The movie Munich is about Israel’s covert operation to assassinate the people who masterminded the terrorist murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. The head of the Israeli operation was a fellow named Avner. Before he was sent out on his mission he was ‘officially terminated’ and told that he would be given money through a Swiss Bank, but there would be no record of his connection with Israel. At one point in the movie Avner is working with a French source who promises to give him the locations of the people he is hunting. But, the source tells him, "we do not work with governments, and if we find you are connected with a government we will cut you off."
I’ve been thinking about that line a lot lately. Here in New Orleans it’s hard not to pay attention to the waste, malfeasance and inefficiency (to say nothing of blatant corruption) of our local government. Still, I find myself upbeat because I stay connected to people who love this city and want to make it shine again. These people don’t wait for government response. They take action.
Greg Meffert, the city’s Chief Technology Officer is someone that I’ve admired since the day he came onboard. Unfortunately, he resigned recently. Meffert’s recent interview in CityBusiness is interesting, especially his frustration with post-Katrina government:
“You kind of see that nobody’s in charge of the overall government machine: the president, the governor, the mayor,” he said. “It started for me with the storm.”
Indeed. The storm was a wake up call. But the aftermath of Katrina has been even more enlightening, if you can call "complete cynicism about the role of government" enlightening. Last night I met a high-ranking FEMA official and we got to talking about the situation here. This fellow was very thoughtful and had worked in other big disasters, including Hurricane Andrew. He said that he has learned to expect to see the kind of waste and over-charging that is going on right now. But then he added: "I’ve never seen it as bad as it is here."
Our city is located on low-lying soil, and our political system is even lower. The high-ground is occupied by the people who live here. They’ve learned not to depend on the government, except as a pathetic source of amusement. Many of us don’t want to work with governments, mostly because it’s obvious that governments don’t work the way they should, especially OUR government.