Archive for August, 2010

Serpas takes hard stance against lying in plan for NOPD

A question I wanted to ask Chief Serpas on Saturday at Rising Tide was in reference to his “You Lie, You Die” policy toward the department. Just wondering if the end result will be more firings or less lying?

I think it depends a lot on Serpas’ level of respect within the department and how swiftly the rule is enforced when the first few instances come up. Will it be zero tolerance? How will mistakes be separated from lies? If an officer mistakenly writes “Opelousas and Verret” whn it was really “Opelousas and Vallette” will it result in him being shitcanned? Or will it be done on a case-by-case basis perhaps resulting in popular, well-liked members of the department will get special treatment?

It also depends on how brazen the corruption is within the department. As we have begun to see from the reports following Katrina, it is systemic and widespread. Saying nothing of the

Unfortunately, the public demands measures like these. They spell things out for them in terms they can easily understand. Even I have to admit if Serpas said, “We will be examining reports with greater scrutiny and lying on a report could be cause for termination,” doesn’t sound as cool as “You lie, you die.”

Another problem with enforcement of such a rule is it is reactive rather than proactive. It puts brass a few steps back from where the corruption is. The Corruption has to occur before it is detected. Another question for Serpas is, “What is being done to prevent lying on reports in the first place?”

It’s as if rules within the department are mimicking rules of society, we are becoming obsessed with laws, enforcement and punishment. Root causes like education and poverty are just tossed aside and thought of as novelties that we could have taken care of years ago but the problem is so bad now we need to lock them all up. It’s “a war.”

Also, let’s look at why a cop may falsify a report? Perhaps as a means of covering up some offense committed on the job which he or she may face termination for in the first place? It’s like falsifying a resume: If they call to check, you don’t get the job. If you don’t lie about your experience, you don’t get the job. Or perhaps when Nagin deleted his e-mails. What’s more damning, deleting the e-mails or someone finding what is in them? Wouldn’t a crooked cop be better off being fired for lying on a report than say, kicking the crap out of someone or sprinkling some crack on a kid?

Then there is the matter of experience and attrition. Serpas has said there will be emphasis on recruit training with help from the State Police. Excellent. Inexperienced police are easily overwhelmed, make mistakes, create “misdemeanor murders.” If, “You Lie, You Die” does create a glut of firings and as a result, new recruits, consideration to the training and experience of these new officers should be a priority. This story from a few years ago leaps to mind. Then I remembered this one too.

This all sounds like an indictment of “You Lie, You Die” but it isn’t. Nobody wants crooked cops falsifying reports. It’s unfortunate I have to clarify that but it seems a typical response would be, “You must want crooked cops on the force!” That’s not it. I just want to examine the effectiveness of the new rule and I hope it’s not going to be the cornerstone of the department’s restoration. It seems like it could be a good tool if used effectively but the potential for abuse could make it a tool for corruption it is trying to bust up.

For anyone who heard Mac McClelland’s Rising Tide 5 Keynote speech on Saturday and was wanting to do anymore reading on what she said, links and audio are below. Also, see this post from the Rising Tide blog.

At :28 the story below is referenced…

Gulf focus shifts, but where is all the oil?

At :55 she says the government announced they couldn’t find any oil either. See story below…

Feds defend data that says 75 percent of oil is gone

I should also note this story was a favorite on conservative blogs.

At 1:17 the article in which she “got a little bit upset” is below…

Mainstream Media Helps BP Pretend There’s No Oil

And The Atlantic’s story is here…

Will the Oil Spill Really Be Less Damaging Than Expected?

At 1:42 this story in The Washington Post is mentioned…

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, how New Orleans saved its soul

Her response is here…

Sticking a Happy Face on Katrina

At 4:26 she mentions the cutting of UNO’s budget, Times-Pic story here…

UNO details plans to cut programs, staff

at 4:54 she mentions the dismantling of higher education statewide in Louisiana…

Pain of Louisiana’s public colleges’ budget cuts sought by Senate panel

Please ignore how the hed above makes no sense. I don’t know why the Seante panel would go looking for pain. It’s Nola.com man.

at 5:10 there is mention of large undersea plumes of oil still in the Gulf…

Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf

At 5:45 the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill are brought up…

Alaska fishermen still struggling 21 years after Exxon spill

New Study Documents Symptoms of Cleanup Workers in 2002 Spill Off Spanish Coast

The problems related to the distribution of information at 9:05 can be read about here…

Efforts to Limit the Flow of Spill News

The Economist cover mentioned at 13:48 is here…

The Colbert segment is here…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Economist Photoshops Obama’s Picture
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

After witnessing the effects of hurricanes over the years of living on the Gulf Coast, one of the most amazing things about them is the chaos they create, and what comes out of it. You take a group of variables and apply the same stimulus to them, after a period of time, patterns form. You suddenly alter that stimulus and … chaos. But after the chaos, new patterns begin to form.

It’s like that well-known Butterfly Effect theory: If a butterfly’s wings can unleash a hurricane, how many butterfly wings can a hurricane unleash? Dubious I know, but the point is while hurricanes are known destroyers of lives and livelihoods, they are also inspiring. They change routines. They expose. They bring weakness and prejudice to the surface. They show the mettle of high-powered men. They punish the weak.

Hurricanes are nature, God, The Universe, whatever you consider the higher power to be. A brash man who meticulously mows his lawn every week and arranges shrubbery and large stones to different positions on his parcel may think he has subdued the land. A hurricane tames his arrogance.

The Hurricane doesn’t have a plan, it has no intent. It is our charge to apply meaning to it. It’s the discussion of science vs. art. We are tasked with telling the stories, writing the words, singing the songs and painting the pictures of what happened.

Five years ago, a hurricane with a huge storm surge pushed seawater into a lake created by a meandering river and into canals that had poorly built floodwalls and caused a flood that not only killed many people but also destroyed photo albums, business forms, heirlooms, pieces of history. It also pushed sea water over levees that were too short and down a navigational canal where it lifted a barge and pushed it into a neighborhood.

I still can’t imagine it. A scared Ninth Ward resident with water flowing through their home, hears a louder, more bound and relentless sound and looks out their window to see a barge coming at them. And then that’s it. What chance did they have?

The chaos of a storm is unyielding. It can throw a barge into a neighborhood and also takes the time to obliterate the matchbook a man wrote his future wife’s phone number on 30 years before.

Today is a day of remembrance and those neighbors we lost will be honored. The voids they are leaving are a chaos all their own. Along with the “other victims,” those unclassifiable friends we lost from cancers, heart attacks, drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide in the years following.

I’m just one person and not some symbol of New Orleans but I have seen improvements in my life since the Flood. I am earning more income, have a better quality of life and live by many of my own terms. I have been married. I have finished working on my home and added value to it. I have developed and continue to develop a circle of friends and social contacts – these are New Orleans artists, builders, mothers, business people. I have a deeper empathy, sympathy for my neighbors. So, for me, things have recovered. We’ll see.

That’s not saying much though. When the storm hit, I was recently laid off, had a solid but dumpy house. Was engaged to my wife but had no reasonable plan to get married. I was also uninspired, blogless, artless and very much wanting…of anything.

The flood happened and everything just changed, strangely for the better.

But I know it’s different for my neighbors. My wife and I took a day trip through Saint Bernard Parish recently and it hasn’t recovered. I spoke with a friend who lives in Lakeview and it hasn’t recovered. I have a few clients down in Plaquemines and it’s still recovering. Brad Pitt has built some innovative housing in the Lower 9 but it hasn’t recovered.

Some may say that with Ray Nagin out of office and Mitch Landrieu in, that city government has recovered but with the millions and millions in budget shortfall, I couldn’t agree. City government hasn’t recovered. Of course, the disaster of our broke city (like the Flood) was man made. Just not the same men.

The Criminal justice system, with the departures of Eddie Jordan and Warren Riley has begun its recovery in the courts. But with a dozen or so indictments within the NOPD, they haven’t recovered.

Flood protection is improving but not there yet. It’s recovered but we need it greatly improved.

But there is a greater realization and importance now in our own salvation. More people care. Whether they are a dejected local who thought things were never going to change or an outsider who has since come here to help.

But where will it all lead?

It’s like the Taoist fable…

An old farmer had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“We’ll see,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“We’ll see” said the farmer.

So, based on the hed here, I am assuming there are some black farmers on golf courses and they have for one reason or another entered into a dispute with the Federal Government. I am not sure how long the dispute went on but the African American agriculturists finally agreed on some sort of settlement after the Feds showed up at the deliberations with a strange man sporting a hand grenade tattoo. I guess once they saw this man they decided that settlement was the best option…

Grenade-tatooed suspect and feds settle with black farmers top Louisiana links

Rising Tide 5 Aug. 28 at the Howlin’ Wolf …

See below…

Keynote speaker Mac Mclleland …
“The goal is not to let it blow up”: A tour of BP’s relief rig

Treme panelist Eric Overmyer…
Treme News: Eric Overmyer Looks Back on Season One

Treme panelist Dave Walker …
‘Witness: Katrina’ tells storm’s story through the lenses of home-video cameras

Public safety panelist Susan Hutson …
In New Orleans, an unprecedented push for police reform

Public safety panelist Chief Ronal Serpas…
Superintendent Ronal Serpas presents 65-point plan for reforming the NOPD

Environmental panel moderator Steve Picou…
Seafood is safe, scientists say, but oil spill will impact physical and mental health for years …

Politics panelist Jason Berry…
Children don’t mean a thing, if you aint’ got that bling…

Politics panelist Stephanie Grace…
Five years later, a recovery mayor?

Politics panelist Clancy Dubos…
The Storm That Changed Everything

Politics panelist Jeff Crouere…
Political Correctness Doesn’t Quit, Dr. Laura Does Over N-Word Storm

Environmental panelist Robert Verchick …
Loyola law professor to sign new book this weekend

Perhaps in time for this?

Also…

Rising Tide 5 Treme panelist Eric Overmyer recently spoke at the Clinton School in Arkansas and offered some glimpses into next season…

‘Treme’ to get more ‘Wire-y’ next season

Overmyer revealed that next season of “Treme” will jump a year in the future from where last season left off and focus on crime, the police force and New Orleans’ severely troubled public school system.

This is fantastic news for my vision concerning the return of Genghis Glover to the Treme cast. I know he is in jail for murder but how hard would it be to write a storyline that get’s him out? Misdemeanor murder any one?

God and the State are embroiled in a debate concerning the nature of casket sales…

Benedictine monks suing Louisiana regulators over casket sales

The monks of the 121-year-old St. Joseph Abbey, in St. Tammany Parish north of New Orleans, charge the state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors is attempting to maintain a casket cartel, and that board members are mostly engaged in industry they regulate.

Casket cartel. Good one, monks.

On Jackson Square I have been witness time and time again to large groups of runners, gay people, pirates, African Americans, running bulls, Lutherans and many more. So I can say with a certain bit of authority that none of them get wasted like the red dress runners.

Maybe it’s the swampy heat or maybe it’s just an appetite for self-destruction but, by the time I usually pack it in around 6 p.m. on the day of the event, it is not uncommon to still see packs of carousing, trashed, disheveled, sweat-sodden, limping, gassed, muddled revelers adorned in sweaty and liquor soaked red gowns still swaggering among the French Quarter streets. Their revelry can not be contained. Later and later into the day, their numbers may atrophy but this only distills them into a core group of remnants, the true Spartans of spirits. These are the men and women whose drinking could be captured in some NFL Films type documentary. Faces flushed and eyes bloodshot to match their dresses, these champions finish what they begin.

Once more into the breach Red Dress Runners! I’ll see you out there!

There may be a few late additions but this is our most complete program for the Aug. 28 new media conference…

Keynote Speaker: Mac McClelland – Mother Jones.com

 

Mac is Mother Jones‘ human rights reporter, writer of The Rights Stuff, and the author of For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question: A Story From Burma’s Never-Ending War. She has "been on the Gulf Coast since the early days of the Gulf oil disaster, and… documented every last drop of it."

Mac has reported from locations including Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Micronesia, Burma, New Orleans, and Bhutan on subjects such as the hot young Bhutanese king, Post-Katrina recovery efforts, South Pacific conservation initiatives, being embedded in dumpster-diving culture, posing as a high-class freelance call girl, and the decline of American manufacturing.

More important, she is, according to The American Prospect, "a total bad-ass."

‘Down in the Treme’
Treme Panel Moderated by Maitri Erwin
Maitri Erwin
moderator
Maitri is a geoscientist, blogger and all-around technology geek. She is the founder of Back of Town: Blogging Treme, author of Maitri’s VatulBlog and reporter for VizWorld.com. She is also Indian Languages advisor to Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free electronic books.

Eric Overmyer
panelist
Eric is a playwright, television writer and producer. He is the the co-creator of Treme and has written and produced numerous TV shows, including Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire and New Amsterdam.

Becky Northcut
panelist
Becky is most likely better known to NO bloggers as VirgoTex, and she will answer to either name. In addition to being one of two non-NOLA ringers blogging Treme at Back of Town, she sometimes writes about pop culture, the environment, and politics at First-Draft.com, so she’s practically a digital cousin to some in the NO online community. She created the short-lived Got that New Package! blog about The Wire, and was lucky enough to share that obsession with Ashley Morris and Ray Shea, among others. She is a queer, a naturalist, a music lover, and a Texan, none of which she had any choice about.

Dave Walker
panelist

Dave has been TV columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune since September 2000. Before that, he worked as TV columnist and pop culture writer for the Arizona Republic, and before that he was a feature writer and columnist for the Phoenix alternative weekly New Times. Born in Kansas City, raised in Chicago. His American Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour, the first guide to pop music landmarks, was published by Thunder’s Mouth Press in 1992.

Davis Rogan
panelist
Davis is a New Orleans musician who began his broadcast career on WTUL at the age of 10, and was a DJ at WWOZ for 13 years. He first came to prominence in the New Orleans music scene with his eight piece funk group All That, for which he was lead singer, band leader, principal songwriter, arranger and producer. Davis is also script consultant for Treme and makes periodic appearances on the show.

Lolis Eric Elie
panelist
Lolis Eric Elie is a staff writer for Treme. His television work includes include Faubourg Treme, the PBS documentary directed by Dawn Logsdon. He was also a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune for 14 years. 

‘Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?’
Presentation by Tim Ruppert
Engineer and NOLA Blogger Tim Ruppert exposes inequities between the Federal government’s design methods for dams and levees.  For his Rising Tide 2 presentation, “In Levees We Trust,” Tim explained why the so-called “100-year level of protection” is completely inadequate for a highly developed and populated area such as New Orleans.  This year Tim expands upon that topic and asks why dams and levees alike are not designed as life safety systems.

‘Paradise Lost’
Evironmental panel moderated by Steve Picou
Steve Picou
moderator
Steve Picou is a lifelong environmental activist, musician and futurist with a systems-oriented perspective. He is an outreach agent with the LSU AgCenter in the New Orleans area where he helps people and organizations reduce their impact, save energy and find ways to develop sustainable lifestyles and businesses. A blogger since 1997– when he established the website of the (now-defunct) Louisiana Music Commission and served as Assistant Director from 1992 to 2005–Steve expresses his thoughts on the environment, politics, music and social justice primarily via nolamotion.com and highlights eco-abuse at dyingoaks.posterous.com.

Robert Verchick
panelist
Robert Verchick holds the Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is currently on leave, serving in a government position in Washington, D.C.  Professor Verchick is a graduate of Stanford University and of Harvard Law School.  An expert in environmental law and in the developing field of disaster law, he has taught at several American law schools as well as at universities in China and Denmark.  His newest book, "Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World," has just been released by Harvard University Press.
Len Bahr
panelist
 

Politics Panel
Moderated by Peter Athas
Jason Berry
panelist
Jason Berry is a documentary filmmaker and IP media consultant from New Orleans. His first full length documentary was completed in 2006 with fellow filmmaker, Vince Morelli, titled, Left Behind:  The Story of the The New Orleans Public Schools.  Berry began his blog, American Zombie, in 2006 as anonymous source reporting on corruption issues withing New Orleans City Hall.  After breaking numerous corruption issues within New Orleans city government Jason went public with his identity in 2009 after being threatened with a libel suit by a New Orleans’ city official.

Clancy Dubos
panelist
Clancy DuBos is the chairman and co-owner of Gambit Communications, Inc., and the political editor/columnist for Gambit weekly newspaper in New Orleans. He also is the on-air political commentator for WWL-TV (Eyewitness News Channel 4) in New Orleans, and a licensed attorney. Clancy and his wife Margo have owned Gambit since 1991, and he has been an attorney since 1993.

Jeff Crouere
panelist
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com.

Stephanie Grace
panelist

Stephanie Grace is a political columnist with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, focusing on local, state and national politics, and since Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Before moving to the op-ed page in 2003, she spent eight years as a political reporter for the paper.

Jaques Morial
panelist
 

Public safety panel
Moderated by Brian Denzer
Brian Denzer
moderator
Brian Denzer was intiated into the New Orleans crime problem when friends became murder victims in 1995. He went on to become the principal developer of the New Orleans Police Department’s COMSTAT crime mapping system, which has been used for over ten years. He has also provided technical support to the US Attorney’s Office, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. For the last three years, he led a successful advocacy campaign through CitizenCrimeWatch.org, and NolaStat.org,

Jon Wool
panelist
 
Allen James
panelist
 
Susan Hutson
panelist