[Begin rant. Language warning.]
After twelve hours of reading, talking, and listening to the BNOB’s first presentation (and reactions), I’m coming to some unhappy (and probably unpopular) conclusions. People aren’t thinking or listening; they’re emoting – and it’s really hard to have a rational discussion.
To make matters worse, the “leaders” are grandstanding. Not only did the City Council condemn the whole thing before the official presentation yesterday,this was the WWL radio scrolling headline this morning:
“A key mayorial commission plans to announce today that every part of New Orleans, even those that look like war-torn blocks and sit below sea-level, should have a chance at being rebuilt.”
Well no shit. You'd think there was something original in there someplace, wouldn't you?
Let’s have a Zen moment here.
Where does it say that all areas don’t have a chance? By calling for total collaboration, yesterday's BNOB proposal seems to say exactly the opposite. Furthermore, the building moratorium "thing" isn't carved in stone.
Joe Canizaro, the banker and developer who chairs the land use panel, said after the meeting that he does not believe the plan requires a halt to permitting for it to succeed.
YES, okay! Let people who desire to rebuild do so if they choose. As long as they understand the risks, it’s their right, is it not? Would you wait for the new floodplain maps before rebuilding? I believe I would, but it's not up to me unless it's my house sitting there in a badly-damaged area. Those are not my shoes, ya know?
But dang it! WTF is this?
"If this plan goes forward as it is, many people's worst fears about our African American heritage and population will come true," said Sue Sperry of the New Orleans Preservation Resource Center. "It's almost like it will be extinguished from this earth."
Hunh??? If this type of knee-jerk hysteria continues, NOLA's leaders and residents are going to put the final icing on their own cake - because sooner, not later, the decisions are going to be taken totally away.
Why? Because Louisiana and New Orleans DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO FIX THIS BY THEMSELVES!
The city is going to be rebuilt. I really don't think there's much question about that (in spite of some true wierdness here and there about "moving the city", or "abandoning NOLA". What idiots). But if New Orleanians want to have a voice, they're gonna have to work with the larger picture, not against it.
In a sense this plan is a punt, because the commission has effectively said, "We can't figure this out by ourselves." Get organized and step up to the plate, people – or all the decision-making power will move elsewhere… and I don’t believe for a minute that New Orleans should be planned by Washington. Do you?
Time's running out. Enough. [End rant]