Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Calm down kids.

3/20/08 Expanded: new rant at the end.

No need to be so hard on Gambit, the city still has that needed alternative.

FWIW, I just wanted to commit myself to a return to local matters. Also, I don't want to do a hatchet piece, but I'm inclined to agree with Nathan Chapman:
“I’m not an attorney so I can’t say what’s legally a conflict of interest or not,” Chapman said. “But I think if you took any person on the street and showed them the properties that Sean owns and how immediately adjacent to it there’s major development proposed under Reinventing the Crescent, I just think 100 people out of 100 would have a problem with that. So it just puts a cloud over the whole process.”

I might not go that far, but I will say that we've paid too little attention to the entire process. I'll return to the subject in another post.

As well as books

In another matter, I'll provide the snark that one of my colleagues probably couldn't. I guess we all agree that main purpose of a public library system is to promote tourism:
Later projects will include libraries with jazz and culinary themes. These buildings, which will be designed for music and cooking demonstrations as well as books, are intended "to aggressively and adamantly depict what New Orleans is about," said Mayfield, a jazz trumpeter.

The article also mentions what seems to be a new position. I really could be wrong on this one, but I don't recall NOPL having a chief operating officer before Katrina. That would be typical of city government, inflating titles at the top while cutting staff at the bottom. Since they've obviously brought in consultants and increased the city librarian's salary, the obvious justification (rebuilding) would be somewhat dubious.

Addition: The entire NOPL report is insane:
Plans for the city's library system are spelled out in "Speaking Volumes for the Future," which was prepared by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd., library architects and interior designers, along with Library Planning Associates Inc. and E. Eean McNaughton Architects.
Not all the libraries will survive. The heavily damaged Norman Mayer branch in Gentilly and the Nora Navra branch on St. Bernard Avenue should be replaced, the report recommends, and the Nix branch on South Carrollton will be closed in 2016 -- but not demolished -- because of the difficulty of renovating the brick building to meet current library standards.

The Milton Latter and Rosa Keller branches, which were established in buildings that had been homes, will be phased out because they "don't work as libraries," Mayfield said.

But, he said, the library system will hold on to them as sites for meetings, cultural events and parties.

They must chant "coming back bigger and better" every morning and eat exploding pie for lunch every day. I have to wonder how much they pay these consultants to look at spread sheets, or do whatever it is that consultants do, without actually ever talking to residents and library patrons -- closing down Latter will never fly. More importantly, even if the $650M fund-raising goal can be reached,
The $650 million goal for all these initiatives isn't out of reach, said Mayfield, adding that donations have been received from such sources as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the Pritzker Foundation.

at some point it becomes money that won't be there for other projects. Those are the same names that I've heard in association with the proposed jazz park, City Park and school initiatives.

Of course, being the cycnic that I am, I suspect that the idea is to award the contracts now and let the next mayor worry about finding the money to finish the projects.

You know, maybe if they did up the jazz and food thing in a similar manner to how the British Library presents British history and artifacts of sound in its collection, it could well work.

Then again, we hear all sorts of jazz all the time and eat all kinds of food whenever we want WITHOUT such a place, so what, in the end, IS the point other than another tourist attraction?
As you say... I'm over here itching to discuss this but don't feel at liberty to say much. Have you read the plan yet? The key phrase for me is "site to be determined" which pops up an awful lot.

Unfortunately I don't think I can say much more.
I'll read it carefully before I make any more comments; I hate trying to scroll back and forth between parts of a pdf file. The comments were mostly based on the T/P and City Business articles, but I don't think my idea that the mayor made a move to replace what he was afraid might be a potential roadblock with what he hopes will be a figurehead seems as far-fetched as it did when I broached it. I almost expected to see something about connecting all the branches by streetcar.
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