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Letters to the Editor 

Failure To Lead
In reference to your editorial "Filling the Leadership Void" (Commentary, July 4), you point out that it is unwise to wait for politicians to lead. Politicians are, of course, followers of the public mood and the voters who put them there. They lead by consensus.

Why then do you suggest that it is politicians and government that can "plan for a new and improved economy"? If we can insist that the city and state handle their major responsibilities -- crime, storm protection, infrastructure -- then the economy will take care of itself. No politician can demand that businesses and individuals invest their blood and treasure here. And every problem in town -- the schools, deadly public housing, crime, and a hospitality-based economy -- all trace back to the same source: politicians and our failed government. For the first time in our history, wouldn't it be nice if they would just leave our economy, that is our investments, our jobs, our entrepreneurs, alone?

Michael Castrillo

Sheriff Not the Bad Guy
I am not affiliated with (St. Tammany Parish) Sheriff Jack Strain or the NAACP. I am not racist, nor do I support some of the sheriff's policies. But after reading about what Annie Spell and the NAACP are up to, I felt compelled to set the record straight. I also feel that I am more qualified than Spell to comment on this issue, since the incident that brought about Sheriff Strain's alleged racist comments happened minutes away from my home.

First off, Ms. Spell, you should get your facts straight. It was not Sheriff Strain who originally used the terms "dreadlocks" and "chee wees," it was a witness to the actual crime that was committed describing the perpetrators. It was the worst crime in St. Tammany in 30 years -- a quadruple murder. Furthermore, in all of the questions that the sheriff answered, he did not say anything about race in reference to the hairstyles, because people of all races have them. You are the one to "stereotype" these hairstyles and, therefore, your remarks seem more "racist." So I ask you, Ms. Spell, to do what is right and use your talents to help Sheriff Strain bring these criminals to justice.

I applaud the sheriff for standing up to attempts to discredit him.


Ready for a Change
In reference to "Where is the Mayor?" (Letters, July 4), my question is: How in the world could any thinking person look to Ray Nagin for a workable plan? Hasn't he proven his lack of decision-making skills with his evacuation plan providing buses with no drivers? Look at the abandoned cars that still litter our streets and imagine what you could have done with the $5 million that he tossed away with the debris from our homes and the corpses of our loved ones.

Is it merely misguided patriotism and blind faith that lead a rational person to seek leadership from incompetent politicians? This disgusting disregard is not localized; it reaches all the way to the White House and encompasses every politician who will squander forced taxed monies, watch on television as Louisiana citizens drown in the streets, and send you to die in a war without cause!

Independence and freedom are unattainable separately. Free yourselves from the illusion that government works and law enforcement will protect you. Take your lives into your own hands and stop relying on a system that creates and preys upon your fear and insecurity.

ZeldaFay Baker

Florida Does It Right
My wife and I visited friends in New Orleans from our home in the Florida Keys, and we were flabbergasted by what we saw. We knew things weren't back to normal, but seeing the devastation firsthand was mind boggling.

Hurricane Wilma last October flooded 70 percent of Key West under 4 or more feet of water. We, too, had dramatic roof-top rescues, 10,000 vehicles flooded, and homes rendered uninhabitable. Yet we had no deaths, no looting and no negative publicity. Within two months, major clean up was completed. There are still residents stuck in FEMA trailers and lagging insurance pay outs are, but services are fully restored. This makes me glad I live in the Florida Keys.

I read a comment in The Times-Picayune from the Housing Committee Chair of the LRA dismissing stilt homes as "olives on sticks." It so happens my "olive on a stick" survived Wilma with no damage. I have spent the last 10 months enjoying my home and spending money to make it nicer. Sure is nice living in an "olive on a stick," even though it's not nearly as sexy as a shotgun house all flooded out.

Re-electing Ray Nagin is just the icing on the cake, and you get exactly what you deserve. Good luck, because whatever else they tell you, hurricane season ain't even close to over.

Michael Beattie
Florida Keys


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