Sunday, April 06, 2008

Big Plans ...


From an article by Adam Nossiter for the New York Times:

In March 2007, city officials finally unveiled their plan to redevelop New Orleans and begin to move out of the post-Hurricane Katrina morass. It was billed as the plan to end all plans, with Paris-like streetscape renderings and promises of parks, playgrounds and “cranes on the skyline” within months.

But a year after a celebratory City Hall kickoff, there have been no cranes and no Parisian boulevards. A modest paved walking path behind a derelict old market building is held up as a marquee accomplishment of the yet-to-be-realized plan.

There has been nothing to signal a transformation in the sea of blight and abandonment that still defines much of the city. Weary and bewildered residents, forced to bring back the hard-hit city on their own, have searched the plan’s 17 “target recovery zones” for any sign that the city’s promises should not be consigned to the municipal filing cabinet, along with their predecessors. On their one-year anniversary, the designated “zones” have hardly budged.

The city official in charge of the recovery effort, Edward J. Blakely, said the public’s frustration was understandable, but he suggested that bureaucratic hurdles had made moving faster impossible. Mr. Blakely said crucial federal money had only recently become available, the process of designing reconstruction projects within the 17 zones was time-consuming, and ethics constraints on free spending were acute, given a local history of corruption.

Mr. Blakely has been given broad authority — a staff of more than 200 and jurisdiction over eight agencies — in a municipal hierarchy where the mayor, C. Ray Nagin, has adopted a hands-off role. Criticized last year for frequent trips to Australia, where he holds a university post, Mr. Blakely said he had not been there for some months.

The growing frustration points up what has been a recurring theme in New Orleans’s sketchy, on-again, off-again recovery from Hurricane Katrina: grandiose official promises, apparently made to lift the public’s morale, that soon prove unrealistic.

Mayor Nagin remains an elusive figure, occasionally surfacing to take strong issue with local news media portrayals of him, but otherwise delegating much responsibility for the recovery to Mr. Blakely.

There have been some uniquely New Orleans hang-ups as well, said the recovery director; “lot of tensions in the staff,” revolving around race. “Black people have a hard time taking instruction from white people,” said Mr. Blakely, who is black. There is resentment “if a white person asks them to do something. It’s really bad. I’ve never encountered anything like this.”

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1 Comments:

Blogger doctorj2u said...

The Mayor was on local TV today and was asked about this article. He said since the author was not from Nola he didn't know what he was talking about. Norman Robinson had to point out that the man works for the NYT but is in fact stationed in New Orleans. Then Hizznoner switched to his other excuse that they didn't get any money until recently. I wish someone in the media would do a huge project on what the real story is in the lack of governmental help in the Guf South. Every layer of government (and their supporters) point the finger at someone else. I know the suffering that is the result of their malfesance, but I want to know who was responsible at each step along the way. So, as it was from the start, people are left to do the best they can on their own. Thank God for the volunteers!

8:10 AM  

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