Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Hello, Texas Friends! Have You Read Your State’s Republican Party Platform?

…because it’s pretty depressing. I can’t imagine that Louisiana’s is much better, but at least our creepy, backwards-looking, misogynist, white supremacists have been quieter about it. (And lazier: they haven’t posted an update to their obnoxious 2008 platform.)

Anyway, here are some of the high low points. There’s a lot more here. Not recommended on an empty stomach. Or any stomach.

Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples”.

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Protection from Extreme Environmentalists – We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups that stymie legitimate business interests. We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.

Rights Versus Products ― We oppose calling welfare and other income and product redistribution schemes “rights” or “entitlements”. We know that fundamental human rights are inherent to individuals and are granted by God and are protected by the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. They are not products of others labor.Unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, property rights, free speech, religious freedom, self-defense, etc. do not impose on others rights whereas income and product redistribution invariably do so.

Supporting Motherhood ― We strongly support women who choose to devote their lives to their families and raising their children. We recognize their sacrifice and deplore the liberal assault on the family.

American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty – We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.

Party like it’s 1899, y’all.

Much Of America Still Hates Louisiana (And Our Congressional Delegation Isn’t Helping)

Many of us bitch and moan about the commenters on NOLA.com. To the site’s credit, it’s doing a better job of moderating these days, but it’s still pretty easy to find racist, homophobic, inflammatory remarks lurking below the fold. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to curtail her right to free speech — if you want to expose yourself as a bigoted asshat, that’s your prerogative — but for Pete’s sake, STAY ON TOPIC.

More troubling than the folks at NOLA.com, though, are the people who comment on New Orleans stories found elsewhere on the web. This piece on CNN.com about the marsh fires generated some fairly representative remarks. For example:

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WTF, Spongebob? Jazzland/Six Flags Needs Another Buyer

Two years ago — nearly two years ago to the day — a certain cueball-headed mayor of New Orleans announced that Jazzland/Six Flags was coming back. The theme park where so many of my friends had worked before the storm, performing to crowds of dozens (on a good day), has done nothing but gather mold since Hurricane Katrina swamped it. Which wasn’t hard to do, since the whole thing was built on a swamp anyway.

But I digress.

On August 19, 2009, Nagin stood for a photo op with Spongebob Squarepants and announced that Nickelodeon would be redeveloping Six Flags. But like a good souffle, the deal didn’t keep, and now the city is looking for a new partner to rescue the property.  If you’re the sort of person with a dream in your pocket and several million dollars in a Swiss bank account, you have until October 10 to submit your proposal.

My personal take? There are certain parts of New Orleans that are perfectly fine for habitation and others that should return to their natural state. There were some contentious discussions about which neighborhoods fit into those two categories after the storm, but I don’t think anyone would complain if Mitch Landrieu ripped Jazzland off the map and signed the deed over to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

Now is not the time to stop buying BP gas

Yes, I hate them just like everyone else in Louisiana. Yes if I could get my hands around their CEO’s neck it would not be a pretty picture. Yes, I am devastated to see Louisiana wildlife and everything that goes with it destroyed beyond what any of us can really believe. But frankly, now is not the time for Americans to stop purchasing BP gasoline and products.

The radio station was asked last week to allow C-SPAN to simulcast one of our 3 hour local shows that has been on top of the disaster since the rig first blew. They stated they really wanted a independent view from a media outlet. Most of the major radio stations in New Orleans are owned by corporate giants that frankly will not allow their on-air host to take on other large corporations. Watching each other’s back kind of thing I think. I understand, I’ve worked for a couple of those media corporations, it’s always about the bottom line. We allow C-SPAN to simulcast us and the response from the American people was really outstanding. The viewers/listeners that called the program, from Alaska to Maine, all seemed to understand the critical development that the Louisiana marshes provide to the entire Gulf of Mexico.

That being said, I was also confused by some and here’s my point. Many many callers stated they have stopped buying BP gasoline and would continue to avoid the company and it’s goods. Yet at the same time they all stated they wanted to help anyway that they could. The main way to help is to continue to buy BP gas. And if you haven’t in the past, start now.

I understand peoples anger and desire to make BP pay. We down here in this part of the world agree with you One Hundred-Fifty percent. But that is our point. We MUST make them pay. As in pay for everything needed right now and to continue to pay for whatever it takes to get this area stable again in the next twenty years. Frankly Louisiana and the United States of America need this company around for the long haul. Not to mention Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. They will need BP’s financial assistance for years to come to stop/clean/replenish the Gulf Coast region. We all need them to stay afloat, to have revenues coming in so we can take them right back to fix this disaster. Not too mention that gas stations themselves are generally independently owned and operated by other hard working  Americans just like me and you. Don’t make them lose their livelihood because they have the above logo on their sign. They need your business, they have families and bills to pay. Those owners didn’t ask BP to royally f**k up as they have.

We appreciate the American people and the way they are feeling our pain down this way. We accept that you and yours hate BP just as much as we do. We also accept that this is going to take years if not decades to recover from and that the United States of America needs them around to be responsible, emotionally and fiscally.

Cao Steps Up

Screen shot 2009-11-08 at 7.37.48 AMIt’s about freakin’ time the health care bill passed on to the next stage in the process.  I like health care, I bet you like health care too.  Everyone needs it and we all need it to be inexpensive and accessible, to me making that happen as fast as possible is a no brainer but evidently to a lot of congressmen and women it just isn’t.  I didn’t vote for Anh “Joseph” Cao, why?  Because he is a Republican (I’m a Dem) and I was a bad voter who didn’t do any research before hitting the polls. As of last night I have had a change of opinion, I like this guy.

Cao was the one and only Republican Congressman who crossed over and voted to pass the health care bill last night.  Knowing he represents me puts a smile on my face. Here are a few things he said about his vote:

“Tonight, I voted to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion and to deliver access to affordable health care to the people of Louisiana.”

“I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding – if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children. [...]

“Today, I obtained a commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana including the FMAP crisis and community disaster loan forgiveness, as well as issues related to Charity and Methodist Hospitals. And, I call on my constituents to support me as I work with him on these issues.

“I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.”

I could do without the anti-abortion part but otherwise I couldn’t agree more. He negotiated to get us the best deal, rather than voting down party lines and not really listening to his people.  House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called him “The Future” of the GOP, I hope he is right.

(Quotes taken from huffingtonpost.com)

Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom

The long walk to a jail cell is next

The Civil Trial regarding the Crime Cameras concluded with a jury finding for the plaintiffs. Dell Inc, along with former City Technology chief Greg Meffert and firms owned by a city vendor were found guilty of conspiracy against two local firms. The jury awarded Southern Electronics and Active Solutions 16.3 million dollars. The lawyers for the defendants claimed that is was a victory for them due to the fact that the plaintiffs had asked for between 660 million and 2 billion in damages. I guess anything can be spun any way someone likes to spin things, but in my eyes a finding of guilty is a finding of guilty. Not that I expected something different, I pretty much have known for sometime now that Mr. Meffert was a corrupt person and that he was running the City’s Tech Office as his own personal money making machine.

So it comes as absolutely no surprise that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is going to announce today a over 60 count indictment against Greg Meffert, his wife Linda and former City Tech Chief and business partner for Mr. Meffert, Mark St. Pierre on public corruption charges. This isn’t a shock, but Mr. Meffert’s wife being included is surprising and the amount of counts is a surprise to me as well.

What does this all really mean? We’ll it means either Mr. Meffert, his wife, Mr. St. Pierre or all three will be going to a federal penitentiary at some point in the future. It could also mean that the squeeze is on to bring the Mayor of New Orleans into the fold. At this point that would not be a shock whatsoever. You need to remember that Greg Meffert was the Mayor of New Orleans right hand man. One of his closest confidants and the most powerful person in the Mayor’s administration. You cannot be in charge without knowing that your “guy” is living off city vendors credit cards and getting paid as a consultant that is getting millions and millions of dollars in city contracts, without the Fed spotlight looking at you can you Mr. Mayor? You cannot be riding high in a yacht in Lake Pontchartrain or sitting on a beach sipping Pina Coladas that are being paid for by said contractors and not expect the Feds to question just what the hell is going on at City Hall can you Mr. Mayor?

I find it very very interesting that the Mayor of New Orleans is always willing to give his opinion on things like communism or on “that big hole in the ground” in New York City, but when his chosen Recovery Director (see below) comes out and says New Orleanians are nothing but lazy racists or his hand-picked right hand man is found guilty in a civil trial and is up for indictment on corruption charges, the Mayor of New Orleans is tight-lipped and unavailable for comment. Be ready for that federal knock on your door Mr. Mayor, because it’s a coming your way and nothing can stop that train at this point.


“Exhilarating and frightening to behold”

curtis-architecture-new-orleans-wide

I’m not sure where I found this article about New Orleans’ rebuilding process — probably via Gambit or from my pal Tyler. But no matter: it’s a beautifully written piece. Here’s an excerpt:

Four years after Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans is not proceeding the way anyone envisioned, nor with the expected cast of characters. (If I may emphasize: Brad Pitt is the city’s most innovative and ambitious housing developer.) But it’s hard to say what people were expecting, given the magnitude of the disaster and the hopes raised in the weeks immediately following. Seventeen days after the storm, President George W. Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised: “We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”

The terms we, as long as it takes, and help turned out to be fairly elastic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency shuttered its long-term recovery office about six months later, after a squabble with the city over who would pay for the planning process. Since then, depending on whom you talk to, government at all levels has been passive and slow-moving at best, or belligerent and actively harmful at worst. Mayor Ray Nagin occasionally surfaces to advertise a big new scheme (a jazz park, a theater district), about which no one ever hears again. A new 20-year master plan and comprehensive zoning ordinance was being ironed out early this summer, but it remains subject to city-council approval. A post-Katrina master plan has been under discussion since before the floodwaters were pumped out.

In the absence of strong central leadership, the rebuilding has atomized into a series of independent neighborhood projects. And this has turned New Orleans—moist, hot, with a fecund substrate that seems to allow almost anything to propagate—into something of a petri dish for ideas about housing and urban life. An assortment of foundations, church groups, academics, corporate titans, Hollywood celebrities, young people with big ideas, and architects on a mission have been working independently to rebuild the city’s neighborhoods, all wholly unconcerned about the missing master plan. It’s at once exhilarating and frightening to behold.

“If you look at the way ants behave when they’re gathering food, it looks like the stupidest, most irrational thing you’ve ever seen—they’re zigzagging all over the place, they’re bumping into other ants. You think, ‘What a mess! This is never going to amount to anything,’” says Michael Mehaffy, the head of the Sustasis Foundation, which studies urban life and sustainability and has worked with neighborhood organizations here. “So it’s easy to look at New Orleans at the grassroots level and wonder, What’s going on here?’ But if you step back and look at the big picture, in fact it’s the most efficient pattern possible, because all those random activities actually create a very efficient sort of discovery process.”

–full article at TheAtlantic.com

Open mouth, insert foot

America's most ignorant man

I haven’t been paying attention to the wonderful Mayor of New Orleans lately mainly because he has become irrelevant. No one pays attention to him locally because he is a buffoon. Actually he is the leader of the buffoon’s. Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been screwing things up, saying dumb things or attempting to hide his corrupted ways but I just haven’t had the energy to care for the last year.

My ears did perk up last week though when it was announced, 1 hour before he boarded a plane to Cuba, that he was going to Cuba, along with other politicians (all of them of the worthless variety of course) and other in the loop business people, to learn about Hurricane Evacuation techniques from the Communist regime in Cuba. You are reading that right. The Mayor of a major American city flew to Cuba to learn what a police state government does when a Hurricane approaches.

Well it seems that the Mayor of New Orleans learned more than any of us thought was possible. Or maybe he didn’t. In a statement to the Associated Press correspondent in Havana, the Mayor of New Orleans praised Cuban leaders for “knowing their citizens at a very very detailed level,block by block.” Really Mayor of New Orleans? Please tell me why you think that is the case. Is it because that government is so concerned about their safety? Or did you think it’s possible that the Cuban leadership knows so much about it’s citizens on a very detailed level because they keep those citizens on a tight leash and possibly watch every move they make or do not make?

This isn’t the first time that the Mayor of New Orleans has gone to a country with a history of repression. Last year the Mayor of New Orleans traveled to China and stated that he “didn’t see a communist country. There are Chinese people there making serious money.”

I am all for safety. I am all for people evacuating in the face of a hurricane approaching New Orleans. Evacuations in Cuba basically go this way. Get on the bus or you will be shot.  Seeing how this still is America Mr Mayor of New Orleans, I will pass on the “Cuban Evacuation Plan”, thank you very much.

The Criminals and the Crime Cameras

If only the crime cameras had been focused on THIS guy

Jury selection started this past Monday in the civil trial that alleges the City of New Orleans Technology Office basically stole other companies ideas and then tried to sell them to other cities as their own technology. The guy to your left is former technology chief Greg Meffert. During the 2006 mayoral campaign, the radio station met a man named Grant Holcumb. This was maybe 5 months after Hurricane Katrina and the issue of interoperability in communications was a major issue and topic of discussion. Mr. Holcumb had developed a system that basically would have allowed all types of different communication systems to operate openly during times of emergency. I’m not attempting to re-hash old news, just point out that Mr. Holcumb basically accused Greg Meffert of squashing the program because the city had existing deals with Microsoft, which would not have benefited from the open system Mr Holcumb had developed.

Mayor Nagin has touted the current “crime camera” program over and over again as a way to assist the NOPD with not only getting a handle on crime in so-called hot spots throughout the city but also help the police and DA’s office solve crimes. The initial plan was for 1000 cameras throughout the city. Then it became 240 cameras at a proposed cost of 2.6 million. Which wasn’t the case. The IG’s office released a report that stated the city at that point had paid 6.6 million out for far less than 240 cameras. As we have found out recently as well, the cameras that have been installed rarely work because of networking and other issues. It is also my understanding that not one city owned crime camera has lead to a arrest of a suspected criminal of any kind. Privately owned surveillance cameras have given the police more leads than the city owned and installed for 6.6 million dollar cameras have.

The Mayor’s Technology office has been under fire frankly since the interoperability issue came to light. Focus on that office seemed to grow after then local Homeland Security director Col. Terry Ebert stated that he thought the system Mr Holcumb had developed would have worked during Hurricane Katrina and “helped save lives.” The Mayors office didn’t allow any more interviews from Col Ebert after that one. Shocking huh?

The civil suit is just the beginning with the Mayor’s Office of Technology. The Feds are all over that joint like white on rice. Trips paid for by companies receiving city contracts through that office, companies owned by the “Director’s” of the office doing business with basically the office and budgets they controlled. This is the tip of the iceberg with these folks and I would be willing to bet everything I own that some folks who worked or ran that particular city agency will end up in jail for a long time. If only the crime cameras had been working and recording the criminals who were charged with installing the crime camera network.

Good news for New Orleanians (maybe)

Apparently, New Orleans City Business covered this Cold Storage story last week, although they’ve just posted an update on their WordPress (freebie WordPress!?!) blog. Keeping up with the Joneses, the Picayune has now pubbed an article of its own:

Facing mounting opposition to the construction of a poultry exporting operation at the foot of the French Market, the Port of New Orleans is looking for a new home for New Orleans Cold Storage.Port administrators are asking tenants along the Mississippi River if they could make room on their property for the company, which the port fears will leave New Orleans without a new headquarters. New Orleans Cold Storage is the port’s second-largest customer.

“They’ve made it very clear that they’re going to continue to oppose this, and we’re going to see what the other alternatives are,” port spokesman Chris Bonura said of residents in the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater. Signs emblazoned with the message ‘Poison Port’ can be seen posted throughout the neighborhoods.

There are no guarantees that the port will find another home for New Orleans Cold Storage, Bonura said, and the company may very well end up on the Gov. Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves as planned.

But the fact that the port is even considering a new home for the company represents an aboutface for the agency, which just a few months ago said that the wharves near the French Quarter were the only option for New Orleans Cold Storage.

NOLA.com

But really, who cares who ran the story first? We’re close, y’all! Not out of the woods, but, you know, cross those fingers.

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