Monday, May 19, 2008

We Could Be Famous' "We Can" Weekend Roundup

There were a lot of stories that piqued my interest over the weekend.
There were some absolute nuggets of wisdom that I just have to briefly lasso together:

The Saturday T-P had a number of interesting articles.

1. The weekly New Orleans politics segment routinely makes my Saturday. I've canceled my TP subscription for a lot of different reasons but I still buy the Saturday paper, mostly just for this article. This weekend's piece elaborated on the Mayor's absolutely hilarious wisecrack about kicking all of the homeless people out of town.

"I'm not suggesting that they were dumped here, but we have a lot of people from a lot of different places around the country, and you may be helping one of your citizens," the mayor said.

"Maybe we can even find some bus tickets. We'll see," Nagin said, drawing uneasy laughter from parts of a crowded ballroom at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. "One way."

Since I've never given my thoughts on those comments, I'll just say that the reason they are offensive is because Mayor Nagin has, at times, been openly hostile to concrete solutions for combating chronic homelessness. They are offensive because Nagin has routinely deflected the homelessness issue by blaming to "outsiders" when he himself continues to support policies that exacerbate rather than alleviate the affordable housing crisis. To contextualize the quote, Mayor Nagin was just kidding, his substantive answer to the question on helping the homeless was to donate to Unity or the Mission. This doesn't help matters much because the Mayor has generally been hostile to Unity's proven approach. As you'll recall, the Mayor's solution earlier this year was to round up the homeless into a giant barracks at the New Orleans Mission. This policy was seen as so reactive that the Bush administration sent an official to try to convince the Mayor to reconsider a more humane approach.

2. There was a second pearl from Nagin in that same TP article:

At other points, Nagin displayed his lighter side, responding to a question about whether local leaders trust the science of polling.

Referring to a recent poll by researcher Verne Kennedy showing that nearly one in four New Orleans voters think the city is "moving in the right direction," Nagin said he has faith in such positive results.

"We like these polls that say 23 percent of people think the city is headed in the right direction," he said. "Y'all keep these coming. We'll pay good money for them."

While I can believe that local poll numbers might be unreliable, I'm afraid that the percentage of people that think the city is headed in the right direction may be lower. If there's one measure of the city's recovery that is more important than any other, it is the one that represents how the residents of New Orleans themselves feel about the direction of their city. If New Orleans residents do not feel as if the city is heading in the right direction than the city is not heading in the right direction - period. This cavalier attitude toward his own unpopularity reminds me of that of another totally unaccountable and unapologetic golden god:

New Orleans residents don't think their needs are being met? So?

It is the job of historians to evaluate what a tragedy your Mayoral administration has been.

3. Also from the TP: Recovery School District behind in its bills

State Superintendent Paul Pastorek estimated that the district is delinquent in paying 10 to 20 vendors. The district did pay out more than $30 million to vendors during the past 60 days, he said, paying off every vendor who was owed $20,000 or less in full.

Yet as the school year draws to a close, officials say finances still remain one of the thorniest problems facing district Superintendent Paul Vallas and his team.

"I don't think anybody, including me, anticipated the difficulties of not having a cash reserve account," Pastorek said.

Well done Paul and Paul. Want to know who anticipated the difficulties?

The Times Picayune did. From the same article:

Recovery District officials have not responded to repeated inquiries over the last month as to which vendors have outstanding, overdue bills.
The district did not respond to a specific question asking what their 10 largest overdue bills are. It also did not respond to an April open-records request for copies of all invoices marked overdue.

So in other words, it was such a surprise that you spent weeks stalling out public records requests beyond the legally permissible three day wait?

No kidding. Know who else thought the RSD might run into some "surprise" budget issues?

Know who else gets routinely stonewalled by the RSD legal team on public records requests?

He has a blog.

4. Sad.

Over the weekend, our fearless President went to Saudi Arabia to plead with King Abdullah to make more oil. President Bush reads the internets and has heard that gas prices are too high so he went over to ride horses with the King and beg him to help US consumers buy more consumer electronics by reducing oil prices. King Abdullah said no.

Earlier in the week, Saida Mohammed Afrah left her children for two hours to scavenge for food and water. When she returned, her two babies had starved to death. High gas prices contributing to high food prices have exacerbated the effects of a drought in East Africa. Famine is upon Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan. It approaches Kenya.

Our President's crawling on his knees routine with the Saudis is an embarrassment on so many levels. While it was very nice of the man to go to bat to Americans under legitimate pressure from high gas prices, it is so insulting to go begging the Saudis for help as US oil corporations reap windfall profits as a direct result of the high prices that are literally killing people in Africa.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Dear King Abdullah: Either fork over the oil, or we're turing the keys to Iraq over to Iran.

Bush has been the Saudi's bitch ever since he started getting bailed out of his business mistakes by them over the years.

Is no one else galled that our President has been in the pay of the people who attacked us on 9-11 for most of his adult life?