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Stuck on stupid XVIII: it's the competence, stupid

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is opening mouth, inserting foot once again. And, once again, he displays the tragic ignorance of so many politicians from the Crescent City that ends up exactly disproving the point he tried to make.

Once again speaking before what he considered a friendly audience (the National Association of Black Journalists), Nagin alleged the federal governments’ actions towards New Orleans were biased against its recovery, intimating it was because New Orleans’ is a poorer city with a higher proportions of black citizens. Doing a derivative rap of Spike Lee, Nagin argued, “if that would have happened in Orange County, California, if that would have happened in South Beach, Miami, it would have been a different response.”

Actually, it’s funny he should mention those places, since they aren’t so different from New Orleans in terms of competence of local government. South Beach, which actually is a term of the southern part of Miami Beach which is governed in part by the famously corrupt Miami-Dade County, FL consolidated government, is part of an area with a huge Hispanic population. Orange County, CA famously mismanaged itself through the use of derivatives to lose over $1 billion, and is an area with a rapidly-growing Hispanic population. Nagin didn’t seem to know or couldn’t recognize the effectiveness problems of these governments.

Which is the entire point of why the federal government has appeared so meddlesome, so halting, to turn on the money taps to New Orleans: it does not trust politicians like Nagin, and those potentially far more corrupt, who have run New Orleans into the ground over the past several decades. The federal government understands that if you have a reprobate on your hands, you just don’t turn over the keys to the kingdom to him, you have to guide him, with tough love as needed, to maximize the chances that the best decisions get made. And then the reprobate’s representative accusing the donors of bad intentions is really going to get them to loosen up their wallets.

It is a sign of Nagin’s cluelessness that he doesn’t seem to realize any of this, that he and his ilk have been part of the problem in the past (and now are derided by many who say it’s not other governments’ not greasing city government’s palms enough that’s the problem, it’s that Nagin isn’t doing much of anything). Nagin is ignorant or dishonest to blame race and class for retarding the recovery of New Orleans; if he kindly will line himself up and almost all city elected officials of the recent past in front of a mirror, they will see who ultimately are responsible not only for that, but for depleting New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina that will make a comeback even more difficult.

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