Everyone in New Orleans knows the city government has been corrupt for decades. It’s a given. It is just something you put up with and hope that you can elect the right people to get the job done and turn it around.
New Orleans and Geraldo Rivera’s Vast Urban Wasteland
Nagin, our last mayor, was a dismal failure. He embodies the worst of what a politician is. Not only was he incompetent but he was corrupt, a terrible combination in a politician.
Now we can tolerate our governors like Edwin Edwards who went to jail for ten years, but at least he was competent.
Few doubt that if he were governor during the time of Katrina things would have been vastly different. At least he knew how to get things done and the state of Louisiana would have been better off.
In Governor Kathleen Blanco we had someone who was honest but woefully incompetent and the state suffered because of it. Give me a dishonest, competent politician any day.
Of course, the best course is to have someone who is honest and competent and I believe we have that in our current mayor Mitch Landrieu. There seems to have never been a hint of scandal around the Landrieu family so I think we are lucky to have Mitch running the city. He is doing his best to clean up City Hall from the incompetence, corruption and cronyism that has plagued it for decades. I know it’s not easy but it can be done.
The Parish Prison Video
That brings us to Geraldo and his denunciation of New Orleans on a recent Bill O’Reilly program. I watch Bill regularly and like his program and his even-keeled approach to the issues of the day and I saw this particular segment. The point of the segment was to let Geraldo go off on the supposedly recent videos of inmates in the Orleans Parish Prison shooting up, brandishing a loaded gun, smoking pot and drinking beer.
Apparently, this video was shot in 2009 and it’s interesting that’s it’s suddenly come to light when the city is in the throes of trying to cast off an unfortunate agreement made with the feds that it would pay for upgrades to the parish prison.
The problem with this so called consent decree is that the city simply cannot afford it. It apparently would have to shut down crucial city services to come up with the money to pay for this. Rightly, the mayor is trying to back away from this as it would cripple the city.
But here are questions that need to be asked and no one seems to be asking them: who shot the videos, how did they get the videos online, how did these inmates get access to these drugs and gun, why in heaven’s name were the videos even shot, is there something else going on here that’s more than meets the eye.
And Geraldo, to be cute and cutting, says the city is not the Big Easy but the Big Sleazy. Oh please, Geraldo. OK, admittedly, there is something sleazy going on at the parish prison and probably has been going on for a long time.
But is there anything unusual about that as compared to other prisons. I mean, we hear all the time, see it in movies and documentaries that inmates seem to have no problem getting access to drugs, weapons and such in prisons. So when I saw that video I said to myself, uh, huh, yeah, that’s terrible and corrupt and shouldn’t be happening but, well that’s prison for you, it happens, what’s so unusual?
To me what I think is unusual is that someone videotaped it and got it online. So inmates have access to the Internet? Was the camera smuggled out and someone outside the prison posted it? And the question remains, why would they do that?
Geraldo Disses New Orleans
The next part of this is probably the thing that bothers me more than anything else about the Geraldo segment. He says the French Quarter and some other tourist stops in the city are nice but everything outside of that is a vast urban wasteland. I’m so amazed about this that just sitting here writing this I am at a loss as to how to respond properly.
Has Geraldo lost his mind? Has he ever been to the rest of the city, outside of what he would consider tourist areas? Has he seen the beautiful uptown neighborhoods all consider historic?
Has he seen what has become of the once squalid conditions of the numerous housing projects around the city now examples of well-built, well-designed urban neighborhoods made up of individuals houses, doubles and units that fit into the architecture of the city, real neighborhoods, not the dreary old buildings that looked like glorified slave quarters?
Most of the city is beautiful. There are a few areas that could be considered wastelands, but they are not vast. New Orleans East might fit the bill of vast urban wasteland only because it was almost completely destroyed by the flooding from Hurricane Katrina and very few have moved back. Even the areas that see the most crime I would not consider vast urban wastelands for these are real people living in real neighborhoods in real New Orleans homes doing their best to make the best of things.
Of course, we know Geraldo. He is given to hyperbole. We would just like him to come here and really get to know the city and he would see that it is not a vast urban wasteland by any means.
He does a disservice to the people here who love the place and never want to leave. It’s a real insult to the people who live here and work here and go to school here and have chosen to make their lives here in this beautiful city full of great music and fantastic food, wonderful customs, beautiful homes and neighborhoods. A place unlike any other city in the United States. Perhaps the inside of Geraldo’s head is a vast wasteland.
Stop and Frisk
One last point I want to get to is this: I actually agree with Mr. Rivera when he wonders why we don’t have a stop and frisk law. Why don’t we? We know the NAACP doesn’t like it because they see it as racial profiling. Well, the fact is that, it is. OK. And the NAACP is trying to stand in the way of that.
The majority of the crime in this city is committed by young black men. Nothing racist about that, it’s just a fact. Those good people in the black community are afraid, too, of young black men roaming their streets killing people. So the NAACP is willing to abandon these good people to violent neighborhoods to make political points to protect those who have already been proven prone to committing violent crimes?
Yes, there is no doubt that the New Orleans Parish Prison needs to be cleaned up and upgraded. No one’s denying that or making excuses for it. It’s just that, Geraldo, we’d love you to tell the truth about New Orleans, not take an isolated problem and spread it like Creole cream cheese over the entire city. It’s not right and it’s not the truth and is insulting to the entire citizenry of the Crescent City.
OK. I said my peace.
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