is a photo of Perque and another man, hugging, shirtless and wearing skimpy swimsuits.

“Richard Perque wants to be a Traffic Court judge,” it reads. “Really??!!!!”

It is signed: “Paid for by the Committee for Common Decency.”

No such committee exists.
I collect unusual campaign mailers. (Or at least I did before Menckles started throwing them all away behind my back.) So I'm a little disappointed I didn't get one of these.   Luckily, Clay got one and uploaded it to Flickr for posterity.

Apparently he wasn't the only person passing this around the internet, though.

The online version, featuring the same photograph, was primarily pushed by a Twitter handle named “New Orleans Truth.”

That Twitter feed spent much of its early existence in 2011 hocking spa treatments and moisturizers. In the fall of 2011, it switched to exclusively supporting the campaign that year of Traffic Court candidate Patrick Giraud. He lost, and the Twitter account tweeted nothing for two years.

Giraud is again running to be Traffic Court judge, against Perque and a half-dozen others, and on Thursday night, after two years of silence, the “New Orleans Truth” Twitter returned, blasting three dozen tweets with the photo of Perque and the other man in swimsuits.

The tweets were accompanied by various insults for both Perque and his parents.

“As a father and a brother I would be ashamed of this type of behavior. Judge worthy? NOOO,” one tweet says.

“Parenting gone wrong,” says another.

Giraud vehemently denied that he was behind the attack and said he has gay relatives and friends. He said he doesn’t even know how to tweet.

Doesn't even know how to tweet? "Really??!!!!" Actually, if Giraud really is behind the amateurish attempt at a Twitter slime campaign described above, we may have to take him at his word there. Either way, I'm not sure I'm confident installing a person who lacks the tech savvy to briefly type words in a field to a position of oversight over New Orleans's red light cameras.

A few weeks ago, The Advocate described the traffic court race as "a stampede of lawyers."  It's something of a plum position.
A stampede of lawyers is battling it out for a seat on the bench in one of New Orleans’ most derided courthouses, just months before a legislative commission is set to recommend whether the very judgeship they’re fighting for should be abolished.

The Traffic Court bench has long been attractive for politicians, not for prestige but for its part-time hours and six-figure pay.

Eight lawyers are now running in the Oct. 19 election to replace retired Judge Ron Sholes. Two of them are likely to meet in a Nov. 16 runoff.

Political watchers say the race is a complete toss-up: Any of the candidates could win in a low-profile special election unlikely to lure many voters to the polls.
You can look through the rest of that article for profiles of the candidates and their positions. I can't recommend any candidate in particular, but do get out and vote. Otherwise they might think you're content with whatever.

Orleans Parish voters will also find this on their ballot.
After grinding through the Legislature this spring, lawmakers' changes to the makeup of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board seemed a done deal. All that remained was a relatively minor edit to the City Charter, and the City Council would be pushed back from direct control over the water board's operations.

But before voters consider that charter amendment Oct. 19, a loosely organized opposition to the measure is starting to take hold. Several groups, including members of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee and the Black Organization for Leadership Development, or BOLD, are making a final attempt to derail the changes. They want to cast them as weakening the S&WB's accountability by removing publicly elected council members from its ranks.

"You're taking the rights away from elected officials and giving it to appointed officials," Constable Lambert Boissiere Jr. said. "When was the last time you heard of an appointed official attending a community meeting?"
Yesterday I heard a radio ad pushing passage of the charter reform.  It's the first time I can remember a radio campaign that actually played up the fact that an initiative would place even more appointment authority in the hands of non-elected University Presidents. Regular readers of this blog (God help you) may know that this is a longstanding pet peeve of mine.  These five professional socialite fundraisers seem to sit on nearly every public board in the city. It's hard to think of a more elitist and undemocratic way to go about governing.  But then, this is Mitch Landrieu's New Orleans so no big surprise there.

The same ad also asked voters to consider the recent history of S&WB mishaps resulting in citywide boil orders. Not that the charter amendment will do anything to prevent recurrence of those incidents but, consider them anyway.  In particular the ad suggested that we consider, "what if that had happened during a major convention or Mardi Gras."  Because, as everyone knows, it's perfectly fine for you or I to chug and snort amoebae all year long.  But if a tourist were somehow exposed to our health hazards, well then that's a problem.  But, again, Mitch Landrieu's New Orleans.

Anyway have fun voting. At least they still allow you to.

We'll always have Faith and Hope

If not always, Bum.

HOUSTON - Bum Phillips, the folksy Texas football icon who coached the Houston Oilers during their Luv Ya Blue heyday and also led the New Orleans Saints, died Friday. He was 90.

"Bum is gone to Heaven," son Wade Phillips tweeted Friday night. "Loved and will be missed by all — great Dad, Coach, and Christian."

Phillips died at his ranch in Goliad. Wade Phillips is the Houston Texans' defensive coordinator.

Born Oail Andrew Phillips Jr. in 1923 in Orange, Phillips was a Texas original in his blue jeans, boots and trademark white Stetson — expect at the Astrodome or any other dome stadium because he was taught it was disrespectful to wear a hat indoors.

Phillips loved the Oilers and when coaching the team in the 1970s, he famously said of the Cowboys: "They may be 'America's Team,' but we're Texas' team."

He took over as coach of the Oilers in 1975 and led Houston to two AFC Championship games before he was fired in 1980. He was responsible for drafting Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell, the player who was largely credited with the success of the franchise.
Bum went on to become (perhaps even to this day, although Payton is probably on par now) the most beloved coach in Saints history as well.

He never guided the Saints to a winning record going 27-42 in New Orleans, but Phillips did help put together one of the best draft classes in Saints history in 1981 by selecting players like Rickey Jackson, George Rogers, Frank Warren, Hoby Brenner, Jim Wilks and Hokie Gajan.

Phillips did lead the Saints to their first non-losing season in franchise history as New Orleans narrowly missed in the postseason in 1983 with an 8-8 mark. But players always noticed his down-to-earth Texas charm.

"I remember getting a call from Bum Phillips after I was drafted (1982) and he asked me if I liked Budweiser and country music," former Saints kicker Morten Andersen said in a 2009 interview. "Those were the first words out of his mouth. So, lying through my teeth, I said, 'Yes sir, ' because everybody knows I like Abba and Merlot."
The core of the team Bum put together, along with one more great draft class largely put together by his scouting department, went on to enjoy the success that barely eluded the '83 team... only with a far less pleasant person as head coach.  But that's how it goes sometimes. As Bum once said, "I always thought I could coach. I just thought people were poor judges of good coaches."

Some of us Saints fans of a certain age were trading Bum quotes on Twitter earlier.

This one also caught my eye. 
Phillips picked up the nickname Bum as a child when his younger sister couldn't pronounce brother correctly and it sounded like bum. He embraced the nickname and was quoted as saying: "I don't mind being called Bum, just as long as you don't put a you in front of it."
Here's some more nostalgia. This first video is an NFL Films feature put together sometime in the early 2000s.  It's 47 minutes long but well worth the time if you have it.

Here is a 1984 NFL Yearbook video where Saints players express their appreciation for Bum's laid back style.

This is that awful Mike Lansford kick that killed the Saints' shot at a playoff berth in 1983.  Even though I know now that the Saints would eventually go on to win football almost 30 years later, this still hurts a bit to watch.

These are more fun. They're an episode of The Bum Phillips Show hosted by a young Jim Henderson in 1984.  Look for the vintage local commercials as well as the, "Hey, Bum" segment toward the end.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Public-private partnerships

When I hear that phrase in my nightmares, it's always in Mitch Landrieu's voice.  Anyway, here's an article.
This is not a localized thing, as cities everywhere are grappling with the abruptness and consequences of such change. And while gentrification has been occurring here and there for decades, with community capital unwound on a street-by-street basis for higher returns and bigger tax receipts, the sheer push from above, like meat through a grinder, is now so systematic—and no longer personified by the Robert Moses’s of the world but by a kind of faceless force blowing a current of yield and tidiness in—that it has just become what is, with the late scholar Neil Smith referring to this latest iteration as the “generalization of gentrification”.

In his article “New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy”, Smith examines how gentrification has morphed from an unfortunate effect to an outright aim. One explanation for this relates to the ever-morphing private-public partnership in cities in which elected officials have forgone governing for investing, with policy no longer aspiring to guide economic growth but rather being crafted to “fit in the grooves” of market forces, particularly in the realm of real estate.

Why real estate?

Part of the reason is that economic leaders now primarily see Americans as consumers as opposed to producers, and so cities—particularly alpha dog global cities—have shifted their focus from payrolls to price per square feet, making real estate an increasingly important productive engine of cities as opposed to the productive capacity of the citizen. Enter, then, the volitional push of attracting as many creative class gentry as possible into the confines of a place, with real estate gimmicks—such as Mayor Bloomberg’s recent microapartment push—aimed at further squeezing blood from areas with far more density than available space.
Please stop telling me the problem with New Orleans is merely that we have a housing "supply problem."  We do, sort of, but the present policy course has been to further reduce the supply of affordable housing and encourage more and more "luxury" development.  No plan currently on the table alters that course. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

They call that a sinkhole?

I don't think they know what they're talking about. This is a sinkhole.


And actually that photo is from last year. Tomorrow afternoon I need to get out and update the set.

Apparently there's money in the capital budget for street repairs so I'm thinking every moment with our three-year old neighborhood crater is precious. That reminds me. The Holidays are coming.  Time to start working on a new display.

Celebration In The Sinkhole

Meanwhile... "Sinkhole Frustrates Neighbors"
BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Life in the community of Bayou Corne has been anything but normal since a giant sinkhole opened up. One official says the surface of the sinkhole could double in size. Right now, it is at 26 acres.

They should just give Nagin the records he wants

But then ask him if he thinks they are the records "that count."  Have him submit his answer in writing. At least 1500 words. Should be punishment enough.

Oh and here's Deberry's column.
When Nagin was mayor, you'll remember, he wasn't exactly generous with the records in his possession. In fact, he was downright stingy. When the press demanded to see email and other documents that the law was clear should open for public scrutiny, the mayor told us all to kick rocks.

More than that, much of the e-mail the press wanted to see then was destroyed by the Nagin administration. The mayor, whose love of gadgetry and technology seemed to have no limits, insisted that the city's storage capacity was finite and that email he had sent and received had to be destroyed to create more room. It apparently didn't occur to anybody in his techno-geeky administration to buy more storage space.
At one point just before he left office, Nagin dumped all of the emails still on his server onto the city's website where anyone could download them.  I did that.  But then that computer went ka-put so I don't have access to them anymore until I decide to do some data forensics of my own. 

Still unvanishing

The Lens: More oil from BP spill found on Louisiana coastline in mid-2013 than year before
BATON ROUGE — Oil collection on the Louisiana coastline from the Deepwater Horizon spill continues to increase three years after the disaster, a governor’s office representative told the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority at the board’s monthly meeting in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.

The combined efforts of the U.S Coast Guard, state authorities and BP resulted in the discovery of 2.9 million more pounds of oily matter between March and August this year than in the same period in 2012, said Drue Winters, an attorney with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.

“It just goes to show there’s still a ton of oil out there, it’s difficult to find, and we need to keep working to find it,” Winters said.
Kind of a very sad wildcatting endeavor.  

NOLA.com: We will celebrate the advent of "Broadway South" by trolling it

They sent Sam The Eagle to review Book of Mormon with predictable results.

Serpas signal

If you're out celebrating the great and glorious return to governance this evening, please be aware.
October 17, 2013, the New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Section will conduct a Sobriety Checkpoint beginning at approximately 7:00 P.M. and concluding at approximately 5:00 A.M. in Orleans Parish.    Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.
7:00 PM. They're starting early, so to speak.  Drive safely.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


You know, for a "shoo-shoo" Tropical Storm Karen sure did kick up a lot of oil.
U.S. Coast Guard crews found a one-ton tar mat that was uncovered by the storm's currents on Fourchon Beach, according to Petty Officer Michael Anderson. On other coastal beaches in Louisiana, crews found about 500 pounds of tarballs scattered along 15 miles of shore. 

The oil found on the beaches will not be tested, but it is assumed to be residual oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Or maybe there' just a lot of oil out there. 

Although this guy with the slinky says there's really not as much as you might think.
Using Blunt's estimate, BP contends it is liable for only 2.45 million barrels of oil, since Barbier already has ruled that the fines will not cover 810,000 barrels of oil that were collected directly from the well at the surface and taken to refineries, with the revenue donated to charities.

On Wednesday, several Justice witnesses testified that about 5 million barrels of oil flowed from the well, resulting in 4.2 million barrels for fine purposes.

Blunt brought a relaxed, classroom-lecture style to Barbier's courtroom, with the assistance of BP attorneys. At one point, he used a Slinky attacked to a mock-up of the Macondo oil reservoir to describe how waves of pressure emanated to and from the bottom of the well when it was finally capped.

Blunt said he rejected the modeling methods used by the Justice Department witnesses because they did not capture the unique geology of the reservoir and of other characteristics that he said resulted in a smaller amount of oil flowing from the well.

On the other hand, maybe we should be dumping more poison in the ocean before these things climb out and start coming for us. 

Update:  Here's what else BP has been telling us about these beaches.

Thibodaux's Daily Comet reported that over a ton of oil has been recovered in the wake of Tropical Storm Karen according to the Coast Guard.  The article is incorrect in that it implies the oil was discovered by BP crews during a standard clean up process but it was actually discovered by Wisner employees monitoring the beach.  This is important because this area, "Zone 4", was taken out of response by BP after they labeled it "clean" and that it needed "no further response".  Not that this was the Daily Comet reporter's intention but the article implies that BP is continually monitoring this area and that is simply not true.

Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives...

We are now less than 72 hours out from a debt default landfall. Write your own cone of error joke.  And maybe fill your bathtub with platinum coins just to be safe. Looks like the Republicans met late last night for tacos and decided to just keep on keeping on.

And in the time it took me to type that, the White House has called the bluff again.  I'm not so sure it's really a bluff, though.  One of the reasons I've thought the conservatives were "winning" this thing the whole time is a debt default is actually a pretty decent outcome as far as they're concerned.  It starves the proverbial beast a little. Opens the door to a whole new host of austerity measures.  Props up the retrograde gold standard argument. Et cetera and so on.
I'm not saying this means the Democrats should be "negotiating" with this nonsense. I'm just saying the options were always help the GOP break stuff, or the GOP will break stuff on their own.  So far, the Democrats have, to their credit, opted for the latter. 

Another thing to note is that the idea that there's some distance between the Republican leadership and the Teabaggers is an illusion.  John Boehner could have ended this at any time.  He could have ended it this morning. And yet here we are.

I told myself I wasn't going to stoop to this but... I mean... it's so.. this, right?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shit My Jackie Says

Jackie Clarkson had to bolt early from tonight's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance presentation. Apparently she needs to be good and rested for tomorrow's big budget show.  And that makes some sense, especially if she's planning to participate in the drinking game we discussed earlier.  She made sure to get all her zingers in early, though. 

Quotes via Uptown Messenger's live coverage:

Of course, the CZO is a major accomplishment... of Jackie Clarkson's
Clarkson says that she has been working on the CZO for decades, and enacting it will be a "dream come true for this city."
The CZO may yet be proven to cause chronic brain disease
The CZO will add clarity to the process for both developers and residents, she says.

"It's like playing for the NFL: The rules don't change at halftime," Clarkson says.

The CZO is a forward-looking document that represents a bold step into the future. Or maybe the opposite of that.
"This city's on a roll like it hasn't been since the 40s, and I remember the 40s well," Clarkson says.
This may or may not have cleared matters up for you.  If it hasn't, you should know the CZO draft is available for you to read at the City Planning Commission's website.  

The next community meeting is scheduled for Planning District 7 (Bywater, 8th Ward, Upper Ninth Ward) this Wednesday at 6 PM at the Colton School on St. Claude Avenue.