Sunday, May 18, 2008

Constructive Criticism

I can understand that the editors of The Times Picayune feel that their editorials should involve constructive criticism rather than confrontation with local government. Outside of the blogosphere, it might be that most residents would agree with sentiment. I doubt, but hey might. However, when a mayor who bills himself as a "champion of transparency" routinely violates open records laws it may be time to rethink the reluctance to be confrontational.

Still, I'm not going to lambast today's editorial because the editors chose to take the constructive criticism approach. I'll just make a couple of constructive criticisms of my own.

Understatement can be charming in conversation, but writing:
Mayor Nagin and his staff have a tendency to be secretive.

Is a bit like writing that the heat index in New Orleans has a tendency to exceed ninety degrees.

In a related note:
Withholding crucial information from the public is disrespectful, breeds distrust among residents and works against recovery.

That's true, as far it goes. But, it also makes increased waste and a corruption a near certainty.

There's also:
The city's finances are stable, which is a major achievement under the circumstances.

they seem to be stable in the short term because residents understand a temporary inability to provide basic city services -- basic city services like distinguishing between blighted property and property that's undergoing repair. As I said, finances seem to be stable.

Most importantly,
Although violence mostly revolves around the drug trade and largely is confined to specific neighborhoods, that is small comfort. Residents who live in those battle zones are under siege, and residents who don't live there worry that unchecked violence will spill over into the rest of the city.

I find the "happening to those people, in those neighborhoods" attitude as appalling as most other New Orleans bloggers, but the Picayune wasn't exactly expressing that attitude. Also, I a blogger has a better chance of pointing out ignored facts or getting people to ask unasked questions than of changing somebody's basic worldview. Still, there's much to object about that statement on purely factual grounds. Armed robberies in the French Quarter and Marigny and repeated "wildings" in the Carrollton/University area come to mind.

"...and residents who don't live there worry that unchecked violence will spill over into the rest of the city."

Oh man, did that ever piss me off. As if people are unable to care about their neighbors living in war zones. No, my reason for wanting crime to decrease has to be purely selfish, because I live uptown, and I don't want it to "spill over" into my neighborhood. Clearly I don't care about kids getting gunned down in broad daylight, or executions in da East, because I don't live there, and it has nothing to do with me. What a load of bullshit!!
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