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Don't Help Build, Donovan. CLEAN HOUSE!

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

With appropriate photo ops I’m sure, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan will be in New Orleans tomorrow to get an update on the recovery of the city. He will be joining volunteers of the St. Bernard Project to help rebuild a home. La-dee-da!

 

Will he also take a look at HANO? He should. He should take a good, hard, long look at HANO.

 

Recently, three HANO workers were accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars through an accounting ruse that began in 2007. They would create bogus purchase orders then pay themselves. Since that, some accounting measures have been put in place regarding methods of payment receipt, but…hey, are we kidding ourselves that that is the only leak in the sieve?

 

Those who want to utilize HANO for housing are still waiting for an update of the waiting list which hasn’t occurred since Katrina. The citizens of New Orleans who don’t live in HANO housing are also waiting. We’re waiting for HANO to enforce the lists of people already in HANO housing. Does HANO have any clue who is on any lease for any property? Who actually lives in the unit? Does HANO even have the leases?

 

HANO has a one woman board, appointed by HUD. Diane Johnson runs HANO from afar, flittering into the city for monthly Board meetings (isn’t that an oxymoron when she IS the board?). Karen Cato-Turner, also a HUD appointee, runs the day-to-day operations of HANO as the Executive Administrator. She’s the power.

 

HUD should be looking long and hard at HANO. In addition to the recent theft debacle within its ranks, HUD has paid over $3.2 million in per-unit operating subsidies on roughly 800 vacant HANO units this year. Why hasn’t HUD cut that money off? What operating subsidies can there be on units that HANO won’t fill? What are they using that money for? Or I guess in light of recent history we should ask who’s getting the moolah??

 

In May, Diane Johnson vowed to work on Iberville stating “we have to take back” the complex from the criminal element. She gave no specifics on how that would be done, and frankly, no one has really seen any “take back” efforts. A few sewer pipes fixed, a slap of paint here and there, maybe. But nothing that reduces the criminal element that slithers and seethes through that complex 24/7.

 

How about looking at that, Secretary Donovan? My guess is you wouldn’t be caught dead near Iberville. Maybe I should change that to caught alive near the complex. Without Blackhawk security, you might just be caught dead there.

 

HANO has been under federal receivership for seven years. That pre-dates Katrina. HUD acknowledges it has seen little progress. HUD has done little to formally monitor HANO and deserves more than a slap on the wrist for that because by ignoring HANO, HUD has contributed greatly to the criminal element in this city.

 

But – what can we expect of an agency that allows a single person Board of Directors to fly in for a 10 minute meeting. Yes, you read that right. The minutes of the March 18 meeting, posted on the internet, indicate that the meeting was called to order by Johnson at 10:05 a.m. It was adjourned by Johnson at 10:15 a.m. And that included public comment time.

 

I wish my meetings could be cut to ten minutes apiece. But then again if that happened, I might not have a job.


JPSO ONE OF THEIR ONE WAS AWARD.

Posted by: BDavis70094

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BDavis70094

WE SHOULD FEEL HONOR THAT ONE OF YOUR OWN FINEST OFFICER WAS AWARD A TOP COP .

IN WASHINTON D.C.   ON AMERICAN MOST WANTED JOHN WALSH HOSTESS THE AWARDS FOR THESE COPS IN DIFFERENT AREAS.

ONE OF YOURS IN JEFFERSON PARISH .   ONE OF THE OFFICERS NAMED DEPUTY RHONDA WAS AWARD WITH TOP COP.

FOR THE JOB SHE DOES.  THEY SHOW HERE ON T.V. ON FOURTH STEET AT GOMEZ BAR WITH THE GUYS SHE ARRESTED.

THANK YOU DEPUTY RHONDA. THATS THE WAY TO GO.  GET ALL THOSE BAD GUYS OFF THE STREETS.


Darn It! We Didn't Win the Prize!

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

Darn! We didn’t win. Of course to win, the city would have had to apply. And to apply for this award, we would have had to be reinvented. But it could happen!

 

The Louisiana Quality Foundation announced the 2008 Excellence Winners. The award is based on the Baldridge Quality Standards. The 2008 winners are:

 

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

Louisiana Economic Development

U. S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command at New Orleans

 

Kudos to each! You set an example for all in Louisiana.

 

I really wanted us to win. I really wanted us to be able to be considered.

 

Let’s look at what kept this administration from qualifying for the award. The criteria focus on seven areas. (The questions come directly from the printed criteria for the Baldridge Quality Standards. The answers are imagined.)

 

Leadership

  • How do your senior leaders lead? Well, we don’t. Strike one I guess.
  • How do senior leaders set organizational vision and values? Ummm….we don’t have values. And our vision is a bit cloudy.
  • How do senior leaders personally promote an organizational environment that fosters, requires and results in legal and ethical behavior? We’ll get back to you on this one after the Federal investigations are over.
  • How do senior leaders communicate with and engage the entire workforce. Does communicating through flunkies count?
  • What performance measures do senior leaders regularly review to identify needed actions? Please define regularly and measures.

 

Governance and Societal Responsibility –

  • How do you evaluate the performance of your senior leaders, including the chief executive? We vote. Otherwise, we let the media do the evaluation.
  • How does your organization review and achieve the following aspects of your governance system?
  • accountability for management’s actions
  •  fiscal accountability
  • transparency in operations and selection of and disclosure policies for governance board members as appropriate
  •  independence in internal and external audits
  • protection of stakeholder interests, as appropriate      We don’t use some of those words around here.
  • How do you monitor and respond to breaches of ethical behavior? We wait until there’s an indictment.
  • How does your organization actively support and strengthen your key communities? We ignore them. That makes them stronger. Well, angrier. Same thing.

 

Strategy Development –

  • How does your organization conduct its strategic planning? No one will ever know.
  • How does your process identify potential blind spots? We are blind to nothing. We just choose to forget some things.
  • What are your key strategic objectives and the timetable for accomplishing them? Is this the same as our wish list? If so, the timetable is when we want it.
  • How do you ensure that your strategic objectives consider and balance the needs of all key stakeholders? Didn’t we hold some town hall meetings or something a couple of years ago? That should have taken care of it.

 

Strategy Deployment –

  • How do you deploy your strategy? We dictate!
  • What are your key short and longer- term action plans? We’ll tell you after we get back from wherever we’re going this week.
  • How do you ensure that the key outcomes of your action plans can be sustained? The next administration gets to tackle that.
  • How do you assess and manage the financial and other risks associated with the plans? Risk? We’re supposed to look at that?
  • How do you establish and deploy modified action plans if circumstances require a shift in plans and rapid execution of new plans? You mean like a hurricane or something?

 

Customer Focus –

  • How do you engage customers to serve their needs and build relationships? We take the good ones to dinner.
  • What are your key means of customer support, including your key communication mechanisms? We talk to the citizens only when it is absolutely necessary.
  • How do you determine your customers’ key support requirements? When they yell loudly enough, someone from the administration deals with them.
  • How do you create an organizational culture that ensures a consistently positive customer experience and contributes to customer engagement? Everyone is equally surly.
  • How do you obtain and use information from your customers? What they say doesn’t count.

 

Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management –

  • What are your key organizational performance measures, including key short-term and longer-term financial measures? Finance will let us know when we’re running out of  money.
  • What analyses do you perform to support (organizational performance reviews) and to ensure that conclusions are valid? Let me check our consultant list. I’m sure someone does this.
  • How do you translate organizational performance review findings into priorities for continuous and break-through improvement and into opportunities for innovation? Could you ask that one again, slower?
  • How do you manage your information, organizational knowledge and information technology? We refuse to answer on the grounds that we may incriminate ourselves.
  • In the event of an emergency, how do you ensure the continued availability of hardware and software systems and the continued availability of data and information? We all take our cell phones with us when we evacuate, of course!

 

Workforce Focus –

  • How do you engage your workforce to achieve organizational and personal success? Hey, it’s every man for himself!
  • How do you foster an organizational culture that is characterized by open communication, high-performance work and an engaged workforce? Wait! We’ll stop laughing in a minute.
  • How does your workforce performance management system reinforce a customer and business focus and achievement of your action plans? Wait! We’re still laughing!
  • How does your learning and development system address organizational performance improvement and innovation as well as ethics and ethical business practices? STOP! We're laughing so hard we're going to pee!

 

Process Management –

  • How do your work systems and key work processes relate to and capitalize on your core competencies? I don’t think we have any of those.
  • What are your organizations key work processes? I don’t think we have those either.
  • How do you ensure work system and workplace preparedness for disasters or emergencies? Are we supposed to know this?
  • How do you control the overall costs of your work processes? When a department runs out of money, it stops working.

 

Results –

  • How do you compare to your competition? Well, we’re the murder capital of the world!

 This is all tongue-in-cheek. But consider what this city could do if it took these questions to heart and if the new administration used them as a roadmap to improvement? We could do it! We could win the Louisiana Quality Award! It could happen!


STOP THIS BILL FROM PASSING!

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

If you know what’s good for this state, you’ll dust off your typewriters, take up your pens, grab your cell phones and warm up your laptops. It’s time to bombard Baton Rouge with a big fat NO!

 

Sliding through the legislature with little or no opposition is a bill that will allow the state to create a new diploma. This diploma will apply to certain 8th graders who will be allowed into high school with lower standards than currently required. Assumed is that they will also graduate under these new lower standards, hence a new H.S. diploma.

 

Hold the phone! We are already ranked LAST in the nation for education. Is there such a thing as a (-1) standing? If there is, the legislature is lining us up for it!

 

The legislature is doing this despite information provided to them from national educators that says this will produce even more Louisiana high school graduates who cannot perform at minimum high school standards in reading, writing or math.

 

This bill is scheduled to win final approval within the next few days, after which it will go to Governor Jindal for approval. Jindal says he supports the bill!

 

Bobby, here we are hoping for new industry in the state. This bill may be about a "career track diploma but who do you expect these new industries to hire, only people who can do tasks with the help of picture boards?? People who have to borrow fingers and toes to do basic math?

 

This move will not only derail any forward movement in education in this state, but will give more and more students the feeling that education doesn’t mean a thing. We are struggling to change that attitude, to make young people recognize that education means everything!

 

If our students cannot pass to high school under current standards, this is not the solution! The solution is to fix what is wrong in the primary and middle school grades so that those entering our high schools are performing at standard or above. Making it easier to get into high school just makes sure we have students who are age appropriate for the grade. It doesn’t provide students who are knowledge appropriate for the grade.

 

The massive increase in knowledge these students would need to gain to meet minimal national high school standards at graduation can never be made up in four years, and certainly not in four years in the current high schools of this state.

 

I am suspicious by nature. But I see this as a thinly veiled attempt to get athletes into high school while they are still in the correct age range for competition. This has nothing to do with helping students learn.

 

So pick up your phones, type letters, send faxes, send emails, go in person if you see fit. But bombard your legislators and Governor Jindal with immediate requests to STOP THIS NONSENSE. KILL THIS BILL! We can’t afford to play around with this one! And we don’t have much time!


It Ain't Heaven, But It's My City

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

I blog so often on the ills of this city that it begins to cloud my mind about why I am still here and why I am fighting so hard to get this city on track. Every now and then it pays for me to list for myself the things I love about this city. Hopefully, these are some of the things others love and that others have even more of a list.

 

My love for New Orleans is built on:

 

  • Standing on the neutral ground (just that term is unique and I love it) at Napoleon and Magazine and looking toward the lake, seeing the canopy of oaks as far as the eye can see.
  • Savoring the first snowball of the season and knowing no one else in the country has the same level of summer treat.
  • Seeing an elderly black woman, her hair carefully braided and wound around her head, teaching a grandchild how to snap peas on the porch of a camelback in the afternoon sun.
  • Watching the sun set over Lake Pontchartrain
  • Knowing how to pronounce Leonidas, Terpsichore, Tchoupitoulas and Calliope
  • Feeling my blood begin to thrum as I hear an unknown zydeco band strike up at an unnamed, unadvertised street festival
  • Hating the summer heat but loving it at the same time
  • The really early morning concentration of the French Market in confused competition with the slow down of the French Quarter revelry
  • The sounds of the varied neighborhood “dialects” all together in a concentrated space
  • The sway and bump of a St. Charles Avenue street car ride
  • A “12 napkin” roast beef po-boy, fully dressed
  • The thrill of the first volley of “throw me something mister” at the first parade of the season
  • A Hubig Pie, Elmer’s Easter candy and nectar cream sodas
  • The dichotomy of the majesty of the St. Charles Avenue mansions and the humility of what I remember of my grandmother’s house in Gentilly
  • A quiet walk through one of the city’s cemeteries
  • The City Park oaks
  • The Audubon Park zoo
  • The frantic rush at a City Park Botanical Gardens sale opening
  • A lazy afternoon spent window shopping through the antique and estate shops of Royal St.
  • Remembering the Maison Blanche Christmas windows
  • Standing on the edge of the river near the Aquarium and getting a heady rush from the distinct odors of the riverfront
  • Seeing just the smokestack of a ship regally passing above a levee at over 100 points in the city
  • The awe I will always feel when attending Mass at St. Louis Cathedral
  • Catching a trumpet trill from an open window in the Marigny
  • Seeing and feeling the pride of high school bands in any Mardi Gras parade
  • Barbecued shrimp at Mandina’s and breakfast at Camillia Grill
  • Beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde
  • People watching while having beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde
  • Standing at the gates of Jackson Square and taking in the history in the visible distance
  • John Boutte’s song “At the Foot of Canal Street”

 

I know this isn’t all because each day brings a new reason to stay and fight for my city. Each day I am witness to the uniqueness of the city and the good that this city still has. I am grateful to be here, and grateful to be able to contribute as this city continues to slowly and jarringly rise from the destruction of Katrina.

 


Another Questionable Element of the Legacy

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

So we now own the Chevron complex. Well, almost. Sorta.

 

Apparently the Mayor’s signature isn’t the final step in the process, although City Hall would like you to think it is. The City Council and the City Planning Commission still have to ratify the deal.

 

Supposedly, the Council is all set to put through a resolution at Thursday’s meeting to ratify the sale. And then the City Planning Commission will get the grand tour on Friday. But supposedly’s don’t always happen. I hope the City Council has as many, if not more, questions than I have. I hope the City Council reviews this deal with a fine-toothed comb.

 

Like asking, what are we going to do with the OLD City Hall building? While the state owns Charity Hospital, the city is stuck with the behemoth as a blighted building. Will the old City Hall become the second display in the New Orleans giant blight exhibit? Just one thing that inquiring minds would like to know. And let's not forget last year's budget battle. To pay for this whole shebang (not just the purchase but the rest of the renovation and move), how will the budget stand up to the needs of this project?

 

This seems to be another Nagin “I want” that is being rammed through. I don’t deny that the current City Hall is inadequate. It is a drain on the city to continue to pay rent in other buildings throughout the city. I admit that the current building would need major upgrades to become even close to “modern” while the Chevron complex already has in place some of the upgrades. Two pluses for the deal. But I'm going to count unanswered questions as minuses.

 

That complex seems huge for a city that has struggled to reach the footprint it now has. What about down-sizing city government to meet the footprint? More people, more space, more “stuff” doesn’t make efficiency.  We need efficient, not big nor pretty.

 

I’m not sold on this deal. I’ll admit that part of my suspicions are being raised by Nagin pushing it. Anything he wants this badly raises red flags for me. I’m also concerned about the city’s risk in owning a vacant building at the height of hurricane season. The cost of insurance for that should just about drain our coffers. And then there’s the lack of a plan. I’m sure there is one, but I’m afraid only ole Ray knows what it is. What will renovations consist of? How will the bidding process proceed in light of Ray’s lack of transparency? Who gets to review the bids for renovation – Nagin or the new mayor? How long will renovations take? How will space be allocated? Is the parking sufficient for citizens to access services at that building or will the parking be taken up by employees? (Yeah, a little thing I know, but important.) Ray, I got questions!!

 

Whoever the new mayor is will be stuck with this deal, if it is completed. They’ll be stuck with the renovations of Chevron, purchasing furnishings and equipment, planning a massive move (phased I’m assuming, which will increase confusion in the city), what to do with the old building, retiring leases, and most importantly, configuring a budget that allows for all of this to happen without reducing city services.

 

Do you hear that, mayoral candidates?? You have to get all of this done without reducing city services! We have lived through Nagin’s tenure with the most tenuous hold on services for citizens. Lots of flash and no action. We can’t let this new real estate transaction take away from the important questions and answers on what services will become more efficient under a new mayor. How will thinking change. What transparency will be added. And PLEASE let’s have accountability for every soul moved into that new building, or retained in the old city hall if (not that Nagin would let this happen) the complex’s deal falls through.

 


Expedited?? Really???

Posted by: Pronola

Tagged in: Untagged 

Pronola

Yesterday I brought the Criminal Justice Leadership Alliance to your attention, and promised that today I would outline the first initiative they’ve implemented: the Expedited Screening and Disposition Initiative.

 

I have questions galore about this. I hope this raises some questions in your mind as well. My first question is when did anyone other than this select group have input into this initiative?

 

This initiative grew out of statistics stating that one-third of drug arrests in the city are for simple drug possession. Contributing to a call for this initiative was the fact that both the police and the district attorney’s office often waited until the end of the time allotted by statute to complete police paperwork and make a decision to accept or reject charges.

 

This initiative is directed at all simple possession drug charges in which there are no other accompanying state charges (for now).

 

The goal of this initiative is to reduce the period from arrest to arraignment from the 45 to 60 days that has been the norm, to approximately six to eight days. That’s a lot of time for a process to streamline without major change management initiatives accompanying the change!

 

Under this initiative, each of the agencies committed to certain actions. This I have to see to believe!

 

The NOPD committed to identifying anyone who falls under the Initiative criteria and to stamp EXPEDITED on both the gist and face sheet before transferring custody at Central Lockup.

 

Fine and dandy. Does the arresting officer, while he/she may know what the current charge is really know the rap sheet and any outstanding charges prior to bringing an arrestee to Central Lockup? If not, how do they identify someone who fits the Initiative criteria to know whether to use this EXPEDITED stamp. (Note: nothing has been expedited yet. In fact, an additional step has been added. Does every NOPD officer now carry one of these stamps in their back pocket? If not, where do they go to get this stamp?)

 

The NOPD also committed to writing, reviewing and approving arrest reports and field test reports AND electronically transmitting them to the District Attorney’s screening division within 48 hours of the arrest.

 

The third commitment by NOPD is to respond in a timely fashion to requests by the District Attorney’s screening division to confer on any of these transmitted reports.

 

I have some real questions on the ability to meet this timing given that we have some calls waiting for an officer for up to six hours on a regular basis.

 

Moving on. The District Attorney’s office has committed to making a screening decision within 24 hours of receiving the completed police report including field test, the discussion of the case between the screening attorney and the arresting officer and receipt of the full criminal record of the defendant.

 

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! (For those too young to remember, check old reruns of Lost in Space for the reference.)

 

How long does it actually take to get those full criminal records? Depending on the answer to that, we could already be well beyond the 6 to 8 days. When is the arresting officer supposed to hold this meeting with the screening attorney (and still be on the streets to find more of these initiative clients)?

 

The District Attorney’s office also committed to sending notification emails to several areas: NOPD, New Orleans Public Defender’s Initiative Leader and the office of Clerk of Court’s Initiative Leader. Well and good.

 

However, the DA will also, under this initiative, empower the screening division to directly negotiate with defense counsel to facilitate disposition, if appropriate, by arraignment, including charge and bill status reductions.

 

Whoa, Nelly! If it’s a simple drug possession, what are we reducing to? Jaywalking? Is this a quick way to keep the number of cases adjudicated to a minimum? If so, I don’t think I like it! If you play, you pay!

 

The Public Defenders also committed to appointing counsel, meeting their client, investigate cases as appropriate between first appearance and arraignment, counsel clients and negotiate with the screening attorney. Investigate??? Do they do that? Or do they just try to get their clients less jail time?

 

The Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office made its commitments as well, including producing the prisoners at the right times and providing rooms/spaces for interviews. All fine and good and typical.

 

BUT – there is also a commitment of providing Orleans Public Defenders with access to the AS400 system in a form that will allow them to retrieve, to use, and to organize information about their clients’ cases. First of all, AS400?? Isn’t that a bit antiquated? Okay, it’s New Orleans. What was I thinking?

 

Here’s the real issue with the AS400: the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office also committed to modifying the AS400 system, as necessary and appropriate, to meet the Initiative’s information management needs. Who’s doing this and with what money???

 

I’m sorry. But my brain is swirling with all of the what if’s in this thing. Has it been put into action? What have the results been? Who’s measuring this? WHEN WERE WE SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT ABOUT IT?

 

I can’t say I’m floored. This is so typical of New Orleans criminal justice. But it’s something I think we need to look further into, especially since this process is proposed to be used on other types of charges in the future. And it is yet another example of how citizen apathy and lack of transparency in our processes might just get ahead of us until they are too far along to stop. Remember – simple drug possession is just the first type of charge they want to put under this initiative. And if there are this many questions with this charge, what happens when they try to implement it with other types of criminal charges?

 

 


Where Did This Come From?

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

In 2007, the Criminal Justice Leadership Alliance was established in the city of New Orleans. This alliance consists of the Mayor, Superintendant of Police, District Attorney, Chief Public Defender, Criminal Sheriff, Chief Judge of the Municipal Court, two judges of the Criminal District Court and the City Attorney.

 

On October 11, 2007, this Alliance signed a Statement of Commitment to implement the following reforms:

 

  • To expand the use of pretrial release without bond and implement new pretrial services functions;
  • To make charging decisions and resolve cases within days after arrest;
  • To substantially expand community service sentencing for state offenses;
  • To expand the use of substance abuse and mental health treatment as options for diversion and sentencing;
  • To expand the use of summonses for municipal offenses and promote pre-arrest and postarrest diversion to treatment; and
  • To develop a community-based and problem-solving model for Municipal Court that would include more appropriate and cost-effective sanctions for municipal offenses.

 

Attached to this Statement of Commitment were 12 and 18 month implementation plans divided into Alternative Sanctions, Community Court, Expedited Charging and Disposition and Pretrial Release. And the whole thing is overseen by Baptist Community Ministries.

 

I don’t know about anyone else’s knowledge, but as far as I know this has been flying under the radar. And I have some serious issues with it.

 

The implementation plan is very complex and includes a lot of deadlines. I have no idea if any or all of these deadlines were met (the planning parts all fall within 12 months of the date of the Statement which was almost 2 years ago now). I suppose we need to ask the Baptist Community Ministries for an update.

 

But let’s look at each of these bullet points.

 

Pretrial release without bond and new pretrial service functions: Recent experience says that pretrial release without bond is at least as bad as or worse than the electronic jewelry alternative. Heck, even with bond we have perps reoffending before their initial trial dates!

 

Substantially expanding community service sentencing for state offenses: Hey guys! Have any of you read the court dockets for a lot of these offenders? We can’t even get them into court for their hearings! How are you proposing we hold them accountable for showing up for community service??

 

Expand the use of substance abuse and mental health treatment as options for

diversion and sentencing: You should have talked long and hard with Bobby Jindal and the Department of Health about this one. They will be closing NOAH on July 1, which provided some of these services. If offenders have trouble consistently getting to an in-town service (as experience shows), what’s going to happen when they’re supposed to be traveling to Mandeville? We have few in-house mental health or substance abuse beds that will serve Medicaid patients, so good luck on expansion.

 

Expand the use of summonses for municipal offenses and promote pre-arrest and postarrest diversion to treatment: See my statements above on expanded community service sentencing.

 

Develop a community-based and problem-solving model for Municipal Court that

would include more appropriate and cost-effective sanctions for municipal offenses: Community based? Does that mean you’ll let citizens give input? Because if that’s what that means, you’ve had 20 months to start getting our input and I don’t remember a lot of that happening. As for the rest of this one, it’s very generic garbage.

 

Did anyone know about any of this? Anyone besides those who signed the Statement of Commitment that is.

 

At the May 21 City Council Meeting, Superintendant Riley again said crime is down in all areas, and gave the council a figure of it being down 12% overall. He stated that the force continues to focus on 22 designated “hot spots” around the city where they have been successful in reducing crime.

 

Now when I put his statement together with this Statement of Commitment, I start getting really, really scared.

 

What delusional world are our crime-fighting entities living in? The people in this Alliance should be the people with the most knowledge of the crime on the streets, and what happens when the criminal hits the justice system. But I don’t think they are seeing the same city I see, nor the same city I hear calling for help over the NOPD scanner.

 

How do we get these “leaders” to function in the same environment we the citizens function in daily? Obviously, they are not hearing the police on the street; they’re not hearing the citizens; they’re not even hearing the victims.

 

What is going to be the wake-up call?

 

Tomorrow I will let you in on the first true initiative that has come from the Statement of Commitment: the Expedited Screening and Disposition Initiative implemented in March, 2009.


Nagin in Australia Hits a Sour Note

Posted by: Pronola

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Pronola

Well, they let Mayor Nagin and his crew out of quarantine. Obviously our relations with China were not good enough to pull a few more days of isolation for our infamous leader.

 

True to form, Mayor Nagin started spouting off as soon as an Australian radio station stuck a microphone in his face. They tried to add some class to Ray’s comments by letting him choose musical interludes between the interview segments. His selections were alright, eclectic and varied, but I think New Orleanians could have made some more meaningful choices.

 

How about Hit the Road Jack or You Done Me Wrong. The theme from The Sting might have been appropriate as well.

 

But musical choices aside, our illustrious mayor again brought up the media’s focus on his actions. His term for them was “relentless”. I beg to differ, Ray. I think they have been wimpy. They’ve written up your statements and although they’ve made journalistic mileage out of them, they have not pursued you nearly to the degree the citizens would like.

 

There’s the city car issue. You were asked for a plan to reduce the numbers of take home cars in March. In fact, the City Council pretty much demanded it. Did you do it? The media never did let us know. They could have been a lot more relentless in getting that information.

 

Then there’s the budget issues. You held the city hostage over the French Quarter garbage contract, but did you ever hold your sanitation department accountable for reconciling the number of units each of the garbage contractors should be collecting for across the city? You just let it drop and so did the media. (And by the way, what has your sanitation department head been doing since they took her computers away? Another book on how to maneuver through the justice system?)

 

And Ray – really – what were you thinking when you were working with Greg Meffert? You might have chosen Pink Floyd’s Money as your musical selection to represent this portion of your tenure. Remember that one Ray?

 

Money, get back.
I’m all right jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it’s a hit.
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.
I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a lear jet.

 

Although I think it was a Gulf Stream you traveled in.

 

You’ve parroted your police chief’s “crime is down” mantra so many times I think you believe it, especially since you once said you no longer read the newspaper. You have security surrounding you. I guess you haven’t noticed that your citizens don’t and we’re being robbed and beaten and killed every day. The media has been relentless in pointing out every homicide and many shootings, but they don’t really ever tell the story of the true violence on the streets.

 

Your final state of the City address was a joke. Nearly every improvement you spoke of that meant anything actually took place in the week after the address. As for your statements about the crime cameras being repaired, then leaving your designees to make an even more inane statement about “repaired not meaning working”…well, we’ve seen better cover-ups around the side of a kiddie pool. If your dishwasher spewed water all over your kitchen floor and the repairman announced it repaired, my guess is you would expect it to WORK.

 

And you continued the joke when you told Australian radio, Besides, the fundamentals of the recovery are in place and the next mayor can take it from there." What fundamentals? What recovery? What the hell?

 

Ray, you have no qualifications to be in Australia speaking on global issues. You have been totally inept at handling a mere city. You will leave this city with a legacy of mismanaged, partially recovered, unmet needs. Your band-aid approach failed within a year of Katrina and is now in need of a tourniquet when the next administration is chosen. The media has not been nearly relentless enough in recording what history will prove has been the most inept administration ever faced by the city.

 

Let’s hope our media is even more dogged in pursuing mayoral candidates and asking the questions that really matter to the citizens of this city. I have a feeling that if the media doesn’t step up their game, the citizens will do it for them. We can’t and won’t live through another term of a self-serving administration. We want to write a new song for our city.


LISTEN UP! School Board Cuts Will Come Back To Bite You!

Posted by: Pronola

Tagged in: Untagged 

Pronola

There was a news story yesterday that didn’t cause a lot of stir, but should have. The latest cuts by the Orleans Parish School Board were reported.

 

Currently, there are seven Board members, one for each school district of the city. Since Katrina, the number of schools they oversee has been greatly reduced. The Recovery School District runs 33 schools; independent boards operate almost 50 charter schools; and the elected Orleans Parish School Board operates five schools and oversees a dozen charter schools.

 

The Orleans Parish School Board knew in February that it faced a $13 million shortfall for the next school year. Since then it has been cutting and cutting. Yesterday, the latest cuts were announced, and these cut deeply into student services.

 

These cuts include losing 50 teachers. That’s a lot of teachers! In classrooms that already have poor student/teacher ratios, we’re now dooming students to even higher ratios in the coming school year.

 

Also cut was the entire PM School. This is an after-hours school devoted to helping failing students with remedial skills. Now those students will struggle even more, and are at even higher-risk for dropout. Students who can’t keep up are the first to give up.

 

Even more disturbing is that each of the schools will now lose its one social worker as well as academic coaches who were paid by outside grants. There will no longer be a social worker in each school to work with students and families on the myriad of problems facing them, and the students are directly affected. Families that want help with domestic issues, discipline issues, mental health issues, economic and health issues will have to seek that help elsewhere and join the growing list of clients lined up with other social service agencies. And the loss of the academic coaches coupled with the closing of the PM School is very troubling.

 

It is understood that there need to be cuts in the budget. The central office has been cut, but possibly not as far as it could be. Administrative tasks are necessary evils of any operation, but when administrative tasks are held up as necessary over the care of students, I question it.

 

And when jobs which are direct student services supported by grants, such as the academic coaches, are cut I also question it. What will those grant funds be used for now? What is more important than providing support for students who are at-risk for academic failure? From academic failure grows discipline problems; from discipline problems comes idle time from suspensions; from idle time grows criminal activity.

 

The School Board has started down the path of aiding and abetting the criminal activity in our city. Agreed that they are facing a monumental task with the debts accrued post-Katrina coupled with a smaller footprint and lower taxes feeding their funding. But there has to be a point where the students come before money.

 

I don’t have a solution. But I do know the public should be eyeing these actions much more closely than they’re looking at the Saints mini-camp reports. And that isn’t happening. Even if you have no children, or your children don’t attend schools operated by the Orleans Parish School Board, you should be following these actions. In the long run, the cuts that threaten student services will come back to bite all citizens.

 

 


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