Sorry not to have posted much since Christmas, but I got caught up in holiday stuff and then other stuff. For example, I had hernia surgery on January 3rd. I’m okay, but I had to give up (temporarily) my running and exercise regimen. The doctor said I could probably start running in a few weeks. He didn’t mention that I should avoid coughing or sneezing, but I figured out on my own that those activities are supremely painful. Remember the old joke about the guy who tells the doctor that it hurts when he moves his arm? The punchline, for the 3 of you who don’t know the joke, is delivered in the doctor’s response: "Well, then don’t move it."
Anyway, things are bopping along here in New Orleans. More restaurants are opening (Galatoires and Jacques-Imos for example) and some more traffic lights have started working (Napoleon and Magazine St.). And the Bring New Orleans Back Commission (BNOB) has made some bold proposals, including a recommendation about how to redevelop the hardest hit areas of the city. Predictably, many people don’t like the proposal. This map of the $17 billion dollar plan (PDF file) shows which areas of the city are going to be slated to be parks and greenspace, and which areas will be redeveloped.
Of the proposed $17 billion, $3 billion is slated to be used for a light rail system to connect key areas of the city. We’ve always wanted, and needed, a light rail system so that part of the proposal is something I really hope can be carried out. If you want to see the full report in a powerpoint presentation click here.
Overall, I’m pleased that the BNOB Commission is making some bold proposals. I know that some people don’t understand the full scope of the problem that New Orleans faces, and many people are primarily worried about their own personal or secular interests. But we are still in crisis mode here and we have to make some key decisions that will determine the long-term viability of this city. If we make the right decisions this city will be vastly better than it was, and it might only take between 5 and 10 years to achieve that success. On the other hand, if we make the wrong decisions, or if we take too long to make the right decisions, then the city will founder.
President Bush is in town today, and I hope that he keeps coming back. I hope that other politicians who haven’t been here will come and survey. You have to see the widespread impact of Katrina first hand to even begin to comprehend this situation. In fact, I’ve got to be honest. I live here and I can barely comprehend this situation. So my hat’s off to people like those who serve on the BNOB commission, and to anyone who is feverishly laboring to rebuild this city.
We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We all need to stay patient and realize that there is a lot of hard work to be done. There are also hard decisions to be made, and the sooner we make them the sooner our hard work will pay off.