Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Should we just blow it all up and start from scratch?

Comprehensive municipal finance reform sounds like a terrific idea at first. Especially when you consider that situations like this exist.
The expansion of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was supposed to be a toast of New Orleans' self-promotion, replete with an elegant 60,000 square-foot ballroom overlooking the mighty Mississippi River that would call to high-rolling conventioneers the nation over.

Blame Hurricane Katrina, a faltering economy or legal wrangling among competing contractors, but the center's board shelved that so-called Phase IV project in August 2007.

What it didn't do, however, was stop collecting a state-imposed 1-cent hotel tax and a quarter-cent food and beverage tax to finance it. Over the years, that account quietly ballooned to $198.2 million dedicated to a ghost of a project.
But then you get into the messy business of who decides just how to reinvent the wheel and you quickly deduce that they'll only end up making matters worse. It's all fun and games until Mitch Landrieu appoints a panel of Kevin Wildes, Ron Forman, Janet Howard and friends to solve all our problems.  Better to just carve out each individual graft silo as we find them. 

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