Archive for December, 2008

Rebuilding Expectations

Was over at the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe library on Loyola’s campus the other day. They have the most kick ass magazine collection. And, I think, as long as you don’t cause a riot in there, you can just walk in and browse. I happened to be reading the Harper’s Index and found this little tidbit:

“Year by which New Orleans is expected to be rebuilt at the current pace: 2028.”

Wow. This info came from McKinsey & Co., but I wonder what standards they were comparing this to. If “rebuilt” means to the standard that the city was before Katrina, I think we’ve already hit that mark. Before Katrina I had to boil the water before drinking it, and a large portion of the buildings were vacant. Actually, now, there is a lot of stuff going on in terms of funding and help and that. You can get free health care here. You can get free mental. I think you can even get cheap dental. Art is everywhere. And, on any given day, you can probably find a free meal. It’s still hard to get housing, but that’s always been a wrangle here.

If we are talking about rebuilding to the standards of a World Class City like London or Paris (and I DO think that New Orleans is one of America’s World Class cities), then I think 2028 is just about right.

Jingle Bell Glock

Were you fool enough to ride out Katrina over by your mama’s house? After the storm, did the Boys in Blue putter by in a tricked-out swamp cruiser and declare that they would be better stewards of your Cadillac, your plasma TV, and your Remington 12-gauge? Well, Xmas has come early, kiddo: thanks to a new program overseen by the people who violated your Second Amendment rights in the first place, now you can get the 12-gauge back!

To retrieve your confiscated weapon, just read and follow the list of procedures below. Please note, however, that there’s no guarantee the NOPD has your firearm. (Sometimes they lose things. Nobody’s perfect!) But don’t let that stop you from saying a couple of quick novena’s to St. Jude and dropping by the Evidence Room. With a little luck and a little “palm grease”, you’ll be shooting yourself in the leg in no time!


Hurricane Katrina Firearms

City will return lawfully possessed firearms that came into possession of the New Orleans Police Department during the Hurricane Katrina period, August 29, 2005, to December 31, 2005.

What:
Those who may have had a firearm turned into the New Orleans Police during the Hurricane Katrina and aftermath period, August 29 to December 31, 2005, may apply for its return.

Who:
New Orleans Police Department

When:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Office hours, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where:
1116 Magnolia Street, New Orleans, LA 70115

How:
Complete this Firearm Release Form and submit in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

Firearm Release Form Directions/FAQ

  • This form only applies to firearms that came into the custody of the New Orleans Department during the period of Hurricane Katrina from August 29, 2005 to December 31, 2005.

  • There is no guarantee that we have your firearm!

  • IT ONLY APPLIES TO FIREARMS THAT WERE LAWFULLY POSSESSED.

  • IF IT CAME INTO CUSTODY AS THE RESULT OF AN ARREST OR MUNICIPAL CITATION, OR IF IT IS EVIDENCE, THE FIREARM REQUIRES A COURT ORDER BEFORE IT MAY BE RELEASED.

  • The form must be submitted with all fields completed in order to identify the proper firearm.

  • IF UNKNOWN OR NOT APPLICABLE, LEAVE THE FIELD BLANK.

  • The Form should be submitted in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

  • The Claimant is the firearm owner and the person who fills out the form.

  • Once NOPD receives the completed form which sets forth the specific identifying characteristics, a search for the firearm will be conducted.

  • If the search is successful, the Claimant will be asked to personally examine and verify ownership.

  • Only the Claimant may come in and inspect the firearm.

  • Proper identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID, will be required at the inspection.

  • The Claimant’s name will be run through a background check to determine if the Claimant is legally able to possess a firearm.

  • If it is determined that a particular firearm is in fact Claimant’s, the Claimant will be required to sign the Affidavit part at the bottom of the form at the Evidence Room.

  • The Claimant will also be required to complete a Release and Hold Harmless Agreement, agreeing to indemnify the City should a dispute arise as to the ownership of a firearm returned under these procedures.

  • This Release and Hold Harmless form must be signed in front of a Notary Public.

  • Once this release is returned by the Claimant to the Evidence Room, the firearm will be released to the Claimant.

  • Children should not be brought to the Evidence Room.

If there are any questions, please contact Sgt Robert Blanchard at (504) 658-5550

Note: This is only for lawfully possessed firearms for the applicable period, and does not apply to any firearm that is being held as evidence in a case or investigation.

–via the always unintentionally entertaining CityOfNO.com.

FEMA surprises with a boost to my personal economy

As you recall, we had a couple of hurricanes this season. By and large, New Orleans dodged the proverbial bullet (NB: Is there really a proverb about bullets?), but the majority of us still chose to evacuate for Gustav. Yeah, we may be stereotypically stubborn down here, but 90% of us know when to take a hint. And Katrina was a VERY BIG HINT.

As you may also recall, the evacuation did not go exactly as planned. Leaving, we were dicked over by Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, when he chose to shut down I-10 eastbound and forced everyone up I-59. Returning, we were screwed by our screwball mayor, who couldn’t seem to make up his mind about the process of re-entry. The Picayune even published an editorial entitled “Next Time, We’re Not Leaving”. It was definitely a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t moment.

At long last, however, there is some good news to report: FEMA has now made housing assistance available for everyone who evacuated. Specifically: FEMA will reimburse you for the cost of your hotel stay during the evacuation. Seriously: check the image at the top of this post. That’s the letter I got from FEMA just this morning. They’re not going to cover gas or meals or admission to the botanical gardens, but it’s better than nothing.

If you haven’t signed up for disaster assistance from FEMA, you still have time to do so. Click here to visit the Hurricane Gustav disaster page, then follow the links at the top to apply. Eventually, FEMA will kick out a letter and a reimbursement form for you to fill out and turn in. While you’re waiting for that to show up, you should probably go ahead and call the hotel where you stayed during your “hurrication”–unless you’re the really organized type who keeps these sorts of things lying around in accordion files. I am not.

Good luck!

Trinity Church Development Going Nowhere

Valence St. Church Vacant Lot   Valence St. Church Facade

Thanks to Karen Gadbois for today’s photo of the site.

“At the now-condemned Trinity Church on the corner, 4-year-old Art Neville played his first note on an organ.”   San Francisco Gate Article

People wonder why residents in New Orleans have become so cynical during the last few years despite the continual chant of the unique value of our brassy cultural background during the rebuilding.  I haven’t been able to post lately, trying to balance law school, NCDC, and life.  Often, I can’t help but get angry every time I leave the house, I see another f’d up empty lot. I am trying hard to focus on the future, rather than the confetti of void which dots the predial landscape.

From the start, we have seen so many projects touted as bright lights for a “new” New Orleans within the city since 2005 which have been laughably dismissed even while the ribbons were being cut at many-a-press conference. The huge Jazz Park/City Hall project was a joke from the beginning. With this always on my mind, I thought this was a good thing to revisit a small, and more viable project, which also remains stagnant, now. This in context of the new announcement of the LSU/VA project.

This historically significant church was in the process of being torn down just as Stacy Head was battling it out for her Council seat.   It became a heated argument amongst readers back in 2006 when I was covering lesser-known candidates at the time. Despite the hopes and charges and responses against “selling-out to developers” lodged against Councilwoman Head, today, it remains an empty lot.

At the end of the day, the person who initiated the online argument apologized for his comments about Councilwoman Head.  However, some answers are now worth pressing regarding this project. Councilwoman Head may be in a more prescient position to respond to concerned residents about why this project, which was very promising and had convincing building plans, and yet, nearly three years later, is stagnant.  

This is Stacy’s response at a citizen running for Council, to the comments left on MB regarding her stance supporting the demolition of Trinity Church. She supported the redevelopment of the Trinity site.   The church was taken down with meticulous care, I photographed almost compulsively, and daily. I was awaiting a happy end of the story. I am still waiting.

The project was promised to be rebuilt using the items salvaged which would actually have served as a good example for future reference, maybe justifying the demolition of historic structures.  It would have continued its duty as a historical extension from the past with a new functional use, much needed housing, at the time. It could have been something the neighborhood would be proud to support.  Unfortunately, we are entering the third year of waiting for the new development to be started. Housing is no longer an immediate need.

It’s interesting to read the comments from readers regarding the issue at that time. Comments at-large from the post regarding this issue on March 20, 2006

This is why those of us who have watched the debacle of planning Post-K are extremely disgusted today. We put in extra effort at a time when we were already drained. When you dare to backtrack, to see what was promised, the emptiness of all our hard work drains you and you want to hide . . . I don’t know how the Council Reps keep on going, it’s hard enough for the average citizen. Perhaps, now Councilwoman Head has the resources to encourage the dialogue between the neighborhood and the developer that she did not have when the issue first reared its hostile head.

This is Stacy’s reply to the admittedly unfair statements that Peter Athos posted.

First, actions like Peter’s — maligning a candidate’s character — are what keep good and honest people out of politics. I am running because I love this city and I have invested my heart and finances in it. I have “sold out” to no one. Rumors aboud about city council candidates — in fact, someone posted that I have a “deal” with Canizaro — I have never met the man! So, please, if you love this city, don’t discourage people who want to help make it better.

Peter e-mailed me about the Valence condo project and below is my reply. Notably, despite my offer to meet with him to discuss the issues, he never responded. I did, as I said I would, contact the CPC and my contact agreed that it would be improper for a council candidate — who very well may be the arbiter of the dispute when on the council — to form a hard and fast opinion now.

Peter,

As soon as I learned about the proposed condo project I began gathering information. So far, I have spoken to Ken Swartz, the property owner who appears to be the most effected, and several other people who live in the surrounding blocks. I am also contacting the CPC to find out what waivers or variances the developer seeks. I believe it would be imprudent for me to take a position on the project before learning more about it.

Frankly, I think this is an example of why we need: 1) a master plan for the city; and 2) an engaged and responsive council member. As a neighbor of the area of the proposed project (I live on Soniat on the other side of St. Charles), I have watched the church deteriorate for many years, and have hoped that someone would take an interest in it. So, development of the property is a positive thing — but it must be appropriate for the neighborhood. A good council member should bring all interested parties to the table to make this a win win situation. My instinct is that the developer is requesting more height and density than he needs to make this profitable — much like other negotiations, he is asking for the moon in hopes of getting something less. So, the project could potentially go forward in a way that would be only positive — less density, different facade (I agree that it’s ugly), more use of the church, lower height.

Again, as merely a council candidate, I do not have the resources to encourage a dialogue between the developer and the neighborhood. Nevertheless, in hopes that after April 22 I will be the council member with the ability to move this problem to a good solution, I am working to be well-informed. To that end, I would appreciate any additional information you have. Further, I would love the opportunity to talk to you and other interested neighbors about this and other issues of concern. If you have some time over the next 2 weeks, let me know.

Stacy Head

In order to continue to brace the public confidence of residents, it is necessary to provide real outcomes for those who have had to live in amongst hollow promises for the past three years. We have not forgotten. Instead, we are stewing on these smaller unrequited sacrificies and getting angier and more suspicious as time flows on and the promises get bigger.

In the case of the LSU/VA project, so many will now have to give up the homes which they worked so hard to renovate post-K in a vaccuum and with a complete lack of communication from the controlling entities. You need only see this to take heart in the issue: What’s at Stake

As hard as it is, I find it’s necessary to glance back at the glossy lies laid before us over the last two years and ask why, in these best case scenarios, we have nothing to show for our sacrifice and compromise? Maybe Councilwoman Head, with her newfound recources, can help the residents on Valence St. to get this modestly sad project completed?

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

The New Orleans Business News reported on November 29th that New Orleans is holding onto jobs in the wake of the economic crisis, so YAY for us!

“The New Orleans region is benefiting from two factors relative to the rest of the country,” said Michael Hecht, chief executive officer of GNO Inc. “First of all, we are historically counter-cyclical. Secondly, we are benefiting from the consistent investment of millions of dollars into our economy.”

Most of these jobs are specialized in Healthcare, Enegery, IT, etc., but it is looking good for NOLA.

Anyone care to weigh in on what it’s like on the streets?

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