Sunday, November 05, 2006

Environmental Racism: The "Mama D" Version

What's next for Albert "Chui" Clark and Dyan French Cole? Are they going to accuse a Cal. Berkeley engineer, an LSU engineer, Ivor van Heerden, and a couple of environmental groups of forming a new chapter of the KKK? Will Dyan Cole claim that racism's behind the opposition to the Old Gentilly Landfill. I'm sure that Clark and Cole think that there couldn't be any legitimate reason to worry about that landfill: those racists aren't really worried about flooding or environmental matters and wouldn't care at all if AMID Metro Partnership was white owned. They just don't like the fact that 97% of the profits from a city owned landfill are going to a partnership between a black businessman and a white businessman with a black wife. Or maybe the engineers and the environmentalists are upset that both partners were major supporters of both our current mayor and his predecessor -- both African-American. Either way, as Nagin might say, "you know man, I just find the timing highly suspicious that this came right after one of the partners was awarded a very lucrative garbage collection contract." They never worried about those things when white people owned the landfills.

Of course the above is absurd. Many of the people who are now worried about the Old Gentilly Landfill, helped close the Chef Menteur Landfill, but you could make at least some connection between those two front page stories. The assertion that environmentalists don't care about pollution from white owned companies would certainly be absurd, but no more absurd than the contention that reformers never worried about corruption involving white politicians. That simply isn't the history of New Orleans or any other city. The fact that reform efforts rarely achieved lasting (or any) success doesn't mean that they weren't attempted at all. Anybody who doubts that could by reading about Robert Maestri, who Mark also mentioned in a post on the subject. Of course, some of the opposition to Maestri did involve ethnic prejudice:
But because Maestri had little interest in proper bidding procedures, richly rewarding his friends with lucrative contracts and City Hall patronage, the Uptown elites and the city's press excoriated him. In editorial cartoons Maestri was consistently portrayed as dark-skinned and unshaven, suggesting that perhaps a good deal of the problem with him was his ethnicity. Other times he was drawn as a spider in a web, a rat devouring cheese, and a snake suffocating Lady Democracy in a deadly coil.

But to claim that complaints about corruption began with the election of the city's first black mayor is to be a tool of the Park Island Gang.

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