Monday, September 27, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Fifty Five

Last night I was a little depressed. It’s not easy to have a murdered two year old on the brain. All you want to for awhile after that is hug your kids and go to sleep. When I got up and went outside this morning there was autumn air and I stood out for a minute. Living in the city is a bitch sometimes. All we can do now is support that baby’s family and try to save the rest of them in his and the other victims’ memory.

Some people may try to tie what happened yesterday to the second line that was going on a few blocks away. I don’t think the second line itself was the reason but there’s a strange mentality with some people in our city that will go to public events to be seen when they know someone is looking to them something. They don’t avoid trouble they look for it. You just never know where two groups like this will happen to meet and you don’t want to be near it when it happens. It takes a lot of experience to notice stuff like that and get out of harms way. Little kids don’t have that so I would probably keep mine home to protect them and me. If there are few more incidents like the kind that have happened lately the fees for police protection will start going up and the clubs that parade will go broke trying to pay it or not march at all. That’s a bad situation because the people out there drawing weapons in crowds don’t give a damn about preserving culture except for the destructive one they live in.

Issues like this make me want to vote Yes to NORD reform on Saturday but I am still leaning against that plan. I’m just going to come out and say it like it is. I don’t trust many “community leaders” in this city. I trust my mayor and I like him but I can’t tell you I have been swept off my feet by any of his appointments. If I knew his first deputy mayor would the former head of the LRA I probably would have had a tougher decision on Election Day. I don’t want to seem like I am picking on Mr. Koppin. I don’t care for any of the deputy mayors and I don’t feel bad about that because I voted for Mitch Landrieu and that’s who I want to be accountable to me. I’m pro NORD reform and anti charter change.

Why does the business community need a charter change in order to help the recreation department anyway? The Facebook dude just gave Newark 100,000,000 dollars for their school system and they didn’t have to put him on the school board. We are about to change the entire city charter just to ask for money with no guarantees.

If you live in the Iberville Projects you should have been planning on moving three years ago.

The federal government is going to start tapping into emails. I’m starting to think Barack Obama and George W. Bush chat on Gmail at night. Does that mean we can’t joke about blowing up shit anymore? I don’t know about my non black friends but I and my people love to talk about blowing up stuff. We’re going to have to think of something new before we shut down the spy server.

If you are a loyal card carrying member of the Democratic Party, aren’t you just a little embarrassed that the two people who may save you from total destruction in November are Jon Stewart and Bill Maher? After all these comedians have done I think the next logical step is to name Chris Rock Press Secretary. The world would still be challenging but everyone would laugh more.

I am watching Monday Night Football and just watched a GMC truck commercial featuring the Saints. It was so fly and heartwarming that I just realized what one of the problems has been so far this season (besides bringing back the black pants yesterday). The Saints get their own post tomorrow. I can’t write it tonight because the images of Tony Gonzales destroying our linebackers and secondary make it hard to concentrate on the screen.

I’m so glad the humidity is off of our backs for a little while. I hope it’s gone until the next six month summer starts in April. If we can make it through the rest of the hurricane season with the same luck we have had so far then I will be happy. I think I am going to sit outside tomorrow evening if the raccoons don’t run me inside. I’ll be glad to get some cool fresh air.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Perspective Brings Pain

The Saints are now 2-1 on the season after losing into overtime to the Atlanta Falcons. They had a chance to pull it out Garrett Hartley, the hero of last years NFC Championship game missed a short kick in overtime. I was upset for a minute.

Around here in the New Orleans area the Saints bring everyone together. I’m sad to report that the positive feelings when discussing the black and gold having spread out to other things in our community the way the media tries to make it appear when talking about the football team. Game days are a great chance to block the problems out for a few hours but I spend the rest of the week thinking about the reality of the situation. What about the healthcare situation? What about the schools? What about the people out of work? Will the kids be okay and have a good future? These things dominate my thoughts to the point where I get upset because I can’t see the changes coming soon enough to feel better about the direction of the city. That’s why I use the football season to distract me.

Today a two year old boy named Jeremy Dalmon was killed after being hit by a bullet uptown this afternoon. Usually I would be tripping off the fact that the Saints can’t stop the run or get off the field on first down for the rest of the evening. Now I am thinking about this poor little kid that never got a chance to grow up for nothing. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong when someone decided to fire their weapon. That’s more depressing than 20 Drew Brees interceptions. We don’t know who shot this baby or why but it’s sad that our kids have to live through that. It’s even sadder that even the most concerned people in our community can’t figure out how to change it.

Garrett Hartley missed a field goal today in overtime and messed up the weekend for a lot of Saints fans. He’s young. He’s making a good salary and is a local hero from last year. He’s doing what he loves to do and has 13 more games to make up for missing that kick. Jeremy Dalmon never made it to kindergarten or got a chance to find out what he wanted to do in life. Because of that thought I don’t care about the game today anymore. My community is losing in so many more serious ways that I can’t give football any real energy tonight.

Reality checks usually with come with painful circumstances.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thinking About NORD Reform

On October 2nd New Orleans residents will be voting on whether or not to change the city charter again. This time we are voting for abolishing the New Orleans Recreation Department and replacing it with the New Orleans Recreation Commission which is a public/private partnership designed to reform the recreation department. I haven’t made my final decision on voting yes or no yet. Someone who feels very strongly about this reform measure passing sent me an email and asked me to read up on the plan more before I came to a decision. I want to tell her that I did and this measure is going to pass. We are in a pro reform environment and the mayor and the council has endorsed the plan. Plus, no one would call the current NORD set up a world class operation by any stretch of the imagination. It’s probably a slam dunk but I have some concerns.

My first concern is that we have two many boards and commissions in this city that seem to be ineffective and now we are about to create another one. It looks like overkill to me. If we are creating another board with that many people making decisions with public money then the people on the board should be voted on by the public. If there are representatives from each district then let the people in the district pick the people themselves. That person should have children that participate in NORD programs and their vote should be equal to the politically connected people that will make up these appointments.

Now we are going to have another set of meetings to keep track of that busy people can’t attend. I don’t like that because poor and working class people in New Orleans always find out they are getting screwed the hard way like if parents start getting letters that there’s now a 200 dollar registration fee for their child to play sports and the letter comes two weeks before the season starts. Don’t say it can’t happen because worst things have been done in this city since Katrina and the council voted for all of it.

I brought up the kids paying a registration fee because it leads me to the main issue with the entire plan. We are voting to change the city charter with any guarantee of additional funding to the recreation department. A few years ago some people in this city were dying to create an inspector general position to watch over the public’s money. They felt so strongly about the need for this position to work and function correctly that they made sure the OIG’s office’s funding was guaranteed in the charter change when everyone voted for it. When you ask voters to change the city charter for something that important they needed to know that it wasn’t just lip service and that the new process would work properly. Guaranteeing the funding in that case made sense to me so if everyone is so in favor of destroying NORD in place of this new commission then why didn’t we guarantee money in this case as well? If the children of the city mean as much to us as the mayor not being able to hook up his friends with a contract then the money for NORD reform should have been part of the vote.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand its great plans being dangled in front of us like a carrot and then being told we can’t pay for it. That’s why all this reform without money doesn’t excite me and I don’t know if I want to vote for a new way of being disappointed. I’m not sure if the current system at NORD is that broken or we as a city is just too broke to do things the right way no matter what system is in place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday Night Football: Retro Bitterness And The Eyes Of Intensity

The Saints will be playing tomorrow night against the San Francisco 49ers. I love the fact that we get so much prime time exposure now but the weeknight games are draining. I’m looking forward to a Sunday afternoon kickoff. At least this week’s game is on the road so everyone can calm down. I was afraid we would have another parade where different bands from around the area perform their rendition of the Crunk song.

Before I talk about the game itself I want to talk about the opponents and their coach. The one team that represents all of the struggle and near misses of the pre-Sean Payton and Drew Brees era is the 49ers. In the early years of their dynasty those games would be hard to watch because they would destroy the Saints. During the Dome Patrol years our biggest challenge was the fact that we played in the NFC West division with a dynasty full of Hall of Fame players. Except for one down year on their part when we won the division in 1991, we were always a step behind those guys. In 1988 the Saints finished 10-6 and didn’t make the playoffs because we lost to Joe Montana twice. I will always feel like if we could have earned a first round bye for one of those seasons last year would have been our second Superbowl appearance. That’s why for me the San Francisco 49ers can’t struggle enough. The football season always feels better when they and the Rams are sad. Their fans have five championship DVDs and the Jerry Rice highlight reel to watch if they want to smell greatness.

The current 49ers are coached by Mike Singletary. He holds a special place in my heart because he makes me remember watching games with my daddy. Whenever the Chicago Bears would come on television with Mike Singletary was their middle linebacker the announcers would be obsessed with showing shots of his eyes to prove how intense he was. They would go on and on about as if the other 21 guys out there weren’t just as intense. My dad loves football but he hates announcers. He prefers to watch the game on mute. On Mondays he would be so busy and working so hard during the day that he never had time to worry about who was playing but he would always stay up to watch the game with me. The best games would be a Bears game because it created the chance for this kind of exchange to happen.

Me: Are we going to watch the game tonight?
Daddy: Yeah, we can watch the game. Who’s playing?
Me: I think it’s the Bears against the 49ers.
Daddy: Bears?....dammit! You mean we have to look at this motherfu#$’ eyes all night long?

For the next three hours I would laugh every time Singletary mad a tackle because I knew the eye shot was coming and Big Cliff was going to start tripping out. I want to thank Mike Singletary for looking like a mad man and the announcers for overreacting to it. It was good times in my house.

There are three NFL teams that have a must win situation in week two. One of them is the New York Jets because after talking as much trash as they have for months if they lose to the Patriots and start 0-2 their aura is gone and their season could be ugly. The second team is Dallas for the same reasons. The other team is the 49ers who were supposed to take over the top of the NFC West and contend for a Superbowl berth. They had all of those expectations and could barely get their plays called last week. I expect that they have prepared for this game against the Saints like it’s the NFC Championship. The Saints haven’t played in almost two weeks and I don’t know if they are ready for this kind of atmosphere in week 2. It could catch them by surprise and the 49ers could come out so intense and play with a huge sense of urgency on their home field that we can’t recover from. If that happens then the Saints will get their wake up call and snap out of the 2009 celebration. If the 49ers don’t come out like that then I guess we will still be riding the Who Dat high next week because playing like mad men is the only way that their coaching staff with Alex Smith at quarterback can beat our staff and Drew Brees.

I’m calling the score 24-14 Saints. I think you are going to see at least three long touchdowns by the offense after being a little out of sync last week. The Saints are too well coached and can win games in too many ways to lose this game unless the 49ers come out playing like they are trying to save their coach’s job and stay that way the entire game. I don't think they can do it unless Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana have both been wearing Reebok Shape-Ups and are coming back for this game.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Fifty Four

I can’t believe Reggie Bush had to give up his Heisman trophy. That had to be a difficult and painful thing to do. It would have been hard for me to give it back because it was earned because of my play on the field. Regardless of what was going on off the field he still played in those games and performed so well that he won the award by the second largest margin ever. It’s huge deal to give back the trophy. People shouldn’t dismiss the impact this is going to have on him. I know he has a Superbowl ring now and fans think that trumps everything but a lot of people get rings when a team wins a Superbowl. Guys that didn’t even play all season get a ring. The Heisman gives you a certain level of immortality in football. Out of all the thousands of people to play college football there’s only 74 men that can say they won the Heisman and he just lost that privilege. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few dropped passes and mental mistakes the next few games. You can’t be a player that wants to be as special as we does and just shrug off something like that. I’m rolling with Reggie through the whole thing and I hope the three touchdowns Monday take his mind off of it for awhile.

I don’t know what weather system is causing all the tropical storms to turn north before they get to the Gulf of Mexico but if it has a name I hope it never goes away. I hope I didn’t just jinx it. If we end up sitting in contra flow you can blame me for it.

I was looking at the performance scores of the RSD and charter schools in Orleans Parish. It goes to what I said in my last post. The first thing I thought about is I made a good choice of schools. The second thing is that I can’t understand why every school isn’t required to adopt the practices of the higher performing schools. These figures make the case for people who think the school takeover was a good idea. Check out those high school scores. Those are the kids that went to school in the old system. All I can say to that is it’s a damn shame and I hope we can save as many of them as we go forward. This is why we need a solid adult education program to help all the people that want to do something better with themselves but missed out on the reforms.

Why do the school zones in the city end at 3:45 when most of the schools in the city are letting out after 4:00? These kids stay in school longer their parents are at work.

Who has more software updates Blackberry or Windows7?

I’m so jealous of the employees of the Public Belt Railroad. They got to live it up on all that public money without anyone checking anything. I don’t understand how this could possibly happen without something criminal being involved. I work for an agency that receives public money and you can’t buy a pack of ink pens without documentation let alone take trips and eat at Ruth’s Chris. In my view this story is not receiving the proper level of outrage. I guess Nagin’s name needs to be tied to the spending to get that going in the right direction.

I know I have said this before, but people are doing a bit too much on Facebook. They are doing the same thing on Twitter. I think we are just doing too much in general. Like this youtube clip a friend posted the other day. If we are going to be putting our business in the street like this the least we could do is not film it and show the rest of the world.

Remember during the health care debate when all of those old republican leaders called themselves feeding off the energy of the Tea Party? Well, I guess at the time they didn’t realize that the Tea Party folks were going to ride against them too. The funny part is that Republicans will be fighting for the next few weeks for the direction of their party and the Democrats still won’t figure out a way to win. Both parties are all over the place when it comes to getting things done but I still blame independents for nothing getting done since both parties are competing for their favor. I’m going to say this again. Stop taking polls asking what party you favor if you don’t belong to either one. Keep them all guessing so we can find out who’s capable of doing a good job and who’s not.

I’m still campaigning for something to replace the Crunk song as the Saints theme music. I have been lobbying for Fifth Ward Weebie to do the 2010 song but I couldn’t find a clip with a song of his that didn’t have questionable lyrics and the NFL has a conduct policy. I still want it to be someone local so I am going to go with Chocolate Milk as my plan B. They are pretty safe and judging from the last few Superbowl halftime shows the NFL likes older groups. I think this could work out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Who Should Run The School System

I read this story Sunday about the plan for New Orleans public schools and who will control them. Basically, the debate is who should be running the school system. At the moment most of the schools are controlled by the Recovery School District ran by the state. Some people want the schools returned to the New Orleans Public School Board immediately. There's a bus load of community leaders going up to Baton Rouge for a meeting to discuss this. I’m sure before it’s all said and done the conversation will get pretty heated.

The education debate symbolizes every problem in the city where pre Katrina and post Katrina circumstances collide. It’s the perfect issue where statistics and emotions collide to make things more complicated than they should be. I’m guilty of it myself but I can’t help it. I have never been a person that felt like New Orleans residents couldn’t straightened out problems on their own. One of the main things I couldn’t stand about our last mayor is how it seemed like every responsibility was being subcontracted to a company out of town. It was almost as if we were admitting that we lacked the capacity to do the job. I feel the same way about public schools being under state control. I truly believe that if qualified well meaning New Orleans leaders, educators and parents got together and everyone did their part we could turn the schools around without the state or charters having to do it for us. I won’t apologize for feeling that way because it strikes to who I am as a person. How could I be proud of being born and raised here and at the same time think we can’t do anything thing right except play music and dance? That’s the emotional side of the issue and it's not going away. Let's all acknowledge it's there and deal with it so we can come up with the best solution for the kids.

If you take the emotion out of the equation and look at things rationally, the reality is that before Katrina when we had local control public education in New Orleans was falling apart. The schools were doing so bad that a lot of good people didn’t return home after the storm because of the condition of the schools and the desire to give their kids better opportunities by keeping them out of New Orleans and the schools. No matter how nostalgic we get or how much we kick and scream about deciding the future of our own children, we can't deny the fact that we failed thousands of children in the past. The truth hurts sometimes but it's the first step towards change. I think there are a lot of people in the community that let the emotion involved cloud their judgment and won’t let them admit that something needed to happen. Now, the timing of the takeover, the way it was handled and the way the teachers and staff were messed over was inexcusable and I will never support anyone who had a hand in carrying out that plan no matter how well they explain why they did it. However, I can't debate the need for things to go back to the way they were. That statistics are not on that side of the argument so I think we are going to have to let Mr. Pastorek implement his plan and hope for the best. It's not like the state has knocked anyone's socks off since they took control but our local track record worries me enough to give the current setup more time.

I's cool with an extension of the Recovery School District running the schools for a few years and we can give the school board a few of the failing ones back to their control so they could figure out what works and what doesn’t before the state turns the entire system back over to us. While this planning and transition period is going on we need to also be figuring out what the most improving schools are doing and start implementing those things in all public schools. I still feel like the current set up is an experiment and the system has no order or clear guidelines for parents to understand what's really going on. I have no problem with families having more choices for their children but I'm still finding out about new schools from signs posted on the neutral ground and that is no way to inform the community of something that important.

If there’s a special school you want your child to go to then fine but the basic excellent education should be available everywhere. We shouldn’t have one charter doing one thing that’s working and another school doing something that isn't working causing those kids to fall to the back of the line. It doesn’t take the entire school system failing to create a criminal element. All it takes is one or two schools full of kids with no real chance to create a crime spree and they are all going to be living here with us. Regardless of who has control of the system I think we need some consistency so everybody gets the same chance. If we can't get that accomplished then it doesn't matter who has control because everyone is a failure.

Friday, September 10, 2010

When Freedom of Speech Comes With A Camera Crew

The fact that I am even talking about this is proof that something has gone wrong. I shouldn’t even know who this guy is. So, Reverend Jones says he is not going to burn a Quran tomorrow. The situation was so critical earlier this week that even General Petraeus and The White House got involved. According to what the pastor is saying now, all he wanted was the planned mosque near Ground Zero moved and he is meeting with the imam who’s in charge of the project. That’s some nice.

Honestly, I don’t think he was ever going to do it in the first place. He got just what he wanted out of the situation. He got some attention for his cause by acting crazy and the media paying attention to it. That’s the real hidden issue in this whole story. Nowadays anyone can get mainstream media attention no matter how obscure they are. I had never heard of this guy before he wanted to burn a Quran. What if he had went ahead and did it but the only people there were a few people from his congregation? He would have still been the same amount of crazy but no one outside of his immediate circle would have known. We wouldn’t have had to get the whole national security team involved in making sure he didn’t do it so it couldn't be broadcasted all over the world and put the troops and American citizens around the world in danger. At the worst it ends up on a viral video site but that’s not the same as having it shown on CNN.

The tragedy on 9/11 was nine years ago. Reverend Jones is not the first person to think about doing this and I am sure there might be someone out there that actually did it. You would have thought that back when it was a more recent event people like Jones would have been popping up all over the place. Maybe they were but I don’t remember it and I don’t hear anyone referencing a past attempt when talking about the reverend. I think the mainstream media needs to be more careful about who they give validity to.

Say what you want about all the blogs and video sites, the big news channels still hold more weight. You could log into YouTube or a site of its kind right now and see people from all walks of life saying the most outlandish things and doing some of the most head shaking acts possible. It’s out there for the world to see and a few thousand people may stumble across it if they get lucky or are looking specifically for that kind of thing. However, a major news station could take that same video; multiply it’s viewers by millions and turn the actions of one fool goofing around in his bedroom into a national discussion we will hear about for a month. I’ve heard people debating whether or not burning a Quran is covered under freedom of speech. If it is then so be it. I just feel like when Americans choose to exercise their freedom to say and do crazy things it doesn’t have to come with a camera crew and a satellite feed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goodbye Last Season and Hello New Season

Right now I am watching “America’s Game the 2009 Saints” on NFL Network. It is without a doubt the second greatest sports related television event in world history. The greatest of course is the Superbowl itself which made America’s game possible. There are two things I had to see before I could let last season go. One of them is America’s Game that I am watching tonight and the other is the raising of the Superbowl championship banner. After that I will be in 2010 season mode and ready to see what happens.

Last year I didn’t think the Saints were going to win the division. I thought we might get a wildcard slot and have a chance to win a game in the playoffs. I was wrong and so this year I don’t have any preseason predictions. We could be 13-3 or 14-2 or we could be 7-9. A lot of strange things happen during the season. I know I wish Darren Sharper was playing. I hope we don’t live to regret not resigning Mike Bell or Scott Fujita. I guess we will get a better idea after tomorrow’s game. Win or lose there will still be 15 more games after this one. Somehow Saints fans have let the Brett Favre groupies in the national media act like the Saints have to win this game to validate what happened last year. I don’t feel that way at all. We could lose 55-0 and the banner would still stay up there in the rafters.

This game has nothing to do with what happened last year at all except for the fact that this year everyone’s week has been flipped upside down because we basically gave up downtown for the NFL. I have to leave work tomorrow to rescue a kid from school in the French Quarter before they activate the electric fences for the crowd control. It sucks for the local business and vendors down there near the stage area for the kickoff concert. I won’t be going down there for any of the festivities because I have a feeling that by the time you make it back to your car and get home half of the game will be over. I’ll be good right here in the battle room.

I grilled in my lucky shirt for Labor Day to get that combination of smoke and beer smell. I have tested the surround sound. I have visualized the three Reggie Bush touchdowns tomorrow night. My cousin has already sent me 234 text messages about how no one respects us. My boy has already told me to stop being paranoid about the defense 50 times. We are in midseason form and ready to go.

All we need now is something to replace the Crunk song. The Crunk song is going to push Saints fans to a level of obnoxiousness that we haven’t seen since “Who Let the Dogs Out”. We need a new song.