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Dear Mr. Mayor 


Dear Mr. Mayor: We've met several times in the past, so I'll dispense with the formalities of introduction. I'd love to blather on and on with words of welcome, encouragement, et cetera, but I operate with limited space here.

  So let me get straight to the point: For the past eight years, I have carefully studied the machinations of the New Orleans mayor's office. And since I seem to be the only guy in town whom you have not named to a citizen's blue ribbon committee or advisory panel, I'm going to go ahead and offer some unsolicited advice on how to conduct yourself while serving as the chief executive of this wonderful place we call New Orleans.

  It's a simple list, really, just 10 points and recommendations to consider as you wander through the swamp, thicket, maze and labyrinth that is New Orleans City Hall. First of all:

  1. The media are not out to get you. We will disagree with you, we will think you're wrong most of the time and we will call you names. But, contrary to your predecessor's insistence, the TV, radio and newspaper companies in town do not hold monthly meetings to plot the undermining of whomever sits in the mayor's seat. (Those meetings are weekly.) Remember this: We live here. A crappy city is not in our best interest. So hike up dem britches and git 'er done.

  2. Don't shower on Air Force One. Really, don't. You, wearing slippers with a white, high-thread-count bath towel wrapped around your waist on the president's airplane in the midst of a national crisis is not what anyone wants to think about. And don't steal the soap. Really, don't.

  3. Don't call money "Benjamins." If you feel the need to establish your street cred, do so by some other means. Ray Nagin is black ­— and even he looked like an idiot talking about "Benjamins" on TV before a hurricane. Call money by its proper name: dead presidents.

  4. Everyone appreciates a well-groomed mayor. We also understand that a natural disaster might legitimately interrupt normal hygiene routines. That said, if there is another disaster, either let both your hair and your beard grow out, or keep them both groomed. Because when Nagin came down out of the Hyatt after three days ­with a grisly beard, but a shiny, polished dome, it revealed an attention to ego that was discomfiting at best, freakish at worst. So do one or the other. (I go with the grow-out; it makes you look like you're down in the ditches with the rest of us.)

  5. If you travel to exotic locations for family vacations, save all your receipts. That way, you will know who paid for the trip, which we suspect would be, well ... you. But just in case.

  6. About those foreign travels: Don't compliment the organizational skills of repressive, dictatorial communist regimes. There's a reason they can evacuate people in a highly ordered fashion; they kill people who get out of line. So, you see ­— there's really no hay to be made there. Also, let me add: If you go on a "fact finding" trip to a communist ­— or free, for that matter ­— nation, could you, like, maybe, um ... come back with some facts?

  7. Don't buy property in Dallas. 'Nuff said.

  8. Save your emails. More than 'nuff said.

  9. Cuss. We really like that. And I mean: cuss, brah! Like a sailor. Let it rip. Serious French! Embarrass Howard Stern and Dave Chappelle combined with your dirty mouth! After all, Ray's tongue-lashing of the Powers That Be in Washington was surely his finest moment. In fact, it was his last one, also. He shoulda just kept on cussin' and shut up about everything else.

  And finally:

  10. When anything goes wrong, blame in it on Nagin. Nobody will doubt it. That's what the rest of us have been doing for four years. Worked like a charm.

— C. R.

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