Progress For New Orleans

Putting the NEW back in New Orleans

Browsing Posts published in February, 2010

The Why.

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Like everyone in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding affected my thinking about my city and my relationship with it.

Prior to the storm I had very little interest in local politics and the policies and personalities which ran the city. I was more focused on national issues.

But you can’t see your city in ruins, your fellow citizens either suffering or running wild in the streets, on national television for a couple of weeks without thinking that we must have been doing something seriously wrong to get us to this point. So, while the levee failures were the engineering failure that wrecked havoc on the physical infrastructure, we had economic and social failures that stretched for years and decades prior that had wrecked havoc on the lives of the citizens..

I started to look at Katrina through the lens of our economic decline and how that played into the problems before, during and after the storm. How lack of economic opportunity left folks vulnerable because they lacked the resources to choose their own path, how the lack of good jobs slowed the recovery and still continues to slow the recovery.

It is a big change for a self-identified “art guy”. I’ve gone from writing screenplays to thinking about zoning policy. The drive towards making up stories has been supplanted by the need to attempt to do the things needed to ensure New Orleans’ economic sustainability. If you had told me 10 years ago I’d be this “pro-development” I would have laughed. But things change and it changes you.

Central to this is the idea that people need jobs, in general, and good jobs, in particular in order to put their lives back together. They need economic opportunity and a good shot at career advancement to meet their obligations to their families and have the resources to enhance their lives and their community. And if they don’t find it in New Orleans they will leave to find it somewhere else.

As a result of this I have become extraordinarily sensitive to anyone who stands in the way of our city’s economic development. It is a “jobs first” outlook. It has made me very sympathetic to those who are bringing jobs to the city and fairly hostile to those attempting to obstruct those who are bringing business and jobs to the city.

Put simply- I will generally support those who are doing something and oppose those who look to stop them. To borrow a baseball rule, the tie goes to the runner.

New Orleans can only survive in a meaningful way if we work diligently to make its economy strong. Not just for its own purpose but because it allows its the city to retain and attract its population, it allows it to access the resources from the nation it needs to protect itself from hazards when it can demonstrate it is economically important to the nation. It allows the citizens to maintain themselves and be in a position to make their own choices.

And this is why I am working towards a future for New Orleans. Not just one that is a whisper or pale reflection of the past, but one that finds us, once again a world economic center.

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New Orleans is a city that needs to regain a spirit of progress. Here we will examine, discuss, brainstorm and promote ways to move our city boldly into the future.

We will discuss policies and strategies for creating a prosperous and exciting city.

This is the start.

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