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NEW ORLEANS NEEDS TO GET OVER IT

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Thursday, November 27th, 2007
New Orleans, Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS NEEDS TO GET OVER IT

For over a week now, the local New Orleans newspaper has been full of editorials and articles both wailing and bemoaning the fact that the Crescent City will not host one of the major presidential debates next year. The Commission on Presidential Debates recently announced four locations, and New Orleans was left out of the mix. And despite all the post decision whining, New Orleans really never had a chance.

Two strong objections held New Orleans back from the get go. First, the Commission that made the final choice is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. It was unrealistic to think that any Republican candidate for president would want to debate at a location that has proven to be the site of one of the Bush administration’s major administrative failures. The Republican candidate will have plenty of baggage to carry in the coming election as it is. The embarrassment of the FEMA post-Katrina response was just not an anchor Republicans on the Commission wanted to carry.

And putting Katrina failures aside, coming to a city where the political leadership across the board has become an embarrassment all over the country made it an easy call in leaving New Orleans on the sidelines. You can rollup the bumbling and antics of the likes of Mayor Ray Nagin, former District Attorney Eddie Jordan, Congressman Bill Jefferson, and disgraced former Councilman Oliver Thomas just to name a few, and there should be little wonder as to why the Commission would want to stay far away from New Orleans.

On my daily radio show that originates in New Orleans, I continue to be amazed at the number of calls I receive incredulously insisting that New Orleans is the driving force and economic engine behind any growth that takes place in Louisiana. As one caller put it: “Without New Orleans, the rest of the state would be, for all practical purposes, irrelevant.”

And you know what? That opinion represents the view of many new Orleanians including those in private and public leadership posts. Yet while all this bemoaning is going on in what was at one time the state’s largest city, other parts of the state like Baton Rouge, Shreveport and the North Shore are rolling their eyes at such comments, and then putting together regional coalitions that are working towards bringing about significant growth.

Just this week, state legislators along the I 10-I 12 corridor from Baton Rouge through St, Tammany Parish met in Hammond to set out a list of priorities for this rapidly growing area. As one new legislator told me,Baton Rouge is and will remain the state’s largest city. And the real future for economic growth is from the state capitol along the interstate to the Mississippi line. New Orleans won’t be irrelevant, but they seem to whine a lot and don’t have any regional planning going on among the surrounding parishes. The state’s future is up here, not down there.”

Is there a wake up call in the mix for New Orleans? It’s delusional for the city’s leadership, both in the public and private sector, to demand recognition nationally and expect the rest of the state to pay a special diffidence to what special status the city might have held in the past. The past is prologue and gone with the wind.

New Orleans does have a special history and ambiance that can serve as a foundation for the future. But there are no entitlements out there. A clean slate based on regional, multi-parish cooperation and coalition building is the key to a productive New Orleans future. The ball is in the court of those who are supposed to lead. The rest of the state might well be willing to help more than many think. But no more complaining. It’s time to get on with the program.

******

“Too bad all the people who know how to run the country
are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.”

– George Burns

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

6 Responses
  1. IRWIN SHAAB

    JIM GREAT ARTICLE YOU HIT ON THE HEAD, N.O. WILL SIT AND WITHER AWAY ALL THAT WILL BE LEFT IS THE QUATER AND UP TOWN. THEY BETTER GET OFF OF THERE DUFF’S AND GO TO WORK. THE GOVT. WON’T COME TO THERE RESCUE UTILL THEY DO.
    IRWIN

  2. Jim Montgomery

    Amen, brother. And just in case it hasn’t received attention down there — Shreveport-Bossier City this week hosted a Cyberspace symposium which had all the “bigs” of the commercial cyber world meeting with lots of Air Force brass, Mary Landrieu, et al. All in preparation for basing Cyber Command here and developing the Cyber Innovation Center as a partner. It’s huge.

  3. I hope in all this economic ferment and development, someone remembers Louisiana’s other minority–it’s disabled minority. Lafayette is supposed to come on with this fiber to the home plan that mightmake
    some opportunities doable.

  4. Martha Kane

    Great column! The rest of the state is beginning to see the light, but NO politicans and business leaders are mostly still in La-La Land. After they turn the whole city over to Blakely and his crew, they can just flush. It’s all over but the shouting.

  5. Don L. Whitfield

    Jim, great column, and I agree
    with you. I love the city,
    but lets face reality, New
    Orleans is a sick city on life
    support. It needs honest,
    foward thinking leadership,
    not crying, spoiled brats.
    I will continue praying for
    the city and our state.

    D. Whitfield
    Baton Rouge

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