Last’s week’s flare-up between Council Member Stacy Head and Sanitation Director Veronica White brought about quick responses from talking heads trying to sound like peacemakers by saying things to the TV cameras such as "we need to work together" and we must "behave professionally."
Sounds good, but "working together" really means the administration doing its job and the council doing its job. So far, the burden of proof is on the administration.
There should be no compromise in council members obtaining information that should be theirs. True professionalism comes from doing the public’s works, even if a person has to become angry with those who are failing to do likewise.
I am angry too, just from watching the video clips. Some thoughts about why Head needs to be backed and why the mayor is wrong again:
1. Stacy Head is one the brightest minds to ever be elected to the council. She is an attorney with a prosecutorial background, which is just what the council needs. She has integrity, and she is tough enough to withstand the foolishness and pandering that often goes before the council. Incompetent administrators need to know that they are not going before a bunch of fools when they face the New Orleans city council. This is business – the city’s business.
2. On Nov. 4, there were signs that appeared around Uptown that said "Recall Stacy Head." There was no reason given for the signs, nor names identified with them, but be sure that the motivation was NOT good government. Head won her council set by defeating incumbent Renee Gill Pratt who is personally linked to the Bill Jefferson organization. We do not know if that group had anything to do with the signs, but her election obviously wrankled some people who lost power. Whether it’s Jefferson’s group or not, there are some people whose strength is eroded by accountability in government. They get nervous with council members who ask too many questions and who cannot be bullied.
Recall Stacy Head, yes – but recall as in "remember." She has been one of the true leaders of the recovery.
AS FOR RAY NAGIN…
One of the worst offenses that a mayor can commit against a city is to pander to its people. His message suggesting that there were racial references in Head’s standoff with a department head (which there were not) was pandering at its worst. In that way he is no better than the early machine bosses who exploited the fear of uneducated immigrants.
Thank God that leadership on the recovery has not relied on race-bating politicians and ill-advised city department head. It has come from many other places including:
*Citizens groups who govern charter school.
* Neighborhood organizations that know the laws and are skilled at getting things done.
*Marshall Truehill, a black minister who understood the longterm importance of a Master Plan for development and helped lead the campaign.
*Emeril Lagasse, who has raised millions of dollars for Café Reconcile and St. Michael’s special school.
*Out-of-town volunteers, such as the Starbuck employees, who were recently in town and gave many hours to doing work around the city.
*Deacon John, still singing and performing – a true link to New Orleans culture. He has experienced hard times and tragedy but he is still of and about New Orleans.
* Good cops on the beat.
*U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, who is restoring confidence in government by exposing what was wrong with it.
*Business owners, maintaining jobs and opportunities despite City Hall and in the face of a recession.
*Members of the New Orleans City Council trying to keep City Hall relevant.
When Ray Nagin was first elected his base was the black and white middle class. He had an opportunity to unite the city with that block of support; instead he has disillusioned both groups. Since Hurricane Katrina, the city, more than ever, has needed a leader. Instead, the mayor most often just gets in the way. If the Recall people really cared about the city, they would know that they are going after the wrong person.
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