Oh No You Didn't

Monday, September 14, 2015

Y@ Speak: Rivalries, Chapter 1,000

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 12:20 PM

Twitter: A Place for Feuds. Last week we watched car dealerships vs. eyebrows, Bobby Jindal vs. Donald Trump, and the ongoing tragedy of the New Orleans Saints vs. itself. Plus: Drew Brees wrestles alligators, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's will-he-or-won't-he house arrest, and bilingual pets.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Michael Brown absolves himself of Hurricane Katrina blame in Politico editorial

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:17 AM

MICHAEL BROWN: FEMA’s nimble. We’re only 2,500 people. We can move on a dime.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Uh-huh. And what dime were you standing on during the hurricane?
 — From Brown's 2006 appearance on The Colbert Report

You thought we could get through Katrinapalooza week without hearing from Michael "Brownie" Brown? Dream on. The disgraced former FEMA head, who now has a radio talk show in Denver, weighed in with his usual chorus of "It Wasn't Me" on Politico this morning:
People are still saying now, as they said then, that what went wrong in New Orleans a decade ago was all my fault. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. There were many dark moments in those three weeks on the Gulf Coast, and FEMA and the federal government certainly made some mistakes, but perhaps the worst part was being held responsible for the things that I didn’t control at all.
If you've heard Brownie revise history over the years, there's little new here, except a new chorus of blaming the media (of which, it should be pointed out, he's now a member). "My mishandling of the press during the disaster response was among my greatest mistakes," he writes, citing CNN's Anderson Cooper and Time magazine as two of the worst offenders.

His conclusion? Cut down the size of federal government (of which, it should be pointed out, he was an employee):

Today government needs to affirmatively reassert its commitment to the all-hazards approach to disasters. Whether a disaster is man-made, natural or the result of terrorism, the response is the same. And the federal government must not become a first responder. The more state and local governments become dependent upon federal dollars, the weaker and more dependent upon the federal government they will become.

Why is that important? Disasters happen every day. The federal government should be involved only in those disasters that are beyond the capacity of state and local governments to handle. Centralized disaster response at the national level would destroy the inherent close relationship between citizens and those who save their lives and protect their property in times of everyday disasters. We must not allow that to happen.
Those who want more Brownie on Brownie can listen to his talk show Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. New Orleans time, where he promises more hot takes and hard truths.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist: "What I was thinking"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."
  • Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."

Kristen McQueary, the Chicago Tribune editorialist who pissed off vast swaths of New Orleans, Chicago, and the Internet yesterday with her wish that a "Hurricane Katrina" would strike Chicago and clean up that city's "rot," has come back 24 hours later with a "what I meant to say" piece.

Here's what McQueary meant to say, according to her:
I used the hurricane as a metaphor for the urgent and dramatic change needed in Chicago: at City Hall, at the Chicago City Council, at Chicago Public Schools. Our school system is about to go bankrupt, and the city’s pension costs and other massive debts have squeezed out money for basic services.

I wrote what I did not out of lack of empathy, or racism, but out of long-standing frustration with Chicago’s poorly managed finances.
The original column, McQueary wrote, came after a Trib editorial board meeting with Mayor MItch Landrieu, who was in Chicago to talk about the city's recovery — and, presumably, the Katrina10 commemoration, which is designed to both memorialize the tragedy and put forward the city's best face at a time when we once again have the world's gaze.

In that sense, it's a PR campaign, which is fine; that's what a traveling mayor is for. But one hopes an editorial board at one of the country's most powerful newspapers would dig deeper than an elected official's political spin, and all McQueary seemed to carry away from the meeting was this:
Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans' City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated.

An underperforming public school system saw a complete makeover. A new schools chief, Paul Vallas, designed a school system with the flexibility of an entrepreneur. No restrictive mandates from the city or the state. No demands from teacher unions to abide. Instead, he created the nation's first free-market education system.

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.
Unmentioned: billions of dollars in federal recovery money and insurance payouts, which had a lot to do with what progress we've made; bootstraps and volunteerism only goes so far. Dumping that kind of money into Chicago, even without a tragedy, would probably perk up things there as well.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist wishes for a "Hurricane Katrina" to clean up Chicago

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 7:39 PM


Well, that was a shitstorm — and we're not talking about the first few minutes of the New Orleans Saints' preseason game. A member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board is wishing for a "Hurricane Katrina" to strike and help clean up what she sees as her own corrupt city.

Kristen McQueary, who is an actual member of the Chicago Tribune's actual editorial board, met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu and somehow came away with the notion — well, I'm not sure what's more wrongheaded, that Katrina "fixed" things in New Orleans or that a Chicagoan would want the people of Chicago to go through something similar:

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

Apparently it takes a Katrina (or, more accurately, a federal levee disaster) to clean up what McQueary calls Chicago's "rot." Not surprisingly, social media is going nuts in both cities. Is McQueary a troll, a cheap provocateur or just ... I dunno?

I've invited her to discuss the column over coffee when I'm in Chicago in early September. So: what about it, Kristen? I'm buying. I'll bring you beignet mix.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mayor Landrieu issues his own executive order in response to Gov. Bobby Jindal

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 3:35 PM

A page from the city of New Orleans' official tourism website, "New Orleans Welcomes All," seeks to reassure LGBT tourists that they're welcome in the city. - COURTESY NEW ORLEANS ONLINE
  • A page from the city of New Orleans' official tourism website, "New Orleans Welcomes All," seeks to reassure LGBT tourists that they're welcome in the city.

One day after Gov. Bobby Jindal issued his "Marriage & Conscience" executive order, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has issued his own executive order, saying "the City of New Orleans appropriately balances religious beliefs of all kinds with civil liberties, including freedom from discrimination."

Jindal's bill followed on the heels of the defeat of a House bill by state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, and attempted to accomplish the same thing — in the words of Jindal, to "prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman." Critics, including Landrieu and members of the New Orleans tourism community, called the bill divisive and said it would adversely affect tourism and conventions in Louisiana — which it seemed to do when state legislators in New York called upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban all non-essential state travel to Louisiana.

Landrieu's executive order came one day after the city announced it would bid on the right to host the Super Bowl in 2019 and 2020. The city tourism effort New Orleans Will also issued its own statement, saying, "This executive order is largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue. That is certainly his right. It is important for those who visit Louisiana to know that its effect in essence is that of a political campaign document." And the city's official tourism website highlighted "New Orleans Welcomes All," a page featuring male couples enjoying the city's tourism attractions. 

Under the jump: Landrieu's executive order.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

PHOTOS: St. Roch Market vandalized overnight

Posted By and on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 11:27 AM


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Vendors, neighbors react to vandalism of St. Roch Market overnight

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 11:24 AM

Workers clean up overnight vandalism at St. Roch Market. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Workers clean up overnight vandalism at St. Roch Market.

Following the overnight vandalization of St. Roch Market, the people pressure washing slogans like "YUPPIE = BAD" and "FUCK YUPPIES" were mostly the people from the neighborhood itself. 

"Look at the people cleaning," Kayti Chung-Williams, owner of the food stall Koreole, told Gambit. "It's the people who live in the community. That's the ironic part. What point are you trying to make here?"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More sidewalk ads spring up in Mid-City

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Ads for Zatarain's Crab Boil are painted in the disabled curb cuts at Bienville St. and N. Carrollton Ave. in Mid-City. - GAMBIT
  • Ads for Zatarain's Crab Boil are painted in the disabled curb cuts at Bienville St. and N. Carrollton Ave. in Mid-City.

If you're waiting for the streetcar at Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue in Mid-City, you've got some reading material. Advertisements for Zatarain's Crab Boil are painted in the curb cuts in what seems to be a sticker — right across the street from a City Park streetcar stop that takes people to Jazz Fest.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our “no-go” governor

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:28 AM

In any state budget crisis, citizens and lawmakers would expect the governor to be working hard to figure out ways to raise money or responsibly trim the sails of government, or both. That’s what real governors do. Unfortunately, Louisiana’s budget gap for the 2015-2016 fiscal year dwarfs any that has come before it — $1.4 billion and growing. And while Gov. Bobby Jindal is indeed figuring out ways to scare up large sums of money, he’s not doing it for the state. He’s doing it for himself.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New York Times: "The French Quarter has become something of a Jurassic Park for Creole cuisine"

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 4:20 PM

Galatoire's, through a slightly blurry lens — which is the way you see Galatoire's after a couple of hours there. - CREATIVE COMMONS/BRADY FREQUENT TRAVELER AND EATER
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/brady frequent traveler and eater
  • Galatoire's, through a slightly blurry lens — which is the way you see Galatoire's after a couple of hours there.

Pete Wells, food critic for The New York Times, has a good story today about the reinvention of Brennan's (with gorgeous photos by Gambit's own Cheryl Gerber). It's a really nice tracing of the history of the restaurant and the Brennan family itself, aimed at an out-of-town audience (imagine how tough that would be to do concisely) but then came this paragraph, which is sure to be discussed around the city:
The French Quarter has become something of a Jurassic Park for Creole cuisine, a contained area in which to see shrimp rémoulade, oysters Rockefeller and other giants of a former age in all their lumbering glory. At Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Galatoire’s and Tujague’s, evolution stops at the kitchen door.

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