Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Recall Nagin, unelect Jordan and force Riley to resign 

I have tremendous respect for the citizen activists in the Silence is Violence movement, and support their efforts to reduce violent crime in New Orleans. The January March Against Crime was a wonderful thing. However, part of me can't get over the thought that a similar amount of activism and volunteering in the mayoral election six months prior to the Crime March might've pre-empted some of the political problems with which we're currently faced.

Re-electing Ray Nagin was an awful, horrible blunder for New Orleans-- for myriad reasons-- but Nagin's commitment to a Police Chief who can't control crime is at the top of the list.

A recent post at Silence and Violence reminds me how exponentially more difficult it is to work with Nagin and Riley (two guys we could have voted out a year ago) to accomplish goals that they are demonstrably incapable of achieving! Perhaps a few excerpts from the post will make this clear:

When we marched to City Hall on January 11, Mayor Nagin responded by pledging his total, undiluted attention to the problem of violent crime in New Orleans.

There is no such thing as Mayor Nagin's "total, undiluted attention". No such thing. I'm not trying to be funny or cute, here. I'm dead serious: expecting laser-like focus from Nagin on even the most important issues is asking too much.

[Nagin] agreed with what many of us voiced on that day: Without security on our streets, the societal foundation for rebuilding New Orleans is shaky at best. Yet we have just come through a particularly bloody weekend, with five murders over just a few days, and the Mayor has not responded publicly, has not appeared before us to condemn this latest round of killing, has not sent the message we need that the violence is not acceptable and that he in undertaking specific actions as our leader to deal with these murders.

Even if Nagin had shown up to "send messages" and make condemnations about the murders, I must ask: do you think that means he "gets it"? Do you think that means he will "follow through"? Besides, who will take his condemnations and his "pledges" seriously?

This Wednesday, May 30, Mayor Nagin will present his first State of the City address since Hurricane Katrina and the flood. The Mayor's office has particularly invited all of you, as supporters of SilenceIsViolence, to participate. The address will begin at 6:30pm at the National D-Day Museum.

We will be listening to the Mayor's speech for a focused message on violent crime.

I'm sure he'll address crime, and I doubt he will have a sufficiently "focused" message, but even if he does... should we come away from the speech satisfied? Hell, Silence is Violence could write Nagin's speech for him, and he could passionately deliver it, and I still would have zero faith in Nagin's ability to successfully deal with the crime problem.

The current situation in our neighborhoods is unacceptable, and on Wednesday evening we will be listening for the Mayor's response to the crime statistics from the first quarter of 2007 and for his specific methods for addressing them.

Ok, well, last year Nagin and Riley were terribly impressed with their innovative crime fighting tactics, which they considered "second to none". This preceded the "dramatic escalation" in crime in the 4th quarter of 2006.

It is no coincidence that the stemming of the late-2006 escalation in violent crime coincided with the heightened citizen-lead pressure on the system and our leaders...

I don't want to sound like a skeptical asshole, but I don't see any evidence for a causal link there. Is there evidence that it was "no coincidence", or is it simply easier to think so? I'm nitpicking because this is the sort of claim Nagin himself would make. The one thing I "know" that is not a coincidence is the increasing crime throughout the Nagin administration (except when the city depopulated after the Federal Flood). Around this time last year, Nagin was describing the increase in Post-K crime as slight "upticks" that were recognized and under control. This was before the National Guard and state troopers were sent in.

We must sustain our outcry, and the pressure it is evidently bringing to bear on both the city leadership and the criminals in our midst.... Our voices have helped to slow the escalation; we must continue working to turn it back in the other direction, and we must continue to demand that our leaders do the same.

Please attend Mayor Nagin's State of the City address this Wednesday, and let him know that we are watching, listening, and waiting for him to speak more forcefully on the issue of violence in our city.

We are way, way, WAY past the point of needing Nagin to "know" that we are "waiting for him to speak more forcefully". We are at the point now, I believe, when Nagin needs to know that he will be recalled if he doesn't fire Warren Riley immediately. That might get his attention.

Expecting that this "State of the City" speech will mean something, that it will be full of specific promises that Nagin will fulfill is ...pure folly. It may have some soaring rhetoric, as did last year's inaugural, but so effing what?

We will not lower high violent crime rates with Mayor Nagin, Chief Riley, and DA Eddie Jordan in office. Period. They are demonstrably incapable of making sustained progress, and nothing they can say at this point could possibly make any difference. In fact, I think it is unhelpful for New Orleanians to still have high hopes for Nagin or Riley saying (and meaning) "the right words" about crime in New Orleans, and suddenly getting "focused". They've been trying to placate and mislead us for over a year now, as "upticks" in crime turned into "hurricanes". Not to worry, they said, we have a crime strategy that is "second to none"; then a few months later it got so bad the national media was comparing us to Iraq, and New Orleanians poured out into the streets in mass protest.

Recall Nagin, unelect Jordan, and force Riley to resign or be terminated. These are the objectives towards which citizen activism would be most valuable, in my opinion.


Update: Here's Crouere's latest criticisms and speculations about Nagin.

Update #2: According to KATC news Nagin referred to spikes in the city's murder rate (78 total in 2007) as "an occasional 'blip,' or flare-up". Last year a rash of murders was an "uptick". This year it's a "blip".

(H/T Dead Pelican.)


Update #3: Leigh has a great speech "link-o-rama".

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14 comments DiggIt!


Under current law, do you really think a recall is feasible?

I wonder what's happening with Boasso's recall bill.

By Anonymous Editor B, at 4:00 PM  

The bill got out of committee in the Senate, but it was rewritten, and is much less "recall-friendly" than the one Boasso originally proposed.

If the bill passes and becomes law, New Orleans would need to get signatures from 25% of its registered voters to force a recall election. (Previously, it was 33%).

This is still not very feasible, but it's slightly MORE feasible than spending the next three years hoping Nagin magically turns into a different person.

By Blogger oyster, at 4:29 PM  

I'm not a big fan of recall as a tool.. except in the most extreme of cases.

I tend to be of the mind that people should pay attention and vote when the time comes rather than bellyache and forever challenge the results of unfavorable elections.

Again.. there may be.. extreme cases when a recall is warranted.. but frankly I don't know if even C Ray would qualify there.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 4:49 PM  

March #2. In lieu of a recall effort let's just march again and demand his resignation. It may not have the desired effect but it will certainly spawn the badly needed media attention to garner the 25%. Our mistake with the first march was that we let him off the hook...we didn't focus it directly on him (with the exception of Bart calling him out). Let's march again demanding his resignation...I think it's the most feasible measure we could take.

By Blogger Dambala, at 5:26 PM  

Also.. I wish there were an easier way to talk about the crime problem without setting an easy table for more demagogic bullshit about security cameras and random traffic stops. The local press needs to stop eating that tripe as well.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 5:33 PM  

That second paragraph sounds like the reasons that i was giving to vote against Nagin while Crouere's group was working to help re-elect him. I don't know if Crouere's still an active member of GNOR, but he sure went out of his way to point out that Bush's appearance with Nagin could be taken as an endorsement.

By Blogger bayoustjohndavid, at 7:14 PM  

Good question, David.

By Anonymous bigshot, at 8:38 PM  

David, you put your finger on it.

I read Crouere's columns around the mayoral election and the openly way I would take him seriously is if he apologized for his part in operation "at least he's not a Landrieu".

Next time, lets march on C Ray's house.

By Blogger celcus, at 8:39 PM  

Honestly, I don't remember Crouere being a "Nagin conservative" during the mayoral election. I don't remember him offering any b.s. rationales like "Nagin understands business" or "Landrieu would be worse" or things of that nature. As a political analyst, he often would describe the particular mindset of certain "Couhig Conservatives" (as I call them), but I truly don't remember him being an enabler (like Mike Bayham at Bayou Buzz, for example).

I try to be fair with Crouere, because he's been fair with me and my liberal political friends over the years on Ringside Politics and on his Radio Show. But if I missed something he said during election time-- especially something that would indicate that he truly supported Nagin or thought that Landrieu was the inferior candidate, let me know. Send me a quote or a link, because I currently believe that Crouere didn't support Nagin's reelection in any way last year (as a pundit). Lord knows I would've nailed Crouere if I'd seen something.

Also, I think Crouere is no longer part of GNOR. Or if he is, I don't think he agreed with their endorsement of Nagin.

On all these points, I could be wrong. Like I said, find a link or quote and I'll happily add Crouere to the "Enabler" list.

By Blogger oyster, at 11:11 PM  

It's a judgment call about how often it's appropriate for an independent analyst to say that Bush's appearance with Nagin could be taken as an endorsement, or even that some interpreted it that way. At some point, it goes beyond analysis and becomes a message. He wrote it all the time on his blog, but he's not wearing his independent analyst hat there. I didn't watch channel 26 often enough during the campaign to know how often he said it there. Surely you agree that at some point it would go beyond analysis to the point of being a message to republicans that Nagin was the preferable candidate. I think he reached that point at BayouBias and I'll look for his old posts if they're available, I'm not in a position to say whether he did on TV.

As for his involvement with the GNOR, he clearly stated that the Bush administration told the Grater New Orleans Republicans that Nagin was there candidate. He may have said let them know rather than told them, but it was on channel 26 on the night of the election, soon after they called it for Nagin. That shows some inside knowledge. I was struck by it because I noticed the choice of words -- Greater New Orleans Republicans. That was the first time I had ever heard of the GNOR and I noticed that he didn't say state Republican party or anything that I had heard of. WGNO called it too early for me to have been half asleep, I think it was around 10:30, and I don't drink or anything. I know exactly what I heard and he definitely revealed inside knowledge. That's why, once I saw Schoeder's post and realized what the GNOR was, I started asking on my blog and in comments on other blogs if there was a way to find file footage or printed transcripts of WGNO's election night coverage.

By Blogger bayoustjohndavid, at 12:33 AM  

I agree that at some point a talking head repeating a particular "analysis" over and over becomes essentially a hack reciting talking points, no question. And I'm certain Crouere has inside knowledge about many GOP-related activies.

Again, I'm not trying to carry water for the fellow, but I recall that his analysis/punditry of Nagin during the campaign wasn't uncritical, either.

I would wager that he held his nose and voted for Mitch over Nagin.

I'll just put it this way: if Crouere ever said or wrote something about his preference or reasoning for Nagin over Landrieu, I would've called him on it (rather than concentrating my fire on fourth-tier analysts like GNOR's Mike Bayham).

I'm not saying Crouere was a profile in Conservative Courage, but from what I've seen I would not yet categorize him as an enabler.

By Blogger oyster, at 10:12 AM  

T'anks for the link, you treif thing, you! 8-)

By Blogger Leigh C., at 2:09 PM  

- Honestly, I don't remember Crouere being a "Nagin conservative" during the mayoral election.

No, but do you remember Sabludowsky pointing out that he got a 37k contract from Meffert and Nagin for legal consulting services?

Sabludowsky sent at an email calling the speech, "Historic"....and I hate to link this, but you have to read this ass-sucking commentary to believe it:

By Blogger Dambala, at 6:23 PM  

You're right, I had to read it to believe it.

"Ass-sucking" is the correct description.

By Blogger oyster, at 2:43 PM