Nagin otherwise sounded a largely upbeat tone during his speech, noting that 97 percent of the city’s medium and large companies have returned and 120,000 city building permits have been issued since Katrina (he said that is the number of permits that normally would be issued over a 7- to 8-year span) with a value of $3.5 billion. There is another $3 billion to $4 billion of ongoing commercial development in the city now with much more to come, he added.Concerning the permits, 120,000 being issued is a positive marker. However, Nagin’s 7-to-8 year span analogy doesn’t mean the recovery is going 7 to 8 times faster than normal. That just means that the hurricane and floods caused in three days the amount damage that would normally occur in 7 to 8 years.
I am not trying to Nagin-hate here. But Nagin made a few comments I don’t get at a luncheon yesterday, like his population numbers for New Orleans that are at odds with state numbers:
Nagin said he believes the parish’s population, which topped 460,000 pre-Katrina, is closer to 250,000 today and headed toward 274,000 by January.What, this report?
“I don’t know where that came from,’’ he said of the state’s estimate of 187,525 Orleans residents. “Don’t ask me why the state would come out with a report like that.’’
Known officially as the 2006 Louisiana Health and Population Survey, the project employs a standard U.S. Census Bureau method for conducting population estimates, with modifications made to these methods to account for the effects of the 2005 hurricane season.Right, why should we trust the Census Bureau’s methods?
"The survey methodology was developed with advice from technical experts on population surveys at the CDC and the Census Bureau," said David Bowman, lead researcher with the LRA. "This allows us to make precise, valid comparisons between these results and those from previous Census reports."
Yes, the state is dragging its feet when it comes to handing out the LRA money. But, this statement by Nagin is just as damning of himself as it is of the state:
“Anybody got a Road Home check in here?” he asked sarcastically, but no one in the audience of nearly 150 people raised a hand. “I’m searching for one, just one.”It sounds like he’s giving up, like there’s nothing he – as mayor of the city – can do to make the process faster and better. Is that how a leader should approach a problem?
“I’ve tried everything under the sun to accelerate the LRA money. We’ve done everything. I don’t know,’’ the mayor said.
And he had a message for the press, being that it was a press-sponsored luncheon:
“We’re at a very fragile time as a city. Residents are stressed out. They’re looking for hope,’’ he said. “Help us to get people to see possibilities instead of what is not going right. I’m asking you to be accurate, but if it can tip on the positive side, do it.’’We all see the “possibilities.” But it’s “what is not going right” that is standing in the way of achieving what is possible. We don’t need the press to be a cheerleader. We need them to be a bulldog.
What I think he meant to say was, “Hey, press. Don’t scare away the tourists.”
On his endorsing Jefferson:
“I went through a very tough re-election cycle. There were few people who helped me. William Jefferson was one of them,’’ he said. “I don’t know about the legal stuff. I don’t know if he’s going to make it at the end of the day.’’That’s a good reason as a citizen to still vote for him. But, as a representative of the city, that is not a good reason to endorse him.
On the French Quarter:
“It is looking a little rough right now,’’ Nagin said. “The homeless population is doing it. It’s also been described as the Super Bowl of prostitution.’’I would assume that the police are planning a “blitz” to clear out the homeless and prostitutes in the Quarter instead of blitz in the city’s hot spots to clear out violent criminals and drug dealers because, well, bums and hookers don’t shoot back.
The mayor said the police department is preparing a “blitz’’ to “clear out some of what I just talked about.’’
Anyway, there’s more in the article about being “a little disappointed’’ in the schools and about the “substantial progress’’ we’re making with our infrastructure. Go read the whole thing.