Mar 252013
 

Owen Courreges

New Orleans should annex all of unincorporated Jefferson Parish!  Metairie shall henceforth be known as New Orleans West!  “Fat City” will receive a makeover and be reinvented as “the little Bourbon!”  Prosperity shall rein!

Now that I have your attention, I will explain why this should happen, but cannot happen due to historical factors and outmoded laws.

New Orleans actually achieved its current boundaries in 1874, the same year former Reconstruction Governor Henry Warmoth killed local newspaper editor D.C. Byerly on Canal Street with a pocket knife after the latter attempted to beat him to death with his cane (a momentary digression: Byerly was the original owner of my current house).  It was Governor Warmoth who had orchestrated the grand expansion of New Orleans in the Reconstruction Era.

Under Marmoth, New Orleans (which was consolidated with Orleans Parish in 1805) gobbled swaths of Jefferson Parish, including the erstwhile cities of Lafayette, Jefferson City, Algiers and Carrollton.

Jefferson City, which forms the middle part of Uptown New Orleans, proved the most difficult to bring under the city’s yoke.  Warmoth’s reconstruction government clashed with the pro-Confederate government of Jefferson City, culminating in a grand battle which took place on May 20, 1869.  Warmoth himself, on horseback, led a phalanx of 450 soldiers armed with muskets and howitzers down St. Charles, then left down Napoleon to Lawrence Square.  There, infantry under Warmoth exchanged fire at the police station and then scoured St. Stephen’s Church for stragglers.

Think about that for a moment.  That really happened, and within stumbling distance of Ms. Mae’s.

Afterwards, in the 1870 special session, Warmoth pushed his annexation plans and New Orleans consumed Jefferson City.  Then, to add insult to injury, he created a slaughterhouse monopoly outside the city limits to kill Jefferson City’s stock landing and much of its commerce (a matter that went up to the Supreme Court in the now-notorious “Slaughterhouse Cases” which upheld the monopoly).

Warmoth was impeached in 1872 (replaced by the nation’s first black governor, incidentally), but his push paved the way for the annexation in Carrollton in 1874, also done without the popular approval of its residents.

Much of the opposition to annexation in Carrollton came from the fact that Carrollton, save for a few bond issues, was debt-free.  New Orleans, conversely, was rife with debt yet overtaxed.  Several years later in 1882, Governor Samuel McEnrey pushed the state to enact a new charter for New Orleans, noting that there was “no check against extravagance and abuse.”

“Were it not for individual enterprise and public spirit, the city would be in a deplorable condition,” McEnrey opined.

This perception of New Orleans only accelerated in following years.  The botched annexations of Jefferson City and Carrollton weighed heavy in the public mind, as did the popular perception of New Orleans as being too big for its proverbial britches.  By the end of World War II, with suburbanization kicking into high gear, the rest of the state was fed up.

Municipal annexations, traditionally a state legislative power, were largely delegated with the passage  of Louisiana Act 315 of 1946, which became La. Rev. Stat. 33:171 to 33:179.  This act allowed annexation to occur via petition or ordinance with a popular vote.  However, reading those statutes in their present form, you get the idea that New Orleans wasn’t well-liked.  To wit:

  • La. Rev. Stat. § 33:172(a): “The limits and boundaries of incorporated municipalities shall remain as established on July 31, 1946, but may be enlarged or contracted, by ordinance of the governing body as hereinafter provided, the city of New Orleans excepted.”

 

  • La. Rev. Stat. § 33:172(a)(6) (governing petitions to annex territory): “[T]he city of New Orleans cannot incorporate any area of Jefferson, Plaquemines, or St. Bernard parishes. In addition, except as provided in this Paragraph, the provisions of this Section shall not otherwise apply to the parish of Jefferson.”

 

  • La. Rev. Stat. § 33:180(a): “The governing body of any municipality other than the city of New Orleans may, by ordinance, enlarge the boundaries of the municipality to include territory within which all of the land is owned by a state agency, political subdivision, or public body[.]”

The message was clear: New Orleans cannot annex anything, not ever and no how.  You let New Orleans encroach on neighboring municipalities, and the next thing you know they’re exchanging gunfire in Lawrence Square.

I tend to think that the legislation was really just trying to enable the decline of New Orleans’ political clout, abetted by the phenomenon known as “white flight.”  If New Orleans couldn’t expand, unfettered suburbanization in Jefferson Parish could continue.  It was a ready escape valve for those who feared being under the thumb of entrenched, corrupt machine politicians and bureaucrats – or worse, persons with dark complexions!

Those fears endured throughout the remainder of the 20th century.  The result has been a considerable reduction in the population and tax base of Orleans Parish and the stratification of the metroplex along political and racial lines.  The moment you cross into Jefferson Parish – and it doesn’t take long to get to the parish line – the political barometer leaps to the right.

This hasn’t been healthy.  When you get down to the brass tacks, Jefferson and Orleans are, generally speaking, shareholders in the same corporation.   Our fortunes rise and fall together; divides and instability don’t put more money in our pockets – they only increase risk and lower returns.

At the same time, huge parts of Jefferson Parish are still up for grabs.  Metairie in particular is unincorporated, and its population is well into the six-figure range.   However, due to restrictions on annexation in Jefferson Parish and the total ban on any expansion of Orleans Parish, the municipal boundaries in the region are virtually fixed.  Change is verboten, which is the same as mandated stagnation.  If New Orleans were a business, we would say that it had suffered grievously from being artificially hamstrung by government regulation.

The positive results would be readily apparent if New Orleans were allowed to expand.  A 2006 report from the Brookings Institute found that “[a] city’s ability to annex land from its surrounding county is a primary determinant of its fiscal health.”

The report further concluded that “[a]nnexation is far from an outmoded, dying practice.”

There are, alas, other impediments to annexation aside from state law.  First, you will find no shortage of opponents in the areas to be annexed, but the reality is that they feed, in varying degrees, off of the city to which their suburb is anchored and should not have any reasonable objection to being brought back into the fold.  This is especially true given that the divide between New Orleans and Jefferson has narrowed substantially in recent decades.  New Orleans, a majority-minority city, has shown itself open-minded enough to elect a white mayor and, for at least one term, a Republican congressman.  No serious commentator could conclude that we are still stuck in the politics of the 1960’s.

Secondly, there is the little matter of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which would frown on  any dilution of minority voting power in a major Southern city.  This problem is endemic to the VRA, which tends to view the crowding of minorities as a victory for equality.  The reality is that minority voters would have a greater political impact in the region if our municipal boundaries were more rationally based.  Instead of a perceived monolithic majority taken for granted, they could be potential swing voters or a reliable base.  The VRA should not prevent the expansion of New Orleans.

The bottom line is that annexation authority is important and New Orleans cannot afford to stay silent on the matter.  In the past year, Baton Rouge and Kenner have both shown some interest in expanding precisely because the law allows it.  New Orleans should not bow down to some archaic laws borne of 19th century thinking and indulge the stupid idea that its boundaries shall forever stand as they were set in 1874.

New Orleans has the right to be dynamic.  To the extent New Orleans has become insular and stagnant, much of that blame can be laid at the feet of those who artificially constrained its borders.  It is high time New Orleans was allowed to grow.

Mark my words: continuing the status quo will not only be worse for New Orleans, but for the entire metroplex as well.

Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.

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  • http://twitter.com/johnaldenmeade John Alden Meade

    Fine point Owen, and a subject of much discussion over the years.
    I would expand on your point regarding many the Metairie residents, especially in Old Metairie, who freeload on what the rest of us taxpayers in Orleans Parish provide. Surely the Urban Institute can provide an economic analysis of this imbalance. (Then, we can present them with the option of paying the bill or acceding to annexation!) I also believe that, at bottom, many such Metairie residents know this to be true. A somewhat amusing exercise would be to ask how many homeowners on Northline or Farnham, or what you have, when they land in Charles DeGaulle airport for their Parisian vacation, say that they’re from Metairie? Mais oui, j’habite en la Nouvelle Orleans!

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndrewWardNOLA Andrew Ward

    Or a better option…

    Allow everything between I-10 & the River from Napoleon Ave to Elmwood to cecede from the City of New Orleans, Orleans Parish, & Jefferson Parish and form a new 65th parish with a consolidated city-parish government.

    Independent police department, water department, school system, etc.

    It’d be a great place — three major universities, three major hospitals, a solid tax base, an even mix of residential, industrial, & commercial…

    Oh yeah, and for those living in the area, our tax burden would drop to about 25% of what it currently is whilst our public services, roads, schools, etc. would improve tenfold.

    Viva les Faubourgs!

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Andrew,

      This is the exact opposite of what I’m saying. There is a problem with people refusing to recognize that we’re a city and our fortunes rise and fall together. If every wealthier part of town declared itself a separate city, there would be nothing left but a small, insular and poor urban core that we’d all be living next door to. I don’t see our quality of life improving from that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carbondate Darrell Kocha

    In the near term, it would balance the racial and political demographics of the city. Neither whites nor blacks would hold a majority, and having competitive elections would allow Republicans to register as such rather than as Democrats. I also think Metairie would benefit from actually being part of a municipality. However, I don’t think Metairie residents would be very excited about having NOPD patrolling the streets. There’s a steep drop in police quality between JPSO and NOPD.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Darrell,

      I completely agree about the positive effects on the political sphere, and I also agree that Jefferson Parish residents would likely oppose annexation. However, I’m not so certain that the gap between the quality in policing is quite as large as you think, and in any event, many present JPSO deputies could be integrated into a new NOPD district, changing as little as possible. It really just depends on how annexation is managed.

      • Deux amours

        There is no chance of merger or annexation, but metro cooperation could and should be meaningfully increased. The TP had a nice article on the duplicative parish coroners. Perhaps some of our small government advocates could turn to this. Our regional transit authority is hardly regional, and there is a separate transit system in Jefferson, and no service at all on the North shore. i’m sure there are numerous other areas of easy cooperation that would not threaten the existing political/racial government that many support.

  • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

    AhContraire,

    Hear, hear. The VRA was certainly appropriate initially in the wake of Jim Crow, but it now often causes more harm than good for everyone concerned.

    • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

      Now that you bring it up, the Voting Rights Act also nullified the attempts at desegregation like “school busing” and minority hiring quotas in city governments in an indirect and delayed way.

    • http://twitter.com/planningbfun Douglas C. Duckworth

      Governmental fragmentation, the absence of regionalism, and extreme hostility towards New Orleans, all certainly undermine economic development. Under conditions of economic decline, the inclination to engage in zero-sum “us v. them” politics greatly increases as the success of one jurisdiction may be perceived to and actually undermine another. The failure to fund essential infrastructure like the CCC provides a good recent example of how we must change. Other cities suffer this problem. At least we are not Saint Louis or Detroit.

      I greatly enjoyed this post until the author made the erroneous claim that Jim Crow no longer impacts minorities in the South and that the Voting Rights Act should vanish. The ABA, State of California, State of Mississippi, State of North Carolina, State of New York, and many other groups, filed amicus briefs supporting the VRA. They can be viewed here and here.

      The effects test allows annexations that dilute if cities implement a means to maintain proportionate minority voting representation such as going from at-large to single-member council districts (see City of Port Arthur, Texas v. United States; City of Rome v. United States; City of Richmond v. United States). David Dukes’ living legacy – known as the Tea Party – provides the greatest impediment to suburban annexation.

      • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

        Douglas,

        The VRA is based on the false premise that majority-minority districts enhance minority voting power. They do not – they dilute it. Rather than being a potential swing vote, minorities wind up being an easily-disregarded base. Now, the VRA initially made sense when racial gerrymandering was rampant and used to completely obliterate minority voting power, but that’s not the situation now. Now, entrenched politicians from both parties see reasons to support the VRA that have nothing to do with race, the foremost among them being that it protects incumbency.

        The situation has changed to where the real gerrymandering is political, not racial. There are some racist politicians, but there is not a George Wallace around every corner. I assume getting rid of the VRA would result in some racial shennanigans in certain backwoods counties and parishes, but you see the same occurring up north already. At the very least, there is no reason to continue singling out southern states for this treatment. Your claim that the Tea Party is somehow a legacy of David Duke just shows me that you don’t really have a reasonable or objective view on this.

        You are correct that annexations evoke racial tensions, but they’re on both sides. Ultimately, while there may be ways around it, the VRA provides yet another legal barrier to annexations, allowing any southern annexation battle to wind up in federal court. It’s yet another reason why I think the VRA is outdated and does more harm than good.

  • Guest

    I never comment on these articles, but as a Jefferson Parish resident in Metairie I strongly oppose this idea. Do this, and watch us all move to Mandeville.

  • http://twitter.com/bleezybleezy bleezybleezy

    Yeah we’re good out here in Metairie. No thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      ───▄████▄─────
      ──███▄█▀──────
      ─▐████──█──█──
      ──█████▄──────
      ───▀████▀─────

      ᗧ : “But Metairie is so white and rotund! It’s like I was meant to gobble it!”

      Just kidding, of course. I understand the reluctance; annexation is one of those things done for the greater good and in the short term often hurts those being annexed. However, I really do believe that we’d be stronger as a city if New Orleans could expand westward. Heck, I also think Metairie would wind up having some serious political clout, more than it had in Jefferson.

    • John70125

      No kidding, hundreds of thousands of people that fled the dysfunction of bad schools and tribal governance are going to willingly be sucked back into Orleans Parish to provide a broader tax base for New Orleans politicians. If the law were changed, unincorporated Jefferson would incorporate of annex themselves to Kenner before they allowed themselves to be brought back into New Orleans. This is the scheme for people with no ability to solve their own problems and no understanding of how the unincorporated would vote when given the opportunity.

  • Romulus

    UP St. Charles Ave., Owen. Not down.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Romulus,

      “Down” and “up” are relative terms streetwise. It depends what it’s in relation to. Here, I meant Warmoth was going down St. Charles from New Orleans, where he was coming from. I could have also said “up” from the frame of reference of Jefferson City, or in reference to going “uptown,” although textually either is correct.

      • Deux amours

        I have to disagree. In traditional New Orleans parlance, Canal Street is the point of reference, and one goes up St. Charles when moving away from Canal, and down St. Charles when going to Canal. This may be related to the river flow. Growing up in the Ninth Ward, Canal Street was always uptown to me. I still protest the relatively modern misnomer of calling the CBD downtown, when, being above Canal, it is properly uptown.

        • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

          Deux,

          “Uptown” and “downtown” don’t necessarily regulate the phrases “up the street” and “down the street.” The same applies to “upriver” and “downriver.” I researched this issue before responding and I’m confident in my response. Saying that you are going “up” or “down” a street has no absolute frame of reference, even in cities divided by rivers and those with uptowns and downtowns.

          There are many different standards here, none of which are absolute. “Up” or “down” the street can be relative to the speaker or an identified person, can refer to elevation, can refer to a north/south divide, or can refer to a direction relative to a town center. I’m sure there are other frames reference, and all are perfectly acceptable and commonly used. Long story short, my explanation is valid and my usage was acceptable by the standards of formal English.

          On another note, I hate pedants, and prescriptivism makes me want to vomit. The English speaking world uses “up” and “down” with reference to travelling on a “street” fairly interchangeably due to the lack of a widely accepted reference point, and no major dictionary I know of sets the standard I’m being accused of violating. Good Lord, next we’ll be talking about how I occasionally start sentences with conjunctions.

          • Deux amours

            It’s New Orleans, and we have our own way of speaking, no matter what you found in a google search. I think even people in the suburbs would use the same references.

          • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

            Deux,

            You’re just plain wrong. New Orleans does have some interesting peculiarities in language, but this isn’t one of them. It’s the same here as anywhere else, including cities like ours with a well-defined “uptown” and “downtown.” When you say “up” or “down” the street, the reference can be the business district (i.e., Canal Street) or it simply be from a person being discussed. I hear it all the time and it’s accepted usage.

            And even if there were such a local peculiarity, anybody insisting on it would still appear as irritating and ridiculous as those Grand Poobahs of New Orleans culture who call out anybody who uses the word “median” instead of “neutral ground.” You’d be taking interesting cultural quirks and turning them into a humorless inquisition. That’s even worse than pedantry.

          • Deux amours

            Owen, it is not the most important issue of the day, and I am sure you have solid research to back up your report that there is no regulation addressing the subject. I think you are also right that usage is inconsistent. There is some sense to the New Orleans usage. If you were having a drink at the Columns, and someone asked how to get to Canal Street, I hope you would not tell him to drive up St. Charles. I think a real test of the articulate is to be able to give directions without using one’s hands.
            On a more serious note, did you notice that your colleague Jewel apparently thinks you have succeeded in your campaign to expand the power of New Orleans? She wants the city to pass a law to address the problems of illegal immigrants arrested in Kenner,

          • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

            Deux,

            >>If you were having a drink at the Columns, and someone asked how to get to Canal Street, I hope you would not tell him to drive up St. Charles.<>On a more serious note, did you notice that your colleague Jewel apparently thinks you have succeeded in your campaign to expand the power of New Orleans? She wants the city to pass a law to address the problems of illegal immigrants arrested in Kenner.<<

            I'll check that out. That definitely doesn't sound right.

  • Deux amours

    I would disagree with some of your historical account. The singular limitations on the city in state law were an effort to limit the power of the city. For most of the state’s history, through the first six or seven decades of the twentieth century, the city’s size, wealth, and relatively well educated population caused it to dominate much of the affairs of the state. Its Catholicism was also something to dislike. Also, people forget or do not know that the city was the center of good government. We had Morrison when the state had Earl Long and Jimmy Davis. Machine politics are one thing, but police juries and rural sheriffs are another. Crime was centered in the suburban parishes as in the gambling and mafia activities attacked by Kefaufver. All this changed with integration, perhaps in reality and certainly in perception. The traditional animosity of some to the city simply merged with anti-black feeling. One of the things that makes metro New Orleans different from other southern cities is that we have a rivalry and lack of support with our suburbs that you don’t see elsewhere.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Deux,

      I think we’re both right to varying degrees; all of these were factors. The animosity between New Orleans and the rest of the state was there, but it’s also true that the state wanted to “protect” growing suburbs from potential annexation by New Orleans, in part due to how painful previous annexations had been. The bottom line remains, though — we need to reintegrate with the suburbs, and moving forward with annexations would be a quick way of doing that (again, unlikely, but I’d like for people to start discussing it).

      • Deux amours

        As I said in a separate reply, there is zero chance of any formal integration of the city and suburbs, but we can work to increase metropolitan cooperation and, most importantly, seek to end the hostility of suburban types to the city.

        • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

          Deux,

          To the extent you are correct that annexation is a pipe dream (and I agree it is at least highly unlikely) I do agree in the near terms that cooperation and integration of various entities within the metroplex would be a welcome development. The same goes for ending the hostility between the city and the suburbs, which frankly goes both ways.

          However… At the very least we should be thinking about the very long term, and removing the artificial restrictions on annexation imposed against New Orleans should be something we start pushing for now. Unlike everywhere else, New Orleans cannot annex anything even by a popular vote in the territory to be annexed. Jefferson Parish could be clamoring to become part of New Orleans, and under current law, annexation would still be illegal.

          Even those who do not favor annexations might agree that targeting New Orleans with this handicap is unfair, that we need fair laws that apply roughly the same across all municipalities and parishes. I can imagine a Metairie resident who froths at the mouth at the mere mention of annexation being persuaded that the laws I quoted seem punitive and unfair towards New Orleans. It’s a small step, but the sooner it’s made the better.

          • Deux amours

            Here’s an idea for you. To get around those limitations on the annexation rights of New Orleans, you could promote annexation of New Orleans by one of the suburban cities such as Gretna or Mandeville. I know they all are eager to grow. Of course, since there is resistance within those parishes to annexation of areas even within those parishes, it might be difficult. Few politicians, even those who advocate less government, want fewer governmental units to divvy up (or is it down?).

          • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

            Deux,

            I didn’t mention it in my column, but there is also a law severely restricting the ability of any municipality within Jefferson Parish to annex territory. Why do you think so much of the parish is still unincorporated? Nothing will change until the law does.

          • Deux amours

            Government consolidation makes a lot more sense within Jefferson or St. Tammany, and it is certainly closer to being plausible than cross parish annexation by the city of New Orleans. Any change in the law that is needed ought to be easily accomplished once the conservative governments in those parishes point out to our conservative governor and legislature that this is the reduction in government that they all seek.

          • http://profiles.google.com/rsolinsk Roland Solinski

            I think the large scale of Jefferson Parish government makes it efficient. Certainly a constellation of tiny incorporated suburbs would be worse?

            Overall, this annexation is an odd suggestion. I get that we all benefit from being unified, but I worry that the city has to become more like Jefferson in the deal, which is an awful outcome that jeopardizes all the unique cultural and urban aspects that people love about New Orleans. Would you rather visit The Joint in a ramshackle Bywater shotgun, or a strip mall? You’ll get easy parking, and lose… everything else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.grandpre.3 Mark Grandpre

    Owen….Bet you never thought when you wrote this article that you would run across so much resistance? I fully understand where you are coming from. You are looking out for the city’s best interest. I applaud you for that. There are also numerous other great ideas that is keeping N.O. from achieving greatness. I don’t know if you are originally from these parts, but these people are content with not so much the status quo. They are content with living in their own little bubble. That bubble contains many things. The one main molecule in that bubble is a little small thing called bigotry and hate. N.O. demographics are very unique to the rest of the country. Because we are so close geographical to three larger parishes (Jefferson, St. Bernard, and St. Tammney), I truly believe that our own city politicians don’t do enough for New Orleans because of this. Here’s an obstacle that is strictly a N.O. thing. For example, how many family members do you think Mitch Landrieu have that live in these surrounding parishes? He has to have some, right? So why would he, and these other politicians, who are in the same family boat, do anything to shake up these laws to make things beneficial for N.O.? They won’t because they would hear it from their “momma and them.” That’s N.O. in a nutshell.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Mark,

      Oh, I fully expected resistance to the idea. It’s a hard sell to those in unincorporated surrounding areas. That’s not just unique to New Orleans, though — usually suburbs develop different demographically from the urban core and if annexation is later proposed, a firestorm erupts. The divide in New Orleans is significantly greater than most, though, making it even more difficult. Nevertheless, I’ve always urged us to look beyond the status quo.

  • Diogonese

    To continue with your analogy, if New Orleans were a well-run business, you wouldn’t even be writing this article. Also, New Orleans is so disfunctional and corrupt, why would any sane person want more? It’s like saying you want more cancer….NOT.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Diogonese,

      Fair enough, but I think many of New Orleans’ problems have been exacerbated by a lack of annexation power. Also, I don’t exactly think Jefferson Parish government is so great either. From “Wrinkled Robe” to Broussard going to prison, there’s a great deal of dysfunction and corruption there as well. The whole area has been working through it.

      • Diogonese

        Point taken. Jefferson does have its share of problems However, NO’s problems are self-inflicted to a large degree. Like I said, no sane person would ask for more cancer.

        • http://twitter.com/planningbfun Douglas C. Duckworth

          Jefferson and New Orleans would both have fewer problems if they pooled resources to solve them together. Of course it is easier to run campaigns based upon fear than unity.

  • http://twitter.com/planningbfun Douglas C. Duckworth

    Where and when is the next cross burning?

  • blah23

    i think you meant reign, not rein. also, please learn proper grammar before you write something(you wrote: “I will explain why this should happen, but cannot happen due to historical factors and outmoded laws.” there should be no comma before “but.” seriously, i haven’t read past that part. just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you get to write it out.

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      blah,

      First, you are correct that there was a typo in “reign.” Secondly, you are correct that I made a mistake with sentence you quote, but it wasn’t because I added a comma inappropriately; rather, it was because a second comma was missing. The phrase “but cannot happen” should have had commas on both sides of it because it is an interrupter. My bad. I do try to edit as best as I can, but some minor errors slip through.

      In any event, a person who writes a comment with no capitalization, improper spacing, and a missing parenthesis should probably not be criticizing piddly errors in the writing of others.

      Also, it’s pretty clear that you’re an annoying jerk, so I’m kind of glad to hear you didn’t bother reading my column. I’d hate to have to engage somebody as asinine you on anything of real substance. Then again, the truth is that anybody with an opinion is entitled to write it out, and that even includes wastes of skin like yourself.

  • Anthony F

    New Orleans can fix itself by actually doing some things to attract businesses and people to the city.

    We pushed out neighborhood businesses with the zoning code, we pushed out big retailers with the ‘big box ordinance’. We let the schools decay because we looked at them more as a source of employment and contracts rather than as a place for bringing up the next generation. We kept multiple city councils that enacted unessential laws we had neither the capacity and/or the will to enforce or administer. We allowed growing micromanagement by City Hall of private property in the city when they had neither the expertise or real interest in doing it, creating bureaus like the HDLC to throw sand in peoples’ renovations rather than smoothing the path to rehabbing buildings, to the point people either stopped dealing with the city out of frustration or just stopped rehabbing their buildings. We enacted a “master plan” designed to thwart growth and add multiple more ‘rings to kiss’ (& the attendant risk of extortion). Every new plan that emerges seems designed to reduce our city’s capacity for growth and either cap the population or drive even more folks away.

    And all of this against a backdrop where it is clear to the most casual observer that we can’t continue at these depressed population numbers because we simply can’t afford the costs of all the infrastructure issues or support our basic needs at affordable tax rates (and remember that everyone pays property taxes cause your rent is going to factor in the cost of it as well). Now, I’d love to see New Orleans in its current footprint get to a million people but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that annexing Metairie will solve the issues that plague us in the city unless it sweeps away the impediments growth I outlined above.

    We don’t NEED to annex Metairie to make New Orleans work. We need to work to solve our own issues first.

  • Shoo_fly

    Wow Owen…. this may be the stupidest column you’ve
    written so far – and that’s quite an accomplishment. How can anyone plow through all that nonsensical dribble you call an opinion? It’s a shame that Mr. Morris has chosen to debase the respectability of his service by showcasing the thoughtless opinions of someone as uninvolved and misinformed as you.

    Your column is the lowest point of the UM.

    Oh, but wait – You’re a “rogue” columnist, always taking the contrary opinion, standing with the underdog and desperately trying to be controversial – all while wasting keystrokes and insulting your neighbors. Who knew that Garden District attorneys in suspenders could be so “rogue.”

    This column takes the cake for inane frivolity. Of all the issues facing this city, you dredge up this silly diatribe about annexing Metairie. No better way to shine a bright light on just how out of touch you truly are.

    I liked it better when you went around insulting you neighbors as busybodies, making fun of the organizations that make your hood
    livable and championing those who don’t care how their actions affect others. Your acerbic and insulting opinions of your neighbors didn’t endear you to those who live around you and the Shoo_fly is here to set you straight…. It’s one thing to lampoon politicians and public figures, but insulting the hard-working guy next door is unacceptable.

    I’m sure you’re a celebrity at Finger Lickin’ Wings. Had they opened a Garden District location in the church lot across from your ivory tower you could have experience first hand all the nerve-rattling joy of a thumping bounce party and the smell of greasy wings on a Saturday morning. Maybe then you wouldn’t have felt so “rogue” and might have opposed handing a liquor permit to an irresponsible business owner who has repeatedly shown a flippant attitude toward his neighbors and the law. Oh, and the Owen Courreges honorary truck stop will soon be completed on Tchoup. I know it was important to you to bring a suburban Slidell-style eyesore to the neighborhood and this prefab development should make you smile. Hope to see you there gassing up your vintage mildew mobile…

    At the very least you should review Strunk and White once again (although you boldly declared them irrelevant and apparently tossed the book before their wisdom could serve you). It would behoove you to purchase another copy and read it twice.

    Know that as long as “rogue is in vogue” and you continue to assail your neighbors with your limitless wisdom, the Shoo_fly will be buzzing around offering enlightened insight on your unenlightened commentary….

    Shoo_fly

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Seriously? Look, I had about the same views on politics before I moved back here. Like all human beings I am a festering husk of motivations, but I don’t exclusively thrive on being “rogue.” Anybody who reads my columns understands that I go along with majority views about as often as I oppose them.

      My major beef is this San-Francisco-attitude whereby rich folk cloister themselves in old inner-city neighborhoods, then bar anything resembling the hoi polloi from their midst and still refer to themselves as “good liberals.” I can accept a dilapidated store than hurts my property values. I can’t accept rich jerks who want to keep out the surging throngs of humanity — with the force of government — to protect their own narrow interests. I’ll go bankrupt on that principle, if necessary.

      And Strunk and White is still crap. I hate 19th century prescriptivism and maintain it has no real authority or historical authenticity. I will use conjunctives at the beginning of sentences and teach you to like it. :)

  • Shoo_fly

    Owen – I posted a thoughtful message last night on how your rants drag on forever, make little sense and show that you are usually not well informed. I also pointed out that you have managed to insult oodles of your closest neighbors and the shoo_fly is now here to be a glad fly that sets you straight.
    Not even Strunk and White could save us from your writing “style”.
    Unfortunately UM is a “censored” format and not truly a community format and my previous comments from yesterday were not posted….

    Let’s see if you guys cull my thoughts again….

    More to come from the shoo_fly…

    • http://twitter.com/Owen_Courreges Owen Courrèges

      Bring it on! I didn’t notice your comments before, but I have no problem with responding to them. Believe it or not, even my comments go through Robert. This is his sandbox, not mine.