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Letters to the Editor 

Where is the Mayor?
My husband and I have lived in New Orleans for over 30 years. It is our home. Following Katrina, we would not have even thought about moving somewhere else. We were invested in this city and committed to its success. Through the toughest times, we kept the faith that our leadership would rise to the occasion.

It has now been 10 months since Katrina, and we have not made any noticeable progress; we admittedly have "no plan." No one seems to have any confidence that our leadership is going to make any decisions in the near future. The mayor has been virtually invisible. When pressed, he admits the city is still without a plan. This is unacceptable.

The citizens of New Orleans need to see some concrete action and some accountability by our elected officials as to where our futures lie. We are entitled to that.

Mayor Nagin has a responsibility to be the face and voice of our city. Instead, he has all but disappeared. Where is he? What is he doing?

He has made almost no impact on the daily life of the city. He owes it to all of us not only to be visible, but to communicate with us daily, informing us precisely what he intends to do, what he has been doing, and with whom he has been meeting. Tell us something, anything.

There are many of us who own homes, businesses and other investments in this community. We have returned to honor our commitment to help rebuild, and we have worked diligently under great hardship. We do not want to lose New Orleans, and we assume the mayor feels the same. We are entitled to leadership. We are entitled to information and decisions. The mayor's failure to communicate what he is doing perpetuates the universal perception that he is doing nothing. Each day that passes with no action and no plan only prompts more people to leave and relocate due to their frustration, anger and heartache. We can only be so resilient.

Stefanie Allweiss

No Smoking Allowed
With the passage of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Act, Louisiana legislators have finally responded to the majority (75 percent) of their constituents -- nonsmokers who want and deserve the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.

Eliminating secondhand smoke in all public places, including restaurants and work places, is a step that will save lives and costs. Employees deserve to work in environments free of the poisons found in secondhand smoke, the nation's third leading cause of preventable death. Employers will come to appreciate healthier and more productive employees, less absenteeism, fewer worker compensation claims, lower insurance costs and reductions in turnover that will follow from a smoke-free work environment. Everyone wins.

Congratulations to our lawmakers for listening, responding and protecting Louisianans from the dangerous and deadly effects of secondhand smoke exposure. A smoke-free Louisiana is a healthier Louisiana.

Melrick Stevenson

No Surprise Here
In reference to "Don't Trash Our Neighborhood" (June 20), no one should be surprised that the New Orleans East Vietnamese community finds itself doing battle with a landfill and the Nagin administration. Given C. Ray Nagin's public avowal to make New Orleans a "chocolate city," he now seeks to purify the East using environmental racism as the tool of choice.

A.P. Forbes

Take the Assessor Cutback a Step Further
I've only lived in New Orleans for 18 years, so I'm not an expert on Louisiana. I agree it does seem weird (and looks odd to non-Louisianans) that Orleans has seven assessors and all the other parishes have only one. [Lawrence] Chehardy and Jefferson Parish (450,000 population) are frequently cited as examples of how much work one assessor can do.

I think what we need is one state assessor and 10 assistant assessors. If Jefferson Parish and its 450,000 people are used as a pattern, then we could divide the state very equally. The state, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, has 4.5 million people; divided into ten districts, each would have 450,000 people. Why not try this?

Further, if Orleans looks outlandish with seven assessors, what do small parishes look like with their own individual assessors? In 2000, Cameron Parish had 9,991 people, East Carroll had 9,421, Red River 9,622 and Tensas 6,618. If we are talking efficiency and economy in regards to Orleans, wouldn't combining these small parishes into a 450,000-person district also be more efficient and economical?

M. L. Cooper

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