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.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
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.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 4:55 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 10:07 PM
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.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 10:00 PM
Monday, August 20, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 7:32 PM
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 1:57 PM
Posted by Nola Blogger at 7:25 AM
Friday, August 17, 2007
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?
Posted by Nola Blogger at 6:19 AM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
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.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 9:24 PM
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 5:35 AM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
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.
Posted by Nola Blogger at 5:32 AM
Monday, August 13, 2007
Posted by Nola Blogger at 5:42 AM
"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."
Posted by Nola Blogger at 5:37 AM