Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Budget season

Mayor's Meeting

We really haven't had enough time to sink into our post-legislative session depression yet and already it's time to talk budgets again!
NEW ORLEANS – Beginning Wednesday, July 7, 2016, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council will host a series of community meetings to discuss budget priorities as the City begins its 2017 budgeting for outcomes process. Other City officials attending will include deputy mayors, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Michael Harrison, New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) Superintendent Tim McConnell and other department and agency leaders.
Actually, Wednesday is July 6. But we'll forgive them for being in a hurry. We're excited too. These meetings are fantastic entertainment. The mayor takes the deputy mayors and department heads on a barnstorming tour of the council districts. At each meeting, members of the public get in line to question.. well... yell at... the mayor about the city budget, ideally, but really whatever happens to be on their minds.  Once everyone is done unloading on him, he improvises a monologue that tries to address their major points. It's kind of like watching the Prime Minister's question time but more in the form of a celebrity roast if it were all part of a Parks and Rec episode.

They're fun but mostly harmless.  I've been going to these for a few years now and so far I've only seen one arrest.  It's also never been entirely clear what effect these events actually have on the budgeting priorities, if any.  For the sake of optics, they do get credit in recent years for at least holding the meetings before the mayor's budget proposal is published.

We do have a pretty good preview of the mayor's talking points in the form of his recently delivered State of the City address.  For example, the first meeting is in District A next Wednesday which means we can expect a lot of #FixMyStreets people to show up. So get ready to hear Mitch recite this bit over and over.
We’ve done more street work in the last six years than has ever been done in that time frame - 267 street projects completed, 122 miles of streets have been paved, and over 270,000 potholes have been filled.

And because of our hard work with FEMA, there is more to come, so brace yourselves.

After literally hundreds of meetings and conference calls, we have negotiated a historic, $2 billion lump sum settlement with FEMA for interior streets. For years to come, this funding will pay for continuous and robust work on water and sewer lines and street repairs.

So that means more construction. And I am sorry for the inconvenience, but it is the price we have to pay for the progress we demand.
Anyway, mark your calendars now.  Just don't show up anywhere on "Wednesday, July 7" unless you're caught in one of those space-time sinkholes that have been showing up all over town since Louisiana discovered gravity waves.

Update: FixMyStreets is already grumbling that they haven't been taken seriously enough.  Should be fun next week.

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