Saturday, January 07, 2006

The End of NIMBY?

From this story in today's T/P, it appears that the trailer site impasse may be over. If so, kudos to Oliver Thomas, Gov. Blanco and everyone else who made it happen. Hope I'm wrong, but I'm still skeptical:

"About 10,000 apartments -- it could be more, it could be less -- could be brought up relatively quickly," Blanco said. Nagin said some of the units could be ready in one to six months, adding that some groups he has been in touch with estimate that as many as 20,000 apartments may be available in that period.

I hate to put a downer on things, but six months from now will be almost a year after Katrina. More importantly, one has to wonder where those 10,000 apartments will come from. Will using them insread of trailers really help solve the housing shortage? I hope I'm wrong, but it almost sounds like an accounting trick to me.

It seems that once again, after starting out being too stubborn to even explain his position, Nagin was forced to back down:

The mayor promised that the district council members who represent the areas where the remaining 7,000 trailer sites will be located will have veto power over the proposed locations. But he said council members who object to a site should come up with alternatives in their districts.

In effect, the city coucil members will have the ultimate say over where the trailers go. The individual district members will have it, not the council as a whole. In other words, the council's most sensible member (IMO), Oliver Thomas, will have less input than Batt or Clarkson.

What I can't figure out is why the mayor refused to answer specific objections when he was obviously right on the big picture. His refusal to communicate caused the impasse to drag on and embarrass the city needlessly. Ultimately, it caused him to cave. Notice, I said communicate rather than compromise. If you're right, just explaining your position should eliminate the need for all but minor compromises. If you won't explain yourself, you might as well be wrong.

In this case, a self-indulgent, bone headed move might have further weakened the mayor's position. When I heard the mayor say that he had emergency power to overrule the council, I thought that he probably gave up all his emergency powers when he a took a post-Katrina trip to Jamaica, not legally but politically. One has to wonder whether that was used against him.

At any rate, I hope that I'm wrong and today's news is as good as it seems to be. I'll still think Nagin is inept because of the city lay offs. Obviously, a lot of city workers had to lose their jobs, the mayor just seemed to maximize the number of lay offs rather than pay roll savings. That's a weird way of getting the most bang for the buck-- maximize the bang: size of announced lay off, minimize the bucks saved. It's not just laid off city workers affected; I'll return to that in my next post.

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