Don’t Be Mad at the Mirror
Check out this editorial from UC. The short version: Our community needs real change. If we accept more of the same from our politicians and business leaders, then we shouldn’t get mad at the rest of the country if they decide to spend their money elsewhere.
As a community, New Orleans takes a certain amount of pride in dancing the line between reality and illusion. Masking for carnival, our tacit complicity in political corruption, the myth of our racially harmonious gumbo: like a hustler in Jackson Square, each of these winks at the outsider and says, “Just trust us on this, don’t look to close.”
But the now the stakes are higher than they have ever been. We can continue to wink. We can allow the same politicians to divert contracts to their friends. We can permit our business and political leaders to think small. We can reestablish the same factions and continue squabbling over the same crumbs.
Or, we can come together as a community and demand that the residents of New Orleans have a voice in setting priorities, in the strategic planning process, in budget priorities, and in managing the performance of our elected officials. We can establish and adhere to evidence-based quality standards for implementation, budget, and accountability to ensure that our input is translated into truly beneficial programs. Read it.
Rationalizing the Planning Process
A lot of wasted energy goes into development in New Orleans. The developers have to spend their time creating complex alliances with public relations firms, attorneys, politicians and other assorted hangers-on while many neighborhood associations seem to be in perpetual fire drill mode, watching for any development proposed for their communities, ready to launch a public relations blitz of their own if it’s undesirable. The neighborhood associations are left cynical and suspicious of ANY new development, and burnout is high among members, who tire of the same recurring battles, diverting communities from addressing other problems. And even when successful, many developers are bitter about their experiences doing business in New Orleans. Ultimately, no one is happy with this Sisyphean process. Well, maybe a few politicians are happy that everyone has to kiss their ring to get anything done. While the solutions to this problem are far from simple, there are some best practices out there – and not just from those trendy, oft-cited cities either. We’ll be reporting on ways that communities are maintaining their sense of place in a way that allows for sensible and profitable developments to take place.