Thursday, February 02, 2006

No More Jumbo Shrimp, Just Plain Shrimp

Gov. Kathleen "Drew a" Blanco is urging the reduction of the size of New Orleans government. To give you an idea of how bloated city government is, get this:

New Orleans has seven assessors; other parishes have one each. There are also two sheriffs in Orleans Parish — one criminal and one civil — where other parishes have one sheriff. And there are many more instances where Orleans Parish has elected and appointed offices unique to itself.
Hopefully this will end the trend of city government getting bigger as the population shrinks. Bloated and expensive governement, confiscatory taxes, an uneducated workforce, high crime rates, extensive welfare rolls and corrupt government officials is no way to attract new businesses and expand the tax base. It is a good way to begin a long, slow death spiral.

If the agenda on the special session are approved, New Orleans may be on its way to a long recovery.

In a similar vein, the Boston Globe editorializes that the recovery effort is anemic at best and this some of Bring New Orleans Back Commission's priorities may be misplaced.
Finally, and bizarrely, the report spends as much space on a light rail system as it does on levees. One could easily get the idea that the best protection against future hurricanes for the federal government to spend $5 billion on light rail in New Orleans. Light rail systems almost never cover their costs, and they are almost always dominated by high speed buses on dedicated lanes.
The city needs to set priorties. Right now everything is being thrown into the mix. That gives us the ability to see what is available long term and short term. I think the Globe misses that. And that is what the Bring New Orleans Back Commission report did, throw everything into the mix and let residents decide what is more important and what is less. Unfourtunately, many residents missed that point too.

I think the priorities should be as such:
  1. Rebuild and strengthen the levees and improve flood control.
  2. Clean out the political institutions. We will never be able to get ahead with the current crop of politicians keeping the populace down.
  3. Financial assistance for those who lost their homes and business. The federal government is at fault for that and therefore should pay. Just like the private sector.
  4. Resonstruct the healthcare system. Tenet Healthcare has committed to rebuilding at least one of it's hospitals in the city.
  5. Streamline city government to a size appropriate to the population and the basic of needs of the citizenry. This includes the unincorporation of a large chunk of the city.
  6. Replace the education system. The old system is broke beyond repair. Already several schools have reopened as charter schools. This bodes well for the city.
  7. Upgrade the infrastructure. Water, sewer, power and communications need to be brought into the 21st century.
  8. Start thinking about ways to connect SE Louisiana with the rest of the Gulf Coast. Were all in this together and it is in all our best interests to rebuild in sync.
  9. Improve the transportation systems. The mass transit system was in workable order but there is room for improvement.
  10. City beautification. The historic areas of New Orleans have an inner beauty that cannot be taken away but we should not have to look hard to see it.
  11. Recreational facilities. This should include renovation of West End and City Park, recreation complexes such as soccer fields (City Park already has a few softball diamonds) or other green spaces where informal games could be played. But, if we do this, they must be well maintained or we should not do it at all. If we are successfull in the former endeavors, New Orleaneans will have more time for recreation.
  12. Better development of the lakefront. Previously this had been the playground of the Orleans Levee District. Now that it will probably go away sometime after the latest special session of the legislature, the city needs to work in conjunction with the new levee board to ensure that flood control does not have to come at the expense of New Orleans best assets.
Quite a dilema we have, thinking smaller while seeing the big picture at the same time.


Nick said...

While they're at it, they should get a new filing system for their records in the courthouse. The way they file their conveyance records, especially the ones before 1970's, is the worst I've ever experienced, and I've done research in 3 states and 26 parishes and/or counties in my 2 years of being a landman. Orleans Parish is a nightmare.

Kinch said...

Accually all organizations should look at digitizing more of their records in the future. Boxes of files are very difficult to move. Our office packed up our server and most computers and were able to set-up a temporary office north of New Orleans in just a few days. This would have been impossible in the old days.