September 29, 2007

The Projects

HUD says HANO can demolish four housing developments in New Orleans:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees HANO, announced that it had approved the application for demolition of 4,500 units of the aging brick buildings that have housed the city's poor for more than a half century.

Within two to three months, wrecking crews will descend upon the so-called "Big Four" developments: C.J. Peete in Central City, St. Bernard in the 7th Ward, B.W. Cooper off Earhart Boulevard, and Lafitte, which borders Treme.
Mixed-income housing, along the lines of River Garden, will replace the four housing developments. As HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said in November 2005, “We are not going to build traditional public housing anymore.”

In New Orleans, when you tear down a building, you are never just tearing down a building. Let’s see exactly how we built “traditional public housing” in New Orleans.

Lafitte Housing Development
, built in 1941:

B.W. Cooper Housing Development, first phase (red) built in 1941, second phase (pink) in 1954:

C.J. Peete Housing Development, first phase (red) built in 1941, second phase (demolished in 2004) in 1955:

St. Bernard Housing Development, first phase (red) built in 1942, second phase (pink) built in 1943:

Iberville Housing Development, built in 1941, but not set for demolition:

Notice the layout of the first phases of the housing developments built in the 40s. The New York Times noticed in November 2006:
Built at the height of the New Deal, the city’s public housing projects have little in common with the dehumanizing superblocks and grim plazas that have long been an emblem of urban poverty. Modestly scaled, they include some of the best public housing built in the United States.


But if the sight of workers dynamiting an abandoned housing complex was a cause for celebration in Chicago’s North Side, the notion is stupefying in New Orleans, whose public housing embodies many of those same New Urbanist ideals: pedestrian friendly environments whose pitched roofs, shallow porches and wrought iron rails have as much to do with 19th-century historical precedents as with late Modernism.

More specifically, they were inspired by local developments such as the 1850s Pontalba Apartments and late-19th “Garden City” proposals, whose winding tree-lined streets and open green spaces were seen as an antidote to the filth and congestion of the industrial city.

The low red-brick housing blocks of the Lafitte Avenue project, in the historically black neighborhood of Treme, for example, are scaled to fit within the surrounding neighborhood of Creole cottages and shotgun houses. To lessen the sense of isolation, the architects extended the surrounding street grid through the site with a mix of roadways and pedestrian paths. As you move deeper into the complex, the buildings frame a series of communal courtyards sheltered by the canopies of enormous oak trees. Nature, here, was intended to foster spiritual as well as physical well being.

That care was reflected in the quality of construction as well. Solidly built, the buildings’ detailed brickwork, tile roofs and wrought-iron balustrades represent a level of craft more likely found on an Ivy League campus than in a contemporary public housing complex.

They would be almost impossible to reproduce in the kind of bottom-line developments that have become the norm.
The second phases, and the housing developments constructed after the 40s, do not embody those New Urbanist ideals quite as much in their layouts. Wanting to change that, HUD and HANO demolished some public housing and rebuilt it based on some of those ideals.

St. Thomas Housing Development, now River Garden:

The St. Thomas, built in 1941, was a contemporary development with the first phases of the four set for demolition. I can not find a map of the original development online. I assume its layout was similar to its contemporary developments. If so, the new River Garden as a housing development looks less appealing from above than the courtyards and walkways of the 1940s developments.

Desire Housing Development, now the New Desire; the Google map is old but you can see the layout of the new development:

Fischer Housing Development, the old high rise was demolished for the new Fischer homes (yellow) and the old Fischer low-rise complex (blue) is still there – once again, the Google map is old but you can see the layout:

Guste Housing Development, the new Guste homes (yellow) and old complex (blue), including the high rise – once again, old pics:

Why do I point this out? In another article written in February 2007, the NY Times explains:
The housing agencies’ tabula rasa planning mentality recalls the worst aspects of the postwar Modernist agenda, which substituted a suburban model of homogeneity for an urban one of diversity. The proposal for “traditional-style” pastel houses, set in neat little rows on uniform lots, is a model of conformity that attacks the idea of the city as a place where competing values coexist.

This is reinforced by the plan’s tendency to isolate the new housing from the rest of the city. Often arranged along dead-end cul-de-sacs, the proposed developments lack the mix of big and small buildings, residential apartments and retail shops that could weave them into the surrounding urban fabric.

The point is not to return people to the same housing conditions that existed before Hurricane Katrina, but to distinguish between failures of social policy and design policy. Architects can’t determine the economic mix of residents in public housing developments nor provide education and health services. Their job is to give physical form to social and cultural values.
New buildings alone will not accomplish the mixed-income housing that HUD desires. And new buildings aren't automatically better than the old ones.

If anything, the sturdy period construction of the older projects are the neighborhoods’ biggest asset. Like the old warehouses that attracted residents to the Warehouse District, so, too, could the older and better-planned projects, once renovated and modernized, possibly attract new residents and certainly could adequately house former residents.

If HUD wants to tear down anything, it could focus on the blighted housing scattered throughout the city. A lot of that existed before the storm. HUD could demolish those buildings and put up as many pastel-colored houses as it wants, at the same time contributing to the recovery of various neighborhoods by removing rundown property and replacing it with new development.

"Traditional public housing" in New Orleans is worth saving. A different issue is how public housing is traditionally managed in New Orleans. That is what needs to be changed.

[ADDED] Clay in the comments offers up this related link.

September 25, 2007

On Deuce

The man hustled off the field last night with a torn ACL. I saw footage of his first ACL tear on the news today. He hustled off the field then, too.

With Deuce gone, the Saints are down more than just their best player.

The Librarian on Deuce’s replacement:
This inevitably means that we'll be watching Saints corporate spokesmodel Reggie Bush attempt to carry more of the rushing load. Last night, Bush carried 7 times for 15 yards and dropped a pass in the endzone.
Via Humid Haney, what Deuce’s replacement thinks the Saints need to do to make the playoffs:
Bush already has that answer.

"We can either go left or right," he said. "We have to make a choice."
Tellingly, Deuce’s replacement left out “straight” as one of the team’s options, as in straight down the field where the endzone is located.

Run straight, Reggie. Like Deuce.

September 24, 2007

Maybe I need to Give K-Ville Another Chance

Add some machine guns, and this sounds like a plot element:
New Orleans police were chasing two men about 3 p.m. when the men jumped into the waterway at the Interstate 510 (Paris Road) bridge, said Sabrina Richardson, a public information officer for police.

Police took one man into custody. But the other man was not seen again, and police and the Coast Guard launched a search, including a Coast Guard helicopter.
I won't have a final opinion on K-Ville until the character of the Mayor is introduced. Then I will know if I can watch it again.

In Our Own Small Way...

Rising Tide II and a few bloggers contributed to the first line in this NY Times article:
The schools here have fresh paint, the bathroom stalls have doors, the library at the largest high school has books again and the angry demonstrations that met last school year’s chaotic opening have not been repeated.
We may not have painted the entire school, but the trim on the third floor halls of A.P. Tureaud is pretty shades of blue because a few of you showed up.

Showing up is half the battle. (According to GI Joe, knowing is the other half. I would say showing up is the tougher half.)

ADDED: Front page, no less.

September 22, 2007

Nagin Annouces Future Location of Storm Shelters

Just outside Dallas, TX:
Records show the mayor bought a 1,700-square-foot townhouse in Frisco, about 25 miles north of Dallas. Sales prices are not public records in Texas, but the developer's Web site shows that models like the one purchased by Nagin start at just less than $200,000. The Nagins took out a mortgage for $157,490, records show.

Nagin declined Friday to comment on the purchase, calling it a "personal investment."

Last year, Nagin acknowledged that he was investigating a piece of real estate in the Dallas area, where his wife has relatives.

"If I buy it, it will be like a second hurricane home," he said then, calling the property "a little two-bedroom townhome that's very modest."
(actual announcement here)

September 21, 2007

When We Go Marching In

Tens of thousands of people marched in Jena Thursday to shine a light on the injustice done to six young men excessively charged, some charged with murder, for beating up a fellow student. Living in an environment that allowed a white-only tree, that called hanging nooses in that tree a prank, that allowed the DA to intimidate students and discourage them from speaking out about those nooses and that tree, that allowed white students to batter and threaten black students – possibly with a weapon – and not be similarly charged, the Jena Six deserved the attention of the marchers.

Countrymen and women, meet another group that deserves your attention. Meet the NOLA 148 and growing:
Corey Hayes, Cedric Johnson, Hilary Campbell Jr., Randall Thomas, Kevin Williams, Helen Hill, Jealina Brown, Steve Blair, Jeffery Santos, Chivas Doyle, Christopher Ruth, Tyrone Andrew Johnson, Ronald Holmes, James McGittigan Jr., Roy Warner Jr., Eldon Gaddis, David Crater, Daniel Allen, Chrishondolaye Lamothe, Tamara Gabriel, Robert Dawson, Michael Dunbar, Damon Brooks, Ivan Brooks, Alden Wright, Harrison Miller, Roy Grant, David Cagnalatti, Lionel Ware III, Aaron Allen, Josh Rodrigue, Herbert Preston, Byron Love, Ronnie Keelen, Mitchell Pierce, Kevin Pham, Kevana Price, Warren Thompson, Glynn Francois Jr., Sean Robinson, Larry Ramee III, Warren Simpson, Antoine Williams, Terry Despenza, Eldridge Ellis, Travis Johnson, Phillip R. Boykins, Charley Zeno, Carl Anthony McLendon, Terry Brock, Cleveland Daniels, Alexander Williams, Terry Hall, Dominic Bell, Gregory Singleton, Damont Jenkins, Troy Thomas, Artherine Williams, Keith Moore, Nicholas Smith, Eligio Bismark Espinoza, Daniel L. Prieto, Curtis Helms Jr., Troy Dent, Curtis Brenson, Michael Combs, Jay Landers, Mark Oneal, Corey Coleman, Emanuel Gardner, Edward Charles Balser, Arthur Dowell, Montrell Faulkin, Anthony Placide, Ernest Williams, Harry Heinzt Jr., Robert Billiot, Willie Simmons, Tammie Johnson, Larry Hawkins, Terrell Ceazer, George Hammond, Persale R. Green, Joseph Magee, Albert Phillips, Samuel Gonzales, Darryl Williams, Robin Malta, Jason Wynne, Jerrell Jackson, Christopher Roberts, Samuel Williams Jr., Jeremy Tillman, Jennifer Williams, Gary Walls, Arthur Jackson IV, Henry Newman, Johnny Martin III, Travan Coates, Jeffery Tate, Jerome Banks, Eric Fobbs, Keith Page, Adrian Davis, Paul Burks, Leon Williams Jr., Dallas Jerome, James Johnson, Anthony White, Dellshea LeBlanc, John W. Barrow III, Kevin Underwood, Pablo Mejia Jr., unidentified man, Thomas Jackson, unidentified man, Demond Phillips, Michael Phillips, Luong Nguyen, Anjelique Vu, Terry Johnson, Chauncy Smith, Cornelius Curry, Nia Robertson, Kadeem Wise, Percy Read, Freddie Davis II, Edwin Stuart, Corwin Shaffer, Julio Benitez-Cruz, Wilford Holmes, Perry L. Oliver, Donald Gullage, Kong Kham Vongvilay, Wisan Inthamat, Boon Roopmoh, Louis Heim, Brandon Snowton, Carnell Wallis, Thomas Dominick, Larry Gooden, Gerald Howard, Larry Butler Jr., Phillip A. Carmouche Jr., unidentified man, Aaron Harvey, Mario Anthony Green, unidentified man…
All of these people died a violent death in New Orleans this year. I count 148. The Times-Picayune says at least 150 people have been murdered.

I wanted to make the point that this, too, is an injustice. And that it disproportionately affects the African-American community.

But I couldn’t find the numbers to back that up, even though I am confident that by far the majority of those murdered in New Orleans are African-American, based on where the murders happen and my personal experience as a news photographer and seeing the murdered human beings myself. I get my information for this blog from media accounts, and the media does not think it is politically correct to reveal the race of the victim. Obviously, I disagree with this because I think race is part of the story.

The NOPD started off the year including the race of the victim in their press releases. But they stopped. It went from "This morning, members of the New Orleans Police Department are investigating the murder of a local 40-year-old African-American male" to "This morning, members of the New Orleans Police Department are investigating the shooting death of a 33-year-old local male."

I do know, of the NOLA 148, 140 were killed by a gun or guns. 135 were men. 97 were 30 years old or younger. 33 of those were 20 years old or younger.

148 murders 264 days into the year – a murder every 1.7 days, or basically a murder every other day. At that rate, we will end the year with 204 murders. If nothing changes, 56 more human beings will die a violent death on the streets of New Orleans. In a city with a population of 300,000, that comes to a murder rate of 68 murders per 100,000 residents.

That’s too many. It’s too much.

It’s worthy of a march.

Bring down your buses. Bring down your people. Bring down your t-shirts, your celebrities, your bottle water. Bring down your feet and wear comfortable shoes.

And join the people in the 9th Ward, the 7th Ward and Mid-City. Join the people in Gentilly, the East, and Hollygrove. Join the people Uptown, Downtown, and all around town.

From Central City to Carrollton, let us march on City Hall. From the French Quarter to the Bywater, let us march on Tulane and Broad. From the Marigny to Lakeview, let us march where we need to be seen, be heard, and be felt.

Maybe the Mayor will show up for this march, too.

This isn’t a city of 3,000. We are 300,000 strong. We are black. We are white. We speak English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and every other language you would expect to hear at a port. Including pirate.

If Jesse and Al come down with their crew, they might be surprised to see more of us here than them.

Even the Saints can come. Heck, let’s do it Monday night before the game. Monday Night Foot-All live from New Orleans. Are you ready for some marching?

Are you?

Shake Me at My Core

Today is the next day. The day after you marched. How do you feel? Do you still feel it?

Can you tell me about it? I wasn’t there.

I am reading the media accounts. I am reading a lot about how people were anticipating something great. Something big. Something was about to happen.

Did it happen? Tell me about it.

Because what I am hearing is not shaking me at my core. Why did you march? What was the quality of your intent? The intent determines the results. What results did you hope to achieve?

Why did you march?

I wasn’t there. Should I have been? Why?

Why did you march?

I have heard a few reasons that make me wonder:
"This is our time to get on the bus."
"To some extent, what you can expect to see is a rebirth of the civil rights movement," said Ki-Afi Moyo, organizer of Dallas-based Internet community "Tx Supports Jena Six," which filled 20 chartered buses for the trip to Louisiana. "The grassroots response to this has been phenomenal.”
The Rev Sharpton, who arrived at Jena's courthouse with members of the defendants' families, said it was "the beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement", one that would challenge imbalances in the US justice system.
"Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment."
Tina Cheatham missed the civil rights marches at Selma, Montgomery and Little Rock, but she had no intention of missing another brush with history. The 24-year-old Georgia Southern University graduate drove all night to reach tiny Jena in central Louisiana.

"It was a good chance to be part of something historic since I wasn't around for the civil rights movement. This is kind of the 21st century version of it," she said.
"I want my children to be part of history," said A.J. Walker, 33, a black police officer from Houston who took photographs of her two sons and daughter outside the high school. "I want to show them they have to stand for something."
“This morning I was crying … when we drove into Jena,” said Nadonya Muslim, 40, of Detroit. “I was thinking, we’re a part of history.
Why did *you* march?

Was to be part of history? Or was it to make history?

Did you march because you had to be there? Did you march because if this was beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement, then you couldn’t miss it?

Or did you march to *make it* the beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement?

Did you march so you can tell your grandchildren, “I was there?” Did you take a picture to prove you were there? Did it matter where “there” was?

I wasn’t there. That’s why I ask.

Did you have fun? Is that why you went? Was it hard? Was it easy?

Why aren’t you marching today?

Marching is a good thing. I wish I had marched. I didn’t.

If it seems like I am questioning why tens of thousands of people marched in Jena yesterday, I am. I am questioning them and challenging them to tell me why they marched. I want them speak and shake me at my core. I want the impact of their words to be shattering.

Tens of thousands of people at one march makes one impact on one day. Tens of thousands of people speaking tens of thousands of words in the tens of thousands of places, wherever they may be, makes tens of thousands of impacts.

Make that impact shattering.
Today I want to tell the city of Selma, (Tell them, Doctor) today I want to say to the state of Alabama, (Yes, sir) today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir)

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. (Yes, sir) The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) Like an idea whose time has come, (Yes, sir) not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. (Yes, sir) We are moving to the land of freedom. (Yes, sir)

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march (Uh huh) to the realization of the American dream. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated housing (Yes, sir) until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and Negroes and whites live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated schools (Let us march, Tell it) until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and Negroes and whites study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.

Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. (Yes, sir) March on poverty (Let us march) until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns (Yes, sir) in search of jobs that do not exist. (Yes, sir) Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, (That's right) and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded.

Let us march on ballot boxes, (Let's march) march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yes, sir) will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. (Speak, Doctor)

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until the Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until we send to our city councils (Yes, sir), state legislatures, (Yes, sir) and the United States Congress, (Yes, sir) men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and
walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march. March) until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Yes) until all over Alabama God's children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor.

There is nothing wrong with marching in this sense.


I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" (Speak, sir) Somebody's asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?" Somebody's asking, "When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?" Somebody's asking, "When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against
the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?" (Yes, sir)

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because "truth crushed to earth will rise again." (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because "no lie can live forever." (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because "you shall reap what you sow." (Yes, sir)

How long? (How long?) Not long: (Not long)

Truth forever on the scaffold, (Speak)

Wrong forever on the throne, (Yes, sir)

Yet that scaffold sways the future, (Yes, sir)

And, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow,

Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (Not long) because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; (Yes, sir)

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; (Yes)

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; (Yes, sir)

His truth is marching on. (Yes, sir)

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; (Speak, sir)

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. (That's right)

O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!

Our God is marching on. (Yeah)

Glory, hallelujah! (Yes, sir) Glory, hallelujah! (All right)

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on. [Applause]
Not long now.

I have to think that, of all the signs that may have been present at Selma is 1965, none of them were like this one at Jena in 2007:
Why did you march?

September 19, 2007

Allow Someone Else to Whine

I did the whining in this previous post.

Let an independent research group whine this time:
In February 2006, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration estimated Louisiana had 204,737 housing units with major and severe damage. This week's GulfGov report finds that Louisiana had 67 percent of the damaged units that are now eligible for CDBG money, but the state got only 62 percent of the block grant money.

By contrast, Mississippi's 61,386 housing units with major and severe damage represented 20 percent of FEMA and SBA estimates of storm damage -- but that state got a full third of the federal CDBG aid.


In all, 305,109 housing units suffered major and severe damage in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. If the Florida damage, mostly caused by Hurricane Wilma, is taken out of the equation, Louisiana's share of the damage jumps to 73 percent, but its share of the money increases only one percentage point, to 63 percent.

The picture becomes even more lopsided when severe damage -- units that are considered destroyed -- is given more weight. Counting the Wilma figures, Louisiana had 85 percent of all the destroyed units and Mississippi had just 12 percent.
And Louisiana had to lobby hard to get the second appropriation of CDBGs which added $4.2 billion to Louisiana’s total. And it is still not enough to fully fund our home assistance program.

This related quote by Donald Powell is interesting:
"Tell me exactly what you need, and I'm happy to sit down and listen, but the evidence has to be based upon the need, not a comparison," Powell said last month in reaction to complaints from Louisiana officials about the distribution of aid.
The need is there, and the comparison is evidence of an injustice. Either Mississippi got more than it needed, or Louisiana still needs more.

I don’t think Mississippi got more than it needed.

Creoles: Not Like Unicorns

And there will be plenty of them in one place this weekend, in case anyone still thinks they don't exist.

September 18, 2007

Allow Me to Whine

…about Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour:
During a recent meeting with the Sun Herald, Barbour went off on what he called the "whining" in Louisiana that Mississippi got too large a share.

"One of the things they used was that the number of schools in Mississippi that were still closed by December in 2005 compared to the number of schools that were closed in Louisiana was just a tiny fraction," Barbour said. "Of course it was, because we had all our schools back open. We worked our tails off. We had all our schools back open before New Orleans had one back open."

And though Mississippi schools were open, children were, and are, attending in temporary trailers used as classrooms because their schools were destroyed.

"So what's the idea? Are they supposed to punish us for getting our schools back open quickly? That's their mentality: 'Somebody do this for me,'" Barbour said. "Down here, people said, 'We're going to do this for ourselves, and we hope you'll help us,' and that's what happened."

But, Barbour said, he doesn't bear any ill will toward New Orleanians.

"New Orleans was a very important part of many people in Mississippi's lives," Barbour said, noting he "went to New Orleans seven times" during one semester of college which, "is probably why my grades weren't what they should have been."
I missed this. It was published two weeks ago. I can’t believe that two years after the storm, someone can say these things. On the anniversary, no less.

First – and I know Gov. Barbour is aware of this – Katrina’s destruction along the Mississippi coast was different from the destruction wrought in the New Orleans area. After the storm, Mississippi was faced with a recovery mission. The New Orleans area was faced with a recovery along with a repopulation mission. Due to the nature of the damage along the coast, Mississippians were able to return to their communities comparatively faster than New Orleans area residents. Mississippians were able to get their schools up and running faster because Mississippians were *there* to get their schools up and running.

I do not doubt that the good people of Mississippi “worked their tails off” to get their schools rebuilt. How blessed they were that their tails were there to be worked off.

Second, as far as the “We're going to do this for ourselves” attitude, bravo! But that’s real easy to say when your recovery plan is fully funded from the beginning. I commented on this last January:
For perspective, consider that in January 2006, one year ago, the first round of Community Development Block Grants was given out.

Mississippi received $5,058,185,000.

Louisiana received $6,210,000,000.

Mississippi got 86.8% more in that first round of CDBGs than it has paid out more than halfway through their housing plan. If we had paid out at the same rate at Mississippi’s lower average payment, we would have used up over half (61%) of our first allocation. In fact, assuming our average calculated payment remains consistent at $82,581, we will completely use up that first allocation about three quarters of the way through our total applications.

What is my point? Though Mississippi and Louisiana are using similar grant programs, their progress can not be similarly compared. Louisiana’s destruction was greater in scale and complexity and was grossly under-funded at the offset.
My point remains valid today. As of September 13, 2007, Mississippi has given out $1.1 billion in 13,837 home assistance grants, which represents 87 percent of its eligible households. That comes to about $79,500 per household. At that rate, Mississippi will need $1.26 billion to *fully fund* its home assistance program.

Mississippi received almost four times that much in January 2006. Let me repeat: Mississippi received almost four times more money than it needed to fully fund its home assistance program. That meant the state could plan to use the other $4 billion or so for other recovery projects starting in January of 2006.

As of this month, September 2007, Louisiana is still fighting to fully fund its home assistance program. Our average benefit calculated is less than Mississippi’s at $68,000 per household. And we have far, far more recovery projects to consider other than home assistance, as well as repopulation concerns.

So, the governor of Mississippi tells us that we have a “somebody do this for me” mentality. DIY, indeed:
Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute for Government, notes the irony of any state being envious of Mississippi.

"For once in Mississippi's life, I think we were in the best position to take advantage of who we are and the people we know," Wiseman said. "It was how the stars were aligned - we had as our governor the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who has helped a number of powerful people in Washington. We had the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and a powerful former majority leader.

"For once, we were standing first in line. Gov. (Kathleen) Blanco was a Democrat coming before what was then (2005-'06) Republican-held (Congress) with a Republican president. She had to introduce herself at our family reunion."
Does this mean Mississippi had a “some politician do this for me” mentality?


"K-Ville" is bad. That's it.

September 17, 2007

We Forced the People of the United States to Build Our Levees

No, seriously. Don’t laugh. We did:
Government is not a business that is funded by entrepreneurs with the intent of making a profit by meeting the needs of consumers. It built the levees and maintained them with money taxed from the people. People who will never benefit from the levees and may never even see the levees were forced to pay for their construction and maintenance. The people had no choice whether to pay the tax bill or not. The people could not negotiate with the government to build the levees to a different standard, nor could they inspect the levees themselves and demand that they be better maintained.
Likewise, the citizens' decision to live in New Orleans was skewed by the fact that the levees were built by government and not by a private contractor. First of all, the citizens of New Orleans did not pay for the entire cost of the levees. The entire people of the United States kicked in tax money. This changed the decision-making process in a substantial way. Had the citizens of New Orleans been forced to build the levees with their own funds, it is questionable whether they would have been built.
Dammit. Stop laughing! We forced them to build the levees.

And, worst of all, the people who were forced to build them “may never even see the levees” and stand next to them and admire them and take a picture with them. They couldn’t even “inspect the levees themselves and demand that they be better maintained.”

I can think of nothing more un-American.

Seattle's Finest

Recruiting in New Orleans last week. They advertised on

Notice the Times-Picayune article on the page: “Two killed in separate Sunday shootings.

Seattle Police comes down Thursday and Friday trying to lure our police away. Saturday and Sunday three people are murdered, two people are shot downtown, and five people are stabbed on Bourbon Street.


Seattle is offering $47,334 a year for an officer. The NOPD offers $42,170.

Through May, there were nine murders in Seattle according to the SPD website. In the same time period, there were 78 murders in New Orleans. And, eight of the nine Seattle murders were “cleared” according to the SPD website.

Must be nice.

September 8, 2007

August’s Murders

I have been busy lately with a new job. Since I focus a lot on crime and murders with this blog, I can’t let August pass without comment.

August was the deadliest month in New Orleans this year with 26 murders.

What stands out looking at the map is the ten murders in New Orleans East, six of them in the Village de l’Est neighborhood, five on the same street. Of those, at least five were home invasions or robberies, possibly seven:
On Aug. 4, Pablo Mejia Jr., 29, was fatally shot while working at a house in the 5200 block of Sandhurst Drive. In that case, three gunmen approached the house and demanded money from Mejia and a co-worker.

Julio Benitez-Cruz, 42, of El Salvador, was killed on Aug. 22 inside a house in the 4800 block of Nighthart Street. Robbers invaded the home and shot Benitez-Cruz and two other men.

Seven people were shot -- three fatally -- in a robbery on Aug. 24 in the 4800 block of Savoie Court. On the same cul-de-sac two weeks before, a gunman fatally shot Anjelique Vu, 35, and Luong Nguyen, 38. Police have declined to say whether that double murder was a robbery attempt.
At one point in August, there were 25 murders in 25 days – 26 in 25 days if you count the August 24 victim who died in September, which I do.

There were those murders that some may have seen coming, and those that no one could have seen coming.

Three people shot, two died after a basketball game in Treme.

A 15-year-old shot on his porch. A 48-year-old shot in one of the home invasions.

Five people killed were under 20 years old.

I just want people to remember what our leaders were saying at the beginning of August:
MAYOR NAGIN: I know one murder is way too many. We are going to continue to try to bring this city to a zero point. But, just to give you an indication of the trends, this past July – which July historically has been our most violent month as relates to crime – this past July, we recorded 14 murders. Four of those murders were carryovers from somebody being shot in a previous month. Compare that to one year earlier, and there were 23 murders.

So, as you can see, we are starting to see some trends. And we’re not happy with it. But we’re starting to see some trends that suggest things that we put in place are starting to have some impact.
CHIEF RILEY: “And one thing that we have made some progress in, but we still certainly have a long way to go, is that you will see that our murder rate has dropped by 8.75%.”
At the beginning of August, they thought we were seeing some trends and making some progress.

I am running out of things to say. I keep writing the same thing about murders over and over again. There are just too many. Too many. Two more in September. 140 in 2007.

My brain fails me and my keyboard won’t write for me…