Archive for September, 2009

Video: designer and HIV/AIDS activist Jack Mackenroth in New Orleans, 9-19-09

Screencap of Jack Mackenroth interview (click through to view)

Screencap of Jack Mackenroth interview (click through to view)

When I received an invite to interview Jack Mackenroth during his trip to New Orleans for the NO/AIDS Task Force‘s 20th anniversary walk, I was more than a little confused. I mean, (a) that’s not the sort of thing I normally do, and (b) if Jack’s PR company wants media outlets to cover his “Living Positive by Design” HIV education campaign, I’d think they’d be better off courting Andy, Joe, and several other high-profile LGBT bloggers. But whatever. I have a habit of saying “yes” a lot, and it seems to work out pretty well, so why mess with a good thing?

I tried to prepare a little before the interview, but even so, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the guy. I watched Jack on Project Runway, of course, but he left so early in the season that I didn’t get a feel for his personality. All I knew for sure was that he seemed a little over the top, a little dramatic — but then, that comes with the territory. The last thing you’d want on reality television is a zhlub of a contestant like me.

We met at a coffee shop on a busy corner in the Marigny. I thought the skies might be cloudy, but they weren’t — not at all. Still, Jack and the PR pros who accompanied him didn’t seem to mind the broiling sun. Jack plopped down with a bottle of water and proceeded to tell me about the “Living Positive by Design” campaign (which is sponsored by Merck), plus a little about his work in fashion. And of course, I had to ask about Dale. Who wouldn’t ask about Dale?

Anyway, enjoy the clip, for what it’s worth. And thanks to everyone — including Jack — who got their asses out of bed and went to the NO/AIDS walk this morning. Obviously, you rule.

The Criminals and the Crime Cameras

If only the crime cameras had been focused on THIS guy

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.

BREAKING: Gary LaGrange Is “Sensitive”

Dock Board approves moving New Orleans Cold Storage Uptown

The Dock Board that governs the Port of New Orleans this morning approved moving New Orleans Cold Storage to Uptown cargo docks, abandoning longheld plans to relocate the poultry exporter from the Industrial Canal to docks near the French Quarter.

A cadre of Louisiana politicians — including Lieutenant Gov. Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson and Rep. Juan LaFonta — hailed the decision at a news conference after the board’s monthly meeting.

“This is a day we should all celebrate with a lot of joy,” said Landrieu, praising the port for listening to neighborhood groups that opposed initial plans to put NOCS at the foot of the French Market.

Residents of the Faubourg Marigny, French Quarter and Bywater launched a grassroots campaign against the project, saying the blast-freezing facility and trucking operation would harm the environment, cause traffic and threaten historic neighborhoods. The campaign grew stronger with the involvement of local politicians, including those present at Wednesday’s news conference and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

[Port CEO Gary] LaGrange said opposition from so many New Orleans residents played a key role in Wednesday’s decision to put the new NOCS headquarters on riverfront docks at the foot of Henry Clay and Nashville avenues. Existing terminal operator Ports America agreed to give up some of its space to make room for NOCS, which will get a new lease for the site.

“Certainly we listened to the neighborhoods,” LaGrange said. “We’re sensitive people.”

— full story at

Would it be too bitter and boastful to call Gary’s claim pure hogwash?


Piggy Back

Who needs to drive out East to a Nickelodeon theme park and spend a bunch of cash on rides and snacks when you can pile the kids on the rider and get ‘er done at the same time? The Pentacostal’s keep the grass cut on this empty lot religiously, which is a huge blessing for the neighborhood, but today I was in shock to see these two toddlers aboard. How could someone be so completely and reliably responsible and then do this? Plus, having now taken Torts and Products Liability, I have a new perspective beyond the basic lack of common sense of this decision. Jesus Murphy !

The manufacturer surely has warned against such antics as reckless use of the mower. But who reads directions/warnings? They don’t matter til your kid’s leg is catfood. Maybe they could design and elevated side-care version which doubles as kid work=entertainment. Cringe, it just makes me nervous . . . but it’s just another reason for looking forward to the St. Aug grass going dormant and for the end of regular lawnmowing, for the gradual advent toward shorter days and our own, subtle advent of fall . . . .

Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

The folks at MBHQ

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