Friday, May 18, 2018

Upticked off

Shorter LaToya: Warren Riley is very good at being in charge of things and you guys just can't handle it I guess, oh well.
But here in New Orleans: the pain is too great. The untreated and lingering trauma so many of our residents still struggle with, the post-traumatic stress that still informs how we all look back to that flashpoint, makes it untenable to move forward with Mr. Riley as part of our new administration.
Cantrell says she did some "listening" to people's objections, but clearly she missed the point.   It is fine to recognize the "lingering trauma" caused by the experience of the flood, and specifically the outrageous police violence that occurred in its wake.  But the actual question before the mayor here involves stewardship of institutions not psyches.  Can we expect Warren Riley to act in the public interest when those institutions fail?  Jarvis DeBerry describes, here, why the public may not be so confident. 
With two people dead, four people wounded and seven of his officers originally charged in state court with either murder or attempted murder, should we believe Riley's claim that he didn't read a report of what happened?

It's obvious why he would say he didn't read it.  If he had said he read his department's report of what happened on Danziger and did nothing to punish the officers who were obviously lying, then he would be admitting that he was a huge part of what was wrong with NOPD in the years after Hurricane Katrina.

Then again, if he didn't read it, if he was purposely trying to avoid knowing of his officers' alleged criminality, then by not reading he's indicating that he's a huge part of what was wrong with NOPD in the years after Katrina.
Cantrell's statement glosses over the issue entirely and suggests, instead, that the upticked community is incapable of thinking rationally because of trauma.  That's kind of insulting, isn't it?  It's definitely in the category of a "sorry if you were offended" apology. Stephanie Grace's "It's not me, it's you" description is also apt.  Of interest also is Grace's use of the term, "rookie mistake."
What really made the situation untenable isn't the lingering trauma but the reality of what happened on Riley's watch, and the problem lies with the new mayor, not the people she represents. The sooner Cantrell acknowledges that and learns from her rookie mistake, the better.
We're about to see if the rookie mayor has learned anything as she deliberates over the fate of the Confederate monuments. She's on a different listening tour with regard to that issue. DeBerry describes who is involved in that.
Thanks to the public records request mentioned above, we now know that the Monument Relocation Committee is made up of Frank Stewart, Geary Mason, Mimi Owens, Richard Marksbury, Charles Marsala, Pierre McGraw and Sally Reeves.

Frank Stewart is the businessman former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called out last year for not using his wealth to help make sure the monuments were replaced with something non-offensive.  Mimi Owens is "Mikas Eaux," the administrator of the Facebook page "Forever Lee Circle" and the person we have to blame for this year's Robert E. Lee throws during Mardi Gras.

From the minutes of one of the committee's meeting: "We represent the following: Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, SaveNOLAHeritage.com, Beauregard Monument Association, Lee Monument Association and two of us were plaintiffs in legal procedures hoping to prevent the city from removing the monuments."

We should expect those members to do everything they can to return those monuments to a place of prominence -- a place where they will remain visible.
Previously, LaToya told Gambit that she wants monument supporters to decide what happens to them because, "you know, reverence matters." But we'll wait to see what happens when she is finished weighing everyone's relative traumas or whatever.

In any case, I don't think this is as much about "rookie mistakes" as it is a mayor elected without a distinct policy-based mandate. Was our recent municipal election actually about anything?  What was LaToya's platform? What did she say she was going to do for us if we elected her?  Specifically, I mean. Not just, "spread the love" and such.  On the monuments, she talks about "listening" and "reverence" without ever speaking to the political purpose of the Jim Crow propaganda they represent.  On housing she talks about "balance" in a way that weighs the needs of stressed residents against those of "the landlord community." On crime, she... well, actually she is pretty clear on crime saying over and over she sees surveillance cameras as an "innovation," praising Sidney Torres's app, and so forth. Oh and she thinks the guy who looked the other way at Danziger is "uniquely qualified" to be in charge of public safety.

All of this proceeds from a politics divorced from tangible consequences that depends wholly on individual bios and credentials for motivation. It produces government via condescension and phony pop-psychology subject to the mercy of various occasional upticks.  Expect more of the same to come.

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