Sunday, December 24, 2006

If I Hosted a Local "Meet The Press"

Hey, it's this or freecell while I kill an hour before the family get-together.

Unless the local press starts paying more attention to either the obvious appearance of impropriety (involving the Nagin administration's contract decisions) or wasteful spending decisions, the only thing world class about the city's recovery will be the number of boondoggles. Since the local media seems to think that it's perfectly acceptable to mention campaign contributions to other politicians but not the mayor, I guess the focus will have to be on finances.

Cynthia Hedge-Morrell recently stated that the "key question" in considering each spending request was,
"Is this vital to move this city forward post-Katrina?"

That would certainly explain her reluctance to spend $250,000 on an inspector general's office. It would probably also explain the council's decision to add $304,000 to its own budget to hire nine new staff members -- if the mayor's office staff is 2/3 of its pre-Katrina size, it's certainly vital that the city council's also be. I certainly can't think of anything more vital than investing $350,000 in portable toilet seats.

If you ever watch Meet the Press, you know that a tough question is worthless without tough follow-up questions, and seemingly lame questions can lead to tough follow-ups. With that in mind, last week's street flooding gave me an idea. I agree with Matt McBride that it ridiculous for local officials to blame flooding on clogged catch basins. Next time a local official brings up clogged catch basins, I'd love to see Norman Robinson ask if the fact that the city went from having 129 to 14 street repair workers contributed to the problem. The official would probably respond that it was irrelevant because cleaning catch basins was never a responsibility of the city's street maintenance crews. Would that stop Tim Russert? Of course not, just imagine the follow ups. "Are you trying to say that with clogged catch basins contributing to street flooding, the city couldn't direct its road maintenance crews to unclog the basins, if it had a full staff?", "So, are you trying to say that the fact that the mayor's office was barely touched by staff reductions while the city city lost almost it entire staff of street repair workers doesn't contribute to the problem?" "If instead of hiring nine new city council staffers..." , "So when Cynthia Hedge Morrell says, 'Is this vital to move this city forward post-Katrina?'..."

Well, it's a thought. I'd prefer a more direct approach. When Nagin made an issue of Landrieu's campaign contributions, it should have been (to the local media) like Gary Hart's challenge (to the national media) to follow him around. Lists of campaign donors might not be as alluring as pictures of Donna Rice, but they are certainly suggestive. I can understand that the local media didn't want to mention that Nagin's campaign donor list was dominated by firms that do business with the city during the campaign, but Nagin did make it an issue. Some TV news director or newpaper editor (either at the T/P or a weekly) could certainly mention it now.

I like it. It makes sense. You're hired.

And who'd a thunk that we'd be using a quote from Cynthia H-M as the voice of reason.
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