Thursday, June 22, 2006

Coinciding Events

Two big things have happened this week, the National Guard is back in to help patrol the wasted neighborhoods of New Orleans and the American Library Association has brought in 18,000 tourists and conventioneers.

Thanks for both.

I was forwarded the following email which was sent out to the entire membership of the ALA and I think it explains the situation perfectly...

The historic areas and tourism core of New Orleans have enjoyed the reputation for being a safe place to be for residents and visitors alike, and more so in the months following Hurricane Katrina. During this time, the city has seen a major reduction in crime. Visitors have enjoyed a high degree of safety and security while touring America's most walkable city.

New Orleans is not unlike other major American cities. Drugs and criminal activity plague certain sections of New Orleans, as is the case with other places. The truth is New Orleans is under a microscope in the national and international media. Consequently, when such events as the recent murder of five youths occur, in addition to an escalation in violent criminal activity in parts of the city, the reports are magnified.

Many are confused about the recent news of the Louisiana National Guard's deployment to New Orleans. They are being brought in to the city to provide assistance to the New Orleans Police Department in desolated areas of the city badly damaged by the hurricane, and where the majority of construction and restoration is now taking place. This request was made by the C. Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans and Police Superintendent Warren Riley weeks ago and was granted by Governor Kathleen Blanco.

This will allow more police officers to patrol the tourism and historic core of the city, enhancing the already very good safety record these areas enjoy. Residents and visitors alike can continue to feel confident in strolling the sidewalks of the French Quarter, Warehouse District, CBD, Garden District and Audubon Park area, enjoying all New Orleans has to offer.

Contrary to reports in the national news, the recent reprehensible murders of five youths in the city occurred at 4:00 a.m. in the sparsely populated Central City neighborhood miles away from the Central Business District, French Quarter, Convention Center and Warehouse Arts District. Unfortunately Central City has historically been the location for criminal behavior prior to Hurricane Katrina, and remains a "hot spot" for unlawful behavior. The murders have no bearing on any crime or safety issues in the areas of the city frequented by tourists.

Police investigating the situation are following strong leads that indicate vengeance was a clear motive, stemming from an incident that occurred in early May in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

The important point at this time is that city officials, including the Mayor, City Council and police department have taken swift action to address the additional increased patrols in the outlying, desolate areas of the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, action was taken weeks prior to this past weekend's events, but was not reported in the news, when Superintendent Warren Riley requested from the State the added support of the Louisiana National Guard.

The plan calls for 100 National Guard to immediately supplement the NOPD, boosted by an additional 200 in the near future. In addition, 60 state police will be assigned to the city of New Orleans. Other actions are being considered, including a juvenile curfew and improved coordination of various arms of the criminal justice system.

The safety of the residents of New Orleans and visitors to the city is paramount. While the city and the police department work very hard to insure the safety of all its residents and visitors, it is also recommended that individuals be mindful of their own behavior and surroundings at all times.

Recommendations for visitors:

* Enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer, including our delicious food, incomparable music and authentic culture.

* Part of the charm of New Orleans is that it is a very walkable city, with many hotels, restaurants and the Convention Center all within walking distance from each other and the popular French Quarter. As is the case with any other big city, visitors should be mindful of their surroundings at all times.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Biologists Needed

I've been predicting this for months now, the entire urban ecosystem of New Orleans is way out of whack.

As far as plants, I have some of the oddest wildflowers, weeds and fruit plants sprouting up through the dry silt that now rests throughout my neighborhood. The only plants that I actually recognize are huge sunflowers - but they never grew there before the flood. Especially prelevant are these odd dark berry (inedible) bushes which grow as high as shoulder height and have engulfed my entire yard as well as my neighbors. There are also some pretty flowers growing around that I also have never witnessed. The Kudzu is dead as well as the cats claw.

Bugs... Strangely enough, I have zero of a mosquito problem, whereas before it was outrageous and I have not seen a single cockroach (palmetto bugs in Florida) anywhere on the property. The dragonflies are insane and the lizards are now plentiful and huge. The Formosan termites have not swarmed and I have zero termite sign. The June bugs are also quite light.

There are still no domesticated animals in my neighborhood. Although the birds have returned and I actually saw my first squirrel last week. You would generally see ten squirrels a day before the storm.

Oh yeah, and there's still no one living in my neighborhood... well... actually there are two people on my block including me.

For other updates...

• This weekend I will be racing in the Gulfport to Pensacola Regatta. So get ready for some pictures of the Mississippi Coast from the water.

• I was under consideration to be on an Open Source PRI radio show "Is New Orleans Dead" last week. One of the Producers and I spoke for about two hours, and she decided to hold me for a spot as we approach the one year Anniversary in two months or so. You can find me under "Extra Credit Reading". Funny though, everytime I appear in the press they misspell my name. The Times-Picayune did the same damn thing, lol.

Cheers and wish me luck in the race.

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