Friday, November 28, 2008

I really don't like Errol LaBorde

On last night's edition of his misnamed show, Errol LaBorde dismissed the controversy over the LSU/VA hospital site as the usual controversy that comes with any large public works project and defied anybody to show him what was worth saving in that neighborhood. For reasons that I couldn't figure out, he worried about the cameras rolling when residents get evicted from their boarded-up and abandoned homes. Since I've yet to hear LaBorde express any concern over the lack of communication between government and local residents, it was no surprise that he missed the most glaring aspect of the controversy: the fact that residents were allowed to rebuild without being informed about plans for the VA hospital:
"I understand the VA is needed for New Orleans," Rogers said. "My biggest issue has just been with the way it's all happened, and the absolute lack of respect the city has shown in dealing with people in this situation. . . . The only things we hear from the mayor are his grandiose announcements in the paper."

City leaders said they did not want to convene a neighborhood meeting until they had definitive word that the VA plans to build in the Tulane-Gravier area. The federal agency announced the neighborhood as its preferred site in August, but it continues to evaluate another location across from Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson Parish.

"Both the city and the VA want to do this in the most community-sensitive way possible, but we don't want to initiate the process until a final decision is made in Washington," said Ezra Rapport, chief operating officer in the Mayor Ray Nagin's Office of Recovery and Development Administration. "It's not any intention not to communicate, but until we have a definitive word, it seemed premature."

The city did not find it premature, however, to sign a memorandum in November in which it agreed to acquire 34 acres between Galvez and Rocheblave for the VA hospital -- possibly in exchange for the right to redevelop the former veterans hospital on Perdido Street.

Like all Errol LaBorde analysis, the analysis of proposals to renovate Charity Hospital was based on what the people he talked to told him. In this case, it was that the cost of renovating Charity would be prohibitive. As a matter of fact, the two architects that I talked to expressed the same opinion and were baffled by the RMJM Hillier study. However, if I were going to go on TV and masquerade as an informed source, I would mention criticism of the study rather than choosing to ignore to it altogether. I'm assuming that the informed one was familiar with the study that he failed to mention.

In recent comments at NOLA-Dishu and Library Chronicles, I've expressed the opinion that most of the opposition to the site chosen for the new LSU/VA hospital is about eighteen months too late. For reasons involving Carla Dartez, Oschner Hospital, Jeff Miller and Vitty-Cent, I didn't think that was the best time to stand up to the Strother Martin administration. It might have been based on paranoid reasoning, but I was afraid that the city could lose both the VA hospital and the LSU School of Medicine. I hate to see people lose their neighborhood, but if that happened, the neighborhood would be lost to decay anyway. I would have loved to have been convinced that I was wrong, but I didn't see many people other than Karen writing about it.

To be sure, I think that the mayor and Ed Blakely should be tar-and-feathered over the utter lack of respect for the residents of Lower Mid-City and typical disdain for the very idea of open government. Questions should be asked about the possibly suspicious demolitions, and the fact that at least one Nagin insider was part of an investment group that bought the City Hall annex on October 2006 goes beyond being suspicious, but with so many agendas being pushed in Washington and Baton Rouge, the important thing is to get a hospital built. But Jesus Christ Errol, don't go on TV, pretend to have the slightest idea what you're talking about, and dismiss anger over the autocratic process preceding the destruction of an entire neighborhood as the kind of controversy that accompanies any large public works project.

But what about the clear expressions of oppositiom dating back to 2006? I was in those zone meetings and it was clear the neighborhood contained valuable propeerties and residents intent on reconsteuction. Its not like opposition just sprung up last month. Its been on record for two years. The Nagin-Planner regime's idea of negotiation is not far removed morally from kidnapping and hostage taking. Do what we say or lose your hospitals.
You're right about the neighborhood groups. At least, I was aware of ii even though you had to look very fa to find it in the paper. I just don't think bloggers do enough to direct attention to the buried stories or connect the stories that the press treats separately. I'll admit that before NOAH I thought that most bloggers wasted their time when they tried to play investigative reporter, so I've had to modify my position somewhat. But I don't recall much effort on the part of bloggers to make it an issue last year. With more discussion, I might have been less worried that Vitter's grandstanding made it difficult to oppose Nagin w/out risking the loss of both the VA hospital and LSUMC.

Of course, what you say reinforces my negative opinion of LaBorde.
I understand that this is a post about Errol Laborde and his inability to think about anything except rich uptowners, but I am wondering if this is going to end up becoming some kind of fiasco like the Hemmeter-Harrahs. I certainly hope this is not a ready-fire-aim situation.
Actually, the post was about Errol LaBorde, but it was also an expression of frustration that opposition could easily turn into a ready-fire-aim situation.

Until the 2006 mayoral election, I found LaBorde more amusing than objectionable. It's kind of funny that the host of, or the producer of and a regular panelist on, "Informed Sources" just makes a few observations and tells what the case must be based on those observations and something he may have been told by somebody. Shortly before the 2006 election, he said that Landrieu's reason for not being able to make specific criticisms of city finances -- nobody outside of the Nagin administration had access to the relevant info -- had to be a hollow excuse because, after all, the BGR had done a report on the city's post-Katrina finances. Had he looked at that report, he would have seen that it was prefaced with the disclaimer that it was based on estimates and recovery projections because the Nagin administration wouldn't release the necessary figures. I no longer find it amusing that a buffoon who can't be bothered to look up simple facts that I can find online calls himself an informed source, now I find it galling that he's a position to influence public debate. Not only has he failed to ever mention the Nagin administration's pervasive pattern of secrecy on his show, he tends to treat specific cases of failure to share information as a he/she said situation or typical conflict between a mayor and city council or the mayor and the press.

I know that was way more than you were asking for; I guess I just wanted to justify the personal criticism. I'm trying to cut back on that.
I wonder if PNOLA founder Paul Ikemire will decide to stay in New Orleans now that it's clear the citizen participation process has been a sham.

Warming the tar and feather for Errol LaBorde as well.
Dude totally not related to this post.

Are you watching the cox ch. 6 tonight ?

"We have underpaid and brutalized" according to a crying spokesman for Richard's disposal.
Gentilly, thanks for the tip, but, unfortunately, I missed it. I think their commercial says it all, it's the kind of commercial that only utilities (and similar companies like cable franchises) and companies that rely on government contracts run. But the Richards' commercial really seems to be a P.R. campaign in response to the recent controversy. The other two companies have similar ads, but they also throw in a pitch for private business.
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