Archive for December, 2007

Visit to the Homeless Camp on Claiborne Ave.

Scrappin   Homeless Camps Claiborne Ave. (1)
Click photos to see more of the photo set

Today I did something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I went to check out the homeless camp under the Claiborne Ave. overpass. First, I took some copper I have had sitting around for months to the scrapyard. This is a scene all its own. The staff there was laughing because I wanted my photo taken and readily admitted that I had never scrapped before and was a bit nervous. They were really, really nice. They told me what to do and took my license and handed me $16 for the armful of copper I put on the scale. Then, I took that money and an extra comforter I had to homeless people under the bridge.

sloppy joes

I plan on throwing a party soon and serving sloppy joe’s for dinner. What goes well with sloppy joe’s? Any ideas for accompaniments?

An idea that works

I’ve intentionally kept quiet for a while on the issue of public housing while watching all the honking and beeping at City Hall recently.Our own Laureen Lentz was so far ahead of the curve in identifying and reporting on the situation that I figured it was best to let the T-P and others catch up before I chipped in. After all, I spent 30 years as a professional observer.

There is a new editorial in the New York Times that sheds more light on the situation. It basically says what the City Council said in its recent vote and what I’ve seen with my own eyes over the past year or so — that this mixed-income housing can and indeed DOES work in New Orleans and should be expanded.

Each day, I drive through the River Garden area that replaced the old St. Thomas projects. My business bumps up against this area and my own house is less than eight blocks away. I can tell you that the level of crime in the area is miniscule, the units were and have remained nice and, most important, the affability of the neighborhood is infectious. What problems there are (drugs, violence, derelicts hanging on a street corner, etc) are not evident in this area — they come from surrounding blocks that have not been improved to the point where someone can take pride in where they live.

Driving to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve

Teddy Bear House 2007 (5)

Last year I posted Ahoy to World along with the annual photo of the Teddy Bear House.

This year I am posting a serious poem which I read in solitary meditation every Christmas Eve. This ritual began some ten years ago when my friend, Jen, recited it to me from memory. I found it unforgettable. On a whim, I contacted the author last year to thank him for this and to let him know it’s becaome a permanent part of at least a few people’s lives. It’s an odd poem and takes more than a cursory read.

Apparently U2 has performed it as well.

What Brings Me Back?

This is a question I find that I ask myself every time I come back to the city after a visit to friends or family that live elsewhere. We just spent the week in Orlando, Florida visiting friends. These friends are a loving couple with two daughters under the age of five. They have a cat and live in a small town between Orlando and Daytona. Their house is a typical Florida home. Four bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining room, living room. They have some land I am not sure of the exact dimensions of their property but I would guess it is a quarter acre. The house has clean wall-to-wall carpet and a dishwasher. Their water and electric works everyday barring serious weather or not paying the bills. The roads leading to their house are in good repair never once was I worried that my car would be damaged by driving down the street. Ah yes and it smells of roses and the ocean, ok this is an exaggeration but it does smell clean.

We had a wonderful four day visit then spent all yesterday driving back to New Orleans. While we were driving home I started having mixed feelings about returning. I was excited to be home in my own space but beginning to feel a burden about returning to the city. I had just spent the last few days in a place with a level of comfort and security that I am not afforded in New Orleans. However those feelings are packaged in a cement block box and delivered to you “turn key” ready for you to take up residence. Here in New Orleans my house is near 100 years old and needs some electrical updating as well as plumbing fixes on both sides. I do not have a dining room and in order to get to the kitchen after the baby has gone to bed I have to sneak around the outside of the house. My house does not even have a space for a dishwasher and the one bathroom is just big enough to do your business in and that is all.

Two years ago I traded the convenience of my assembly line box house for the personality of New Orleans life. I say that I like living in New Orleans and the opportunity to experience things that others can not. At times just living here makes me feel like I am a part of something that other people can not understand. But when I was driving home yesterday I felt a pain of jealousy for the comparatively easy life that Floridian suburbs bring. Or at least it seems easy (I know everyone and everywhere has their problems). Something continues to bring me back here. An easy answer to that question would be my husband after all he is the one who LOVES New Orleans. The truth is there is something about this place that I have not figured out yet, maybe when I do I will be done with the city and ready to move but it is just as equally possible that after I figure out what it is about this city that keeps drawing me back I will not be able to leave and I too will LOVE New Orleans.

Trash Talking 2: The Fine Print

533-35 S. Alexander  Yeah, Trash Heap Alright

Because you can only get so much information from GeekTv, I went ahead and did a Request for Public Information (RFPI) and got copies of all the Trash Contracts from the City Attorney. They were very prompt in fullfiling my request but the woman who handed them over to me insisted, rather feebly, that the wording did not include demolition type debris. She wasn’t adamant, she was interested because I was so interested. Thanks to Sarah in the City Attorney’s office for making all these copies and for being so sweet.

At first reading, I thought they were correct and I was wrong. Upon further investigation with my handy pink highlighter, I found that the contract really is poorly written and the “unlimited” issue and debris definitions are actually clearly debatable but also there are more holes to consider.

The formal agreement, the bulk wording of the contract, is altered only a little in the bid portion of each contract . . . particularly for SDT who does the 25s. The wording is different for SDT than the vendors handling trash for the rest of the City. Thanks to RCS for putting some of it online so I could illustrate the circular references to construction/demolition debris within the Bulk Waste and Solid Waste terms as well as the issue of the word ‘unlimited’.

My aim was to get at least some of this online so citizens can review the language and definitions through these links to the actual documents and have a real discussion on the issue. Admittedly, I am impatient, I can’t wait for the Inspector General to get up and running. Keep in mind, I am not saying I am 100% right but I believe in having contracts and all publicly generated minutia online. Who knows where things might go from there. I got tired of being on only one side of this discussion.

Escalation and Agitation

CJPEETE Wall on Washington   CJPEETE 2810 Choir Robe

Click the photos to see more photos of CJ Peete, taken in 2006.

After the fiasco at City Council this week when this group disrupted the proceedings and were met by stiff security, the affordable housing folks are trying to get a bit more organized going into next week. At a meeting yesterday led by housing advocate, Bill Quigley, a plan was outlined for next week’s strategy as they fight to stop the demolition of The Big 4 housing projects in New Orleans.

Sunday, Dec. 9th: March to Ray Nagin’s House . . . all the way to Texas?

Monday, Dec. 10th: 9 am : Press Conference Protest at City Hall.
10 am: Stagger (not storm) into the Housing Conservation District Review Committee (in Safety & Permits) which is scheduled to hear the case of residents and give final consideration before issuing the necessary permits for demolition for Peete, Cooper and Lafitte.

This room, where the HCDRC is held, is very small. It’s going to be ugly. Knowing the sketchy background of the HCDRC, these public housing advocates ought to go see if these buildings haven’t already been demolished. The group plans to ask for denial and/or deferral of the matter. At best, they are hoping for a no action or lack of a quorum.

Having attended too many of these train wrecks, I wonder how Super Mario, the Chair of the Committee, (Nelson Savoie) plans to get out of this mess. Maybe they will kidnap Nelson. Someone at the meeting today called the HCDRC, “a rubber stamp committee”. I am thinking they may pull it from the agenda on a technicality.

Tuesday, Dec. 11th: Preparation and training for a larger mobilization organized by Defend New Orleans Public Housing.Org. The AFL-CIO plans to go into the D.C. Court to stop demolition of St. Bernard. Look for a press conference.

Wednesday, Dec. 12th: Barbara Jackson is in charge of galvanizing people at River Gardens to get them to show up at the protests later in the week. Barbara’s going to have to promise that they will make it home in time for their soaps. Apparently, the insurgents need to inflate their numbers by gathering up people who already have some pretty nice public housing. You would think that these residents would actually support the demolition of the gulags.

Thursday, Dec. 13th: Day of Action: Mass mobilization of protesters at Lafitte. The plan is to deliberately block the I-10 exit ramp.

Friday, Dec. 14th: Catholic Charities Day. After a busy few days of insurrection, this must be the day the group talks about genocide. Inevitably, it comes up in all their discussion. They equate the demolition of public housing and building new ones as a violation of Human Rights. Are they saying that thousands of people have been systematically murdered by the government by keeping the projects closed?

Saturday, Dec. 15th: Whomever is not yet in jail, protest at St. Bernard.

Jump in Front of Bulldozers: Some cursory thought was given to Plan B. If the HCDRC approves the demolitions, these folks plan to send a message to those contracted to do the demolitions that they will be met with the same level of hysteria. They plan to stand in front of the bulldozers.

The rest of this post is more detailed background information for the serious reader . . .

Opportunities a’poppin’

I’ve decided something.

Over the past six months, I have poured thousands upon thousands of dollars into construction of a restaurant on Magazine St. I have been scrupulous to do so as required by the City of New Orleans. In addition to the usual Health Department things, I have also had to construct, at the city’s direction, two ADA-compliant restrooms — complete with all the ramps and the turning space and the grab bars and all the other things required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If not for these, I would have been open, um, like four months ago.

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to go eat at numerous restaurants around the city — some of them brand new and some of them more than 150 years old. But in NONE of them on Magazine St (including one that opened less than three weeks ago) appear to be facing these same requirements. I used a restroom at lunch today that was only marginally larger than the head on my freaking sailboat. Seriously — and this was in a NEW restaurant. I have decided I am going to loudly advertise the fact that I have what’s apparently the ONLY FREAKING ADA RESTAURANT ON MAGAZINE STREET. I’m going to advertise in every publication and ahead of every convention that gears itself toward the wheelchair and/or PowerChair crowd. And I know there’s some rich sumbitches out there. Larry Flynt — take a break from your place and come see me.

Sorry. I am seriously all set to accomodate any and all customers, as long as they behave like dey Mama raised ’em right. But the city seems to allow so many others to qualify for some kinda grandfathering clause. The rules seem to be as adjustable as your average AM radio dial. I guess I’m just not paying off the right people.

Oakwood Open

Ok so Oakwood Mall on the westbank has been reopened for a few weeks now but I just got around to going over there to check it out. I was never there before the storm but now it is a really nice mall. The baby and I wondered around shopping for a couple hours. They have cool little sitting areas (see picture) that just give an inviting feel to the place. They even have high chairs in the food court which a lot of malls just do not have but are a big plus for people like me. It is smaller than other malls in the area there is no doubt about that but it was quiet and clean with a lot of the same shops as the bigger more annoying malls that give me a headache just from walking through their doors. If you have holiday shopping to do try out Oakwood Mall.

Writers, commentators, bemused citizens….

…all are being sought to replenish our ranks here at MetroBlogging New Orleans.

You”ll note that recently our list of estemed contributors has dwindled a bit. This has been unavoidable and part of normal attrition, as some of us have had to become more focused on professional opportunity or other issues. BUT….

This leaves tremendous opportunity for those of you who want to join us. There are no rules about how often you can/must post nor regarding your subject matter, as long as it is generally related to the City of New Orleans or to life in Louisiana (where we have no other MetroBlogging cities as yet). You may opine, criticize, rant, propose or whatever — as long as it’s not libelous and as long as it’s written in a credible, readable style. And, if desired, you will also get the opportunity to meet some highly neat people who are involved daily in the New Orleans blogging community. We are truly an EOE site — the more diverse, the better.

Please e-mail me, your modest city captain. The address is on my profile. Thank you and Go Saints.

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