Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Ammonia clouds: conveniently located near you!

Just as a tiny update to yesterday’s post:

Jefferson authorities probing ammonia leak on West Bank.

So I guess containment of noxious chemical fumes really isn’t a concern in these situations. Well, not for the Port, anyway.

Wow. Just…wow.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin today hurled criticism at technology experts who claim that City Hall’s missing e-mail was intentionally removed by someone with top-drawer access to the computer system.

Assigning blame “is not their charge,” Nagin said Thursday, a day after two computer experts hired by the city said that an unknown tech-savvy person apparently removed the mayor’s e-mail inbox from the server.

In a WWL-TV interview, Nagin dismissively described the unknown individual as “some phantom employee.”

Nagin also implied that the Louisiana Technology Council, the company hired to find the data, not only was eager for “15 minutes of fame” but also was in over its head.

“I just hope that this is not a case where . . . we did not get the company with the expertise that we needed,” he said.

NOLA.com

Heritage Foundation & Solar Energy?

Weirdest email I’ve received all week (and I’ve already gotten some doozies):

Greetings and salutations!

I would like to let everyone know of our upcoming Permaculture Courses.

RiverSolar in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation is offering weekly courses in Permaculature and Design concepts. Core concepts will be provided in block format on Fridays from 12 – 2 PM beginning July 10, 2009 at the ArtEgg Building.

Students can choose to take one class or all leading to a Permaculture Design Certificate. Please contact Doris for enrollment information.

RiverSolar
riversolar@gmail.com
1001 So. Broad St. New Orleans, LA
504-729-8226

Which sounds great except for the part about the HERITAGE FOUNDATION.

Seriously: THE Heritage Foundation? The same ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that worshiped at the feet of Ronald Reagan? The same war-mongering Heritage Foundation that pushed heavily for the invasion of Iraq (and, less successfully, Iran)? The same Heritage Foundation that looked at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and found it a perfect example of the need for relaxed environmental regulations? That Heritage Foundation?

UPDATE: Of course it’s not that Heritage Foundation. As the friendly Alex just pointed out:

It’s actually the Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability, which shares a space in the ArtEgg building, along with RiverSolar.

Which is great, but also a really unfortunate choice of names. Oh well: at least the world makes sense again.

What’s good for Ray Nagin is good for Bobby Jindal

That title is the flat out truth. What is good for Ray Nagin is just as good for Bobby Jindal. But you know what? Governor Bobby does not think so. Much has been made about e-mails and transparency in Louisiana government. The Governor has continued to tout his “ethic’s reform” as the gold standard. Too bad everything in that “gold standard” is basically un-enforcable. Nice to have the laws on the books, not so nice that they are basically worthless laws. So the corruption continues.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin received a ton of heat for his administration’s failure to produce public records request pertaining to his own e-mail and his daily schedule. My personal opinion is that he destroyed the majority of the information requested so something smelly would not come out. But I have no proof so it is what it is. The mayor, I am sure, has learned to not e-mail information that he does not want public and that is his right. I have no problem with that decision. But I do have a problem when the Governor of the great state of Louisiana directs his staff to oppose legislative bills designed to open up the governor’s office to more public access.

I think most level-headed, non corrupt folks/citizen’s understand that not everything in a e-mail should be shown in a public record request. Most people understand that private business information and the like are not necessary for all to read. But by not only limiting the publics’ access to the correspondence of the governors office and attempting to restrict even the limited access now available, Governor Jindal is basically saying that the rules are different for him and his office.

Well you know what Governor Jindal, you are no more important than any other public servant. By you and your office attempting to control what the public knows, it comes across as either you have something to hide or you were a total liar when you ran for this position and asked the people of Louisiana to join you in a crusade to change the way Louisiana does business. Neither stance is a real positive for Bobby Jindal. So why is he choosing to control public access to his office?

David Vitter found living under a rock with nothing to do

vittersupergoofy

I love getting emails from Senator David Vitter. Really. They’re the highlight of my morning. Because nothing says “I am not a whoremonger” better than a short list of “news items” wherein (a) Vitter takes credit for other people’s work or (b) Vitter takes credit for his own work, which is usually mostly 99% not a great a idea.

Today’s pick of the litter (which I would happily link to, but Vitter’s technology director hasn’t unraveled the process of archiving, so you’ll just have to trust me):

Earlier this month I introduced a joint resolution that would allow Congress to protect the flag of the United States by preventing its desecration. The bill would give Congress the power to overrule a 1989 Supreme Court decision that declared previous flag protection laws unconstitutional.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of that 5-4 Supreme Court vote to declare the desecration of our flag to be constitutional, yet millions of Americans and all 50 state legislatures have endorsed prohibiting flag desecration. This resolution will illustrate Congress’s support for protecting this symbol of our freedom.

Which is just great, because those kinds of things always pass. They’re not time-wasters like silly legislation about the economy, or healthcare, or crime, or education. That’s our man.

Nagin asks Bush to let "Big O" off the hook

Well now New Orleans and America knows the reason New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has been fighting the public release of his work e-mails.  Or maybe one of the reasons. WWL-TV reported Tuesday evening the Mayor Nagin sent former President Bush a letter in December 2008 asking the President to consider a presidential pardon of former New Orleans City Councilman and convicted criminal Oliver Thomas.

Mr. Thomas was convicted of malfeasance in office for accepting a bribe dealing with ciy parking contracts. The total sum was said to be $15,000. In Mayor Nagin’s letter, he states that was a relatively small amount of money. Hmmmm I think many people would consider that more than a small amount.

Of course, Mayor Nagin can ask former President Bush for anything. Pardon’s or whatever. But it becomes a problem when the Mayor of a city with as many issues and problems as this city has, is asking for relief for a guy who stole money. While he was a elected official in the same city you are supposedly rebuilding. It would seem to be just a little crass to try and get a guy out of jail who accepts bribes and kickbacks when the city you were elected to run is receiving millions upon millions of dollars from the federal government. But that’s just me and I like to think I have some moral compass that tells me what is right and what is wrong. Maybe Mayor Nagin’s compass is stuck on S as in stupid.

Well there’s one e-mail that’s just fantastic

ray-nagin-armani-400-0608062

It’s a wonderful day when resident’s can finally get a idea of what our Mayor, C. Ray Nagin is doing when it comes to dealing with the media. Everyone knows about the magically disappering emails from his honor. Well  Times-Picayune colomunist Chris Rose found a long lost email from the mayor. You can read it here. Or better yet, since the mayor will not speak to anyone, give this a listen. Stay classy Ray Nagin.

Bhopal In The Making: Port of New Orleans Sets Itself (and New Orleans) Up for Disaster

BHOPAL IN THE MAKING:
Port of New Orleans sets itself (and New Orleans) up for disaster

It’s Monday morning, and the sun is shining, and the temperature is just right, and Spring is definitely in the air, so I hate to be that guy, but I really have to point out that New Orleans is about to get screwed. Again.

The backstory:

  • The Port of New Orleans is one of the largest ports in the country, and New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS) is one of its biggest clients.

  • NOCS processes poultry for shipping. Recently deceased chickens are trucked to NOCS, where they’re frozen solid, loaded onto ships, and sent around the world.

  • NOCS used to have a facility on the Mississippi River, but that plant was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. For the past three and a half years, the company has been operating from temporary digs on the Industrial Canal.

  • NOCS needs a new home on the Mississippi River so that big ships can have easier, faster access to the plant than they currently do. The company’s former location is unusable, so the Port wants to custom-build a new facility for NOCS on a wharf adjacent to the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.

PETA may take issue with the whole livestock thing, but for me and for most of my neighbors, that’s not the real concern. We understand the need for commerce and industry, so chicken processing is fine by us. Our problem is with the facility’s location. Here’s why:

  • NOCS uses large volumes of anhydrous ammonia to do its work–a dangerous, highly flammable chemical compound.

  • Housing such a dangerous, highly flammable chemical just steps from the historic French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods is reckless and shortsighted and shows complete disregard for the residents and businesses of the area–not to mention the millions of tourists who visit each year.

  • At the very least, the planned NOCS facility will generate loads of traffic (approximately 100 big-rigs per day) and interrupt important city- and state-sponsored urban renewal plans that focus on the riverfront.

  • At the very worst, the facility could present a massive safety hazard, complete with explosions, evacuations of homes and businesses within a three-mile radius, and untold damage to one of Louisiana’s most historically (and fiscally) significant sites.

Let me reiterate: it’s not the project that most of us find offensive, it’s the location. Is it in anyone’s best interests to put such a high-risk facility next to the state’s most notable tourist attraction? Right next to two of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state? Jindal and others–particularly legislators and lobbyists from north Louisiana–keep pushing for the project, apparently having forgotten what happens when the goose that lays the golden egg (for Louisiana’s budget, anyway) gets dealt a nasty blow.

You wanna see something funny? Check the video that accompanies this story, wherein the Port’s CEO, Gary Lagrange, calls complaints like mine “hogwash”. Which makes me wonder, (a) don’t you have to be wearing a Colonel Sanders bowtie to use that kind of language, and (b) who’s put the gun in Gary’s back and said, “Get this done, or you’re toast!”?

You wanna see something not so funny? Check the following video about a similar processing plant in Arkansas that experienced an explosion and ammonia leak exactly one year ago today. Not only were the government and the factory owner, Cargill, forced to evacuate local residents, but the company chose not to rebuild and forfeited its multi-million dollar investment. (There are follow-up stories here and here; free registration required.) Or you could read all about a similar accident that hospitalized a dozen people just last week in Connecticut.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: This is not a done deal. The Port still needs massive allocations from the state if it’s to proceed with construction. However, it’s making headway, and chances are good that Lagrange & Co. will find the requisite cash unless pressure from the general public forces the state to reconsider.

If you live in New Orleans, please visit the Faubourg Marigny’s Stop Cold Storage website. The site’s still in development, but you can definitely sign a petition opposing the NOCS’s planned location. If you’re on Facebook, you can also join the “Stop Cold Storage Group“. And for free spirits who’d rather do things on their own, below you’ll find the email addys of city and state representatives; drop them a note and ask them to oppose funding for the project at the Governor Nicholls location–while there’s still time:

James Carter: jcarter@cityofno.com
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell: chmorrell@cityofno.com
Arnie Fielkow: afielkow@cityofno.com
Stacy Head: shead@cityofno.com
Jackie Clarkson: jbclarkson@cityofno.com
Mary Cunningham: mbcunningham@cityofno.com
Shelly Midura: smidura@@cityofno.com
Cynthia Willard-Lewis: cwlewis@cityofno.com
Rep. Juan Lafonta: larep096@legis.state.la.us
Rep. Charmaine Marchand: larep099@legis.state.la.us
Mike Moffitt, VCPORA: VCPORA@wildapricot.org
Meg Lousteau, VCPORA: meglousteau@gmail.com
Chris Bonura, Port of New Orleans: BONURA@portno.com
Chris Costello, FMIA: president@faubourgmarigny.org

Thanks for bearing with me. I haven’t had an Erin Brockovich/Karen Silkwood moment in a long time.

Where’s the Laugh Track?

The comedy of errors, better known as City Hall here in New Orleans, is yes at it again.  If your a member of the media in this city and have a request for “public records”, you better be prepared to wait weeks or months to get your request filled. Even then, the information you get will be blacked out, deleted or only exsist in Ray Nagin’s rather large noggin. Media outlets in this city have been complaining and some have resorted to suing the city to get public records to become actually public.

That is why I am asking why we can’t get a laugh track to go along with the situation at City Hall. You know what a laugh track is right? It is a fake audio track of a bunch of people laughing at some inane sitcom that is not even close to being funny. How the powers that be are running this city right now, with every story that is coming out, makes me do nothing but laugh at this point. It doesn’t help to get angry or mad or frustrated because not enough people in New Orleans are paying attention to make a difference.

Most people know the name Veronica White. She is the city’s Sanitation Director. The lady who has overseen the quadrupling of cost of having someone pick up the trash from in front of your house. The lady who has not been able to give the City Council a list of homes that is being serviced by the city’s trash contract holder. The lady who gave us the wonderful trash cans that dot the French Quarter landscape. At least the homeless peeps have somewhere to crash on those cold nights.

Ms White, who is not a lawyer and who does not oversee anything other than trash in this city, has been “outed” for passing along hundreds, maybe thousands of e-mails that belonged to City Council members. It looks like “community activist” lawyer Tracy Washington requested copies of the emails for Arnie Fielkow, Stacey Head, Shelly Midura and Jackie Clarkson. Along with Jeff Thomas, who is Recovery Director Ed Blakely’s first assistant. All 5 of these folks are white. No request was made for emails from any black council member.

Obviously, I am not debating Tracy Washington’s right to get access to these e-mails. Nor do I care if she only wants the messages from white folks. That’s her decision and personally I think that shows exactly where she is coming from. Most people are grown enough to read between the lines. All of that is the besides the point. And here is the point.

Ms Veronica White contacted the Mayor’s Office of Technology and requested these e-mails. No one has announced who in the technology office actually went into the server and burned thousand upon thousands of e-mails onto 3 cd’s which Ms White then handed off to Tracy Washington. Ms. White’s job is to oversee the trash contracts. A job which she has totally screwed up to this point. Her job is not to contact the office of technology and skirt not only the law but city procedures.

It’s just too funny, I’m sorry. Loyal readers know my past frustrations with the way the recovery has gone to this point. I’ve promised myself to not rail on the lame, impotent leaders of city government. So I am not. At least I know who to contact next time we have a public records request. Just contact the garbage lady and I’ll have it within 10 minutes. Only if I request it for the folks who Ms White doesn’t like though.

The Curious Case of Ray Nagin’s E-mails

large_nagin3

August 21st, 2007. That is the oldest e-mail I have on my work computer server. That is over a year and a half ago.I did the research and bring it up because earlier this week citizens of New Orleans learned that the city government “leaders” had all of their emails and correspondence deleted from the year 2008. Specifically Mayor Ray Nagin. That is correct, every email that Mayor Nagin sent out or received in 2008 “magically disappeared” after Channel 4, WWL-TV filed a public records request. Not only every email from the year 2008, but the Mayor’s schedule also has been deleted.

The City of New Orleans claims that the server did not have the capacity to “store” all of these emails and schedules and such. Therefore, they just deleted everything. This is just total fraud. The city states that there is no way to get all of the deleted information. Which of course is public record and you me or any Joe Blow is suppose to have the right to get access to these within three days of a written request.

I gotta tell you, something is really fishy here. I talked with my IT guy this morning, he says you can get a extra terabyte something for a hundred bucks that will store over 1 million emails. Plus he says the first thing to go when a server has issues are large files such as pictures, videos and audio.

What does Mayor Nagin have to hide? Why would all of HIS e-mails and HIS schedule disappear when he touts himself as “The Technology Mayor”. I thought we were moving into the 21st century with Ray Nagin at the helm.

What will come next in the Curious Case of Ray Nagin’s e-mails? It might not be worthy of a Oscar nomination but I’m sure the answers we get in the future will be comical.

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