Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bad news from

New Orleans' record on rebuilding firehouses: 0-22 -

This is an article about how the City of New Orleans has not yet rebuilt a single firehouse, two years after Katrina. Now this I did not know. It was forwarded to me by my husband, who used to work briefly for the Fire Dept. It turns out Dennis Leary, the actor and comedian, has rebuilt more fire stations with his foundation that the City of New Orleans.

Shit! That is deplorable! It makes me ashamed to be a New Orleans civil servant. Even I cannot agree that it is better to have rebuilt the libraries than the police and fire stations.

(I mean, it's not a zero-sum game, they should all be rebuilt -- but damn!)

In the article Dr. Ed Flakely, our Magic Recovery Crane Fairy, once again exposes his ignorance and mendacity.

In the article, Dennis Leary is quoted as saying, "it's a sad commentary on society when actors and musicians become the key players in helping a city rebound." In one sense, yes, where is the government? But in another sense, it's great. Who better to rebuild NOLA than artists and musicians?

But again, it's not a zero-sum game. Bureaucrats and artists both are required. We shouldn't have to pick between them.

Blog this on, please, people. It's a disgrace and people ought to know how New Orleans' Bravest are being treated by the City.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

NOLA Invictus

As a Pagan, insteads of Christmas I celebrate the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, when the Wheel turns, winter begins to end, and the new sun is reborn from the womb of the darkest night. My favorite name for the Solstice is the one the Romans used, Sol Invictus, which is Latin for The Unconquered Sun. I love that image -- The Unconquered Sun! It brings me such hope. At the point of his greatest weakness, when defeat seems inevitable, the darkest night of winter, the Sun returns reborn, renewed, unconquered.

Looking back, I have to say 2007 was a good year for me and mine.  I finished school, graduating at the top of my class.  I came home and reunited with my husband.  I went right back to work.  I reconnected with old friends, my old life.  We sold our house and it wasn’t even demolished, but renovated and expanded, and there is already someone new living there, in deepest Gentilly.


2007 was also a good year for New Orleans Public Library.  We continued to expand and rebuild our services – 10 of 13 pre-Katrina locations now have at least some level of service a few days a week.  We hired a new director, after being without one for almost two years.  We opened the first 3 of our Gates Foundation/SOLINET temporary branches, including my own branch, Mid-City.  (The other two are housed in the Martin Luther King and Einstein Charter schools, in the Ninth and NO East, respectively.)


For the city, too, I feel like things got better in the last half of the year.  After an endless parade of one fuckup after another, there finally seemed to be some signs of the recovery making progress.  Eddie Jordan resigned, hallelujah.  The Road Home finally started to cough up some cash.  The St. Charles streetcar rebuild is running ahead of schedule.  Congress passed the much-delayed water resources bill.  C Ray was mercifully absent most of the time and kept the crazy proclamations to a minimum.


Some things are still bad.  Race relations are terrible, and crime is completely out of control.  And yet I feel weirdly hopeful about this year, for myself and for the city.  Somehow things seem to have turned some kind of corner to me. (This may have something to do with the fact that I am back now, and can actually see and feel what is going on.) Or maybe not. Maybe things really are better. At least, we have the hope of them being better, where for a long time, the whole first year post-K, there was very little hope. Almost no hope. But from that period of darkness we rise, renewed, unconquered like the sun.