Katrina: Mayor Nagin of New Orleans not in charge

Just read a transcript of Mayor Nagin’s interview with the desperate SOS they keep talking about all over the news. Well, he certainly is no Rudy Giuliani – unfortunately for the people of New Orleans, he is not much of a leader either.

I have tons of sympathy (and a little empathy from living in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew) for the people there and the terrible situation – but when even the Mayor is just wasting his energy complaining and waiting for someone else to do something. Of course his hands are tied and his resources are limited and strained, but one would think they would have a better idea of how to handle this given that they have known about this potential for disaster for decades. But I have no tolerance for a leader who pleads helplessness. At the very least he should be creating a plan from which he can make specific requests for aid rather than just saying get someone here to figure it out.

NAGIN: ….And I don’t know whose problem it is. I don’t know whether it’s the governor’s problem. I don’t know whether it’s the president’s problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.

WWL: What can we do here?

NAGIN: Keep talking about it.

WWL: We’ll do that. What else can we do?

NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

Call me insensitive if you wish (though I am not in the least) but if the people who know the city best and are on the ground now cant communicate what needs to be done clearly, it is a failure of leadership at the local level which is causing the real problems here. I can not even fathom that they would use their best communication vehicles (media interviews) to such ends rather than rallying his people to create and enact better solutions.

BTW – this conversation about what was not done yesterday and continuing to focus on laying blame and pointing fingers is what will ultimately kill even more people – but remember who started it (not me). Worse, it has the potential to spiral desperately out of control until all of the US is merely embroiled in debate on whos fault it is, who did not do this or that and why the White House got us involved in Iraq.

Let’s be clear here, we can make all the correlations to the disaster relief effort and Iraq we want once we are done dealing with the problems at hand – but this is an ongoing disaster – roads are not accessible, crazy crackheads and gang memers are shooting at rescuers, NOLA is not the only place in the area that is affected, people who are being rescued are refusing help, the communications networks are down and quite simply Rome was not built in a day – it takes a bit of time to coordinate resources and get them distributed appropriately – without the local folks taking responsibility for this, it is no wonder things have been screwed up so far. Hopefully now this has changed for the better.

I am praying that it will continue to get better and more people need not die senseless deaths that could have been prevented – hopefully you will do the same…

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