Ed "A Thousand Cranes" Blakely

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Recovery czar" Ed Blakely analyzes the Gaza situation on Australian radio

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 2:19 PM

The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines jet over the Ukraine ... the Israeli ground incursion on the Gaza strip ... it's been a troubling 48 hours geopolitically, and who better to figure it all out for us than Dr. Ed Blakely, the former New Orleans "recovery czar" who's now an honorary professor of urban policy at the University of Sydney in Australia. Blakely was interviewed on Sydney Educational Broadcasting, where he offered some of his many opinions

"Israel is using a lot of cards, a lot of chips," Blakely says. "If you're in the silk-stocking district in New York, you know you have a lot of Jews in the audience, but in the middle of Iowa, you may not know who's in the audience, and that could trickle back to hurt you. ... Certainly you wouldn't want to be siding with people who are slaughtering civilians." 

Blakely also analyzes President Barack Obama's statements on the crises, offers a bit of advice on what the President might do, and discusses the American tea party movement for the Australian audience. Hear it all.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ed Blakely is about to start rebuilding Sydney, Australia — one shopping mall at a time

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 10:48 AM


Dr. Ed Blakely watchers know that former Mayor Ray Nagin's "recovery czar" declared mission accomplished on the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2009 and took his metaphorical "cranes in the sky" to Australia, where he now works with the University of Sydney's United States Study Centre (bless their hearts).

But now Blakely has a new challenge. He's teaming up with "urban designer" Ethan Kent to revitalize a shopping mall in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.

Continue reading »

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Look out, Jersey Shore: Ed Blakely's back on Hurricane Sandy advice patrol

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Dr. Ed Blakely
  • Dr. Ed Blakely
Last month, former New Orleans "recovery czar" told the press he was being appointed to a special Hurricane Sandy commission by N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo — which turned out to be, like so many things Blakely promised, just invisible cranes in the sky. (The co-chair of the commission said Blakely wouldn't be involved.)

According to a report in today's New Jersey Star-Ledger, Blakely spent the morning at Monmouth University at a conference titled "Rebuilding A Resilient New Jersey Shore." Blakely's topic? "Lessons from Katrina."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Despite his earlier claim, former "recovery czar" Ed Blakely not on official Hurricane Sandy commission, says co-chair

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Dr. Ed Blakely
  • Dr. Ed Blakely
Brad Penuel, the co-chair of the New York Hurricane Sandy commission to which Dr. Ed Blakely claimed he had been appointed last week, told Gambit by phone today he wasn't familiar with Blakely — and in a subsequent email, added, "Just received confirmation that Ed Blakely will not be serving on the Commission."

Blakely — the Hurricane Katrina "recovery czar" who had been appointed under former Mayor Ray Nagin — made big waves last week when his new employer, the University of Sydney in Australia, issued a press release saying Blakely had been appointed to the Respond Commission. Blakely gave an interview on the subject to an Australian radio station, confirming the appointment.

The Respond Commission is one of three announced by the state of New York to analyze the response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Penuel, its co-chair, is also director of the Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response at New York University,

An official press release released an hour ago from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the commission's makeup and made no mention of Blakely, although it noted "Additional appointments may be made to the commissions."

Penuel, though, made it clear that Blakely would not be one of them.

Press release under the jump.

Continue reading »

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Gambit TV: Clancy's Commentary

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM

In his commentary this week for WWL-TV, Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos had a message for N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo — and it had to do with former New Orleans "recovery czar" Ed Blakely:

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Ed Blakely to the rescue! NY Gov Cuomo appoints "recovery czar" to Hurricane Sandy commission

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Hurricane Katrina "recovery czar" Ed Blakely has been appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to a commission to "examine the state's emergency response capabilities" in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to an interview Blakely has done with an Australian radio station.

In recent years, Blakely has been living in Australia, where he is Honorary Professor of Urban Policy at the US Studies Centre of the University of Sydney.

"My role in this is to make sure they're ready for what's likely to be another one soon," Blakely told the Australian radio station, adding that "A number of people have asked me if I would be around to discuss these things as they're moving forward."

The original announcement of the commission made no mention of Blakely.

Blakely has already weighed in on what New York needs to do in the wake of Sandy. That's under the jump, along with a link to the Library Chronicles' classic Blakely timeline, "Come Crane With Me":

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dr. Ed Blakely compares the Australian floods to Hurricane Katrina

Posted By on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 12:23 AM

Former New Orleans disaster master Dr. Ed Blakely is on the scene of the devastating floods in Queensland, offering his expertise to the unfortunate Australians. In this video interview taped at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Blakely offers proscriptions and prescriptions that sound awfully familiar...

There's a regional ecology that's been affected, but a regional ecology has no respect for political boundaries.

New Orleans was a total destruction — but this is a cleanup operation.

We have to decide how we're gonna build, where we're gonna build, and not hope for the best — but prepare for the future.

There's more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dr. Ed Blakely is here to tell the Haitians what to do next

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 5:20 AM

You just knew he couldn't keep his nose out of this...

New Orleans expert gives advice on Haiti

Dr. Edward Blakely, former Executive Directory for Recovery Management for New Orleans, lectured on urban disaster recovery strategies and crisis leadership to about 20 people in a discussion hosted by the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Blakely used examples from Hurricane Katrina to demonstrate how a society should recover from such disastrous occurrences, now including the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, if they want to be prepared for and alleviate future consequences.

Blakely first emphasized the importance of engineering. He said political figures often make promises of rebuilding without really understanding how the rebuilding process works.

“We need to delay building in the present in order to obtain long-term goals for the future,” he said. “Recovery is very different from emergency assistance.”

And if anyone knows about delaying building....

Blakely said the main goal should be to start with the future, not the past. He suggested that Haiti take its time coming up with a long-term plan, instead of just a quick fix that is likely to fail in the short term and cause future issues.

Why, Blakely, why? What did Haiti ever do to you? If you can't help those poor people, can't you just leave them alone?

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Top 10 Political Stories of 2009

Posted By on Sat, Dec 26, 2009 at 12:21 AM

There never seems to be a recession in Louisiana political hijinks, as 2009 proved many times over. This was a year of tectonic shifts in the local political paradigm, and the coming year promises to bring more big changes. Herewith, our annual list of the Top 10 Political Stories:

1. Bill Jefferson’s Continued Slide — The former congressman’s misfortunes continued to pile up. He was convicted on 11 of 16 federal felony counts in August after a long-delayed trial in Virginia. Ironically, Jefferson was acquitted of the charge most closely related to the infamous $90,000 in cash that the feds retrieved from his freezer in 2005 — but jurors concluded that his congressional office was an ongoing criminal enterprise under the RICO statute. The trial judge sentenced him to 13 years but let him stay out of jail pending his appeal. In another twist, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering other cases that could overturn some of Jefferson’s convictions. Locally, Dollar Bill’s brother (and political muscle) Mose Jefferson was convicted of bribing a school board member in an unrelated case. Mose and Assessor Betty Jefferson (another Jefferson sibling) face still more federal charges with Mose’s gal pal (and Dollar Bill protégé) Renee Gill-Pratt. Politically, Jefferson’s once-dominant political machine, the Progressive Democrats, is in shambles. The Feb. 6 citywide elections will be the first in three decades in which Dollar Bill is not a factor.

2. The City Hall Scandals — There’s no telling how many separate criminal investigations are underway at City Hall. Former technology chief Greg Meffert was indicted on several dozen criminal counts, along with his wife Linda and former business partner Mark St. Pierre. St. Pierre is the city contractor who paid for the Mefferts and the Nagins to vacation in Hawaii in 2004 and for the Nagins to unwind — first class — in Jamaica shortly after Katrina (while the rest of us were still trying to get back home to New Orleans). On another front, the feds seized various City Hall computers after the mayor’s emails and 2008 calendar mysteriously disappeared (following a WWL-TV request for them under the state Public Records Act). Ironically, tons of City Council emails were produced by the Nagin Administration in response to an unrelated public records request — and some of those emails proved to be cautionary tales against writing things down. More recently, veteran Sewerage and Water Board member Ben Edwards was indicted on 33 counts of corruption, including alleged kickbacks. Edwards spent more than $250,000 “independently” helping Mayor Ray Nagin win re-election in 2006. As the clock winds down on Ray Nagin’s tenure in City Hall, the feds appear to be tightening the circle of suspicion around him.

3. The Mayor’s Race — For a while it seemed that nobody wanted Ray Nagin’s job — then everybody seemed to want it. After a yawner of a preseason, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu lit up the field with his eleventh-hour decision to run. The fallout came quickly as school reformer Leslie Jacobs dropped out a week later. Landrieu, who is making his third bid for the mayor’s office, is once again the early frontrunner. The race for the City Council’s two at-large seats promises to be filled with intrigue as well. Incumbent Arnie Fielkow waited until the last day to qualify, prompting former at-large Councilman Eddie Sapir to jump in. Assessor Darren Mire was another late entry, which seemed to guarantee a scrambled field. Then both Sapir and Mire dropped out on the same day, right before Christmas. State Rep. Austin Badon, who was the first to announce for mayor, was among the first to drop out of that contest, opting instead to run for the council from District E, where he is the early favorite.

4. Suburban Scandals — The feds have been busy all over southeast Louisiana. They indicted and convicted St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard on extortion and money laundering charges, St. Bernard Judge Wayne Cresap on bribery charges, and Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price on tax evasion and depriving citizens of honest services via mail fraud. Meanwhile, FBI agents are looking into Jefferson Parish Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer’s insurance commission-splitting deals in connection with insurance business at West Jefferson General Hospital and among various parish contractors. Some big names are said to be involved, and this could be the beginning of another round of “Jefferson Scandals.” Look for some fireworks to start in the Jefferson Parish scandal before Mardi Gras, my sources say.

5. Ray Nagin’s Unraveling — Could he possibly be more obtuse, more detached, more disengaged — and less effective as a mayor? While in Cuba (on a junket), he praised Castro’s evacuation plans. That came after he failed to convince the City Council to buy the nondescript Chevron Building and make it the new City Hall. Earlier in the year, he thumbed his nose at the courts and the state Public Records Act when his calendar and emails somehow disappeared. When an outside contractor said that the emails were deleted deliberately by someone who knew what they where doing, he fired the contractor. Meanwhile, a growing list of people who once were close to him are under federal indictment. Here’s the good news: he’ll be gone in 18 weeks.

6. Bobby Jindal’s Minus Touch — The Boy Governor started 2009 as the Wunderkind of the national GOP. Then came his disastrous response to Barack Obama’s first national address and his failure to show any coattails in three separate special elections — including a bid by his former executive counsel for the state Supreme Court in northeast Louisiana (which is supposed to be a Jindal stronghold). As he continues to raise millions nationally for his campaign war chest, the state faces major budget problems.

7. State and City Budget Woes — Bobby Jindal told a state cost-cutting commission to “be bold” in their recommendations. Gee, wasn’t that what we elected him to do as governor? Lawmakers anguished over cutting about $1 billion in operating funds this year, but it only gets worse in the next two years. Locally, Mayor Ray Nagin announced a $68 million deficit, then took a taxpayer-paid trip to Mexico to sign a feel-good sister city agreement. When the City Council revised his proposed budget, Hizzoner retaliated by slashing key services — and then blamed it all on the council. Plus ça change.

8. David Vitter’s Run-up to 2010 — The Biggest Hypocrite in America remains an early favorite to win back his U.S. Senate seat, but not without a fight. He initially drew a potential rival in porn star Stormy Daniels of Baton Rouge, but now he will have a real opponent in Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon. Vitter continues to poll below 50 percent but remains 10 points or more above his main opponents. His infamous bad temper flared up again during an incident at Reagan National Airport when he tried to board a plane late, and all the national attention he’s gets every time there’s another sex scandal anywhere sure makes Louisiana (if not Vitter himself) look bad. Not that he cares.

9. The Saints Deal — For the first time since the state started subsidizing the city’s NFL franchise in 1985, a deal to keep the beloved Saints in New Orleans did not tear the Legislature apart and cost the city valuable political capital. Maybe it’s because Gov. Bobby Jindal also wanted lawmakers to approve $50 million to bail out a north Louisiana chicken processing plant. South Louisiana leges immediately said, “Deal!” Cluck, cluck! Go Saints!

10. The City’s New Master Plan — Like everything else worthwhile that happens here, the city’s new master plan has endured a rough birthing process, but the end results will hopefully be worth it. Don’t let the fact that I’ve listed this as No. 10 fool you. This will be a very important story for decades if we get it right.

A final note: I left former Recovery Chief Ed Blakely off my list of most important political stories. That’s because, even when he was here, Blakely was largely irrelevant. His ridiculous, self-serving comments after his departure proved that.

Here’s hoping 2010 brings better news.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

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