Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nagin delivers first state of the city address since Katrina

America’s most incompetent politician had yet another moment in the spotlight yesterday. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin delivered his first state of the city speech since hurricane Katrina, and what a speech it was!

Much of it was typical political banter. He talked about repairing roads, boasted about the cleanliness of the French Quarter, and hailed the hardy bounce-back of New Orleans’ tourism industry. But it was interesting how he addressed the astronomical crime-rate. He made some comments about graduating officers from the police academy and installing some cameras, but here is his view on the record number of homicides occurring in his blessed city. He referred to spikes in the body count as “blips” and said that “we had one this weekend”. For the record, there were 161 murders in New Orleans in 2006 (in a city with a population of roughly 200,000), and the city is currently the most violent in America. The Mayor’s response to this is “we had one this weekend”. Thanks for that insight, Ray.

But the highlight of the speech was his blistering criticism of state and federal gov’t, namely Bush and Louisiana Governor Blanco, for not delivering enough money to the city’s recovery. He did what Ray Nagin does best, point the finger and blame.

"It's not our fault that the levees breached that the federal government built," he said, launching into the speech's singular moment of unscripted oratory and rousing the night's only standing ovation. "It's not our fault that we were stranded and left. It's not our fault that the Road Home program has issued only 12 percent of the grants after almost two years. It's not our fault that our water system is leaking today. It's not our fault."

So the good Mayor likes to say it’s not our fault. It’s everybody else’s fault, but not his. It would seem that the city officials have absolutely no blame when it comes to the failures that occurred before, during and after the hurricane. Nagin seems to believe that his office is completely blameless, but Governor Blanco and President Bush are instead the great villains of this disaster.

It’s impressive to me how a man is capable of coordinating the return of voters from 44 states to help in his re-election bid, while also coordinating their bus ride back out of town once those votes are cast, yet he is unable to coordinate the allocation of over 100 billion federal dollars that have been given to rebuild his city. That’s billion with a “B”. That’s a lot of money. What more does the mayor want? The money has been earmarked for his city, the US taxpayers have picked up the bill. Yet, he wants to gripe because we weren’t fast enough in giving him his 100 billion dollars. He’s mad because it hasn’t been delivered. Yet, he wants us to believe that he has no responsibility in the matter. A simple thank you would suffice, Mayor. We gave you a lot of money, it’s your job to make sure your constituents get that money.

I suspect that many people, his own citizens included, are beginning to get a little weary of hearing Nagin’s “blame everyone else” attitude, and after reading these responses from the good people of New Orleans, that suspicion appears to be correct. Go to this link and see what the people have to say. Their words speak volumes.


Sandy said...

Nagin didn't coordinate the return of voters. The state did that in an unprecendated effort to assure displaced voters their right to vote.

If the levees were locally controlled, and the flooding were the fault of the locals, your blog would be all about how we brought this upon ourselves.

If the Army Corps had built the flood protection as Congress had authorized, the people of New Orleans would be fine and Mike Brown would still be head of FEMA.

Sandy Rosenthal
Founder, Levees.Org
New Orleans

Anonymous said...

"astronomical crime rate"

It's important to remember that the crime has REMAINED astronomical in New Orleans even after a huge chunk of the population relocated to Houston and other places.

Some thought that the criminal element in New Orleans had relocated and that was the reason for the crime increase in Houston. Therefore, crime in New Orleans would drop, right? Wrong. --Deano

John Washburn said...

Sandy, no one in their right mind would ever defend the levees, and I recognize that many mistakes were made. You seem to take issue with the fact that I take issue with Nagin, and I don't get how anyone in that city can still stick by him.

The Katrina disaster required a number of errors from all levels of government, even spanning several decades and numerous Presidential, Gubernatorial and Congressional terms. I don't get how it somehow keeps getting pegged on Bush and Blanco, while Nagin is allowed to keep his hands clean of it. I don't get how the voters of New Orleans allow that. Does he really believe that city officials have no blame in the matter?

The point in the post is to say that there is PLENTY of blame to go around to A LOT of people, Democrat, Republican and in between. And picking out one or two makes you look petty, partisan and cheap, and it makes the people of New Orleans look whiny - which I hate because I have family there, family that lost their homes, and I know New Orleanians are not whiny, but their leadership certainly is.

But thank you for your comments