Monday, August 07, 2017

Dare to be stupid

This is gonna be a fun week.
The New Orleans City Council will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 8) to discuss the flooding that resulted from as much as 9 inches of rain falling in parts of the city Saturday afternoon. It was the second extreme downpour in as many weeks that put storm water in vehicles, homes and businesses in multiple neighborhoods.

President Jason Williams summoned council members Sunday to call the meeting. Officials with the Landrieu administration, the Sewerage and Water Board, and the Army Corps of Engineers are expected to respond to questions about the city's vulnerability to quick inundations.
Well that was quick. Must be an election on. Actually, despite the obvious politically motivated buffoonery of it all, I'm glad to see city councilpersons and candidates all asking questions about the drainage. I mean, sure, they are asking a lot of dumb questions so far 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell posted to Twitter early and often, going on a tweet storm as she talked about policy in the context of the flood. She had videos and photos to illustrate her point.

" ... We all deserve functioning infrastructure, and ensure that adequate infrastructure across our city is a TOP priority. We can do better, and we will. Rain events like this are more than Orleans Parish. We need to think and act regionally. NOLA gov't leaders have worked hard on this issue, and we will continue to work on this."
When they string it together like that, it sounds like it almost makes sense, even if it doesn't mean a whole lot.  But watching the candidates spit stuff out in real time this weekend was more like following a bunch of bots meant to spit empty phrases at random.  Here is LaToya working in "small businesses" to her rant.  Michael Bagneris seems almost more worried about "the biomedical corridor that will be a powerful economic driver for our city and region," than he does about anyone stuck in a stalled car or watching the water come into their home.  They all leave the impression that either none of them knows what they're talking about with regard to drainage or that they just fumbling for a way to shoehorn their lame ass campaign themes into the story, or both. It is both, actually. 

But as embarrassing as all that is for them, and as shameless and stupid as they all are, it is kind of their job to do this sort of thing and they have to start somewhere. There has to be a public conversation about what happened. Even a dumb one.

When flooding like this happens repeatedly something has to be done. And no amount of smug condescension about the designed capacity of the current system will change that. We know the rainfall was greater than what the pumps are designed to handle. But shut the fuck up about that for a second and consider that it is still worth asking:

1) Did the system actually perform even up to its presumably inadequate capacity? There's nothing but Cedric Grant and Ryan Berni's word to confirm that. Maybe you like ... um.. carrying water for those assholes. I don't see the use.

2) If this is the best the system can do and this kind of flooding keeps happening anyway, isn't that a problem too? There is a whole world of inquiry to be made into the efficacy of our proposed "resilience" strategy for re-thinking our drainage system. Right now there are some compelling ideas on the verge of implementation but it's important to stress what we're talking about in that regard can mostly be described as pilot programs. What we actually need is a total systemic reevaluation and overhaul and we need that to happen like several years ago.

Point is we aren't where we want to be. Something needs to change and the way to start the ball rolling with that is to let your idiot councilpersons ask their grandstanding and clumsy questions. And then try to help push whatever momentum that starts in the right direction.  Until today, the game in this election was seeing who could promise to throw the most "public safety money" away on more police, surveillance, and prisons.  But what if we had a chance to talk about spending that money on actual public safety instead?  Flood control seems like a great opportunity to have that conversation.

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