Thursday, May 15, 2008

If eyewitnesses won't step forward, what can they do?

The question isn't about the NOPD or the DA's office but about the Times Picayune. Oyster was certainly correct to castigate city leaders who wouldn't step forward to criticize the mayor, but Stephanie Grace almost sounded like Warren Riley in Tuesday's column:
Reporters Michelle Krupa and Frank Donze did their best to cut through the emotional clutter, to evaluate the areas over which Nagin has the most control, and to take a soberminded, objective look at where things stand in New Orleans.
Instead, very few of the dozen-plus community leaders contacted were willing to publicly assess Nagin's performance. Some said they feared retribution by an administration that has developed a bunker, with-us-or-against-the-recovery mindset. Others said simply that they had nothing positive to offer.

I don't want to be too harsh, for one thing, Frank Donze has reported on the obvious fact that there's more to the sanitation contracts than a trade off between cleaner streets and more expensive garbage collection. I assumed that Krupa and Donze were given instructions to keep the story balanced.

To be fair to Grace, she did acknowledge the importance of the fact that the city's rich and powerful seem as afraid of the mayor as the city's poor and powerless are afraid of armed thugs, but she also seemed to be offering an excuse for the fact that the story wasn't harder hitting. However, she pissed me off with this:
Despite controversy over the cost of three city trash collection contracts, the streets are notably cleaner.

If you've ever wondered how somebody as stupid as Nagin can walk around with that smug look on face, just think about that sentence and the history of the city's sanitation contracts. I recently went over most of this, but I'll try it once again.

Any reporting on the sanitation contracts that doesn't mention campaign contributions, questionable billing, RFP's that scared away competitors, contracts that didn't quite match the RFP's, and a hastily rewritten sanitation ordinance that rendered the more costly provisions of the contracts meaningless is incomplete. Instead, it's presented as a trade off between cleaner streets and greater costs. When he should have discussed costs and cronyism, we discussed carts. Now that we should be discussing rigged contracts and pressuring the city council to undo the rewritten sanitation code, we're talking about clean streets. The mayor might be a dumb ass, but he has every reason to be smug.

Update: I see that I neglected to mention that the contracts were proposed just a few months after Nagin won re-election by making insinuations about businessmen making contibutions to his opponent. I thought the mayor's re-election campaign invited questions about large contracts being awarded to two of the mayor's biggest campaign donors. To the best of my knowledge, that part of the story wasn't reported, outside of the blogosphere, until after the contracts were approved.

To continue our discussion over at jeffrey's:

You know, I rented for most of my adult life, up to 2 years ago, and I'm almost 40. I never thought about any of this shit, I just paid my fucking rent and called the landlord when something broke. You should do the same.

Lets get one thing straight, you whiny moron. Renters do not pay property taxes. They pay rent. That's it. Once you've paid your rent to the landlord, it is no longer your money, it's his, and he can spend it how he sees fit. Why do you think he owns that property you live in? To give you a comfortable place to live? I'm willing to guaranfuckinty he owns it as an investment.

Now, what do you think he spends that money on or what will he spend the money on when he sells the property? Short answer, you don't have a fucking clue. It may contribute to his retirement fund, or his brats' college education fund. It may be just extra spending money, some of it may even be used to pay HIS property taxes on the building. Do you have some kind of say in how he spends the money because you paid it in rent? Say it's for his brats' college. Can you claim some kind of credit or receive some kind of acknowledgement from sending his brat to college? can you participate in the decision of where his fucking kid goes to school? I'll let you answer that one for yourself.

He may own several properties and that's how he makes his living. His income may be from the rent he collects from his properties. He undoubtedly also pays property taxes, etc from it too. Do you have some kind of say or are entitled to some sort of credit for what he purchases with his income?
Does my job, for example, have some kind of say in the bike I just bought last w/end because they pay me my salary? Should I have consulted with them first?

Renting is a fine way to live, less responsibility, you can get up and move whenever you want, you don't have to worry about costly maintenance and insurance and value depreciaions. I actually miss renting, there is more freedom in it. So shut the fuck up and pay your rent and give your landlord's brat a pat on the head next time you see him, tell him to study hard.
Who's the moron here? I took issue with somebody who said that renters don't pay taxes, but I don't see where I said that could be called whining. If you took my obvious joke about free-loading homeowners as whining, it doesn't make you a moron. But I'd say that it makes you sound like somebody who always finds what he's looking for when he reads something.

I didn't say a thing, not a goddamn single word about landlords, yet to go into this long-winded defense of landlords against attacks that I didn't make. Of course, I couldn't help but notice that much of the defense was ad hominem counter-attacks against attacks I didn't make. Who's the moron?

Moronic to say that renters pay property taxes? Are you fucking serious? Would you say that consumers don't pay manufacturers' taxes, V.A.T.'s or wholesale taxes? If you would say that, would you call everybody who argued that manufacturers' taxes ultimately fall on the consumer a moron? Would you tell him to stop whining and sew his own clothes? If I said that manufacturers taxes ultimately fall on the consumer, wouldn't it be moronic to respond with a defense of manufacturers? Manufacturers groups always make the same argument.

It's the same principle with property taxes. Because rental property is taxed at the appraised value and owner occupied houses are taxed at the appraised value minus $75,000.00, the effective tax rate on rental property is much higher. Are we supposed to believe that none of that cost is paid by renters? Who's the moron?

There may well be very good reasons to use the tax structure to encourage home ownership. I didn't argue that there wasn't. You're a great slayer of strawmen.
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