James K. Glassman sees great potential for the rebuilding for New Orleans yet what is needed most is leadership and is in short supply at all levels.
The rebirth of New Orleans does, however, require a leap into the unknown. It can't be meticulously planned. Preserve the old buildings. Rope off the lowlands. But then let imagination takes its course. Unfortunately, Mr. Nagin's Bring Back New Orleans group is loaded with central planners prescribing a dream city built around such highlights as light-rail transport, a "jazz district" and a neuroscience center. Typical is Michael Cowan, head of the city's Human Relations Commission, who warned that "the alternative to a 'good-enough' plan for the future of our city is free-market chaos, also known . . . as every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost."
Actually, it was precisely this chaos that made New Orleans a great city in the first place. It was planning--specifically, the horrifying housing projects, largely destroyed in Katrina; the stultifying school system; the Superdome and other wasteful public-works projects--that held the city back.
If only there were some public forum for ordinary citizens to stand up and take some initiative in leading the city out of its morass. Although I'm doing my small part with this little blog, others need to be more visible.
One of the items mentioned in yesterdays presentation by ULI is that neighborhoods and communities get together to decide on the direction they would like to see their area move. Ideally, it is the city council members who act as midwives giving birth to these organizations. Unfourtunately, being polititians, it is unlikely they will willingly give up power like that.
So as usual, it is Louisiana polititians that are holding this state back. Hopefully this will motivate people to make much needed changes.
UPDATE: PawPaw's House has more.