Thursday, February 25, 2010

There Must Be Justice

When I saw the news that an NOPD office had actually pled guilty to covering up the shooting on the Danziger Bridge and agreed to cooperate with the government it floored me. The fact he tried to cover up what really happened didn’t floor me. The fact that he actually pleaded guilty did. They must have some serious evidence on Officer Lohman. My first thought about this is that there is a lot of pressure on prosecutors in this case. If any one of the seven officers accused doesn't plead guilty or get indicted we may see some race cards being thrown out around town and they will all be legitimate to me. This kind of thing should never happen and there needs to be zero tolerance and maximum sentences to anyone who had a hand in the shooting or the cover-up. We also need someone to look into every case these officers worked on to see if other people's rights have been violated. That’s the only way I feel we can move on without this hanging over the city.

There was a time in my life when an NOPD car would drive up and I and all my friends would cringe in fear hoping everything would be okay. When I first started driving in my teens there was nothing more frightening then seeing those blue lights behind me. I knew anything was possible if they pulled me over. I am older and not panicked like that now. I know enough officers personally to understand that it never was every one on the force who was doing wrong things. When you think about it the culture of the police department is just like the culture in the neighborhoods they fight crime in every day. There are good police officers that know some things are going on that shouldn’t be happening just like they are good people in bad areas that know the things are going on that shouldn’t be. In both instances those folks probably make up the majority. The problem is they all live by a code. Good officers don’t lose any sleep when a bad cop goes down but they won’t step up and speak out against those same officers. There’s a code. People in the community know who the killers are and whether they admit it or not, no one loses sleep when they get shot or go to jail. As rough as the environment is they are not going to call and turn in Ms. Jones’ grandson especially to the police that disrespected her nephew last week. It’s the same kind of code and a viscous cycle.

I just hope that since this officer chose to break the code and admit his wrong doing we can get this case resolved and start fixing the image of the department. If not then it will be interesting to see what happens because I don’t think this is one situation that the community should let go and get over without justice being served.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I guess it's time to get focused again. Football season is over and so is Mardi Gras. It's time to put up my Saints memorabilia until next year and cut down the number of times I watch the Superbowl replay to only once during the week and maybe once on weekends if the weather is bad. It's time to put away all the beads you fought hard to catch even though you don't have any real use for them and find a proper place to display you Zulu coconuts if you were lucky enough to get one. We've had a lot of fun these past few weeks. There's been so much fun going on that everybody almost forgot that we live in a city full of problems and things that need to be done. Since I am one of the 20 people that voted in the last election I just want to say that some of us never really stopped paying attention. I know that we have a new mayor and almost new city council here in the city. I know that Congress is working on a 15 billion dollar jobs bill which should be just enough money to give jobs to about 1000 people by the time it makes it through the red tape. I know it seems like every week Toyota seems to be recalling a different model but they will probably still outsell Chevy (Just for the record, I own a Chevy truck so don't send me none of that stuff about buying American). There's a whole bunch of things going on but the truth of the matter is I am tired and I need to recharge. The theme for the next few days is resting and using as little brain power as possible until Monday. Next week we are going to get all into everything. For the next few days I will trying to sleep as much as possible.

The posting of this video does not mean I forgive Lil Wayne for picking the Vikings in the NFC Championship game.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Last Football Blog From The City Of Champions

I think I just wrote an 900 word post just to get a chance to put up a picture of the Lombardi trophy but I couldn't help myself. I’m sorry this season had to end. The beauty of how everything turned out is that six months ago if I would have titled this post the way I did everyone would have thought I moved. Deep down everyone in New Orleans, from New Orleans, or around New Orleans felt like champions already inside. They were just looking for a way to show the world how they felt. That is the key ingredient of Saints Fever. How else can you explain people that don’t know a touchdown from a free throw coming up to me to talk about how many times Gregg Williams blitzed Brett Favre? 800,000 people lining the streets in the cold last night just to get a glimpse of these guys pretty much put the exclamation point on it. Let's finish this football blogging strong.

I have a few more things to say before we close out the season and move on to other things. My years as a season ticket holder taught me that it was not a good idea to watch the game with anyone but family or close friends. I’m too into what’s going on and I may say something out of character. I watched all but two of the games this season in the same spot. The week after the NFC championship game my favorite hobby was going online and finding video clips of people’s reaction to going to the Superbowl. It was cool to see how other people reacted to that moment like I did. There is one clip I ran across that sums up what this season did to the vibe of this area. Somewhere under the interstate after that game there was this group of about 20 young black men celebrating. They were in this circle jumping up and down singing the chorus to one of my favorite Saints songs from the season, “Ya’ll boys ain’t messing with dem Saints!!” They were hyped. It wasn’t a normal New Orleans hype either. It was first time Saints are going to the Superbowl hype and that’s a whole different kind of energy. They were so energetic and jumping around so much that unless you were prepared to get knocked down you shouldn’t be getting in the middle of that. While I was smiling and feeling jealous that I wasn’t in the middle of it out of nowhere came this white guy and his female companion. They had to be in their late 30’s or early 40’s. They jumped right in the middle of those brothers and started getting bucked up too! I think the lady got a chest bump and everything. That couple didn’t look the least bit afraid and those brothers were not the least bit puzzled about why they jumped in. They were all there together representing their city. That explains why sports make so much money. Nothing else in our society has been structured to generate that kind of reaction between different kinds of people. I don’t know how long the feeling can last but at least now we have a point of reference of what it could be if things start going downhill.

Now that the season is over the question becomes ‘who dat’ among us is going to do what we have to do to keep the winning spirit going and change the conditions in the city. Are we going to translate our championship spirit into our own personal performance and good deeds? The one thing about the Saints team that I admired over everything else is that they were a team and everyone did their job. They didn’t just wait around for Drew Brees to win games for them. He deserves his time in the spotlight since he’s the leader but everyone chipped in to get to the top. We have to be just like that. We all have to do our job and take care of our own individual responsibilities and everything will be okay. The day before the game I went to a pretty informative parent meeting at my baby’s school and there were less than ten families there. It doesn’t take over 24 hours to get ready for your Superbowl party. Sean Payton may be the best coach in the NFL right now but he can’t help us with these real problems. We have to do all that hard stuff ourselves. Eventually we are going to have to talk about things as bluntly and honestly as possible and it won’t be warm and fuzzy. It might get a little ugly but that shouldn’t be expected after all these years of division. I don’t have a problem with that as long as we are working towards making progress. If everyone starts bitching and moaning just to keep their supporters divided enough to hide their incompetence I’m going to put in my Superbowl DVD and watch Tracy Porter’s intercept another 500 times to refresh my spirit again.

I guess after waiting 43 years for a title, getting washed out, rebuilding homes, rebuilding sanity, trying to find a way to sleep more than two hours a night, dealing with all kinds of other problems and being a Saints fan through the Ditka and Haslett coaching years, I guess I can chill to the end of Mardi Gras and bask in the glow of my team winning it all. I think we earned that much.

I’m a proud member of the Who Dat Nation since 1980 and we are the NFL champs. It's been a glorious time.


All you fans from the 31 teams looking up at us ask yourself this question. Would your quarterback show up at a bar full of regular folks and do this? I don’t think so. That's why he's the MVP.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Politics Of The Moment Part One....I Told You So

In the middle of all the Saints hoopla New Orleans had an election and we will have our first white mayor in over 30 years. He won every precinct except one. That means that we have a white mayor because black voters put him there. I hate to say I told you so but when Ed Murray dropped out of the race I predicted this. The outcome of this election should send a message to the leaders in our community. There needs to be a change and a shift in our approach. I was going to put all of this into one post but I decided to break it down a little further. Since I already wrote the post I linked to about this I will be brief.

I know the history of the city and what it means to have black leadership. Keep in mind that I am 35 years old and the first black mayor was elected when I was 3. That means that for my generation and those behind me we don’t have any personal memories of the same struggle. All we have is a lifetime of living here under declining conditions and difficult circumstances. We have been here looking at opportunity and people leave us behind for greener pastures. It just so happens that the whole time we couldn’t find a good job, the school system was failing us, and we were all scared of the NOPD black people were running these entities. Instead of being angry at them for not coming out to vote and doing research, go to the hood and find out where we went wrong. I think this is a perfect opportunity for a rebirth of grassroots leaders that are born out of real action for the community. I truly believe that the people will engage in the process again if they think the system can work for them.

Part two is coming soon……..

Monday, February 8, 2010

It Really Happened

You would think that after writing a blog every week during this great season I would have saved the best for last. Honestly, I have nothing to say except it feels just like I thought it would. I'll let the outcome speak for itself.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Final Chapter Of A Wonderful Season

This is the day we have all been waiting for. I have never seen the city this excited about anything. This week people have been randomly shouting “WHO DAT!” to total strangers and giving one another high fives. I love it. I don’t know how long it’s going to last but if things get out of hand and people start bickering at least we have a point of reference to remind them of how it feels to be unified about something. It’s been very hard for me to get the same nervous and paranoid feeling that I usually have for a big Saints game. I really wanted the team to play in the Superbowl and I never really changed my agenda to winning it. I am already so satisfied that I can’t get it going for today. I hope the team isn’t feeling the same way I do.

Some people in the national media really got upset when we beat Brett Favre and have refused to give us any respect for being in the championship. If you listen to some of them it was like the Vikings were ahead in the game 28-0 and Brett’s intercept was worth 28 points at the end. For years I have listened to these experts give good teams credit for not beating themselves and taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes. The Saints did it to Brett Favre and suddenly they are not worthy of being in the game. That kind of stuff has made me not watch a lot of pregame coverage. I wasn’t letting their sour grapes take my joy.

I don’t think our team has gotten enough credit. Football is a team sport. No one player can be so good that he can make up for the other 52 guys. It just doesn’t happen. If that was the case Peyton Manning would have 8 Superbowl rings by now. Other guys have to step up. That’s what made this season special for the Saints. There hasn’t been enough mention of the fact that we played a full season with an untested backup left tackle after Jamaal Brown was injured. That usually spells doom for a team and he more than held his own. There hasn’t been enough mentioned that one of our starting defensive tackles was hurt early on and that there was a stretch in the middle of the season where both starters were hurt and a bunch of guys no one heard of played their hearts out and held up just enough for us to win those games. It was around this same time that both of our starting cornerbacks were hurt too and we fought through it with Randall Gay, a rookie, and some guys we had to sign off the street. We beat New England on Monday night with this lineup. I would for someone to mention that our fullback Heath Evans got hurt and our leading receiver from last year only played in a few games yet we still managed to lead the league in scoring. We didn’t have one running back with 2000 yards but we had three backs combine for over 1800 yards. Don’t get me started on Anthony Hargrove. We have had the ultimate example of 53 guys working together to do something special and these groupies want to make it seem like we are a charity case. We are a really good team and there’s no reason we can’t beat the Colts.

We are in the big game. Rickey Jackson made the Hall of Fame. The city feels good about itself. I can’t ask for much more. Let’s finish strong and see what happens. I’m going to light this grill and get my food ready. We’ll talk when it’s over.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The City Champ Goes To The Hall of Fame!

The picture above has been the desktop wallpaper on my computer all year. When the Saints got to 7-0 I refused to take down this picture until the season was over. Rickey Jackson is going to the NFL Hall of Fame. It's only fitting he would make it in the year the team broke through to the Superbowl. He's been my all time favorite Saints player for 30 years and he deserves this recognition. A lot of fans won't know much about his career when they see he made it but if you watched him play in his prime you know the only thing he didn't have was enough quality teammates and a big market to give him the proper exposure.

This has been the greatest season ever even if tomorrow doesn't go well. Congratulations Rickey.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Who Should I Choose For Mayor

Tomorrow night New Orleans will have elected a new mayor or shrunk the candidates down to two for a runoff. I watched the last televised debate last night. I have been following everything since the beginning. Most of my friends seem to think that the major candidates are interchangeable. That says to me that anything can happen tomorrow because there are enough folks who are going to walk into the booth and make their decision at the last minute. I am not totally sold on any particular candidate either. I have a few favorites but there has never been a point where I knew for sure what my vote would be. I think it would be a good idea to write out what I feel about each of the major candidates to see if people have seen the campaign the way I have.

Nadine Ramsey: If I were voting strictly on personal bias she would be my choice. We are from the same area and I am comfortable with her. It took her a minute to get her legs in the race but she has performed pretty well lately. There is a part of me that hopes she doesn’t win but chooses to stay involved in politics as voice in the community because we could use a few more voices that operate out of the political circle. Everyone doesn’t have to hold an office to be effective. If she did win my biggest concern would be her stage presence. She seems to be a little nervous in front of the camera and the mayor will be staring down the media every day. That could be a problem for her.

Rob Couhig: I am going to say something that may seem a little crazy. If Rob Couhig were black or an old school white democrat and said some of the things he has during the forum he might win the election. The problem is he’s a Republican in a heavily Democratic city. His party hasn’t done him any favors either nationally with the over the top reaction to President Obama. I think he ran this time around just to get his agenda out in the open and go after Mitch Landrieu. If makes the runoff it would be more surprising than the Saints in the Superbowl.

John Georges: The most confusing person in this race. He doesn’t need the money. He’s getting endorsements from everywhere and from people of all races. He sounds like he understands the problems of the poor and disenfranchised. He sounds the most like an old school black politician. I don’t know what to make of him. I saw those pictures of his fraternity dressing in black face and taking racism to the highest level. None of the black people that endorsed him backed out after those things became public. Local bloggers think he’s paying everyone off but I just don’t see the benefit in wasting all that money. As far as the pictures go, they are disturbing but I am not coming down as hard on him because that was 30 years ago. If blogging had been around when I was in my late teens and early 20’s the FBI would have had me on a watch list somewhere. You have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s grown especially with so many minorities that work for him in high positions. I am not sure if he can win but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the runoff.

Troy Henry: He’s a very smart man. He carries himself like a leader. He’s polished enough that I don’t worry about him embarrassing everybody by saying something crazy. I think he would be competent mayor. I agree with his general ideas and he lives in New Orleans East so that would have to be a benefit. My only issue with voting for him is that he’s a business man and I don’t think we need another business man right now. I don’t want to say anything to get myself in trouble at work but if more people had to actually deal with the city in a working capacity they would know that there is a sense of urgency and progression that needs to happen in order to get things done for the people in a timely manner and that’s not happening right now. I don’t blame Mayor Nagin for everything but I blame him for this because he hasn’t done anything to make these folks recognize the need and move any faster. It’s not fair to say that Troy Henry is going to do the same thing but I can’t help it. I’m still working this out.

James Perry: I was ready to vote for James Perry six months ago. He’s young, intelligent and represents a changing of the guard from our parents’ generation to leadership to our time to take the torch and move forward. If you talk to him about the issues you will come away very impressed with him. I think he would be the best person to tackle the crime issue because at 34 he grew up in the city during the time when things really changed and he understands the factors and circumstances that lead to crime better than any of the other candidates. I think he could reach out to those young men and relate to them on a personal level. I even like the fact that he thinks a 40% reduction in the murder rate is achievable because that tells me he believes that some of these young brothers can be saved with the right opportunity. It would be a new day in local politics if he wins. I wish he would have gone door to door and spoke with the people. James ran a 2009-2010 campaign in a city that most of the people are around 1998 in terms of technology. We are logging on the internet more and more but this isn’t the main choice of media in the neighborhood. He should have bought more signs and posters and got his street team moving. I don’t know if enough people know who he is.

Mitch Landrieu: He’s an experienced politician and I think we need that. He doesn’t have a questionable history with dealing with the black community hanging over his head. His sister is the senior senator from the state and I think if he’s the mayor there is no way she or their party allows him to fail. All the money that’s being held up to spite Ray Nagin would magically flow like a river and things would get done. Plus, sometimes when a man is trying to fulfill a family legacy they work hard at it. His opponents attack him more than anyone else because he’s a heavyweight. His presence made two qualified people drop out. He’s probably going to at least make the run off. I just wish that after all his experience he would blow me away when he speaks at least one time. Just once I would have liked to listen to a forum and thought to myself that his experience set him apart from everyone else. The question is did he just put everything on cruise control since he didn’t feel that any of the people running could challenge him or is this all the energy he can muster? I guess shall see if he wins because I don’t believe you can turn the energy it takes to lead off and on that easily. If there is a runoff and it’s only two candidates sharing time instead of six or more, he’s going to have to step his game up or become a three time loser for mayor.

The first time I had a chance to vote for mayor was in 1994. Marc Morial won that election. The key issues that year were crime, blight, jobs, and economic development. Now in 2010 I am going to vote again tomorrow and the key issues are crime, blight, jobs, and economic development. It’s a good thing the Saints are in the Superbowl because that reality would have me very depressed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Television, Blogging, Reality and Local Elections.

Around 6:40 PM Sunday night Don Lemon of CNN's Newsroom introduced me to world wide audience as a guest on his show along with Terrence Blanchard. I only had two goals. The first one was to not freeze up and stare at the screen. The second one was to not cuss and say anything overly Ebonic. I managed to accomplish both of these. I want to thank Karen Gadbois. The best part about the whole experience was the reaction of my family and friends. They were way more excited than I was. If you really want to know how people feel about you do something nice and see how the people close to you react to it. Judging by the reaction I got I have to assume that the people around me must really like me. It's either that or they are faking it thinking I am going to get some big money real soon. I'm just joking. They already know I am cheap. I don't have a clip to post. I have to step my game up in video recordings. Mark another notch for cool stuff blogging has allowed me to do. When someone in Congress tries to regulate this I am going to Capitol Hill and testify. Blogging has been the greatest thing I ever started doing just to kill boredom. Anything that happens after this is lagniappe.

Despite the Saints and the good feeling going through the city there is always reminders of our real situation. It doesn't take much to get some perspective. While I was feeling good this morning I got a call from a good friend and work colleague who were calling to cancel a meeting Thursday. I never knew her son was murdered back in 2003. I guess that's one of those things that don’t come up during casual conversation. Well, one of the guys charged with it is finally going to trial seven years later and she has to go testify. That's got to be rough having to relive that after all this time. As bad as I want to Saints to win, we could go 0-16 and if I never had to hear another story like my friend's then I would never complain. That's the power of the Saints I guess. They give you something to take your attention away from all the drama and baggage around here.

Ricardo left me a comment on my last post that went something like this...”Cliff if you can not tell us who you will be voting for maybe it would be edifying if you told us who you will not have on your list."

My answer is that I have not officially eliminated anyone because everyday I get more and more confused about what I want to do.

Superdeformed said..."I'm more concerned with city counsel, sheriff, and the assessor races."

He's right and I think I have those figured out. Here is the almost official Cliff Voting Card that is subject to change but probably not.

Assessor: Lemle
Sheriff: Gusman
Council: Hedge Morrell, Marshall, And Fielkow
Coroner: Not really worried about this.
Judge: Only voting for one of them because I know her personally so I won't pretend like I have a valid reason other than that.

The last thing I have to say about this election year is that it's really strange. I just read this today about a candidate that has gotten all kinds of African American support. He has a lot of black people working for him in the private sector too. My personal opinion is that if it's true he was involved in any of this foolishness I wish all former racist frat boys showed their regrets with jobs and opportunity to grow. We would have a better city.

I am tired of people thinking we are going to be distracted by the football game so we won't vote. After all the stuff we have had to rebuild and move past with negative energy, why would we let a time of positive energy keep us from doing what we need to do. We need a little more credit for our focus. The game is Sunday and voting is Saturday. We will be fine. I think we are going to have a high turnout and everyone is going to let their voices be heard. I have to vote and go to a parent meeting Saturday morning so I am dialed into everything. I'll go to the polls and press some buttons for our next leaders, go to the parent meeting and get my opinion drowned out by the mama's in the room, and then I will clean my grill to get ready for the greatest football day ever. It’s time to bring everything to a close this weekend.

I wouldn't want to be anywhere but New Orleans right now.....except for maybe seats on the 50 yard line in Miami on Sunday.