Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ed Blakely, You're in Trouble

Ed Blakely is the man in charge of the recovery of the city. Mayor Nagin says so.

Last year, Mr. Blakely helped to unveil the city's target zone recovery plan. That plan proposed a series of modest investments to target areas that would help spark free market revival in those areas.

The plan called for some realistic infrastructure improvements but largely relies on tax incentives to entice private developers and entrepreneurs to do provide the observable difference.

Here is how Adam Nossiter of the New York Times covered the unveiling of the plan last year:

This latest concept, with its narrow geographical focus and limited budget, struck some planners as more realistic.

“It’s promising to see somebody who is giving us a program that’s based on a realistic assessment of potential resources,” said Janet Howard, president of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit public-policy organization here.

The promise was that Mr. Blakely's plan was attainable and realistic. Though Mr. Blakely's "cranes on the skyline" promise has come back to haunt him because there isn't one single crane on the skyline, that comment doesn't really bother me.

The outrage is that he has been unable to deliver on his modest, attainable, realistic proposal.

I don't think anyone ever expected "cranes on the skyline." I think that's why that quote has been so abused. It's because it was immediately seen as ridiculous and silly. I can't think of anyone that read that promise and started jumping for joy that the city twas to be saved. I think people laughed because they knew it wouldn't happen.

There are some things that should have happened. We didn't even get the fresh roads. The tax incentive programs aren't even in place. Why not?

We are one year later and Adam Nossiter has written an anniversary piece that largely characterizes Mr. Blakely's plan having shown little signs of being implemented.

Mr. Blakely conceded that progress so far was “still light stuff. I think people were expecting they’d wake up one morning and it would be nirvana. But little things are happening, cleanups, fixups, and so on.”

That's so wrong, Mr. Blakely. This town has only the lowest of expectations. Our officials go to jail with regularity. This city has been experiencing an economic downturn for decades. We don't expect any kind of Nirvana. That is insane.

Blakely does preface that comment by admitting that his plan has made little progress.

Nossiter points out that Mr. Blakely is the driving force of the recovery process. He directly controls eight agencies and a staff of over 200 people. Why has there been, as Blakely admits, "only light stuff," why has there been so little progress?

There have been some uniquely New Orleans hang-ups as well, said the recovery director; “lot of tensions in the staff,” revolving around race. “Black people have a hard time taking instruction from white people,” said Mr. Blakely, who is black. There is resentment “if a white person asks them to do something. It’s really bad. I’ve never encountered anything like this.”

Um, Mr. Blakely....

That's YOUR staff.

(Which means that you, as Director of the Office of Recovery Management, give the orders.)

(Pst. Um, aren't you an African American?)

And it's almost funny that you would say something like that less than a week after you helped unveil a proposal that would set a deadline for people to move out of their FEMA trailers with Stacy Head, who said trailer residents were making a "lifestyle choice."

What do you think that policy, which disproportionately hurts African Americans pushed to rent trailers as a result of the affordable housing crisis, will do to alleviate the "really bad" racial tensions amidst YOUR staff?

And it's actually funny that you would say what you said to the New York Times the same week that this video came online. In the video, a preview for larger piece, local business owners show off what they've done to aid our recovery. They, with citizens and advocates decry the recovery process that you head for providing tax incentives for big box retailers that threaten the very local business fabric that helps to make New Orleans unique. Then the video features you, Mr. Blakely, riding a bicycle. You say this:

"...the pressure from the ordinary citizens [is] 'bring more Walmarts, bring more Lowes, bring more Home Depots'. uh and you say, 'well that's going to put these, you know, little guys out of business."

Well you obviously weren't too concerned with putting the little guys out of business because you've given the incentives to the big box retailers.

And which ordinary citizens are clamoring for more Walmarts and Lowes and Home Depots?

Was one of the ordinary citizens demanding Home Depots your boss, Mayor Nagin?

So let me clear some things up for you Mr. Blakely.

1. We hate big box retailers and we don't want any more of them. Don't ever say that we do again.

2. We have had only the lowest expectations of you and your office. That is so we don't get our feelings hurt when you fall short of your own goals.

3. The racial tensions on your staff are your responsibility. Don't blame New Orleans for the problems you've allowed to fester in your own office amongst your own staff.

Seriously, Mr. Blakely, What is it ya do here?

And lastly, I think there's a reason that Mr. Blakely felt so comfortable divulging the racial tensions occurring on his own staff to the New York Times' Adam Nossiter. I'll just refer you to this discussion forum and leave it at that.

The takes of




are awesome and deserve your attention.

And Jeffrey lays it out in detail. Mr. Blakely has wasted our time.


oyster said...

This post is awesome and deserves everyone's attention.

E said...

aw shucks. shutup oyster. everyone knows you 'bout to be in washington dc all up on the tv with your new punditocracy friends.

Leigh C. said...

Ditto from moi on the shellfish's comments. Must add this link, dude...even if you DID dis the Mets. ;-) said...

Ed Blakely is a member of that original group at the Presidio Trust who have set out to capitalize from the successful development of Presidio National Park, by falsely claiming credit for the success and concealing possible criminal activity. Search "Sean Walsh, Chloe Murphy, Conor O'Sullivan, Sarah Kelly, Emma Byrne, George Brown, Presidio," in a search engine such as Google, for further information. Also here

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