Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wall Street Journal Editorial on New Orleans Property Taxes

It's entitled Property Tax Flood: The Real Battle of New Orleans.
To stop local governments from collecting tax windfalls when property values spike, the state requires local governments to roll back property tax rates in hot housing markets. But this being New Orleans, the city has followed the law in the past by cutting property tax rates only to immediately raise them again. Mayor Ray Nagin refuses to rule out playing the same game this year. His office wouldn't answer our questions on the issue, referring us instead to the city's tax assessors.

Notwithstanding Mr. Nagin, there is an opportunity for leadership here. The biggest threat facing New Orleans beyond another hurricane is that too few people will return to the city. The city's population is about 60% of what it was pre-Katrina, and many former residents still seem to prefer living in FEMA trailers to returning home. High property taxes don't help. Or as former Governor Huey Long once quipped, "one day the people of Louisiana are going to get good government--and they aren't going to like it."

The City Council will likely cut property taxes and Council President Arnie Fielkow is taking the lead in meeting with homeowners to discuss the issue. What the Council must now decide is whether to give homeowners a strong reason not to flee the city before their property tax bills come due later this year.

New Orleans Desparately Needs Law and Order

City Journal column reprinted on the Wall Street Journal's website. Excerpt:
For generations now--and this is the city's deepest problem--New Orleans has hobbled along without a real law-and-order presence. Criminals graduate from petty crimes to burglary to drug-dealing to carrying illegal weapons to gang robberies to murder, and face few consequences at any stage. The police, and especially the prosecutors, are ineffectual. Since Katrina, things have gotten much worse, in part because criminals, finding life difficult in cities that enforce the law, have returned to the Big Easy in numbers disproportionate to those of law-abiding citizens. Mayor Ray Nagin doesn't try to fix things, perhaps because, as he often says, he believes crime is a social problem, rooted in a lack of opportunity for poor youth.

The Bush administration has deployed extra federal law-enforcement agents to try to get the worst criminals off the street. The state of Louisiana, meanwhile, has sent the National Guard to patrol half-empty neighborhoods. But just as the U.S. military can only do so much in Iraq when Baghdad's local government is ineffective, the federal government can't do much in New Orleans until the city's local government changes its attitude and behavior. Residents have no reason to think that criminal behavior has predictable negative consequences, because Mr. Nagin and District Attorney Eddie Jordan have failed to make clear that people who commit crimes in New Orleans will be prosecuted.

But President Bush can use federal dollars to try to convince them to do it. In his speech in New Orleans today, Mr. Bush should announce that he's ready to ask Congress for $500 million over two years to overhaul New Orleans's police and prosecutorial forces. But he also should say that the money is contingent on a pledge from Messrs. Nagin and Jordan that their city's No. 1 priority will be law enforcement. Mr. Bush should also tie the federal money to measurable results: rational arrests (from quality-of-life crimes all the way up to homicide), effective prosecutions and, ultimately, fewer crimes.

It's an enduring mystery why Mr. Bush hasn't used the Katrina disaster to show the world that America can rebuild a major city using a bedrock conservative principle: law and order first. Democrats are welcome to propose the same idea, of course. Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton have all mentioned New Orleans's crime problem in their recent speeches. But they often tie it to a lack of staff and equipment in the city after Katrina--as if it's a question of rebuilding something that was lost, instead of building from scratch the most essential component of any city's success. Until politicians understand that basic difference, spending more money--or bragging about past billions spent--while tolerating intolerable conditions in a first-world city is nothing short of disgraceful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

George Winston's Song of Gratitude

For those who don't have it, check out George Winston's Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions: A Hurricane Relief Benefit. The Times-Picayune reviewed it in today's Living section.

NOPD Second District E-Mail Blasts

On August 21st at or about 8:00 am, a female victim was sitting on her porch in the 4400 block of Loyola - waiting for a cab. At that time a young black male approached her on a bicycle. The suspect pulled out a handgun and attempted to rob the victim. The suspect was startled when the taxi cab pulled up and he fled on his bicycle. Because the suspect was more concerned about the cab driver than where he was riding, he was hit by another motorist. He then fled on foot, but was soon captured by officers. Officers also recovered the handgun used in the offense. The suspect is a known 16 year old juvenile. His information cannot be released. We believe this robbery is related to the one which occurred yesterday in the 4200 block of Baronne Street. Detectives are following up on this investigation and will show a photo lineup in this case.
On August 20th at or about 5:30pm, three young black males were observed riding bicycles on along Webster Street. The suspects were checking door handles of parked cars. A witness to the activity followed the suspects in his vehicle. The witness confronted the suspects at Arabella Street and Garfield Street, challenging their actions. At that time, one of the suspects pulled out a handgun and fired at the witness. One bullet struck the witnesses vehicle, but the witness was unharmed. A .380 caliber casing was located on the scene. There are no descriptions on the three suspects.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Poll About Crime's Impact on City's Brand

On the right, you'll see a new poll on the impact of increased crime on the New Orleans brand.

Vick to Admit Guilt in Dogfighting

Michael Vick agreed Monday to plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, a deal that leaves the Atlanta Falcons quarterback facing up to 18 months in prison and puts his NFL career in jeopardy. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend Vick be sentenced to between a year and 18 months in prison, according to a government official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms have not yet been made final.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Free Money Making Idea

For anyone wanting to make money, please open a competitor to Babies R Us. The store in Metairie is a disaster. It was that way before Katrina, so they can't play that excuse either.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Geek Gets Tattoos of Favorite Bloggers

Unbelievable. Feel free to tattoo Nola Blogger anywhere you like, if you're so inclined.

Will One of the Cynthias with a Hyphenated Last Name be Next to Plead Guilty?

Dambala thinks so.

Magazine Street Reopens After More Than Two Years

After a disgraceful two years plus being closed, Magazine Street has finally reopened. What a failure of leadership. In any other city, you would never have even the most obscure cul de sac street closed for that long, much less a major retail, restaurant and commuting thoroughfare.

John Besh to Compete on Iron Chef

John Besh, of Restaurant August, Luke and the Besh Steakhouse, will compete for the opportunity to become the next Iron Chef, who will join chefs Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Eddie Jordan Should Resign

I saw the bumper sticker at left -- Eddie Jordan Should Resign -- on a car the other day and tracked it down and ordered one. It is available for order here.

We are now long past the time for Eddie Jordan to resign. His first act upon taking office was an expensive one, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in a subsequent court judgment, now affirmed by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, for the mass firing of white workers in the DA's office. That alone ought to cause him to be forced to resign. Why is politics so different from the real world? Imagine in your own job if the boss disgraced your company and committed some sort of blunder that cost the company millions of dollars -- the boss would be gone in a second. Why do voters allow this sort of incompetence to continue with our elected officials?

Aside from his incompetent and racist employment practices, the far more important issue is crime. Today's Times-Picayune reports that violent crime continues to increase, with murders, rapes, armed robberies and assaults up 31%. Where is Eddie Jordan during all of this? Since Katrina, the only times he has resurfaced is when absolutely forced to, such as when called to appear before the City Council. The DA needs to be a hammer who is constantly out there aggressively fighting crime. Does Eddie Jordan show even the slightest sense of urgency about the increasing problem?

Rumors have been circulating for months that Jordan is on the take. It's hard to tell whether his problem is corruption or just massive incompetence, but either way, he needs to go.

100 Great Tips to Improve Your Life

100 tips at LifeRemix.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Trip to City Hall

I had the unfortunate experience of going to City Hall yesterday to turn in a homestead exemption. Before I reached the building, I passed through the green space next to City Hall. It is called Duncan Plaza and has a large gazebo in the middle of it. As soon as I reached the plaza, I was hit with the smell of human waste, which no doubt comes from the bums who choose to live in the gazebo. In other cities, the City Hall is a place of pride for the community to admire and enjoy. Not here, where it is a disgrace. I hope our elected officials are proud to bring visiting Congressmen and other dignitaries to our City Hall through a gauntlet of vagrants and urine.

After making my way past the bums, I entered City Hall where hundreds of people were waiting to see their assessor. The metal detectors went off as I passed through them with my cell phone, keys, etc., but the policewoman did not care. I could have had guns and hand grenades in my pockets for all she cared. She rudely asked what I was doing there, and I told her I only wanted to drop off a piece of paper at the assessor's office and that I did not need to speak to anyone or otherwise cut in line. She said that I had to wait in line behind hundreds of people to drop off the piece of paper. I asked if there was an interoffice mail box where I could leave it, and she looked clueless. I asked another of New Orleans' finest if I could go to the fourth floor. He told me to come back tomorrow, but eventually I convinced him to allow me the privilege of taking the elevator up to turn in my form, which I did without taking one second of the assessor's time (they have a drop box for the forms).

I assume the bulk of the people sitting there in line for hours live in Nancy Marshall's district. To those who voted for her, you only have yourselves to blame because she's doing exactly what she promised to do, i.e., raising your assessments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Countdown to Bill Jefferson's Conviction

I figured out how to add a countdown clock to the blog and decided to have a little fun with it. This week's countdown clock is dedicated to Dollar Bill. It counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until he a) provides that honorable explanation for all the cash in his freezer that he's been promising us or b) is convicted. I'll put up a different countdown clock every week or so.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oliver Thomas' Guilty Plea

Here is a link to the court documents in the Oliver Thomas case, including the bill of information and the factual basis for the plea. He stipulated to the factual basis on July 18, 2007, so he and the government kept this quiet for a while. He admits to taking $19,000. I hope he's happy that he threw away his career, reputation and freedom for a lousy $19,000.

Hopefully Pampy Barre and now Oliver Thomas will continue to rat out others who plundered our taxpayer money during the Morial administration and heads will continue to roll. Marc Morial is probably having a little trouble sleeping these days as he waits out the statute of limitations for his crimes in exile in New York.

I shouldn't have to say this, but folks, please don't vote for Thomas for Mayor in 2010 if for some reason he is legally able to run and does run. It shouldn't be necessary to recommend that people not vote for criminals (or incompetents), but the left's track record on this isn't very good.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oliver Thomas Resigns and Pleads Guilty

Oliver Thomas has resigned from the City Council and pled guilty to demanding illegal payments from a parking lot operator with a City contract. Stan "Pampy" Barre rolled over on Thomas in an attempt to lessen his own sentence for a fraudulent energy savings contract signed by Marc Morial. Who will Barre turn on next? Lefties had big hopes for Thomas to become Mayor in 2010.

Nagin: Murders Help New Orleans Brand

Here we have been focusing on the negative aspects of our sky high murder rate and failing to see that it's a good news bad news situation. From Ray Nagin:
"Do I worry about it? Somewhat, it's not good for us, but it also keeps the New Orleans brand out there, and it keeps people thinking about our needs and what we need to bring this community back. So, it is kind of a two-edged sword."