If you’re a television watcher, you know Harry Anderson. He starred as the judge of Night Court and then in Dave’s World before retiring to New Orleans and opening a curio shop. Long before he made it big, Harry did magic in the French Quarter and later married a young lady from Baton Rouge. He is a character in every sense of the word, but let’s admit it, this is a city that welcomes characters. Anyway, Harry is moving away.
For one thing, his customer base has eroded. Then, he received a bill from the power company for the electrical service for his storage building, a location that has only two drop lights. The bill was for $7,339.77. He paid someone to stand in a long line at Entergy’s office. The bill was dropped to $15. Other people do not have the means to hire stand-ins such as he did, Anderson said.
Anderson was disappointed when the citizenry re-elected Ray Nagin as mayor. He says he was hoping the mayor would go on television and make the energy and insurance companies do the right thing, “but he was busy endorsing William ‘Dollar Bill’ Jefferson instead. Not quietly and not ignominously, but at a press conference.” Anderson is not in a mood to be kind to Nagin. “Joseph Heller could not have written a more bizarre scene,” he says, referring to Nagin’s act of erasing any evidence that he was not going to be another run-of-the-mill politician. The re-election of what he calls “Car 54,” our mayor, was the last straw. They’ve sold out and are moving to Asheville, North Carolina.
One more sign that things here are not good. Here’s another. Orleans Parish Criminal Judge Charles Elloie (pronounced El-waa) has just been suspended by the Louisiana Supreme Court pending an investigation into his bizarre practice of reducing bail or throwing bail requirements out altogether for criminals with long histories of bad deeds. The Metropolitan Crime Commission, a local group of citizens who serve as watchdogs over our police and judiciary, had long complained about this man who set himself up as a law above all other judges. One case in point…
[Name removed by request] was arrested on March 29, 2005, and charged with the aggravated rape of his 10-year-old sister. I mean, is this a bad crime or what? Less than four hours after his arrest, Judge Elloie released him on a personal recognizance bond. This means he doesn’t have to put up any money unless he fails to show up for his trial. After the public learned of this and raised a stink, the judge backtracked and set bond at $100,000.
The local cops can give you story after story of how they pursued bad guys for weeks and finally arrested them, even getting a judge to set a high bail, only to have Elloie come behind them and reduce the bail to a pittance without a hearing. The prosecutors never got a chance to be heard.
As soon as Elloie was suspended Thursday, the head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission said, “The streets of our city just got a little safer.”
Okay, maybe it’s a good sign. At least, we’re getting rid of a problem, one that has been there for a decade. Elloie’s lawyer disputed the right of the supreme court to sit in judgement on the man. “The people elected him,” he said. Now it comes to light that one reason they elected Elloie was he told lies on his opponent, saying David Oestreicher had beaten his wife and his ex-girlfriend, none of which was true.
Lord, deliver us from such self-centered, ego-driven, power-hungry, self-righteous evil men.
Dick Cheney was in town Thursday. If you need proof, ask the thousands of motorists who sat on the side of Interstate 10 while this thoroughfare was shut down, to provide the Veep with clear sailing from the airport to downtown. You have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better for our government leaders to have to contend with the same frustrations everyone else does from time to time. We insulate our leaders from the real world.
We’re having school problems again. At John McDonough High School on New Orleans’ Esplanade Avenue, Nathan Anderson, no relation to Harry, a junior at the school, attacked a security guard and punched him so hard, the guard was hospitalized. This comes just two weeks after a teacher was beaten and also hospitalized at the same school. A few days ago, a group of students calling themselves the Fyre Youth Squad called a news conference to complain about the prison atmosphere at the school which has metal detectors and 30 security guards roaming the grounds. It would appear that they need every security guard they can get.
Thankfully, that is not typical of the local schools. But one incident is bad enough.
After reading about Harry Anderson’s problem with Entergy, our power company, a front page headline announced “Entergy to receive $200 million from LRA.” The company–officially Entergy New Orleans–has been pleading for financial help to keep it from bankruptcy and from having to double or triple electricity bills in order to raise the money necessary to rebuild its infrastructure. When other power companies in the state complained that they too took massive damage from Katrina and Rita and deserved a slice of the financial pie, Entergy replied that the others have a large base of unaffected customers to absorb the costs while Entergy New Orleans saw almost all its customers affected.
The convention business in New Orleans gets its biggest test November 10-13 with the National Association of Realtors convention. Former presidents Clinton and Bush will be here, along with 30,000 of their closest friends. Prior to this, the largest convention since Katrina was the librarians back in June, with their 18,000 delegates. How this goes will go a long way toward convincing other large conventions that New Orleans is able to accommodate them. We reported here a few days ago that Microsoft has canceled three meetings here due to the lack of sufficient air transportation.
On average, some 12,500 seats on various airlines are available in and out of the city each day. This compares with 20,600 before Katrina. Plus, our planes fly to 10 fewer cities than before the storm. My own observation is that every plane I’ve flown on either into or out of this city since September of 2005 has been filled. You have to wonder what the airlines are waiting on.
Good signs and bad. They abound. Take your pick. You can justify optimism and you can justify pessimism.
Come to think of it, that’s the way it is with all of life, isn’t it. Faith or Discouragement are choices we make.