New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, thankfully in the last year of his second term, delivered his final “state of the city” report on Wednesday, May 20. His main thrust was to gloss over his time in office, dressing up the failures, spinning the goofs, and issuing more promises.
No one is better at promise-making than our mayor. Time and again, he has called news conferences to unveil a grand scheme for this section of the city or that development, only to have it all disappear like morning fog in the noontime heat. The media finally learned to quit running these announcements as though the millennium had arrived.
“Nagin asserted that under his leadership, city government has begun to regain solid financial footing and is poised to usher in an era of an unprecedented building boom.” (My hunch is he’s right, and that era will begin just as soon as a new administration walks in next year.)
“The naked truth,” he said, “is that we are positioned for full recovery.” (He reminds me of something Jerry Merriman once said about a campus ministry leader at Mississippi State when Jerry led the Baptist student ministry there. When I inquired about the president of the group, Jerry said, ‘We had to terminate him. He never did anything. Everytime we spoke, he was always getting ready to act. ‘We’re going to do this in a big way,’ he always said. But he never did anything, and I finally got enough of it.”)
When the mayor “claimed to be moving forward with streetcar extensions along Convention Center Boulevard and Loyola Avenue near the Union Passenger Terminal,” a spokesperson for the transit office commented that “those projects remain in the conceptual stage.” (No matter. It fits the mayor’s pattern of presenting concepts and ideas as fait accompli.)
Referring to various legal investigations going on concerning people in his administration, Nagin said he had done nothing wrong. I expect that he’s right. He’s done nothing wrong and little right.
When one of my neighbors in River Ridge got married recently, he had no idea he would spend his wedding night in jail. Friday evening, May 15, John had just entered the Crystal Plantation reception hall with his bride. A cop on duty approached his nephew Samuel and told him his pants were too low. There is actually a parish (state?) law about this, something involving obscenity, no doubt. The teenager protested, although he admitted his belt was loose. His cousins all agreed that his pants were fine.
But his cousins were not the cop. The policeman insisted.
That’s when the groom and his father got involved. A pushing and shoving and cursing match followed, and all three were hauled off to jail.
A family member groaned, “They spent $1500 on dance lessons and didn’t even get to dance!”