Subject: I'm headed for New Orleans
I am packing up the younger kids and heading to
New Orleans for Anavie's debut at the House of Blues http://www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/neworleans
My oldest son Josh plays guitar in the Indi rock
As a mom/groupie,
I am totally proud and hyped also a little nervous
about going to the "murder capital" of the United States.
I have been to New Orleans a few times since
Katrina, but I haven't had the occasion to stay overnight,
so I had to do a little research about the state
of the Crescent City since
Katrina Bush drowned
A little background, I work for a big real estate
company. I work in the Commercial Division, so I have had
a "pulse" on the re-growth of real estate in
south Louisiana. According to Rich Stone, VP of commercial sales
the recovery has been proportionate to the depth
of flooding the deeper the water, the slower the recovery.
All of the places with little or no flooding
have recovered nicely. The French Quarter and the Central Business
District are fine. Class "A" office space
is at about 90% occupied and 97% of medium to large businesses
are back. The sales tax is at 88% of pre-storm.
The areas that flooded the heaviest were also
the areas with the highest poverty rates. The lower 9th ward
was devastated. This is sad in and of itself,
but there are no records of who left and where they went
(and we know that the search for the dead was
cut short to avoid further embarrassment) so it is hard to
know who is coming back to New Orleans. There
has been an effort to rebuild the lower 9th ward by
Brad Pitt and his Make It Right Foundation,
also, 9th ward formed
its first ever homeowners association in
2006. In March of 2008, 71.8% (142,317) Orleans Parish
households were receiving mail compared to about
61% in March of 2007.
So now what to do if my kids get sick on our little
journey? Only 57% (13) of pre-Katrina hospitals
have re-opened, there are fewer clinics
and the Louisiana governor is not going to re-build the
Charity Hospital, so there is a definite wait
at any emergency room in New Orleans.
Note to kids, do not get sick.
Okay, will we be safe. The criminal Justice System
in New Orleans was woefully inefficient before
Katrina and left in shambles after the storm.
Although New Orleans has the 6th highest per capita of
law enforcement to residents in the United States,
an even higher that pre-Katrina that does not
translate into a low crime rate. New Orleans
is the "Murder Capital" of the US. Ray Nagin said that
he believes that some of the thugs are coming
home from places like Houston because the Judicial System
is in such disarray here that they're in less
danger of spending long stretches in prison.
In January 2008, nearly two and a half years after
the flood, the headquarters for New Orleans Police
Department was repaired. While police officers
who work at headquarters were finally able to move out
of trailers and into their repaired building,
one district police station still operates out of FEMA trailers,
and two others that were destroyed by flooding
are operating out of donated space provided by local
philanthropists. New Orleans police unveiled
a new facility in June of 2008 to replace Central Lockup,
a building that had been used since 1966. Governor
Jindal has said that the Louisiana National Guard
will stay in New Orleans thru 2008. So National
Guard, more police coverage and a bigger lockup
and a repaired NOPD, I feel safe already.
Fortunately I don't have to stay in one of those
FEMA travel trailers. You know the contaminated ones.
At the end of May there were still about 16,921
trailers still out there in Louisiana. The funniest thing is
that while FEMA was sending out letters telling
the inhabitants that they were being poisoned by the
formaldehyde, FEMA was also sending out letters
offering to sell the trailers to the same inhabitants.
Of course you can still buy these trailers if
you sign a "Hold Harmless" addendum to the contract. Wow.
However, I have to say that I did get a great
rate on my 4-star hotel. Of course you can always get a
good rate in the summer months because of the
HEAT and HUMIDITY! The summer months have
always been a challenge, but this year looks
bleak because of economics and GAS PRICES.
Tourism is the second largest industry in Louisiana,
and accounts for 35% of New Orleans annual budget.
Tourism has not fully recovered, but has seen
real improvement. Pre-Katrina brought about 8.5 million
visitors in a good year. In 2006 New Orleans
saw only 3.7 million, in 2007 New Orleans had 7+ million
visitors , and 2008 looks to be a great
year great with the BCS championship game and the Sugar Bowl
bringing lots of tourist dollars. The Morial
Convention Center (OMG what a horror filled memory)
completed a 60 million dollar renovation and
is projected to be at 90% since Katrina, so I guess you
can say that the tourism industry is going to
Since I will have my kids with me, I won't be
able to play any slots at Harrah's Casino, but I guess I
won't be the only one not laying my money on
the table. The casino industry was up and running less
than a year after Katrina hit. However, a sluggish
economy and record gasoline prices are keeping
travelers closer to home and off the gambling
floor at Southern casinos. March to April 2008 Louisiana's
state-licensed casinos recorded a 7.2 percent
drop, according to state regulatory agencies. Both months
traditionally are big ones for casinos, as income
tax refund checks are issued. http://blog.nola.com/tpmoney/2008/05/casino_revenue_down_in_louisia.html
And don't forget those stimulus checks!
Getting to New Orleans is not hard. All of the
roads are open, and the majority have been repaired.
By March 2008, FEMA had paid Louisiana 93 percent
of the $6.6 billion allocated for infrastructure
repairs, yet only 47 percent has reached localities.
The state of Louisiana continues to hold more than
$3 billion in infrastructure repair monies that
are destined for hurricane-affected parishes. As of March,
Orleans had received only 35 percent of the funds
allocated to it for infrastructure repairs and Plaquemines
had received only 18 percent of its allocated
funding. The reason for the slow disbursement of funds is
to prevent corruption.? What?
As for our esteemed state legislature? This year
Katrina recovery has not been the focus of the 2008 session,
they have been busy giving themselves a 200%
raise (they wanted 300%). The Louisiana Legislators have
increased their salary from just over $16,000
to a little over $37,000. Not bad you say? In addition to their
salary the legislators get $6,000.00 per
year in un-vouchered expenses, $2000.00 per year in vouchered
expenses, an additional $125.00 per day per diem,
government subsidies apartments, 75% of their healthcare
is paid for by the citizens of Louisiana. The
legislators have state paid aides that are also receiving pay raises.
The Louisiana Legislative session is only 60
days in even years and 45 days in odd years, and is described
as a part time job in the Louisiana Constitution.
Sure we have a few special sessions that add 20 or so days
to the yearly commitment of the congressmen and
congresswomen's workload, and these men and women
have to make appearances but that sounds like
the kind of job I want. I can think of a lot of things I could
accomplish on the 285 days or so that I would
not be working while making more money than I currently take in.
Since Katrina the French Quarter is really clean.
The company that New Orleans contracted with picks up
garbage 3 times a day. That special urine-and-vomit
smell of the Quarter is also gone...the sidewalks are
washed every night by lawnmower-sized street
cleaners. The beggars are very nice and state plainly that
they need money for beer, cigarettes, and food...in
Great trip, just be sure to have lots of $$$$
when you go.
So, getting back to my journey to New Orleans,
I have to pack for our little adventure. I am thrilled that
my son Josh has the vision to follow his dream he
is a self taught musician, and has always wanted to
be on the stage. Yes college is important,
and he will do that again in the fall but how many chances
do you get to play the House of Blues main stage!
Back to Bartcop.com
to Bart | Discuss
it on The BartCop Forum | Comment
on it at the BartBlog