Scoot: Demanding change from politicians and ourselves

August 10, 2017 - 10:36 am

It is easier to get people excited during the peak of a high-profile debate than it is to keep them interested about the issue being debated.  Our collective attention span is short and it takes an effort to remain engaged after the initial hype subsides.  

As a city, we have been awakened by the apparent depth of incompetence within the Sewage & Water Board and the City of New Orleans.  Citizens are now vocal and filled with a spirit to demand change.  From my perspective, I witness the peaks and valleys of response to controversial topics; and there always comes a point where the peaks of interest wane as a result of fatigue over the topic or the distractions of new topics.  If we really want to start changing New Orleans, then we cannot allow this peak of passion over tolerated incompetence to fade.  

It is natural for the urgency of any controversy to fade, but we should not let the message of demanding changes in New Orleans politics to fade.  If we allow that to happen, then we are guilty of doing the same thing we criticize the politicians for doing, which is focusing on a controversial issue and then letting the controversy die before real change occurs.

I do not want to let this renewed interest in demanding change to slip away.  There will be times when something spikes interest; but there will also be times when other issues, locally and nationally, take precedent.  That’s normal and acceptable, but what is not acceptable is for us to allow this demand for change to fade to the point where we go back to doing the same thing.  We cannot continue acting the same way and voting for the same politicians that represent incestuous politics.

In the middle of the night, and again early this morning, Mayor Landrieu addressed the citizens of New Orleans with the sobering news that the failures in the city’s pumping system have broadened; and he issued a warning that anything beyond a normal amount of rainfall could lead to flooding again.

The problems that have been exposed from the flooding last Saturday are not new problems.  They, and the incompetence, have been covered up, or, at the very least, have been ignored by complacent politicians and leaders who have focused more on their political equity than serving the city.

I will give the Mayor credit for his newfound vigilance; but it’s fair to say that if the current attention to details had been an ongoing policy of the city and other agencies, then this might not be the controversy it has become.  And if the city had the reputation of being vigilant and focusing on serving the citizens, then the citizens might not assume the city is at fault; or they might be prone to give the city the benefit of doubt.  But the city has not earned that consideration.

This controversy over the recent flooding and the revelation of incompetence in this city is a justified controversy that the City of New Orleans invited upon itself.  The City and the Mayor are accountable.

Part of the conversation is the demand for change among the people of New Orleans.  As a native of this city, I have been too publicly timid for too many years about the things that need to change.  It is time to stop saying and believing this idea that “Hey, we’re New Orleans!  This is just the way we do it and everyone loves New Orleans.”  That ends now.  If we expect more from our politicians, then we need to expect more of ourselves - and each other.

And this will be an ongoing theme that runs through my afternoon talk show.

Are you with me?

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