Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:50 PM
Monday, February 19, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:18 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Rep. Peter King responds:
"It sends a terrible message," said King, R-N.Y. "They couldn't trust him to write tax policy, so why should he be given access to our nation's top secrets or making policy for national defense?"
"Members of the committee have access to intelligence secrets, plots here in the country, overseas, and people under suspicion. This shows how unimportant the Democrats think homeland security is," King said.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:42 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 6:28 PM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:58 PM
New Orleans, you deserve accountability from your government. We have a responsibility to deliver. While it takes money to solve some of our crime problems, money alone will never be the answer. The city has allocated close to 1/3 of our general fund to the criminal-justice system. We were averaging over 100,000 arrests per year before Katrina in a city of 460,000 people. We had the nation's 4th largest city jail and the world's highest incarceration rate. We currently have more law enforcement patrolling our streets in New Orleans than we have ever had before in our city's history. Yet despite all the millions of dollars, record numbers of law enforcement patrols, massive incarceration, and hundreds of thousands of arrests, the bottom line is that these traditional policies have still failed to make us safer.
We have heard from countless citizens about the impact of crime on their everyday lives. Whether it's the murder count, whether it's the recent armed mugging in the parking lot of Gulfstream on St. Charles, the attempted break-in in broad daylight on the 1400 block of State Street, or the various other incidents of crime in District A or elsewhere in the City. We are on it. Public safety is our number one priority.
We are facing a crisis that threatens the survival of our great city and this crisis requires an immediate triage in response as well as a plan for the longer term. Short term steps are under way to address the crisis - increased police visibility, foot patrols, increased street lighting, and after-dark checkpoints around the city. In the longer term the Council has been actively engaged in mapping a reform process with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of all our city's multiple criminal justice agencies. We need our police and district attorneys to work more closely together to ensure quality investigations and better prosecution of violent criminals. We need a higher functioning system that works with all its parts more seamlessly and efficiently. We need greater accountability, increased transparency, and reforms derived from data, research, and evidence. As a member of the Council, I commit to you that I will be vigilant in oversight of our struggling criminal justice system. But in order to for us to truly survive this crisis we must do even more, we must rise to the challenge and begin to think altogether differently about crime.
My office has been actively engaged on the issue and has worked especially closely with Councilmember Head and Councilmember Carter who have provided great leadership by reaching out to best practitioners around the country to help New Orleans solve our crime problem and by working to hold our system accountable. As we've researched successful models around the country we've discovered how different our system is in New Orleans compared to others and we've found some lessons learned and basic principles to guide us as we rebuild our city's criminal justice system. The Boston model has taught us the importance of options for judges, for programs and a strong social services support infrastructure that New Orleans currently lacks. New York teaches us the importance of data in driving policy solutions and the allocation of resources whether it's the deployment strategy of police through compstat or whether it's the detention policy determining who belongs in jail and who does not. Efficiency has got to be one of our principles when we are already spending close to 1/3 of our general fund on police and detention and our city is strapped for funds with so many other existing financial responsibilities.
We've also learned the importance of professionalism versus politics. Just as I believe it makes good sense for levee boards to be managed by engineers instead of politicos, I also believe that we must minimize the influence of political power in our criminal justice system so that it does not compete with the interests of public safety. We must insist upon increased professional standards from police who are charged not only with making arrests, but also with conducting complex investigations, writing quality police reports, and engaging neighborhoods and soliciting witness and community participation in the crime fighting process. When only 2% of a police force has a college education it may adversely affect the quality of investigations and the strength of a criminal case. If Chief Riley requests it, I would fully support measures and funding incentives to aid him in recruiting and retaining more qualified police officers.
In November this council addressed the pay issue for police by increasing their salaries, along with other city workers, by 10%. The Council went even further with the District Attorney's office by increasing the salaries of prosecutors by 30% to raise the average starting salary from $35k to $50k. Our job is to equip these agencies with the tools they need to do their jobs and then to provide oversight to ensure they are administrating effectively. The crime committee council meeting on Monday at 1:30 is open to the public and is a function of our responsibility to provide oversight and hold departments accountable.
I am more than seriously concerned by Thursday's Times Picayune report that states that there has only been one conviction out of the 162 murders from 2006. No reasonable citizen can find that kind of performance by our criminal justice system acceptable. It is, in fact, outrageous. We have an across the board breakdown in multiple agencies. We need a closer working relationship between police and prosecutors to ensure investigations and cases are as strong as possible to hold violent criminals accountable. We need a detention system that reduces recidivism. We need courts that prioritize cases involving violent criminals who pose a serious public safety threat.
Crime is not the cause of a city dying. Crime is the symptom of a city dying. Crime is the sound of a city dying. If we truly want a final solution for public safety, we will need a much stronger public education system and we will need to expand our city's middle class by offering our poorer and working class citizens economic mobility with better paying job opportunities. And while the recent civic activism around the issue demonstrates how engaged you all are as citizens, I encourage you to remain organized and vigilant. I am reminded of the great success and reforms brought on by active citizens in reforming our system for levees and assessors by demanding they be managed by professionals rather than by politics. We need those same principles, public passion, and organization to reform our criminal justice and public education systems. Our city's recovery and long term future depend on it.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:50 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:39 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:29 PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Both New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley and District Attorney Eddie Jordan said they are eager to work together to quash surging city crime. But the meeting ended with a fair share of finger-pointing and few resolutions.
The pair's fractured working relationship was on full display as council members pressed the two men on the state of their departments and the high rate of release and the low rate of conviction of arrested individuals, tying those problems to a lack of cooperation between their offices.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:41 PM
The criminals are on to Eddie Jordan, to noone's surprise:
On recent FBI wiretaps, agents can hear criminal suspects muttering about "misdemeanor murders," code for doing hardly any time at all for the worst crime on the books.
On street corners and in the grungy holding tanks at parish prison, they have another name for it: "701," shorthand for Article 701 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. It states that no one can be held longer than 60 days on a felony arrest without an indictment.
Sometimes a 701 release merely eliminates a bond posted by a suspect in order to remain at liberty pending a trial. But in other cases, the 701 springs a murder suspect from jail because prosecutors have failed to meet the 60-day deadline, and that's been happening with astonishing frequency -- a tenfold increase -- in the widely criticized New Orleans criminal justice system since Hurricane Katrina.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:37 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2007
13. Where have you been? We haven't seen much of you since Hurricane Katrina.
14. When you were U.S. Attorney, why didn't you prosecute Cleo Fields? You had an elected official on videotape shoving a huge wad of cash from Governor Edwards down his trousers, and you let him walk? Why? What honorable public purpose did you think was served by that all-cash transaction? It didn't have anything to do with the fact that you and Mr. Fields share a cozy relationship with Congressman Jefferson, who knows a thing or two about all-cash transactions, does it?
15. Let's assume the newly hired president of a company comes in and fires all the white employees, and the company is then ordered to pay a multi-million dollar judgment in addition to owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Should that president immediately resign or be fired?
16. Why has your office failed to bring charges against so many criminals within 60 days of arrest, resulting in their being set free? Do you think putting violent criminals back on the streets will encourage witnesses and victims to come forward?
17. How many first degree murder convictions has your office achieved since Hurricane Katrina? (Answer: none).
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:03 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 12:49 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 12:41 PM
For an idea of how to effectively fight crime, see Rudy Giuliani's book "Leadership." In it, he talks at great length about how he transformed New York City after years of neglect. It is often referred to offhandedly as the Broken Windows Theory, but that is overly simplistic. It started with the premise that addressing conduct that had previously been thought of as minor nuisances to which the criminal justice system should not be allocating its limited resources, such as public intoxication, littering and loitering, would help foster an attitude of lawfulness throughout the city, but it quickly led to far greater results. Officials found that some of the people arrested for these petty crimes were wanted for other, far more significant crimes, for which they could now be charged and prosecuted.
The success built upon itself and led to objectively remarkable evidence of greatly reduced crime and improved quality of life. As part of the process, Giuliani tracked crime statistically and would grill his subordinates to achieve results, neighborhood by neighborhood. The thoughtful analysis of the statistics helped them understand the causes of some of the crime and anticipate some of it before it happened, allowing them to effectively redeploy resources as needed. Rudy held himself and his subordinates accountable at every step of the process.
Giuiliani's system had three hallmarks: competence, leadership and accountability. Unfortunately, we in New Orleans are stuck with elected officials who lack all three qualities. Therefore, any success in fighting crime will likely need to come from the bottom up rather than from the top down.
Report crime and demand that it be punished, whether a lesser quality of life issue or a more significant crime. Demand action from the Mayor, the District Attorney, the Police Superintendent and the City Council. Replace Eddie Jordan as District Attorney, and not with another political hack but with a competent leader who will achieve results. Replace those criminal court judges who are more concerned with criminals' rights than victims' rights.
Support groups and organizations involved in the fight on crime, such as: Signal 26, Nola Against Crime, Crime Stoppers, Silence is Violence, Vest Up, PANO, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, Danziger 7 and the like (post a comment here if there are other worthwhile groups I inadvertently neglected to mention). Take action to protect you and your families from crime. There are many good resources on the internet for information on home defense and related subjects.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 11:40 AM
Saturday, February 10, 2007
From New Orleans Magazine:
One hundred fifty years ago the Mistick Krewe stages its first parade. Would the marchers recognize the sites along the route today?
The New Orleans that Comus first saw is little changed in some ways. The street network in the French Quarter and business district is much as it was in 1857, and Canal Street remains the “neutral ground.” When Comus first rolled, he didn’t go outside of the American sector where St. Charles, Camp and Magazine were – and are – principal streets. Even some of the buildings would be recognizable to the first Comus.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 10:18 AM
Friday, February 09, 2007
City Business is calling for a needed increase in public trash cans.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:28 PM
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 7:06 PM
Monday, February 05, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:18 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:16 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:13 PM
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 8:41 PM