Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why Bother?

I had planned a short post about the serious point behind my sugestion that the mayor should just spread his arms and say, "so big," whenever he's asked a question. If the mayor basically just makes up numbers, then the words accompanying those numbers have no real meaning and accountabilty becomes a joke. I had planned to point out how the city budget affects other issues and the council's failure to question the mayor's CAO and CFO about his pay raise proposal should worry everybody and then take a short break from blogging. Hell, the council didn't even notice that though the mayor talks about restoring the police force to its pre-Katrina size, he has no plans to do so. That means that this year's most pressing issue will again be a problem next year.

After reading today's paper, I don't see the point. Either I'm crazy, or that city has a thoroughly corrupt (or insane) mayor, a cowed feckless city council and an utterly frivolous press corps. In an article that would been better for April Fool's Day than Halloween we read that the president of the city council has a plan to deal with the city's shortage of electrical inspectors:
Thomas said the city could benefit from electricians donating one day a week to help the city's inspectors ensure public safety as homeowners rebuild.

We also read that Stacy Head now thinks it crazy to allow people to self-inspection, after the city council voted to allow self-inspection in August.

Since January, I've suspected that we weren't getting the whole story when we were told that electrical inspector shortage had beensolved:
Unpowered FEMA trailers have residents steamed
The department’s electricity inspectors fell from 10 to two in the weeks after Katrina while permit applications soared 80 percent, said Greg Meffert, Mayor Ray Nagin’s chief technology officer. The staffing problem was not the result of mass layoffs after the storm. Instead, some inspectors failed to return to work, and others have quit, Meffert said.

After several false starts, the department last week hired a private firm to resupply the depleted electricity inspector ranks. The department should have 10 inspectors working by the end of the week and more on the way, Meffert said.

Nine and a half months ago, I assumed that the four month delay was due to the great care that Greg Meffert takes in selecting private contractors (well, I suspected something), but now everybody seems to have forgotten that the problem was pronounced solved back in January.

So nine months (the mayor would say almost a year) after the problem's been solved, we find out that the city's has both monetary and safety issues caused by the lack of electrical inspectors. Yet the council's budget committee didn't ask Brenda Hatfield and Reginald Zeno about that when they discussed pay raises? Of course, the city council couldn't be bothered to ask just how much the mayor's top aides actually make before voting them a pay raise. Oliver Thomas would rather ask for volunteers than ask a mayor a serious question. Am I crazy, or is it time for somebody (outside of the blogosphere) to come out and call the mayor a liar?

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