New Orleanians Get Too Negative

It was a glorious weekend to be in New Orleans.

It was the last Sunday of the Jazz and Heritage Festival, Santana had just finished his set and the Neville Bothers were about to take the stage. My friend Ted Jones and I were sitting under the big chief tent adjacent to the Acura stage.

A man from New York and his wife sat in front of us. The man turned and struck a conversation with us about what it is like being in New Orleans post hurricane Katrina. He told us that he had been coming to New Orleans since 1975; he added that he was happy to see such a unique city on the come back. He extolled the wonder of our music, food, culture, spirituality and our humanity.

It was after that conversation that I began to think about how negative some of us are when it comes to appreciating what we have as a city. To listen to some of us, every politician is a crook, every agency is dysfunctional, every cause is wrong headed, and all the people are of less than average intelligence.

I wonder what we could accomplish if we all adopted a sense of positive energy about our city and about ourselves. Can you recall how it uplifting it was in the chaotic days immediately following hurricane Katrina – when we were all pulling together to help each other get back on our feet? Let us try to recapture that commitment and concentrate on making things work. What do you think?



Is Reverend Wright Wrong?

The controversial former pastor to Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is on the loose again. Just when some of us believed it safe to engage in a sensible and reasoned discussion about race in America, Reverend Jeremiah Wright is blazing away with his own brand of fire and brimstone from his pulpit of African American church theology.

The controversy exploded after the September 11th attacks. Wright preached a sermon chastising America for dropping atomic bombs on Japan and supporting, what he characterized as, state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.

Just recently, Rev. Wright told the national press club in Washington, D.C. that he hopes, “The most recent attack on the black church – it is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright – it’s an attack on the black church.”

At a news conference in Wilmington, North Carolina, The Washington Post quotes Barack Obama who said: “I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor, any of the statements that he’s made both to trigger this controversy and that he’s made over the last several days are not statements that I’ve heard him make previously. They don’t represent my views. And they don’t represent what this campaign’s about.”

Some people say that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a racial demagogue and others say Obama’s repudiation of Wright is too little too late. What do you think?

Who Can Afford To Live Here?

I started thinking about this a few days ago after I received an e-mail from a resident in Tall Timbers. The e-mail reminded me of just how difficult it has become to live in the New Orleans area with the increase in home insurance and property taxes.

I should point out that while property taxes are understandable the exorbitant cost of home insurance is outrageous.

There was a great deal of fanfare not too long ago when several private insurance companies started writing home insurance policies locally.

The bloom soon fell off the rose after it we learned that those companies were only cherry picking a few homeowners out of the many thousands of homeowners who are at the mercy of the state run home insurance program, which has doubled and in some cases tripled the cost of some monthly mortgage payments.

Unless this problem changes there will only be two kinds of people left in New Orleans: The extremely wealthy and the extremely poor.

Just & Unjust: Forcing People into a Life of Crime.

 I know you have heard the expression ‘damned if you do and damned it you don’t.’  Never has that meaning been clearer to me than now.  I am referring to the people who serve their time in jail, paying their debt to society, only to find that society will never accept them.  

 That to me is absolutely cruel and unusual punishment.  Take the case of a young man who has put himself through school, graduated and landed a decent paying job. That young man has worked for a couple of years, earning a reputation as a hard worker and a dependable employee.  Now, the big kick:  Recently, the company decides to do a background check.  The background check reveals that the youngster once spent time in prison.  He becomes a casualty because company policy states no one can be employed who has a criminal record. 

 The youngster has already paid his debt to society.  He has rehabilitated himself.  Now society kicks him in the face and sends him back to the streets. 

 Society is wrong.  Instead of rejection, we should be embracing and applauding people for becoming productive citizens.  Is there any doubt that society is telling people with criminal records that crime is their only out?   What do you think?


Check Out My Interview With The Mayor

Saturday morning on NewsChannel 6, during the 6:30am and 9:30am half hours, I will have an extensive interview with Mayor Ray Nagin.  The mayor brings us up to date on rebuilding fire and police stations.  He responds to the New York Times article that is critical of the recovery progress. I also ask him about the recent controversy about forming a business with his wife and sons that led to a contract with a Home Depot outlet.

Picking on Working People

     I almost wanted to pull my hair out after reading the latest account of the attempt by Governor Bobby Jindal to land a huge salary for his economic development secretary and the department director.  How can one of the poorest states in the country justify paying a combined salary of well over a half million dollars to two individuals at a time when some members of the legislature are whining about paying a few measly dollars to a handful of toll takers and ferry workers at the Crescent City Connection. 

  State Representative Patrick Connick questioned whether it was fiscally prudent or even necessary to pay ferry deckhands and bridge toll collectors $26,000 a year.  These are hard working citizens.  Many of them are struggling to take care of families.  It seems rather callous to write them off as non-essential.  

  Just think of it $320,000 a year for the economic development secretary, a job which pays $180,000 in the state of Tennessee.  Which state is doing better economically?

Firearms On Campus: Dangerous Idea?

Belle Chase Rep. Ernest Wooten wants to allow people with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns on school campuses. He suggests that having law abiding armed citizens on campus would reduce violence.

I, too, am sick and tired of the wanton violence that plagues us. I would bet my paycheck that most of us are.  Are we willing to go so far as to allow people to carry guns on campus?

Imagine the potential of a wild-west shooting frenzy among the people with good intentions and the bad people and some innocent kids caught in the crossfire. That is just one example of what could go wrong. Firearms on campus! What do you think?