Owen Courreges 
Member since Aug 3, 2012


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Re: “The fight for $15 an hour in New Orleans

The real problem here is that so many people think that wages are arbitrary, as though employers can and will pay any amount dictated by the government. However, the fact is that employers are generally mindful of how much value an individual employee produces, and they won't pay much more than that. It's the iron law of supply and demand. You can bump wages slightly and employers will mostly absorb the costs or pass them on, but if you more than double the base wage -- as "Fight for $15" proposes -- and employers will be forced to figure out some way to reduce labor costs, whether that entails automation, making due with fewer workers, or even fundamentally rethinking their business model.

Again, I do think that we could boost the minimum wage by $1-3 per hour with relatively minimal economic side-effects (although there would be some, at least as higher levels), but $15 per hour is close to the median wage throughout most of the country and equals the median wage for certain skilled labor fields. In most areas, it is far higher than the median wage for unskilled labor. You can't make everyone rich by simply requiring that everyone be paid more, and even a child can understand that. Why can't these protesters?

Posted by Owen Courreges on 12/03/2016 at 3:24 AM

Re: “Is New Orleans crime ‘out of control’?

KB OTT,

I haven't seen any effort since the Liberty Place monument was moved in the early 90's.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Owen Courreges on 10/20/2015 at 7:02 PM

Re: “Is New Orleans crime ‘out of control’?

VOICE OF REASON,

The push to move the monuments came from Mayor Landrieu. There wasn't a grassroots campaign raising money, holding rallies, etc., that prompted it. If you have more to add to the matter than conclusory statements, by all means do so. Otherwise, you're just spouting baseless insults.

As for your earlier comment, I'm not sure how I "don't get it." I specifically agreed with Quatrevaux's analysis of improper manpower utilization within the NOPD, that there are too few cops on the streets and too many in administrative positions.

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Owen Courreges on 10/20/2015 at 2:30 PM

Re: “Is New Orleans crime ‘out of control’?

Robert,

You're providing some additional numbers, but I think they fall well short of proving your point in light of the strong evidence of adequate per-capita police staffing relative to other departments and poor resource allocation as documented by the Inspector General.

First of all, let's just go in and add those 373 additional officers to Miami's numbers. You've got 1,427 officers and a population (now) at 479,457. That's about one officer per 336 people. That's still ever-so-slightly less than New Orleans at one officer per 330 people. And then let's bring in tourism numbers. From what I've seen, Miami beats us out. We have about 10 million per year, and they have over 14 million.

And of course, all of that doesn't consider New Orleans' security districts that provide additional armed guards, some of whom are off-duty police (not to mention "NOLA Patrol"). I'm not sure if Miami has similar districts, but clearly there's been an explosion of paid security in New Orleans that arguably pads the figures.

In any event, that's only one basis of comparison. I brought out others, like Los Angeles, which undeniably has a lot of tourism and also a huge amount of crime. They have greatly increased the size of their department, but even with our reduced manpower, their per-capita numbers still fall short of ours.

Even your analysis acknowledges that our staffing is at least average for the region relative to violent crime, which tends to cast doubt on your assertion of a major staffing shortage. I would point out that with the exception of homicide, New Orleans actually fares well in terms of violent crime statistics in the region. Cities with far fewer police per capita actually have higher incidences of certain major crimes, and I would further point out that regardless, studies have not tended to show a significant link between police staffing and levels of crime.

You are correct that departments report crime differently, and that homicide tends to be the most reliable statistic. However, that doesn't mean other statistics aren't fairly reliable. People really do tend to report robberies, for example, and it's hard to write that up as being anything else. Still, there is a huge divergence between our robbery rate and our homicide rate. If the NOPD is really fudging crime figures to such a degree that our homicide rate is a superior indicator of violent crime overall, then all the other figures are so far off as to be complete fabrications. Do you really believe that's the case?

For that reason, I think it's a cheap trick to use homicide numbers as the metric. They're a small percentage of violent crimes overall, and you're using them to disregard all other crime figures on the assumption that the NOPD is lying to paint a rosy picture.

Even if that were true, I'd suggest the first step would be to generate more accurate crime numbers first, then reevaluate. If that requires firing the top brass, then so be it. The onus should be on the NOPD to prove its staffing needs, and if we can't rely on reported crime figures to determine staffing needs, then the NOPD's administration needs to go before anything else. We shouldn't simply assume that the police needs more manpower on the assumed basis that they are severely downplaying crime figures. You're proposing that we assume mendacity, and then proceed to reward it, ultimately requiring no proof whatsoever from the department that more manpower is needed.

Finally, as to the monuments (again), I'm not claiming that resources were "diverted" to deal with the monuments issue -- except, of course, to the extent the chief was required to prepare a recommendation and testify at a hearing in the middle regarding Confederate monuments in the middle of a crime wave. I am, however, saying that the energy and focus devoted to dealing with Landrieu's scheme could have been better served dealing with more pressing issues, particularly in the complete absence of any grassroots effort. It's not unfair to say that Landrieu has been shifting focus to something relatively trivial, and he has deservedly taken his lumps for that.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Owen Courreges on 10/20/2015 at 12:49 AM

Re: “Is New Orleans crime ‘out of control’?

Robert is my editor at Uptown Messenger, he's dead wrong on a great deal of this. This part, for example, is both unsupported and, I believe, completely incorrect:

"When measured by number of officers per resident, New Orleans is not grossly out of line with other major cities, and Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has argued that the problems stem from manpower allocation, not overall staffing. But per-capita comparisons fail to take into account the much higher manpower needs in cities that draw large tourist populations, nor the notion that cities with higher crime rates simply need more officers."

There are a lot of problems here.

It's not just that New Orleans isn't "grossly out of line" in terms of police per capita, it actually tends to be significantly higher than many other major cities in the region. You can't get around this by referencing tourism or crime, because our violent crime rate and crime rate overall are comparable to other southern cities (only our murder rate truly stands out).

Let's compare New Orleans to another touristy city, Miami, Florida. The size of the Miami PD is 1,054 officers (2012) and the population of Miami is 399,457 (2015). The size of the NOPD is 1,150 officers (2015), and our population is 378,715 (2015). This means that we have more police per capita than Miami, a city that hosts similar numbers of tourists and has a similar population. And Miami is no slouch in terms of crime, either.

Let's take this further. New Orleans has about 1 officer for every 330 people. This compares with 1 officer for every 380 people in Los Angeles, a city that also has persistent crime problems and is second only to New York in tourism. Or let's bring this closer to home with San Antonio, also a major tourist destination, which only has 1 officer for every 667 people. Again, San Antonio city is no stranger to crime, but it manages with far fewer officers per capita than we have now.

If you're going to argue that the NOPD manpower crisis is genuine, you need more than vague references to tourism and crime rates, because every time I look at hard numbers, I find that the NOPD is already adequately-staffed. Thus, the most natural conclusion to reach is that Quatrevaux is right, and the NOPD's problems relate more to poor manpower allocation than lack of staffing.

Finally, I also have a problem with the claim that Landrieu shouldn't be called down for focusing on removing Confederate monuments rather than public safety. It's not a "rhetorical straw man" to argue that the mayor is wasting his time and city resources on frivolous matters when there are more important issues to address.

It's also simply not true that only the HDLC and the Human Rights Commission are the only agencies that have "dealt" with the monuments issue -- city law required both the City Attorney and the Superintendent of Police to provide recommendations in a public hearing, in addition to the department of property management and the chief administrative officer. This matter has wasted the time of a huge cross-section of municipal government.

To make a long story short, I think there are significant inaccuracies here together with some conclusions that are flat-out incorrect.

16 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Owen Courreges on 10/19/2015 at 6:50 PM

Re: “How a new law in Louisiana aims to help victims of domestic violence that face eviction

I'm obviously very sympathetic to the idea of passing some law that makes it easier for domestic violence victims to avoid eviction (nobody should be evicted solely on account of being a victim), but this is very poorly drafted legislation and it deserves to fail. Take this excerpt:

"The lessor of a lease agreement shall not ... [r]efuse to enter into the lease agreement on the basis that an applicant, or that applicant's family or household member, is or has been a victim of domestic abuse, or on the basis of activity directly related to domestic abuse, if that applicant otherwise qualifies to enter into a lease agreement."

Under a plain language reading, the words "activity directly related to domestic abuse" would necessarily encompass domestic abuse itself, i.e., being a domestic abuser. So this actually prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to domestic abusers, and then provides for punitive damages if they refuse to do so. That's insanity.

Also, the bills also allows domestic violence victims to terminate a lease within 30 days without forfeiting their deposit, but that fails to recognize that landlords suffer actual damages from re-letting when a tenant breaks a lease early. The legislation can (and should) limit these damages to where a tenant doesn't forfeit their entire deposit, but it shouldn't simply ignore them and force the landlord to take the whole loss. That's not fair. If the state thinks putting the loss on the victim is unfair, it should subsidize the damages on its own, not push them onto an innocent third party.

There are other problems with this legislation, but those are the ones that stick out the most. I think reasonable legislation is necessary in this area, but this isn't reasonable. Unless it is seriously amended, I think it ought to fail.

Posted by Owen Courreges on 05/09/2015 at 5:38 PM

Re: “Election recommendations

>>Opponents call the millage "a new tax," which is disingenuous. The existing taxes, at 0.40 and 3.80 mills, add up to what's on the ballot this week: 4.20 mills.<<

This is a baldfaced lie and I demand that a correction issue immediately. The existing millages are 0.32 and 2.99, for a combined millage of 3.31. The new millage amounts to a tax increase, as every other news agency has reported.

Owen Courreges
Uptownmessenger.com

10 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Owen Courreges on 03/10/2014 at 6:36 PM

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