Thursday, January 28, 2010
This is not the first time I have heard of similar behavior towards New Orleans cultural icons.
Years ago after the Pontchartrain Hotel passed from the Aschaffenburg family to David Buras, we were told by one of Buras' executives that the hotel had received a cease and desist order from the Bennigan's Restaurant chain. They claimed that Mile High Pie was a trade mark of their chain. I understand that the hotel located an old menu in store room predating Bennigan's clearly listing Mile High Pie as a dessert and mailed it to the lawyer.
Any foodie worth the name knows that Mile High Pie originated at the Pontchartrain Hotel. I don't know the exact date but I bet someone here abouts does.
Bennigan's attempted to steal a well known trademark from the Pontchartrain and then prevent the originator from using their original product. That is unethical, illegal and despicable. Any Chef worth a damn would have known better but some MBA and a dumbass Lawyer decided to intimidate rather than research.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Reggie Bush might be the X-factor for Saints.
The money quote is
"To me, he's the X-factor" against the Vikings, NBC's Cris Collinsworth said.Collinsworth must have been reading Cliff's Crib. Cliff has been on this for months. He's a believer in Reggie's potential to become the Saints X Factor. Starting in September he's written a series of Reggie posts.
In Search of Reggie's Confidence
48 Points in Philly Is Nothing To Sneeze At
Please Beat The Jets So I Can Watch Sportscenter
The Giants Are A Real Test
This Team Might Be The Real Deal
I think Reggie has suffered from "Fear of Commitment". He seems to always to be looking for an opening, rather than taking advantage what is there, extending the play, rather than looking up field. There have been flashes of productivity. Last week was a breakthrough. This week will be a test.
Perhaps it's his girlfriend. Reading between the lines he seems to have recommitted to her. Maybe their bet about the SuperBowl wasn't so much of a joke.
I know she motivated a bunch of guys in our section at the dome late in the game last week. Late in the game they were paying more attention to her in the box than to Reggie on the field
Thursday, January 21, 2010
George Washington was many things, but the one thing everyone agreed on was his extraordinary character. His steadfast devotion to the cause likely was the critical factor in the success of our revolution. He was the unanimous choice of his peers to preside over the Constitutional Convention which produced the most remarkable document in political history, yet by all accounts he seldom participated actively, instead demonstrating his resolve and commitment. As first President of the United States he established many of the customs we adhere to to this day.
Robert E. Lee was in the tradition of Washington. He commanded the respect of everyone who knew of him. He was called the best officer in the United States Army before the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War when he called on the South to accept defeat, his moral force was enough to override the president of the Confederacy.
George C. Marshall was the only military man in the US who could promote Colonel Eisenhower over dozens of more senior officers. He was the only person who by strength of will could resist Churchill and the British General Staff. “The noblest Roman of them all" was how Winston Churchill once described him. FDR said he couldn't sleep if Marshall was not in Washington. After winning the war, he was given the Nobel Peace prize for winning the peace.
Martin Luther King Jr. was thrust to greatness. He was a young little known preacher when he was "nominated" to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. His strong conviction in the rightness of his cause, without recrimination and with universal reason strengthened his supporters and undermined his opponents. The moral force of his calm righteousness showed the country the way.
If only our local leaders could be just a little more like them. A little more concerned with good and a little less concerned with get.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This dysfunction leads to monumental structural incompetence, which often shields favoritism, cronyism, discrimination and corruption. George W. Bush famously used the phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations" the soft corruption of incompetence is no less pernicious.
There is useless red tape, and an expectation that citizens will pay the taxes, then provide any services for themselves. There is a punitive approach to government. Civil "Servants" view themselves as preventing citizens from taking advantage of government, while dispensing favorable treatment to their friends, relatives and others in the political caste.
As an example I have for months been trying to get a refund of overpaid property tax. The City basically refuses to share their records. The Finance Department web site shows taxes due, but not taxes overpaid. I got documentation of the overpayment by my mortgage company which the City refused to accept, even though they agree the tax was overpaid, because they require both sides of the canceled check, except in this case it was an Electronic Transfer, there is No Check!
In a similar situation the Finance Department has asserted that since the Assessor lost paperwork they are entitled to charge a taxpayer any tax they arbitrarily decide.
It has long been that way, fortunately in the past it was easy to bypass or simply ignore city government most of the time. Since the flood it has been impossible to ignore the city has reached it influence into every aspect of life.
The racial transformation of city government that took place beginning in 1970 with Moon Landrieu's term and was completed by the time Marc Morial became mayor in 1994 didn't really change anything. The processes have remained the same, only the players changed. The new boss is the same as the old boss.
The political caste today is made up of a tight knit sub culture, largely made up of creoles of color as they used to be known, now simply creoles. There has developed a power and social structure similar to and parallel to the old line white structure. Its striking to note how much of the current power structure is related by blood or marriage.
The city can no longer afford these insular, inefficient, divisive and corrupt practices. Everyone in the city belives that game is fixed and tha unless they participate in it, they have no chance.
A number of Mayoral candidates have spoken of Charter Reform. I agree with that, one thing that needs to change is the relationship of the Council and Mayor.
New Orleans has long had an extreme from of the "Strong Mayor" government. In fact the Mayor is close to a King, needing only occasional approval of the Council usually on his terms. Rey Ray I has proven how dangerous that can be. He has "Gone Rogue" almost as if he is trying to destroy the city that is ungrateful to him for "busting his butt" on our behalf. Through his petulant feckless disregard for anything or anyone but himself he has presented us with a generational opportunity to fix City Government.
My priority for Charter Reform would be to involve the Council more in the policy making aspects of government, to make them a legislative partner of the Mayor. It seems beyond obvious to me that that diverse city needs a diverse decision making body which represents all of the people and operates in public.Under previous Mayors the Council often retreated into making zoning variances their primary business.
The current City Council has shown considerable independence and has made some very positive initiatives. To some extent the tension between the Mayor and the Council is a positive development for the citizens, exposing the government to the people.
I suggest this Charter Amendment
(b) Contracts for professional services administered by the offices, departments, boards, and other agencies of the Executive Branch
shall be awarded on the basis of a competitive selection process which shall be established by executive order of the Mayor.
(c) Contracts for professional services administeredor by the Council, pursuant to its Charter functions, legislative authority and responsibilities, and regulatory authority and responsibilities, shall be awarded on the basis of a competitive selection process which shall be established by ordinance. rule of the Council. Such contracts shall be signed by the Council president upon authorization by Motion adopted by a majority of the entire membership of the Council, except that pursuant to Section 4-403(2), contracts to employ special counsel shall require a two-thirds vote of the Council's entire membership. The Council rule may except contracts executed solely to assist the office of an individual councilmember.
I'm not sure else what should be included but stronger budget requirements, confirmation of the Council on all contracts (something many cities including Atlanta do), requiring the Mayor to preside over Council Meetings as ex officio member of the Council or designating Council Member as a full time job with adequate compensation (75% of the Mayor's salary?) all seem like something that could be worthwhile.
I sure some will consider this a part of the vast white wing conspiracy to exclude blacks from government. If however in the next administration there is a white mayor it would seem that power sharing should be welcomed.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It seem to me that tailgating was an invention of Land Grant Colleges in small country towns surrounded by trees and Suburban Sports Stadiums surrounded by suburbs, parking lots and massive traffic jams.
The concept of "tailgating" originated in 1960 in the team parking lot at Yankee Stadium (Bronx, New York), by Angela Pisani, wife of Dr. Anthony Pisani, team doctor for the New York Football Giants. Mrs. Pisani set up her station wagon "tailgate" with sandwiches, other lunch items and drinks for her children, friends, and sports writers. A reporter inquired about her "car picnic" and she said that it's actually more of a "tailgate" party.I never could figure out with so many hotel's bars and restaurants in walking distance of the Dome why anyone would want to risk the rain or forgo creature comforts. I started to write something about this a while ago;
The Saints have four evening games this season. I guess the programmers were expecting them not to suck. In any event we have started a new tradition for evening games. We are going out to an early diner. Last season with Bon Ton.
This season we went to Luke before the Miami game, but since it looked like rain an since LSU was playing we had a very nice dinner but never made it to the game.
Before the Titans game we went to one of my favorite restaurants Bayona. They opened early so people could have a nice dinner before the game. It was the high point of the evening.
Back to 1/18/10. We have more or less continued the tradition of visiting a restaurant within walking distance of the Dome before any Saints game that starts later than noon. This year we have gone to Li'l Dizzy's, Dominicia, HerbSaint, and Leonardo Trattoria before games this season. We're still working on where to go Sunday.
I also discovered something else, again according to Wikipedia "In 2007, the NFL angered many football fans by banning tailgating at Super Bowl XLI in Miami."
That is a shame, the parking lots near
Monday, January 18, 2010
Locally, WBOK has had several controversial interviews with Da Mayor and Da Chief. The Mayor as usual was smoother but dipped into his own negro dialect by constantly calling the African American Candidates "brothers" (wink wink) and urging "the community" to get behind one candidate.
Da Chief went much further, claiming Stacy Head called him an n-word in an email he later admitted he had never seen and that she insists doesn't exist. That is offensive to me and to many other people for the Chief of Police, the highest ranking law enforcement officer to make such a charge without proof, and it was Da Chief who made the charge, offering the comment to a caller who referred to an alleged email Head had sent.
I'm sure that many of the police officers who work under him have been subjected to unfounded accusations of all sorts by criminals trying to find a way out of their situation. I'm also sure he has disciplined officers for using the language he claimed Stacy had used. Da Chief should know better.
I'm now pretty sure such an email does not exist. Stacy Head has enough enemies of all colors that it certainly would have leaked by now. Cliff challenged some of us who were criticizing the Chief to call for her resignation if the email could be verified. I will, no one should be using that kind of language or claiming falsely that someone else has. I think Da Chief should resign or be fired for making such an allegation, but that's not likely.
Stacy has gotten criticism for being rude and disrespectful, but somehow no one ever seems to call out the people who are rude and disrespectful to her or other public officials by making random unfounded charges of all sorts of things. I wish some prominent leaders of the African American community would publicly take Da Chief to task for his offensive accusations.
I wrote the rest of this a while ago and let it lie, waiting to edit some things and to see how things developed. It got stale but in light of recent local and national events I decided to publish it now.
Jimmy Carter recently said;
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American,"I think that comment is overblown and reckless. It has certainly set back the racial progress we have made by renewing suspicion on both sides. The media reaction was varied, some on the left have used it to paint anyone opposing Obama's policies as racist. But that's not new. That sentiment has been bubbling through the "progressive" ether for a while.
President Obama was, well, Presidential, and I think mostly right, if somewhat understated in his reaction. I watched as he gave well prepared interviews for almost all of the Sunday morning political programs. Sometimes his answers were so similar, as were the questions, that he used almost the same language. The clearest statement about race I could find was this one;
I'm not saying that race — never matters in— in any of these— public debates that we have. What I'm saying is this debate that's taking place is not about race, it's about people being worried about— how our government should operate.I think he has it exactly right.
One other thing he did which may have helped race relations more that any of these interviews is calling out Kanye West for his boorish and rude behavior at the MTV awards.
That was the feeling in many quarters
"I thought that was really inappropriate, What are you butting in (for)? ... The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award. What's he doing up there?"
A questioner chimes in, "Why would he do it?"
"He's a jackass, ... Come on guys, cut the president some slack. I've got a lot of other stuff on my plate."
Maybe if some leaders in the local black community would speak up forthrightly when our own local Jackass brays away in his juvenile, petulant and divisive manner we could move forward.
As our slow motion Mayors race continues to develop at a snails pace now would be a good time for someone to actually put forward a reform agenda, contrasting it with the current state of affairs.
Coming back to the recent events Da Mayor, Da Chief most prominently, but other "leaders" in the African American community are seeking refuge in conspiracy theories, but I think a lot of the malaise in the African America community can be traced to leaders who have have betrayed it, including Da Mayor, Da Chief, The Jefferson Crime Family and others. For a long time and even still today some voices in the African American community say that the corruption prosecutions are racially motivated. That seems to me to have now to have been proven false with the indictment of white officials in St. Bernard, St. Tammany and the very public probe of Jefferson Parish, leading to the resignation of the Parish President.
New Orleans has many problems, it is time to stop adding to them by tolerating corruption in the name of racial politics. If the local African American leadership is disappointed in the current mayors race, perhaps they should reflect on tolerating corruption in their midst and squandering the confidence of "the Communiy". Clearly political insiders were in the best position to know what was happening and take action to eliminate it. Just a Jefferson Parish politicians were in the best position to counter the corruption in their midst.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
FEMA trailer symbol of post-Katrina Catch-22 in Harveyby Mark Waller, The Times-Picayune
Jefferson Parish wants to tear down his house, but a FEMA trailer is in the way. He wants to fix his house, but the parish's demolition order is in the way.
Susan Poag / The Times-Picayune
Charles Ayala's recovery from Hurricane Katrina has descended into one of the most confounding predicaments out of the thousands of people in Jefferson Parish who relied on FEMA trailers.
He is one of the last few residents lingering in a trailer long after Jefferson Parish began suing people, including him, to part with their units. He is fighting a court order to demolish his house because of blight. But the parish is blocked from tearing down the house -- because the federally issued trailer stands in the path of the bulldozers.
"Every beat of misfortune has not missed me since Aug. 29, 2005," Ayala said last week outside his house at 504 Second Avenue in Harvey, where a tree limb punched a hole in the roof during the hurricane and let rain inside. He said he also endured a bout with stomach cancer that forced him to stop working as a convenience-store manager, so he cannot afford to rent an apartment.
Ayala, who turns 49 on Monday, is caught in the waning days of Jefferson Parish's campaign to rid neighborhood streets of trailers, one of the most aggressive such efforts in the New Orleans area. About 10 units remain in unincorporated parts of the parish. More than 18,000 of them dotted Jefferson three years ago.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency itself has ended the trailer program. The cases that remain demonstrate some of the most tangled, intractable problems storm victims have faced.
Ayala said he believes the $67,000 in rebuilding money he received from the state's Road Home program is enough to fix his house. The demolition order, however, prevents him from securing building permits.
'It's not abandoned'
Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson said parish officials do not agree that Ayala's house is salvageable.
"The siding on the building is in disrepair and, in a number of places, the siding is missing, rotted and deteriorated, " says a 2008 petition against Ayala the parish filed in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. "There are parts of the structure which are missing the soffit and fascia. Parts of the roof are missing shingles. There are also holes in the roof causing the roof to be open to the weather. The exterior paint is chipping and peeling. The windows are not weather tight. The building also has termite damage and the floor joist is rotten."
Parish attorneys argue Ayala's house is a dangerous nuisance. Judge Steve Windhorst sided with the parish and issued a demolition order. The parish has a separate court order telling Ayala to remove the trailer, in accordance with parish codes against using travel trailers as dwellings in residential neighborhoods.
Ayala said he recently installed a new roof on the house, showing that he is trying make progress on repairing the house and leaving the trailer, which he says gives him nosebleeds because of the formaldehyde used in its construction.
His house last week still had a faded and peeling exterior. The front and rear yards were thick with vegetation, another code violation according to parish officials, but Ayala argued the plants are ornamental.
"It's not abandoned, " Ayala said. "It's not neglected. You've got an owner here who cares about his home. You don't go put a brand new roof on your home if you don't care about it."
Matthew Friedman, an assistant parish attorney handling FEMA trailer cases, said Ayala's situation has the parish at a standstill.
"He probably couldn't fix the house with the trailer there, anyway," Friedman said.
Asked whether the parish might sue FEMA to remove its property, he said, "All legal avenues are open."
A spokeswoman for FEMA referred questions about moving the last trailer residents to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which now manages disaster housing cases. Neill Coleman, a HUD spokesman, said residents can apply for Section 8 housing vouchers to help them secure new accommodations.
Ayala said he previously spoke with FEMA officials about the rental assistance program that has since ended, but he felt he couldn't afford the portion of the rent he would have had to pay.
And, of course, they'll tear down his house if he leaves the trailer.
Alice Riener, an attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, is helping Ayala try to extract himself from this puzzle, primarily by petitioning the court to remove the demolition order so Ayala can get permits to renovate the house.
Riener argued the parish is placing Ayala in a difficult situation by declaring his house more than 50 percent damaged, requiring him to rebuild under higher codes with greater costs, such as elevating the structure. Noting that the house didn't suffer any flooding, Riener said it is not damaged to such an extent.
"It's a very serious thing to have a house demolished, " she said. "If it gets demolished, he won't have the money to rebuild."
Wilkinson said the parish continues to explore all options for resolving the impasse, but he said: "Our hands are basically tied."
Ayala said stress from the ordeal has caused him to suffer depression and lose weight.
"If all the parish did was get off my back, I could turn my life around, " using the Road Home money, Ayala said.
"They will ruin my life savings; they will ruin my financial future, " he said. "If they succeed, I will be converted into an indigent, homeless pauper."
Friday, January 15, 2010
The NPR analysis of this "issue" proceeded down the predictable path that African Americans are "under represented" in the Academy Awards. I was skeptical.
Approximately 12-13% of the U S population are African American, statistics vary somewhat. That works out to about one in eight.
Since 2000 there have been 3 African American winners of the best actor OSCAR.
winner of the best actress award.
- 2001 Halle Barry
Is that progress or not, I don't know.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Possibly our colonial heritage caused the distinctly different view of governments role here than elsewhere. Perhaps the culture which values relationships over achievement. Politicians have built a cult of personality where doing their jobs has been promoted to the level of a personal favor.
What is needed is a new approach, we cannot bribe people to come here. We don't have the money and someone else will always have more. We need to make the city attractive for people to locate well paying permanent jobs here.
Troy Henry for MayorI am underwhelmed by their choices. With a few possible exceptions the candidates represent the status quo.
Arnie Fielkow and Cynthia Willard-Lewis for Council at-large
Susan Guidry for Council District A
Corey Watson for Council District B
Kristin Giselson Palmer for Council District C
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell for Council District D
Austin Badon for Council District E
Dwight McKenna for Coroner
Karen Carter Peterson for State Senate District 5
Troy Henry is a question mark, I have no idea what his real views are. He seems to me much in the mold of Nagin, an "executive" who's most critical function is to make deals with governments. That turned out well. I have heard he has a sort of "family legacy" due to his father's union positions. The recent eruption by Nagin and Da Chief seem directed at creating some buzz around him. The Mayor seemed to sort of endorse some of his positions and criticize his main African American opponent.
Susan Guidry is a potential new face who is running in a previously Republican district. She was endorsed by the current council member Shelley Midura. I have a great deal of respect for Midura. SInce I am in her district I would have voted to re-elect Midura.
I don't know about Kristin Giselson Palmer, it is mildly surprising she would be endorsed to replace a black council member. I don't know the inside story and it's not my district.
All of the rest are either long term politicians or members of long time political families, even though I will vote for some of them. It's not an auspicious reform slate.
I thought that one of the functions of a party Executive Committee was to recruit candidates to help the party win elections and govern. That doesn't seem to be happening.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I'm still mystified as to why the award was given. I guess he got it for not being George W. Bush. The Nobel committee seems to be pushing it own agenda, rather than rewarding accomplishment or even effort.
I wonder if they even read the rules.
This is from the Nobel Prize Website;
On February 1 Obama had only been in office for a few days.
February – Deadline for submission. The Committee bases its assessment on nominations that must be postmarked no later than 1 February each year. Nominations postmarked and received after this date are included in the following year's discussions. In recent years, the Committee has received close to 200 different nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The number of nominating letters is much higher, as many are for the same candidates.
And this from Wikipedia.
What did he do in the preceding year that warranted this prestigious award? Certainly running for President is not enough or Eugene McCarthy would have won for his anti-war campaign.
Alfred Nobel left a fortune to finance annual prizes to be awarded "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind".
Checking who won the award I find some interesting choices.
Two U S Presidents have previously won while in office. Both for significant accomplishments.
Teddy Roosevelt won in 1906 award while President for "for his successful mediation to end the Russo-Japanese war and for his interest in arbitration, having provided the Hague arbitration court with its very first case"
Woodrow Wilson won in 1919 for founding the League of Nations.
Two other awards were won by others but probably should have included the presidents.
In 1978 Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin were awarded the peace prize for the Camp David Peace Accords, brokered by Jimmy Carter. Without his personal involvement I doubt the agreement would have happened.
Then there is the weird award in 1973 to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho (who to his credit refused the award) for the intellectually dishonest Vietnam Peace Treaty, somehow leaving out Richard Nixon who no doubt had at least as much involvement in the agreement as Kissinger.
Jimmy Carter did finally win the award in 2002 for being the best ex-President ever.
Of the 97 individuals so far honored, 22 are from the US, more than any other country.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Later as the Saints performance reached new heights, our planning faltered. We failed to make any accommodation for the possibility that the final game would be of any interest. We were wrong.
Events overtook us. A hectic travel schedule including, a trip to Atlanta for our Company Christmas Luncheon, back to New Orleans for the New Orleans Company Christmas Luncheon at Arnaud's, Christmas Eve with the extended family, a Christmas Day trip to Dallas to spend Christmas Day with my mother.
After Christmas another business trip to Atlanta before a New Years Eve rendezvous with old friends in at the Ocean Beach Club in Key Colony Beach FL.
Finally we arrived in Hollywood FL after a brief respite we were looking for a place to watch the Saints. Good News, the Condo we rented had Dish TV and a list of channels that was hard to comprehend. Bad news the Saints weren't on the list of games available.
I furiously Googled to find a local sports bar. I failed. She would not be denied. She Googled Shuck N Dive, a New Orleans themed bar/restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. We were all over it.
Arriving after the kickoff we ordered drinks and ersters on the half shell. They were fresh, plump, properly shucked gulf oysters. This is no mean accomplishment in South Florida.
We love oysters on the half shell. We order them almost every time we can. On two previous attempts on this trip we had oysters on the half shell. The first was in the Keys. The oysters were small and had not been shucked recently nor properly, they were kind of shriveled up. The second occasion was in a Stone Crab Restaurant without Stone Crabs. The oysters were OK but small and not properly shucked. By properly shucked we mean opened and cut form the shell and free of broken shell pieces.
The first two servings were not separated from the shell. The oysters at Shuck n Dive were fresh plump and properly shucked.
We lucked into a cocktail table behind the end of the bar with a perfect view of the biggest screen TV. We stayed almost the entire game and had Oysters on the half shell, fried pickles, and oysters three ways. They are reputed to have great burgers.
Watching the game was fun. Most patrons were decked out in their Saints gear. They played the Who Dat after the Saints recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. We wuz robbed.
We recommend Shuck 'N Dive as an outpost of the Who Dat Nation.
I wonder if anyone is tracking the location of Who Dats across the globe?