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"New Orleans to lay off up to 3,000"

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday that New Orleans has to lay off as many as 3,000 workers [all or most "non-essential"], about 50% of its total payroll...
...State and local officials in Louisiana have complained their tax bases were wiped out and aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been arriving too slowly.
On Monday, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco urged President Bush and Congress to allow federal funding of city and county payrolls to keep vital services running.
"FEMA has been appropriated some $60 billion, and as far as we know there's still about $40 billion that's not specifically dedicated to certain expenditures," Blanco said. "FEMA could be allowed to use some of that money to float these local governments in the short term."

See also "Nagin: New Orleans now bankrupt".

Should the Ninth Ward be rebuilt?

From "9th Ward has history, but does it have a future?"

...Of the 160,000 buildings in Louisiana declared "uninhabitable" after Katrina, a majority are in the New Orleans neighborhoods that suffered extensive flooding. Mayor C. Ray Nagin, an African American who worked in the private sector before entering politics, has spelled out plans to reopen every section of the city -- except the Lower Ninth. His director of homeland security, Col. Terry Ebbert, said in an interview that most homes in the Lower Ninth "will not be able to be restored." Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told the Houston Chronicle he has advised Nagin that "it would be a mistake to rebuild the Ninth Ward."
The mayor himself has spoken ominously about the need for residents to come in, "take a peek," retrieve a few valuables and move on. Historic preservation advocates fear that the city will capitalize on a program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that pays to tear down damaged buildings but not to repair historic private properties.
"There is a built-in incentive to demolish," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The first instinct after natural disasters is almost always to demolish buildings. It is almost always wrong."
New Orleans, with 20 districts on the National Register of Historic Places covering half the city, has the highest concentration of historic structures in the nation, Moe said. That includes the Lower Ninth's Holy Cross section, with its shotgun houses and gems such as the Jackson Barracks, the Doullut Steamboat Houses and St. Maurice Church...
Yet even some liberal activists, people who have worked to buoy the fortunes of the Lower Ninth, are beginning to talk favorably about clearing it away -- if residents are well compensated and given suitable housing elsewhere.

Is the "Bring New Orleans Back" commission a blast from the past?

The NYT article "Panel on New Orleans' Rebirth Is Named, and Gets to Work" discusses the "Bring New Orleans Back" commission convened by Mayor Ray Nagin to help rebuild that city. It has 17 members; only the are listed in the article:
~ Scott Cowen (Pres., Tulane University)
~ Joseph C. Canizaro (Businessman; close ties to White House)
~ Donald T. Bollinger Jr. (ditto)
~ David White (business executive; often described as the mayor's closest confidant)
~ Wynton Marsalis (yes, a musician)
~ Barbara Major (much more below)
~ Daniel F. Packer (chief executive of the now-bankrupt New Orleans subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation)
~ Alden J. McDonald Jr. (who for 33 years has run the Liberty Bank and Trust Company)
~ Maurice L. Lagarde (New Orleans native, who runs the Delta region for the hospital giant HCA)
Regarding Major, she's already complaining that the panel was split evenly - by design - between black and white instead of, say, 70% black:

"I think some people don't understand that an equal number of black and white isn't the same as equity," said Barbara Major, who was named one of the commission's two co-chairs. "But I tell you what, I give them credit - at least it's 50-50."
Ms. Major is the executive director of St. Thomas Health Services, a medical clinic in New Orleans that served city residents regardless of an ability to pay.
"We need the white business community at the table," said Ms. Major, who is black and wondered aloud if she were more scared than honored by her selection...
...Though Ms. Major said she was displeased that the commission did not accurately reflect the racial makeup of New Orleans, she also said that now was not the time to debate its composition. "The question is what happens to the city while we're busy fighting over the makeup of this commission," she said. "With what everyone's been through, I'm not going to be assuming anything about anyone until we start working together."

Her resume is here. She helps communities "de-institutionalize racism". She "formerly served as the chair of the community driven St. Thomas/Irish Channel Consortium, a nationally acclaimed model for holistic community and institutional transformation." And, she teaches "anti-racism".
(Via this)
UPDATE: The full list is here. It points out that Mel Lagarde and Barbara Major are co-Chairs. The names not mentioned above are:
# Kim Boyle
# Cesar Burgos
# Archbishop Alfred Hughes
# Reverend Fred Luter
# Anthony Patton
# Jimmy Reiss
# Gary Solomon
# Oliver Thomas

"Nagin: Focus on New Orleans, Not Farrakhan"

BayouBuzz calls Ray Nagin to task, questioning his "judgment, logic and leadership skills". It mentions the news of his meeting with Louis Farrakhan, and offers this:

Why are the City of New Orleans and its leaders obsessed with the Nation of Islam? Earlier in the year, Police Chief Eddie Compass hired a Nation of Islam official to conduct sensitivity training for his police officers. Of course having the Nation of Islam conduct sensitivity training is akin to hiring David Duke to teach classes on race relations. It was a ludicrous idea that was strenuously opposed by religious leaders in the community, forcing Compass to eventually withdraw the contract. After that experience, why would Nagin fraternize with the Nation of Islam again, especially when the City of New Orleans needs as much goodwill as possible to recover from this storm?

NOPD got "sensitivity training" from Farrakhan aide

You might remember this from June. The NOPD - apparently directed by Eddie Compass - hired a deputy of Louis Farrakhan, Dennis Muhammad, to give their cops "sensitivity training":

[...the hiring came] after a rise in "anti-police" sentiment in the city.
In an item picked up by the Drudge Report, Police Chief Eddie Compass explained that "members of the Nation of Islam have some type of relationship" with the community and might be able to help ease tensions.
The Muhammed appointment immediately sparked controversy, with New Orleans Police Association spokesman David Benelli telling the Bayou Buzz that his phone had "been ringing off the hook" with complaints from the rank and file.

See also "Ray Nagin meets with Louis Farrakhan, discusses conspiracy theories". NewsMax says Nagin hasn't come to the phone to discuss that with them.

Douglas Brinkley opposes Ray Nagin?

Douglas Brinkley is a historian who's writing a book on Katrina. He also accompanied Sean Penn on his boat trip.
He appeared on O'Reilly's show yesterday. While I didn't see it:

OR has got some guy on there (the guy who wrote kerry's bio) and he is reaming Nagin a new one. He won't a federal investigation of Nagin NOW. He doesn't want any money to go to him. Says that Nagin wants to be the quarterback of rebuilding NO with all that federal money. He says the feds need to pull the quarterback before any rebuilding. Says the police dept. is in shambles and someone (historian) needs to go back and find out exactly what happened before Katrina hit. Why wasn't Nagin holding press conferences? Or why wasn't he evacuating people, where was the food and water at the astrodome? Where were the police? He was ticked off and wants a federal investigation.

Eddie Compass: Nagin forced me out

Unnamed New Orleans Police officers tell NOLA that after NOPD superintendent Compass resigned, he returned to the cruise ship where he and others are staying, and:

"He was going around telling officers, including myself, it wasn't his doing, that he would've never quit," said a high-ranking officer who asked not to be named. "He had tears in his eyes. He didn't want to go."
Another officer said Compass told him, "You work at the pleasure of the mayor. This was not my decision."
...Officers said Compass told them that he and Nagin had an angry confrontation Tuesday morning, hours before Compass announced his retirement, which he said would begin after a transition period of up to 45 days.
...At the news conference, the two men were amicable, with Nagin calling Compass' retirement, after 26 years on the force, good for his family and bad for the city.
Nagin wished Compass well, calling him a hero and saying that he hoped Compass would at least send him a Christmas card during the holidays.
Compass seemed to fight back tears. Handlers shuffled Nagin off in one direction, Compass in another.
Even before Katrina, both Nagin and Compass had come under pressure, dealing with controversies over alleged underreporting of crime statistics in the 1st District, the enforcement of the residency rule for officers, and Compass' hiring of members of the Nation of Islam to do sensitivity training for the Police Department. The city also had seen a substantial rise in the murder rate in 2005.

Nagin has named Assistant Superintendent Warren Riley to be the acting superintendent.

Shays: Blanco, Nagin did a "pathetic job" preparing populace

Yesterday, Christopher Shays (R-CT) bashed Michael Brown. Now:

[He says] that while Brown made mistakes, so did others. "He can't be the scapegoat. First responders are local and state, and the governor and mayor did a pathetic job of preparing their people for this horrific storm," Shays said on NBC's "Today" show

Will he discuss Chertoff's and Bush's roles as well? Let's find out.

Ray Nagin meets with Louis Farrakhan, discusses conspiracy theories

"Mayor Nagin in Secret Sitdown with Farrakhan" says that the latter great leader says he met with the former great leader and the two discussed various things, including:

"Mayor Nagin told us there was a 25-foot crater under the levee," Farrakhan explained, before cautioning that the New Orleans Democrat "didn't say there was a bomb. He just said there was a crater."
Farrakhan then added: "I say they blew it [up]."
Citing an Internet report, the Nation of Islam chief explained how the information he got from Nagin led him to conclude that the levees had been deliberately destroyed...
...Though Farrakhan detailed his meeting with the New Orleans mayor at an open forum, the press has kept word of the Farrakhan-Nagin summit under wraps.
In the same address to the Memphis Millions More rally, Farrakhan said Nagin told him that white racists used attack dogs and machine guns to keep blacks from escaping the Superdome.
"Mayor Nagin told us that those poor brothers and sisters that went to the Superdome, these were the ones who made it out of their houses but didn't have any money or means to get out of the city . . . So when the water began to rise around the Superdome, Mayor Nagin told them to get out and start marching over the bridge, the I-10, and get out of here. So they started marching. And when they got over that bridge into the next parish, which was white, they were met with attack dogs and machine guns." [He's refering to the infamous Gretna/Crescent City Connection bridge incident.]
Farrakhan claimed that Mayor Nagin told him warning shots were fired to keep the black evacuees at bay.
"This is Mayor Nagin talking to us," he told the Memphis gathering. "They fired the machine guns over the heads of the crowd. They accepted any white people that were there, but no black people." [Obviously, some white people were not allowed in, such as the socialists.]
Since his alleged meeting with Farrakhan, Mayor Nagin has had no public comment on the Nation of Islam chief's claim that his city's levees were deliberately destroyed.

Mike Brown: more military, Blanco/Nagin, Convention Center

Former FEMA head Mike Brown is scheduled to testify before Congress today about the response to Katrina, and he spoke to congressional aides about that yesterday.
The AP has miraculously obtained a copy of a memo written by a "Republican staffer" who attended that briefing: "Brown Still On FEMA Payroll". Let's be as cynical as possible, and look at this:

...Brown expressed regrets "that he did not start screaming for DoD (Department of Defense) involvement" sooner. The first substantial numbers of active-duty troops responding to the Gulf Coast were sent on Saturday, Sept. 3 - five days after the storm hit.

Do you think that might have something to do with "Military tells Bush they should take control after disaster"? Is this part of the widespread pitch to change Posse Comitatus?

...Brown took several shots at Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He said the two officials "sparred during the crisis and could not work together cooperatively."
He also described Blanco as "indecisive" and refusing to cede control of the Louisiana National Guard to federal authorities because "it would have undercut her image politically," according to the memo.
The document also criticized the conference calls with state and federal officials that Brown ran during the crisis, saying that no official notes were taken and that Brown "just assumed that agencies would follow up on taskings resulting from the calls."
Brown defended himself against charges that he learned from television that thousands of refugees gathered at the New Orleans convention center, where adequate food, water and other supplies were lacking and there was rampant violence.
He said that because the convention center was not a planned evacuation site, "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand," according to the memo.
Brown also admitted he did not ensure that Nagin had a secure communications system during the crisis.


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