Archive for March, 2009

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


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

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:
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell:
Arnie Fielkow:
Stacy Head:
Jackie Clarkson:
Mary Cunningham:
Shelly Midura:
Cynthia Willard-Lewis:
Rep. Juan Lafonta:
Rep. Charmaine Marchand:
Mike Moffitt, VCPORA:
Meg Lousteau, VCPORA:
Chris Bonura, Port of New Orleans:
Chris Costello, FMIA:

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

Sidewalk Chalk and Sprinklers day

The way I always pictured it.

The way I always pictured it.

Today was a sidewalk chalk and sprinklers kind of day. It was warm and sunny with a few white puffy clouds. If you sat in the sun too long you could almost feel your skin burning red. I took the Little Guy outside and turned on the sprinkler. He loved running through the water getting soaked while I sat in the shade drawing with sidewalk chalk. We didn’t do much in teh way of St. Paddy’s Day but no worries, it was a good day.

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.

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