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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Nagin needs a handler and NOLA needs a mayor

C. Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, needs a handler – somebody to stand right behind him with a hand ready to clap over the man’s mouth when he goes off into the weeds of rhetoric. Since there was no alert person ready to hit the “off” switch on Nagin's microphone yesterday, his primary message got completely overrun by divisive, racist remarks.

It isn’t as if there was no warning that something really stupid was about to be said, either. He warned everybody, right out of the gate, that he might be suffering from "Katrina post-stress disorder”... and then he proceeded to prove it. (Here’s the video, located courtesy of Schroeder’s PGR blog.)

Yesterday after his speech, I was too horrified and shocked to write. I couldn’t believe he had made statements like:

"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."

God wants this? The God I grew up with doesn’t handle urban planning. And who is “us”, Ray? Did you mean to alienate the folks Uptown, and “them”?

This, right here, is the kind of crap that keeps American racism alive. Racists of ALL colors got fed by this speech.

It wasn’t just that he was uncontrolled enough to say these things; it was the occasion he chose for the remarks: Martin Luther King Day. The day America has set aside to honor a visionary who hoped for a unified society.

What Nagin did yesterday, intentionally or not, was water the seeds of paranoia and suspicion. At any moment, I expected to hear about the levees being blown.

Sadly, if one could pull the front and back ends off of his speech, there was a worthwhile message hidden in there - one that most people could agree on and support. For the briefest of moments, he sounded like somebody who was concerned about the social issues besetting poor urban communities – problems that pre-Katrina New Orleans had in abundance, and that nobody wants to see come back.

But he got lost – again – in the weeds. Some people should never, ever, be allowed to speak in public… and when that person is the mayor of a troubled and challenged city already suffering from racial suspicion and hostility, it’s time for a change.

And while waiting for those elections, could somebody please get that Mayor some treatment for his KPSD? Maybe some valium...?


  • At 8:52 AM, Blogger Bingo Man said;

    Stess of living through and coping with the country's worst disaster is great, I am sure I act different too. But the speech was not as bad as one sentence from it sounds. He was addressing a MLK Rally and went from what is fact New Orleans is a majority black city to the black residents must come together and rebuild without all the haggling he has had to go through with. He then addressed the social issues of crime and single parents in the black community. All in all I did not take offense as he ended on what had to be said.
    He has great difficulty with the Black Community in New Orleans even as he spoke there was another rally in the Lower 9th Ward in opposition to his sponsored one on the steps of City Hall, and another MLK March in a different area, all making worse remarks about the geological fact that poor areas were in lower areas thus got higher water. 'Uptown' had nothing to do with the storm or the geology of the city. The Mayor has a lot to deal with and the Black Community is not helping especially playing the blame game on the few affluant people brave enough to stay in a crime ridden city. The majority Black City must get its Majority acting rational with one voice or all of America will get tired of the bickering.

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger Polimom said;

    Bingo man - I agree that there was a message that had good intent under there. I also agree that he has great difficulty with the black community... and I further agree that Nagin has had a lot to deal with. It confounds me that anyone would be seeking the job of mayor for NOLA about now. (I see the US presidency the same way...)

    But the people rallying in the Lower 9th are not the mayor, and any attempt to build consensus based on race is divisive in and of itself (imho).

  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger The Master said;

    From "Power and Persuasion" by Michael Masterson:

    -Great leaders discover how to make the work worthwhile and then distill it down to a phrase or philosophy that can easily be communicated to their employees.

    -Good leaders recognize the importance of practicing all the skills essential to leadership - one of the most important being persuasion.

    -Great leaders are perceived as powerful communicators because they listen more than they speak. When they do speak, they focus on the interests and concerns of the other person. They're also able to summarize and clearly present their case.

    -Strong leaders know how to create strong relationships. They remain personable, friendly, and genuinely interested in other people, regardless of the person's social or professional position.

    -Successful leaders present the facts passionately and stress one unifying idea

    -Successful leaders develop the skills to persuade others in one-on-one situations, in small groups, and in front of larger groups.

    So, NOLA deperately needs a strong leader to lead its resurrection from the dead. What it has is Nagin.

    The resurrection is not doing well . . . . .

  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger Carson W. Maxwell said;

    Nagin is hopelessly lost. This isn't anything new, but it sure does glare now. He was never what anyone could call a great mayor. He never had a clue of how to handle the public, especially the poorer demographics. He was good at only one thing, bringing technology. Take away the new web sites and you have the makings of a miserable failure.

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