Sunday, August 27, 2006

Opinions and Updates…

Reader CW questions our choice of a mayor:

What a disgrace,your mayor is to the US people as well as to the city of NY. Does he realize they’re deciding on a type of building to honor the lost lives IN THAT HOLE? It's a wonder he got re-elected after his last remarks,,,and his lack of leadership before Katrina hit. Vital stuff to prevent flooding, broke, but I’m sure he can find someone to blame for that as well. I feel sorry for the people of N.O.for I’m sure they are embarrassed as well since NY sent a lot of help down to you folks. MY GOD!

The Zogby Poll, in a release titled U.S. To Nagin—“Hey, Ray, You Have No Room To Brag” measures a national view on the recovery:

Most Americans think New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is pitching brickbats from a glass house, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows.

Just as Nagin comes in for heavy criticism for saying New York City still has "a hole in the ground" in Lower Manhattan five years after the terrorist attacks there leveled the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a Zogby poll shows 81% of adults nationwide think his own city will need at least five years to recover from Hurricane Katrina—or may never recover at all. Tuesday marks the first anniversary of Katrina's landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Coleman Warner of the TP tries to present a more objective view in Numbers show slow but steady recovery:

The numbers tell the story of a painful, clawing, slow-motion recovery from Katrina.

Statistics gleaned from around New Orleans offer snapshots of hope and determination nearly a year after the storm: Schools and businesses reopening here and there; thousands of residents signed up for the Road Home grant program that will dole out billions of federal dollars; a torrent of building permits; repaired traffic signals.

What's your opinion?


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Participation in the Recovery …

How satisfied are you with the way your federal dollars are being spent on the Louisiana recovery? Is the rate of progress sufficient given the size of the project? What do you think is being done well, and what not so well? Could you come up with a sentence or two describing what has been done so far, and what remains to be done?

Let’s talk about the recovery on two fronts. The first we’ll call physical/tangible, such as levee-building work and debris removal. The second we will call the planning front, where professionals are developing the plans that will guide the reconstruction. These plans will enable money to flow to homeowners to rebuild according to the operative process for their area of the city.

Today’s focus is on the planning front. The web site of the Louisiana Recovery Authority says that the community planning process …

“will combine the efforts of many experts, stakeholders and citizens into a comprehensive approach: 1) Parish recovery plans by FEMA; 2) Local design charrettes by Duany-Plater Zyberk; 3) The development of a toolkit for residential and commercial architecture by Urban Design Associates; and 4) A long-term regional vision led by Calthorpe Associates.”

How were these planners chosen? I am certain that these firms are respected and capable, but from the larger body of respected and capable planners what caused them to be chosen? Was politics involved?

DPZ is based in Miami, UDA in Pittsburgh, and Calthorpe in Berkeley, CA. Do they have local partners or subcontractors? Are the locals aligned with any particular public official or political group?

How does a local individual or consulting firm present their qualifications for subcontracting work? Do subcontracts go out for bid? Is hiring centralized by LRA, or do bidders take their chances with each of the major firms?

We welcome your comments and suggestions.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Return Trip from Hell …

Our last week in Innsbruck was very pleasant. We had several gatherings of the faculty; on our last night the students joined us.

One of the meals was at the Ottoburg restaurant in the Old City. They claim that they are the oldest restaurant in the world! That requires a little research. Let me know if any of you have any relevant information on the topic.

Last week also included final exams. My students in Personal Finance did very well, and this class was a positive experience. The Entrepreneurship class was another matter.

The exams were on Wednesday and Thursday, and we left at the crack of dawn on Friday. Most of us were headed for Munich since the Innsbruck airport has few helpful flights.

Well, the students had no curfew on Thursday night, and felt like sleep would begin on the bus. So, at 3am and 4am, staff and faculty stuffed a bunch of very drunken students on to buses; luckily most had their luggage with them.

Also on Thursday night we became aware of the terrorists arrest in London. Heightened security was to be the order of the day for those flying on Friday. Lines were horrendous. We managed to make our Munich to Philadelphia flight, but it was so delayed waiting for its passengers that we had little chance to make our 6pm flight to New Orleans.

We missed by about twenty minutes, and were told to come back in time for the 9:50am flight on Saturday. We were also told that we could leave our luggage “in the system” and it would arrive with us on Saturday.

Traveling tip: If you wind up at the Four Points Sheraton at the Philadelphia airport, plan to go elsewhere for meals.

The security lines at the airport on Saturday morning were little improved. We made our flight but our luggage did not. We do not know how it got there, but it was delivered to us on Sunday afternoon.

On the Munich to Philadelphia flight the airline offered passengers a Munich hotel, meal voucher, flight the next day, and a free ticket to anywhere US Air flies to anyone who would give up their seats. We volunteered, the airline found they had space in first class, so we flew in style. That was the only break we caught all day.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Innsbruck Diary (6) ...

Last week was the last full week of classes here, so we are busy with grading papers and writing final exams. The consensus among the staff is that it is a relatively well-behaved group of students. The faculty, myself included, has found them to be pretty unresponsive. The quality of the work submitted has been rather low, except for the Innsbruck students.

On Friday we visited some friends in Seefeld, gaining a little altitude from Innsbruck to the beautiful ski resort. The return train trip, by one writer I saw, could be the most scenic in Europe.

We spent Saturday in Trento Italy, from the north the beginning of the Italian culture. Its major attractions are the underground Roman ruins, and a castle filled with art treasures.

The highlight of the weekend was seeing the "Iceman." The frozen remains of a 5,000 year old man are on display in Bolzano, Italy.


jbv's Competitive Edge