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Thursday, April 5th, 2007
New Orleans, Louisiana



The mayor of the city of New Orleans called me last night. I was just about to doze off when the phone rang. And can you believe it? He wanted my advice on how to deal with the degenerating crime problem that continues to grow throughout the Crescent city. The conversation went something like this.

“Jim, Ray Nagin here. You’ve been pretty rough on me on your radio show. And you know that thenew995 FM.com is my favorite radio station. I listen to it all the time, at least when I’m in town. You have really been on my case lately. So I’m calling you straight up, man to man, and asking you what advice you would give me? What should I do? How can I get a handle on this growing crime crisis that I will admit seems to be getting worse as each week goes by?”

Well, I was of course flattered that the mayor had sought me out for advice. So I thought for a moment as to where to begin. I could review with him the fact that he is part of a dysfunctional criminal justice system that has become tainted at just about every level. An overworked, underpaid, and under motivated police force that gets little cooperation from the local community where they operate. “You want me to be a snitch?” They hear this all the time. Procedures that seem routine in most other police departments become undermined and even unhinged here by a lack of cooperation with other law enforcement agencies. The district attorney? He has become both an obstacle and almost irrelevant to the process.

And how about judges in the criminal court system that almost seem to go out of their way to put up obstacles, free those accused, and slow down the process? If they are doing so to “get back” at the district attorney for his sloppy and even negligent efforts, then those of us who live in the city are all victims.

How about social and educational problems? So much to be done, yet results will take years to bring to fruition. Sure the mayor should be a force here, but again, you find such a lack of cooperation at all levels. Of course we need to reach these kids at a much younger age both through our schools and on the streets at night and on weekends. Why are our city leaders so afraid of curfews for these kids? Progressive cities all over the nation force anyone under 18 to be off the streets by nine o’clock at night. Law enforcement officials in New Orleans look on such an idea as almost an infringement.

So back to the Mayor’s question. What would I recommend for the here and the now? For immediate results? Something that is tangible. A sign where the average guy in a neighborhood can see and tell that something is being done.

After giving it some thought, I had one simple solution. “Mayor, take the afternoon off, go to Blockbuster’s and rent a video.”

“What? My city is under siege with the highest murder rate in the country and growing, and the best you can do is to tell me to go rent a video? Come on Jim, is the best you can do?”

“That’s right, Ray. But not just any video. I want you to rent ‘City Hall’ that stars Al Pacino.”

“Never heard of it,” he replied. I wasn’t surprised.

“Trust me on this Ray. Pacino plays the part of the Mayor of New York, and the city faces a major crime wave with drive-by murders on a regular basis. Al says enough is enough. He becomes a PVIF. A positive, visible, local force. And he is everywhere. No, not in Washington, Atlanta or Jamaica Ray. In and all over his city. When a murder takes place, he is on the crime scene. When innocent victims are murdered, he is preaching at the funeral. He is walking the streets of the city, in coffee houses, in restaurants, being verbal and visual one on one, and visiting with small groups. Simply letting the people of his city know that he is in charge, he cares, he empathizes with their concerns, and he is trying to do everything in his power to solve one insurmountable problem after the other.”

“Of course it’s not just that simple. But it’s a beginning Ray. If you are there and the folks you represent believe you are giving it your best effort, they are going to be much more willing to do their part. And these people you represent can be of tremendous help if you motivate them. Being part of the community watch programs, passing on information about criminal activity, and wanting to volunteer, if you encourage them, to become involved in more community service with our young people.”

“Bottom line Ray. Your challenge is to rally the masses, let them know you are on the job continually and that you are giving your all to settle down the violence that surrounds us.”

“You can do it Ray. You just have to make the commitment.”

“Boy, I really appreciate your advice, Jim. You’ve got me thinking, fired up, and ready to change direction. You’re right, Jim. I can make a difference. I’m their leader. You are going to be amazed at the new approach I’m going to take. Thanks. Jim. And I’ll be listening to you every morning.”

I hung up the phone, and was satisfied that Ray would take up my challenge. I really believe in the PVIF theory. Maybe, just maybe, I had gotten through to him.

For a minute I lay there, with a smile of contentment on my face.

And then I woke up from my dream.


“The people are moving in the streets, and I must find out
which way they are going and get in front of them –
or I am their leader.”

– Benjamin Disraeli


Peace and justice.

Jim Brown


Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers throughout the State of Louisiana. You can read Jim’s Blog, and take his weekly poll, plus read his columns going back to the fall of 2002 by going to his own website at http://www.jimbrownla.com.


Also, tune in Jim’s radio show on thenew995fm.com from New Orleans. It is streamed live on the worldwide web at www.thenew995fm.com from 8:00 until 11:00 am, weekdays.



2 Responses
  1. Bill Levinson

    Jim: I was thinking you were going to realize that it was April 1, hence an April Fools Joke. You are a product of our screwed up judicial system. And I get very upset when I think how you were rail-roaded. Murders and other violent criminals roam the streets after a short time in prison, so why won’t you get a pardon and they let EWE out. Have a Happy Easter.

  2. Jim:

    If you can solve the Crime problem in New Orleans you may be asked to make suggestions about the Louisiana Citizens Insurance Company challenge next.


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