Katrina Required Reading

Slowly but surely the national media is getting the story right. In the first few days of the story, 95% of what they said was wrong. Some reporters (in the print media) are digging enough to get a working understanding of the politics in my bizarre city and state. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to write this stuff but I can point you guys to the people who are getting the facts right.

Don’t blame only feds
Crime rate, inept pols leveled New Orleans before the storm

Let’s take a break from the joy of Bush bashing to reveal the dirty little secret of New Orleans: Its local government deserves an F for its planning and response to Katrina. And one other thing: The New Orleans police force would be a joke if it weren’t a disgrace.

Yes, I know it’s impolitic to say such things while the suffering in the Big Easy is fresh and many cops risked their lives to save others. But now is the time to blow the whistle on the story line being repeated by rote across America: That the federal government ignored New Orleans because most of its residents are black and poor.

That narrative has all the accuracy of a historic novel: it takes two undisputed facts – the feds were slow and New Orleans is largely black and poor – and weaves in pure fiction to make the desired link.

The charge of racism-inspired foot-dragging isn’t just nonsense. It’s pernicious nonsense, as in destructive and malicious. You know that’s a fact because loony Howard Dean, the Democratic Party boss, is now peddling it. He’s joined by Jesse Jackson, who said the squalor in New Orleans “looks like the hull of a slave ship.” Oh, please.

If even a smidgen of the racism charges are true, President Bush should be shot. But before we give him his blindfold, let’s look at New Orleans before Katrina.

Start with crime. That looters ran unchecked after the hurricane isn’t surprising when you consider that criminals have had the run of the city for years.

It is a perennial contender for Murder Capital. The 264 homicides last year were a drop of only 11 from 2003 – and the first decline in five years.

New Orleans, with fewer than 500,000 people, had almost half the murders of New York, which had 570 homicides last year in a city of more than 8 million. Put another way, if New York had New Orleans’ murder rate, we would have more than 4,200 murders a year.

Then there’s Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat, who has blamed everybody but himself. Maybe he has forgotten his plans for dealing with Katrina.

Last July, his office prepared DVDs warning that, if the city ever had to be evacuated, residents were on their own. According toa July 24 article in The Times-Picayune (spotted by the Web’s Drudge Report), “Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm’s way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation.”

“You’re responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you,” one official said of the message.

And how’s this for preparation? Cops were told not to work on the day Katrina hit, one officer told The New York Times, but “to come in the next day, to save money on their budget.”

By all means, let’s investigate what went wrong in New Orleans. Let’s start in City Hall.

Bush declared a state of emergency before the storm even hit and he personally lobbied local officials to call for a mandatory evacuation. He was not the one behind the curve on this one. (But he still needs to fire that FEMA idiot)

Everyone has a purpose in life, it seems


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