Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blakely and Transparency

Jeffrey has a great post about Ed Blakely, but I want to add a few things, or clarify a few things that I said before.

Anybody who's willing to admit that we were a city full of chumps five years ago when we thought that by electing Roy Rodney's business partner we were somehow electing a reformer can figure out at least part of the reason for the real estate developer mayor's refusal to answer questions. But I don't understand Blakely's obstinant refusal to answer questions, other than that he's a ... never mind.

First off, I don't think that Blakely's refusal to answer questions has anything to do with dishonesty and corruption, it probably has more to do with ego and impatience. But I do wish that I explained myself better, and quoted Gertrude Stein correctly, when I expressed my reservations about him before. The fact that he came from the part of the Bay Area that isn't known for its old architecture or historic ambiance or whatever cliches New Orleans shares with San Francisco didn't concern me. That fact combined with his statement that an outsider would be less influenced by historic and cultural factors did concern me -- that hardly sounds like a preservationist talking.

The impatience and disregard for transparency add to my concern that preservationists' concerns will will be shoved aside. At least, I don't think that one often hears of secretive city governments rushing through pro-preservationist decisions.

For the record, I've never considered myself a preservationist; in some cases I've thought that preservationists were knee-jerk obstructionists, in other cases I thought they were right. I would have had no interest in the Cabrini Church issue had it not been for the threatening tone and scare tactics of the developers, in this case the Catholic Church. However, I do remember at some point on the way out of town on August 28, 2005 asking my brother how much of the city's architecture it could lose and still be worth rebuilding.

With that in mind, another reminder of some of the advice that we received from the people of Charleston soon after the flood:
Over the following months, even years, as Charleston pulled herself back together, we learned that ironically, a historic community's greatest threat may not be the storm itself, but rather the often short-sighted, economically driven redevelopment that can follow.

Bayou St. John David, I agree with your last statement, and I sometimes wonder if the comment about the buffoons is not so much a reference to certain politicians than it is to our way of life and our desire to maintain your infrastructure and architecture. Regarding wreckless development, I am very suspicious of Stacey Head. By the way, please visit a website to which I contribute; I imagine you would be a great contributor. www.dailykingfish.com
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