On the day after his reelection, Mayor Ray Nagin spoke to a group at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in the Treme neighborhood. According to a report in The Times-Picayune, Nagin said, “he hoped businesses would join him in creating a ‘new paradigm’ and would stay, ‘but if they don’t, I’ll send them a postcard.’”
Some business leaders were reportedly offended by the comments, though Nagin should at least be complimented for taking the time to write – usually it is those who leave town that send postcards, not the ones who stay.
To date, there is no news of the mayor having actually sent a card to a departed business owner, but when he does, I think it might go something like this:
Dear Former New Orleans Business Owner,
I wish you well in your new location. I hear there are many cities actually looking for new businesses, so you might want to check those suckers out. As for New Orleans, just because your business paid property tax, generated sales revenue and provided jobs, don’t think that we need you – especially if you’re not going to go along with the paradigm. And Dude, if you were one of those so-called white conservative businessmen who voted for me, you should feel good – remember it was my opponent who was supposed to be unfriendly to business.
Good luck, and, oh, if you’re moving to Dallas, I might see you there in August.
During his inauguration speech Nagin revealed that God, it turns out, was on his side. “This is much bigger than all of us,” Nagin said of his victory. “I’m not that smart. God had his hand in this.”
If God had a candidate in the race I would have thought it might have been Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno whose slogan, “a troubled man for a troubled city,” had the right “voice crying in the wilderness” tone so popular with deities. But the fact that Bruno’s vote total in the primary barely made it to triple digits, proves that he was not the anointed one.
Between the two runoff candidates, Mitch Landrieu and Nagin, I do not think that God’s decision was necessarily anti-Landrieu. Though my theology is rusty, my hunch is that God saw Nagin as being better for business, His business. In particular, God reasoned that Nagin returning to City Hall would create more work for St. Jude.
Of all the saints, Jude is a major player in New Orleans. The International Shrine in honor of him is located at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on N. Rampart Street. More importantly, Jude carries the prestigious title of being the patron saint of hopeless cases.
Now no one is suggesting that Nagin is a hopeless case. It is just that his administration has not yet lulled us into overconfidence. History will likely say that Nagin’s tenure was rigidly honest and unpredictably wacky, but before that history can be written, there are four more years to experience. We need Jude, so that we can hedge our bets while hoping for the best.
As the mayor tries to light up the city, his constituents will be lighting candles. Will Nagin successfully lead our recovery and deliver us from evil? Will businesses follow the paradigm, whatever that is? Are we about to experience the New Orleans miracle?
Only God knows.