Friday, March 21, 2008

Interesting Coincidence

Three days after a front page article about the vast sums the city hopes to spend rebuilding the library, the Picayune publishes a letter from Billboard Ben Edwards.

I apologize for doing this the lazy way, but it's late and I have a busy weekend. So, to explain why it's an interesting coincidence, I'll just post some recent comments from the yellow blog:
"S & J Consulting, LLC. is exploring the development of the city square bounded by Poydras Street, Loyola Avenue,Perdido Street and Rampart Street in the City of New Orleans. It is anticipated that S & J Consulting, LLC. will participate as a development partner with other developers to be determined to acquire all parcels located within the square and develop said parcels."

That's from the infamous counter letter, it's also right in the middle of the proposed Jazz Park area. A jazz musician is too involved in too many big money deals for my taste. Remember, the mayor put him in charge of the library board just in time for rebuilding. No, I don't think Mayfield's corrupt, but if I were featherbedding the library system's rebuilding, I'd rather bet on a jazz musician acting as a figurehead than a law professor. Just in case he got any ideas about paying attention to the rebuilding contracts, a really clever mayor might spend $400,000 of city money to keep him traveling.

Somebody sent me a copy of that counter letter, but as a pdf attachment to an email. Is there an easy way to post it? I could print it and scan it I guess, if I had a scanner.
bayoustjohndavid | Homepage | 03.05.08 - 9:47 pm | #

"featherbedding the library system's rebuilding..."

Bwa-ha-ha! Bwa-ha-ha! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Seriously, though, we are going to have to fight for every penny we need. No one is going to be piggybacking on us.

If you look back at the original plans for the Jazz Park, you'll see there was NO mention of rebuilding or renovating the Main Library, right on the other side of Duncan Plaza.
Kirsten | Homepage | 03.06.08 - 2:57 pm | #

That's exactly right. In fact, the plan quite conspicuously excluded the library building making the drawing resemble a pie with a piece cut out. (Don't know if that was an "exploding pie" or not)
jeffrey | 03.06.08 - 3:04 pm | #

laugh all you, but he leaves Billboard Ben at the S&WB even though his term has expired. He reappoints David White to the aviation board, those boards traditionally control tons of patronage. Traditionally, the library board hasn't, so nobody expected (to have any reason to suspect) anything other than bad manners and ingratitude (were involved) when Nagin decided the library board needed "refreshing." However, he decided it needed to be refreshed just in time for:

"That was an early guess," Biava said, "based on FEMA funding 90 percent. But FEMA's estimates of the damage vary drastically from the city's estimate, so it's hard to say. The city estimated $21 million in damages, and FEMA's estimate was $7 million. If that is the case, we have a much bigger goal if we are going to build better. How much is better going to cost?"

In his presentation to the City Council last week, Mayfield estimated a $70 million figure.

"It's a moving target number," Mitchell said, citing "a possible $50 million, $60 million or $70 million rebuild. We won't know until we get the master plan under control. . . . I think most of us are familiar with how much the price of construction has gone up, so we can't put a definite number on it."

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I haven't seen Nagin act on his desire to refresh the municipal boards anywhere else.
bayoustjohndavid | Homepage | 03.06.08 - 4:33 pm | #

Also, I know that if more people asked the questions that I've asked, it would look like Mayfield's integrity was being questioned. I certainly wouldn't want that, but every time, every single time, the mayor's words contradict his actions or his words contradict each other, he should be called on it. That's especially true where money is involved, and there will be big contracts awarded in the rebuilding of the library system.

Plus, nobody wants to question the integrity of a popular entertainer, but that shouldn't deter people from asking questions about projects that he's lent his name to. I'm afraid it might cause people to be more cautious in their questioning that they might otherwise be.
bayoustjohndavid | Homepage | 03.06.08 - 10:05 pm | #

As Tuesday's paper indicated a lot more than $70M involved, the mayor should be pressed on the inconsistency between word and action. Again, it's not a matter of questioning Mayfield's integrity. Who would be more likely to notice any irregularities in contracting practices, a law professor or a musician who travels a lot? Also, the Nagin administration did spend $400,000 to increase his travel schedule.

Of course, the inconsistency between the mayor's words and actions about municipal boards wouldn't be a matter of such concern if it weren't for another inconsistency. The mayor claims to be a champion of transparency, but as the city's daily and at least two of its three of it weekly newspapers have pointed out, the Nagin administration has been characterized by anything but transparency.

More on Billboard Ben's letter later, but you do have to admire the chutzpah of the closing line:
As a wise man once said, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

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