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Library Chronicles

Paradise plastic. Cheap and fantastic.

Updated: 2017-06-22T22:24:38.983-05:00


Hi, Cindy


Although, in this case, maybe this is a sign one is one the wrong track.

Clancy DuBos today says this election reminds him of something.

No two elections are alike, but this year’s race for mayor of New Orleans reminds me (so far) of the 2002 mayor’s race. Ray Nagin won that contest, but don’t panic. I don’t see another Nagin in our future. What looks familiar is the slow pace at which the field is taking shape and the lack of a clear front runner, at least as this stage.

Clancy goes on to enumerate some additional parallels none of which is this one, exactly, but I would like it thrown onto the pile anyway.  Last month, some idiot on Twitter said:

Do not taunt Cindy lest you invite her wrath, basically. That seems logical. Hard to believe so many TV weathermen are climate change deniers.

Also we should think about Cindy's feelings. This is her time to enjoy herself in her full glory before she smashes herself to death on one of our shores later this week.  Not all Cindys get this opportunity.  Some of us are so old now we remember the last Cindy to come this way in 2005. She wasn't actually given a name until a day or two after she was already gone.  I remember going in to work the next day and talking to everyone about how surprised we were at the strength of the wind the night before.  What we thought was going to be just a lot of rain from "Tropical Storm Cindy" had blown up into a hurricane overnight.  And then she was gone before we even knew her real name.

This year's Cindy isn't expected to do that either. As of right now it's projected to head off to Houston by, probably, Thursday. But I'm sitting here watching this radar loop and I don't see it making that westerly jog just yet. In any case, Southeast Louisiana is going to see a great deal of rain and coastal flooding even if the current track holds.
RAINFALL:  Cindy is expected to produce total rain accumulations of
6 to 9 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches over
southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and
the Florida Panhandle through Thursday. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5
inches with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches can be expected
farther west across southwest Louisiana into southeast Texas through

STORM SURGE: Inundation of 1 to 3 feet above ground level is
possible along the coast in portions of the Tropical Storm Warning
So, you know, Carl and Mitch and the 500 people behind Mitch's podium are kinda right. But just because a storm is worth taking seriously doesn't mean we can't also laugh at it.  Certainly we can laugh at them, anyway.

Game on


Hope everybody is ready to play storm season.
With a tropical system that is expected to bring heavy rains to south Louisiana hovering in the Gulf of Mexico, state and local officials began Monday to prepare for a foot of water or more in some areas.
So if you are inclined to think of this as a "dry run" that's probably not the phrase you are looking for. Apart from the rain, there are also tides to worry about. Even the modest storms push enough surge to cause serious coastal flooding nowadays.  We all know the reasons for that.

I wouldn't mind voting against a police chief or two


LaToya mentioned this idea at her "kickoff" party
One possible way to make the police department more responsive, Cantrell said to applause, would be to change the city charter to elect a police chief independently instead of making him a political appointment by the mayor.

“It’s working in our sister parishes. It’s working in other communities across the country,” Cantrell said. “It’s something we do need to be mindful of, and I want to have that conversation as your mayor.”

The idea is just a topic she wants to explore thus far based on ideas from constituents, and would ultimately require a vote by the public to change the structure of city government, Cantrell said. But it would offer one definite advantage of providing autonomy and consistency in the city’s police force that is insulated from the whims of changing mayoral administrations.

It's not the first time this has come up.  A few years ago, J.P. Morrell  proposed merging the Chief's and NOPD's functions with the Sheriff's office. He's continued to advocate for an elected Chief since then. 
In an interview Thursday, Morrell acknowledged that merging the two agencies would be an enormous undertaking, practically and politically.

But he argued that New Orleans taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth from the existing arrangement, where the police force answers to City Hall and an independently elected sheriff manages the local jail.

“We’re paying for two different police departments, and only one (of them) polices,” Morrell said, alluding to the fact that Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office is tasked mainly with operating Orleans Parish Prison, rather than patrolling or investigating crimes. “The system has been broken since the 1970s.”

Morrell pointed to Jefferson Parish, where the Sheriff’s Office acts as the police force for most of the parish, bolstered by separate departments in municipalities such as Kenner, Harahan and Westwego. “We’re the only parish that elects a warden,” Morrell said.
It's an interesting coincidence, then, that a different rumor has former Police Chief Ronal Serpas considering a run for Sheriff. That development wouldn't merge the offices, obviously, but it would at least suggest the possibility.



You can be neoliberal AF in your approach to service economic development and basic service delivery. You can be authoritarian AF in your approach to law enforcement and public safety. You can cozy up to bankers and hoteliers and corporate "partners" as a general matter of course.  You can be the son of a mayor and brother of a three term US Senator. You can have an extensive resume in politics at the local and state level. You can serve as Lt. Governor of your state and as a two term mayor of a major American city.  But, as long as you don't actually work in D.C., you still somehow qualify as a "non-establishment politician" Democrats bruised by their upset loss in 2016 say they’ve learned the lesson of needing the right candidate for the right time. Even as Hillary Clinton, the consummate political insider, won the presidential nomination last year, Democrats saw excitement continue to grow around Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who was the ultimate outsider.Now, as the party looks to rebuild, Democrats say Landrieu and other non-establishment politicians like him could be the future of the party.For Landrieu, it means increasingly fielding questions about a White House run in 2020.If you say you've "learned the lesson of needing the right candidate" instead of Hillary Clinton and your response is to go out and find a candidate who replicates her policy program exactly, then you've learned the wrong lesson. This isn't an examination of party and what it stands for. This is a cynical re-branding exercise.But, then, if the professional Dems are intent on sticking with cynical politics, Mitch is probably their man. For whatever reason, he and his handlers prefer to lie about their obviously coordinated effort to push the monument speech out to a national audience rather than just tell us it's something they thought the country should hear. We've said this before. The speech was pretty good. But because Mitch Inc. is constitutionally incapable of not treating us with sneering condescension, they can't own up to the fact that we, in New Orleans, weren't the primary audience. Also check this out. Ryan Berni, the deputy mayor of external affairs under Landrieu, said the monuments speech was “never intended for a national audience.”But he said the address, which was written by the mayor himself, stood out “as a way to move forward” on race issues.“It was genuine, and that’s why it was able to resonate beyond the local audience it was intended for here,” he said, adding “It’s always flattering to have your work recognized.” Again, all they have to do is admit that they have some speechwriters and PR people on the task. Nobody would fault them for that. The lie here is an outright act of contempt. All of which is to say you're not going to find a more establishment Democratic politician than Mitch Landrieu.  His m/o fits their failed 2016 model to a tee.  [...]

Here is a brief second line video just because


The Perfect Gentlemen Father's Day parade and second line came within porch-sit participation distance for us this weekend. It only rained on them a little bit.

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Nobody actually lives there


The world's cities are becoming playgrounds for luxury travelers. People don't live in them anymore
Italian cities are the latest subjects of concern that Airbnb is pushing permanent residents out of historic city centres and aiding a trend in 'Disneyfication' in places such as Florence, according to a new report from the University of Siena.

The authors behind the report claim that up to one in five properties in the historic centre of Florence is being rented out through Airbnb, turning the feted city into a “theme park for tourists”.

“Almost 20 per cent of the entire housing stock in the historic centre of Florence is listed on Airbnb, which is a lot,” said Stefano Picascia, one of the authors behind the report. “Every single flat on a short-term let is one flat less in the regular long-term market.”

Picascia and his colleagues claim locals are increasingly being pushed out by tourism, which is affecting the character of Italy’s cities.

“The centre of Florence is now 'Disneyfied',” Picascia told Telegraph Travel. “It’s basically a theme park for tourists.”
Despite the fact that the STR market has been pressuring renters in New Orleans for several years now, it has only recently shown up on policymakers' radar.  But rather than doing anything helpful, last year, city council passed a massive liberalization of the city's enforcement regime becoming a partner in the "Disneyfication" of neighborhoods in exchange for what it hopes will be increased revenues collected in fees and property taxes.

Early in the process, LaToya Cantrell  signaled that renters would not be a priority to her. Speaking at this Tulane Hillel forum on gentrification two years ago, Cantrell answered questions about Airbnb driven displacement by saying only that she was interested in a "balanced" approach that would increase revenue. She also reminded the audience that it was important to remember New Orleans is a "destination city." She would go on to vote with the 5-2 majority of councilmembers who passed the (non)regulation package last December.

Today, Cantrell appeared along with Michael Bagneris at a mayoral candidates' forum hosted by Indivisible NOLA. From what I gleaned via Twitter, the Indivisibles did ask about housing this morning, but I didn't see anyone talk about short term rentals explicitly.  That's a shame since LaToya, especially should have to answer for her vote to approve the legalization during this campaign.  Plenty time left, I guess.

Cruel June


The Saints' 2017 season is only a few minicamp workouts old and they may already be in wait-til-next-year mode.  Here's the Terron Armstead story I read this morning. Let's see if I can recall the entirety of the damage without re-reading it first.

So there's Armstead out for what will be half the year at least. Unger is optimistic that he can come back from a Lisfranc injury by opening day. But those are actually pretty tricky so I wouldn't bet on it. Nick Fairley's heart is exploding. He might never be back. Umm.. who else... oh there's something wrong with Ellerbe again.  Is that all of them? Let me know if I missed something.

Anyway the trouble with the whole season being off the rails in June this time around is there aren't very many Payton/Brees years left.  I'd had it at 50/50 that this is the last one, in fact. And that was before it started looking like a lock for 7-9 again. So who knows if there will be a next year to wait for. But on the off chance that there is, maybe next June let's just lock everybody in the hyberbarric chamber until it's safe to play outside again.

That problematic Danae Columbus column


This Medium post by Jordan Flaherty is probably going to get some circulation. The attention-grabber at the top is a story about how political consultant and current Uptown Messenger columnist Danae Columbus was fired from her job as a City Council PR specialist in 2006 for using a racial slur.  Not everyone thinks this is a big deal, apprently. Already the social media response has included a fair amount of shrugging. I've seen various iterations of "It was ten years ago and widely known," popping up.  OK. And Uptown Messenger publishes this column anyway.  Is that worth asking about?  A lot of people don't seem to think so.But before we pretend to be surprised at this, we should remember that the punditing profession continues to employ despicable racists, sexists, and homophobes like David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Ross Douthat, and Bret Stephens.. and that's just at the New York Times!   So let's not flatter ourselves with the conceit that Columbus is violating a professional norm just by being racist. Flaherty also calls out Columbus's massive conflict of interest given that she often appears to use her column to promote the agendas of candidates and officeholders who also happen to be clients of hers. Columbus, who also was caught using ethically dubious tactics in a 2012 city council race against LaToya Cantrell, writes for the Messenger while maintaining her job as a publicist for local politicians, and her columns read more like press releases than political analysis. A March, 2017 column about Stacy Head, a client of Columbus, is an uncritical list of Head’s accomplishments. Columbus describes Head as a popular candidate who “soundly defeated” her opponents..It would be more accurate to say that Head, one of the city’s most racially divisive figures, is popular among white voters and deeply unpopular among Black voters. In her first election, Head likely only defeated Black incumbent Renee Gill Pratt because most Black residents of the district were still displaced after Hurricane Katrina. Pratt, who was under federal investigation at the time, was still more popular than Head among the Black residents of the district. Head won her 2010 election in that same district with 98 percent of the white vote and 30 percent of the Black vote. In Head’s 2012 primary race for the city council at-large seat, Head received 96% of the white vote and 5% of the Black vote.So the complaint is Columbus is a racist writing promotional material for paying clients to a largely racist audience. To put it another way, she's pretty well in line with the standards and practices of political punditry at large. There are a number of underlying reasons for this which I don't intend to go too far into here. This CJR piece by Farai Chideya on diversity in newsrooms is a good place to start although there is a more expansive power and status analysis to tack onto it. But, like I said, it's more than I want to deal with here.Instead I thought it was worth pointing out the conflicts and motivations that animate a lot of what Columbus produces in a column which I do read regularly. It's a good source for local political rumors as they tend to surface there before other outlets. And, yes, one supposes that is the brand Columbus sells to the Messenger; Juicy insidery poop with a healthy side of questionable ethics and a dash of racism. Still, if one is willing to wade through it, one is likely to learn a thing or two.For example, Columbus's latest column is one of her worst. She takes shots at the group, Indivisible NOLA who are hosting the first public forum of the mayoral election this weekend.  It turns out that only Latoya Cantrell and Michael Bagneris are able to make it. Columbus's objection, though, is that pro-monument carnival barker quasi-candidate Frank Scurlock wasn't invited.In an especially gross tu[...]

Ok but why make that specific choice?


I guess I'm going to have to read this book to understand it better but what I was hoping to get from this story was a clearer understanding of what caused SBA to emphasize fast food franchises over healthier food retail in poor, minority dominated neighborhoods. The answer suggested here is that it was just The Market at work.
But why were fast-food franchisees so frequently the recipients of these SBA loans, rather than grocery stores or independent restaurants? One is that profit margins for fast-food can be as high as 6 percent, compared with 1 percent for grocery stores, as Jou writes. Grocery stores also often require significantly more square footage to operate space that can be hard to come by in a densely populated area. In 2009, for example, Subway franchisees received $27.7 million in SBA loans from the federal government, whereas all the combined grocery stores in the U.S. only received $4.1 million, Jou writes.
Is that all it is, though? Or are there other factors relating to, for example, the outsized influence of fast food companies on policy via their pressure groups. In any case, it's another episode of The Market not always making the best choices for us.

South Louisiana is a thrill ride


Sometimes when I'm just sitting here, I like to throw my hands up and say, Wheeeeee! Try it. You can feel the drop a lot better that way.
Land along Louisiana's coastline is sinking 50 percent faster than was estimated just two years ago, according to a new map published Wednesday (June 14) as part of a study by Tulane University geologists. It says the average subsidence is 9 millimeters a year, more than one third of an inch.
That's subsidence alone, by the way.  Add in the sea level rise and you come to understand that you may get wet on this ride. 

Something about quality and shortcuts


A few weeks ago an episode of this took a bit longer than usual to edit and upload. At the time, Varg asked why it always takes so long which was a weird thing to ask because it wasn't really true then. Since then, though, it's somehow become a self-fulfilling complaint. Sorry about that. There are reasons but they aren't important. Anyway, here is this. It's got stuff about the UK General Election and later some stuff about Mitch and Cannizzaro's ineffectual and/or brutal reactions to a recent spike in violent crime. In both cases we argue for moar socialism. Well... some of us argue that. Varg just thinks the problem is British people ruined the world. Which is true, actually.

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What was the point?


Everybody is ok with passing the budget this time. It's pretty much the same budget they couldn't pass last time.
The Louisiana House gave preliminary approval Wednesday (June 14) to a $28 billion budget plan that is very similar to the one the Senate endorsed last week -- but that the House leadership had refused to bring up for a vote. Had the House voted for this budget on Thursday, the last day of the 2017 regular session, the Legislature might have been able to avoid the current special session that is costing the public $60,000 per day.
Not all sewn up yet. But one wonders why throw the fit in the first place but for the political theater. I think the House Republicans believe they benefit from looking like they fought real hard and stuff. Maybe this was enough for now. They'll all be back before the next regular session anyway.  Gotta do something about that "fiscal cliff."

There's more than one TV/Movie trope that applies to battle near a chasm. I hope everyone is aware. 

This is not the housing policy you're looking for


It's probably some sort of progress that we're even having a discussion about the effectiveness of these tax giveaways to developers in the first place. But the context is still an assumption that tax giveaways to developers are the best way to do housing policy. Mayor Mitch Landrieu plans to unveil a new economic incentive policy in about five months and won't support property tax breaks for new residential real estate projects that don't include reduced-rate units in the meantime, the administration's head of economic development said Tuesday (June 13).The mayor's office is working with consultants HR&A Advisors on a study of real estate development tax breaks and a wide range of other economic incentives, ahead of a new policy being released later this year, said Rebecca Conwell, Landrieu's senior adviser for economic development.Love to hire private consultants to weigh in on policy for us. This firm, in particular, always has a sweet gig somewhere.  HR&A Advisors previously worked with the city developing a resilience strategy in 2015 and also studied the state's film production tax credits at the request of the movie industry, amid debate among state lawmakers over rolling back the credits.I'm not a news media professional but my first question about the consultant would be, do their clients also include private development companies and other organizations looking to "unlock value in underutilized assets"? Because that's what their website says.HR&A provides a full suite of real estate development services.We provide critical thinking for development projects, advice to public, private, not-for-profit, and institutional clients—including municipal governments, counties, quasi-public agencies, BIDs, large medical centers, universities, foundations, public development authorities, private owners, building portfolio managers, national developers, performing arts centers, and museums—to unlock potential and transform assets and places. HR&A creates coordinated real estate strategies to unlock value in underutilized assets.We help clients identify short, medium,  and long term actions that support organizational missions while creating value from their real estate portfolios. We recommend solutions that are flexible enough to respond to changing market conditions and evolution of our clients’ long term strategies.I'm guessing they collect a fee from everybody no matter what the policy outcome eventually is so it's probably fine, right? Anyway it's a strange time for the city to hire a consultant to look into housing tax credits when all they really have to do is watch this Frontline report on the faltering federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit. In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it's costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits. In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.Or they pay attention to the ways in which "inclusionary zoning" and affordable set aside policies in other cities are not making much of a dent in the housing crisis but are definitely causing nice things for rich people to be built. Or they could remember the last time one of these trickle-down "incentive" programs backfired in New Orleans.Actually, according to the article, they are at least indirectly acknowledging that last one. While the study is ongoing, the administration won't support property tax reductions for any projects that fail to inc[...]

Q: Do you think we should just keep building nice things for rich people?


If we can't ask the mayoral candidates that, then Pat's list will do in a pinch.

A little air out of the cushion


The very notion of an unspent "cushion" in a budget that hardly meets basic and dire needs is an insult to begin with. It's also probably not necessary.  But here we are. They've managed to talk the reactionaries out of about half of it.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a budget proposal that backs away from the chamber's push for the state to spend less money in the coming year but aims to leave about $100 million in projected revenue unspent in the coming year.

The committee's approval sends the latest action in ongoing negotiations over the state budget that's slated to to begin July 1 to the full House for consideration on Wednesday, with five days left in the special session focused on the state's finances.
They'll whine and complain either way but if this is the compromise budget that passes, the Henry-Harris faction will have won the point. 

Ok and then what?


It's hard for me think of any way breaking East New Orleans off from the city helps anyone at all. But I especially can't imagine how it would benefit East New Orleans residents. Nevertheless they persist.
NEW ORLEANS – Residents in New Orleans East will continue talks Tuesday about the possibility of seceding from the city.

Eastern New Orleans maintains a reputation as a dangerous and poor area largely ignored and neglected by city leaders. It’s that perception that has spurred a new effort: seceding from the city of New Orleans to form a new city that would be known as East New Orleans, which would include the Lower 9th Ward.
The mayor's office is expected to issue a "response" at tonight's meeting. 6 PM tonight at St. Maria Goretti on Crowder Boulevard.