When it comes to the day-to-day concerns of ordinary New Orleanians, it has become increasingly clear that Mayor Landrieu has, to put it mildly, completely tuned out. Gone are those halcyon days when Landrieu at least gave lip service, if not substantive effort, towards governing our fair city. It’s becoming clear that Landrieu’s attentions have been completely diverted, and his efforts have tilted entirely in favor of preening for a national audience. It all began with Landrieu being named as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a highly politicized group with a pronounced leftward bent. The choice was viewed as a stamp of approval to Landrieu’s much-publicized effort to cleanse New Orleans of its most nefarious element – Confederate statuary.
You won’t find many people in New Orleans who have much good to say about the Parking Enforcement Division of Public Works. Meter Maids seem to generate a never-ending litany of complaints, the vast majority of which appear well-founded. A couple of weeks ago I was confronted with a prime example of this phenomenon. I noticed an old Land Rover parked across the street with a ticket in the windshield. Since the Land Rover was legally parked, I was curious what the ticket said.
Although I am trying to seize the mantle of New Orleans’ resident anti-government curmudgeon, I generally try to avoid playing chicken little. However, it is becoming increasingly evident to me that local government is incapable of providing certain very basic services. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the city has simply run out of money. Earlier this year, I wrote a column in which I pointed out that the city was doing an extremely poor job of replacing street signs. Now, months later, things have become much worse.
Mardi Gras season has generally been considered a prime time for breaking the rules. Whatever terrible activities your nefarious mind has contemplated, Carnival can accommodate. Drink to excess? Do it during Mardi Gras! Dress up in a ridiculous, profane costume?
The cutest Internet video of the week from New Orleans was, inarguably, that of “disco cop.” NOPD Sgt. L.J. Smith was providing security at the Luna Fete light/art festival as electronic dance music brayed from a nearby DJ when he began enthusiastically dancing along with the crowd. In a city beset by violent crime that has been braced with recurring police scandals, the sight of a cop stepping side-to-side and blowing his whistle in time with the music was a welcome diversion. However, while I was watching the video, a seemingly trivial detail caught my eye. Sgt.
Personally, I’ve never been one to armchair quarterback murder investigations or second-guess police when their actions could be described as “restrained.” I’m not a cop and I have no law enforcement training. My relevant expertise as an attorney is limited to simply whether police are operating within the law, and that’s a limited scope. However, it is difficult not to look a little cock-eyed at the investigation into the killing of Joe McKnight down in Terrytown. Publicly-released information makes one wonder: Why hasn’t the perp been charged yet? To recap what happened, this past Thursday afternoon, McKnight and the shooter, Ronald Gasser, were apparently involved in a road rage incident.
“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
Vietnam War Correspondent Peter Arnett claimed to have overheard this quote from an unnamed American major regarding the shelling of of Bến Tre city in early 1968. Its veracity is questionable, and in any event, Bến Tre was largely rubble due to attacks from the north before US artillery began its assault to rout the Vietcong. However, that dubious quote has lingered as a paradigmatic example of a peculiar brand of cognitive dissonance: the notion that you can intentionally eradicate something in the midst of preserving it. Obviously, you can’t have it both ways, but a similar idea has come to mind in the wake of the shooting on Bourbon Street this past weekend in which one person was killed and nine others were wounded. Given the public’s thirst for blood-stained headlines, it should come as little surprise that the incident made national news.
The owners of the erstwhile New Orleans Zephyrs have earned our gratitude. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, which pitted friends and family against each other, New Orleanians needed a common enemy – a foil so blatantly awful that it would distract from divisive partisan politics and give time to heal the wounds. The “New Orleans Baby Cakes” will serve that role. For those of you who aren’t aware of what I’m talking about, it all started this past week when New Orleans’ minor league team, the Zephyrs, announced that it had chosen a new name: The Baby Cakes. The team also released some promotional graphics of a Khrushchevesque baby slathered in eye black, laughing or grimacing while holding a bat.
On Monday, Mayor Landrieu honored his vainglorious pledge made earlier this year to when he signed a new gun ordinance. The final draft of this absurd farce of legislative dreck was mercifully stripped of all provisions that completely merely mirrored existing state law. This left only three remaining restrictions. 1) requiring “the owner of a lost or stolen firearm [to] report the loss or theft to a New Orleans Police Department Officer within 48 hours after discovery of the loss or theft;”
2) prohibiting “[p]ossession of a firearm, or dangerous weapon as defined in L.A. 14:2, on one’s person at any time while in a firearm free zone” including on any “NORDC campus;” and,
3) prohibiting “[n]egligent carrying of a concealed firearm.”
These provisions were specifically chosen by the mayor and the council precisely because they are themselves illegal. The City of New Orleans has no authority to regulate firearms – the state has preempted the field.
Oscar Wilde once called experience “the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” In this sense, it is very useful to discuss Austin’s “experience” in building commuter rail. You see, commuter rail was originally envisioned as a remedy for congestion and an environmental boon, a sound investment in transportation infrastructure. Instead, it turned out to be a cautionary tale, one New Orleans would best heed. Austin debuted Capital Metrorail in March of 2010. The 32-mile line was presented as economical given that it utilized existing freight rail tracks; however, the cost grew from an estimated $90 million to a whopping $148 million due to cost overruns.