Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why Bother? Part 2

Yesterday, when I wrote:
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.

I was joking -- about how pressing the issue was. Not about the fact that Nagin has plans to restore the police force to its pre-Katrina size. As the Picayune reported in early October:
Compared with a force of 1,668 before the flood, the department now employs 1,425 officers. Of those, 109 are on sick leave and top officials believe 150 more have put in applications at other departments, who have contacted NOPD for references

Starting a wide-ranging recruitment campaign, with the goal of hiring 250 to 350 new officers over the next couple years -- the number Stellingworth said will be necessary to accommodate normal attrition levels -- will be a key test of the city's bureaucracy, depleted of money and personnel..

The same article even expressed doubts about the ability of the reduced civil service staff to process that many applications. You might argue that with a reduced population, the city can make do with a smaller police force. But that reduction to 1425 understates the case. As WWL reported the real number is closer to 1100. In addition to the 109 officers out on long term medical leave, more officers than usual are performing administrative duties because of the police's department's laid off civilian employees. I'm not surprised that the rest of our frivolous press corps failed to follow up on that story, but I'm a little disappointed in two of my favorite local bloggers, Jeffrey and Adrastos, seem to think that this is just another case of the NOPD calling wolf (in Adrastos' case I may have just inferred that) about manpower. I know that Nagin's duplicity about spending is my pet obsession, but it is another example of Nagin putting fat contracts to political supporters before the city's real needs. At least it looks to me like the city will end up spending half as much on sanitation as police protection, maybe as much as on fire protection.

Yesterday, I was completely serious when I called the city council "cowed" and "feckless". We were told in January that the city had taken care of the electrical inspector shortage that's hampered the city's recovery. The lie was so convincing that it was barely mentioned during the election; prior to that, I must have typed "two electrical inspectors" a dozen times in the month of January alone. Once the lie was accepted, I believe that Nagin even cited solving the problem as an accomplishment. Now we find out that the problem is still slowing down the recovery, causing the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on electrical inspectors who charge as much as energy advisers and allow potentially dangerous self-inspection. So does the city council challenge the mayor's credibility for lying back in January? Does it ask how the mayor can even think about any expensive bulls*** before coming up with a plan to solve the problem? Of course not. Instead, the council's senior member asks electricians to volunteer their time. That's pretty f***ing feckless.

Well I certainly see your point that the city wants to pretend that they've provided more in the way of services than they actually have.... and I have no doubt that NOPD is hemmorhaging as a result.

I guess I'd be more sympathetic if I didn't suspect they were taking advantage of the crisis to push pet agendas like ruining Carnival.
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