Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Victim of Irresponsible Internet Behavior

We are living in a fascinating and confusing time. I’ve written about internet comments before. It’s one of my five favorite posts ever. I continue to be amazed at how many people end up in hot water because they just can’t control typing whatever is on their mind and posting it for the masses.

 Americans believe in free speech. The founding fathers believed in it so much it was covered in the first amendment to the constitution. As much as some of the things people say that get on my nerves, I’m still glad we can say or write what we want and not face a firing squad. At the same time as free speech is protected Americans also believe in the right to be quiet. We believe in it so much that the Fifth Amendment says you even if you are arrested for a crime you doesn’t have to say anything. You could be a serial killer and don’t have to tell how many people you killed or where the bodies are. Both the right to remain silent and the freedom to say what you want are a true test of free society because sometimes they clash with situations going on in the world.

Social networking has taken the clash between these two things to an entirely new level. I don’t think in the history of the world has so many people said things willingly to cause themselves problems. Mr. Mark Traina was a school psychologist for 20 years in Jefferson Parish. Part of his job was evaluating kids to see if they needed to be referred to alternative schools. He's had a few issues for making comments on and Twitter. One of his tweets mentioned how black thugs needed to be put down like animals because that’s what they are. When interviewed on the news he said he wasn’t racist. He’s just fed up with crime.

First of all Mr. Traina is an educated man. I’m assuming that because he’s been a school psychologist for 20 years. I’m sure he could have come up with a better way to express his frustration with crime. He has to understand how comments like the ones he made look in relation to the job he has. He’s evaluating troubled kids and many of them look like the same thugs he wants to put down like animals. If I was a veterinarian and posted all over the internet about how I couldn’t wait to kick dogs in the face, and any dog that wasn’t pure bred should be put to sleep would you send your pet to me? Even if I was qualified and claim to love animals, how could you ever feel comfortable leaving your pet in my care? You wouldn’t and now that his opinions on “black thugs” are public no parent is going to take his evaluation without question especially if their kid fits the description. His own words put his effectiveness in question.

Personally, I have no problem with Mr. Traina no longer having his job because of what he said but what I don’t understand is why he just didn’t share his opinions with his friends and family and keep it off of the internet? I guess people being exposed for their views by their own choice is a good thing but the logical side of me just can't make sense of it. The truth of the matter is that he’s not the only person who thinks the way he does. It’s just that most of those people are not sharing with the world, hiding their identity or not working for the school system evaluating troubled kids. The amount of people who are willing to put their careers in jeopardy to make comments never ceases to amaze me (Maybe it's all the random folks online too scared to use their real name and with nothing to lose cheering them on but that's a topic for another post. If you lose your job because someone name CajundudeXXX kept cosigning every ridiculous thing you said online and you just had to keep satisfying their lust for ignorance then you deserve to be unemployed.) We have freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean that there are no repercussions at all.

I’m definitely not always a happy guy. I get frustrated with a lot of people both public and private.  I have opinions about a lot of things but I try not to present them in a way to offend anyone. The reason is pretty simple. Babies need food and clothing. I like going to the store with my debit card and buying stuff. Unless there was something that would change the course of my community or make me so much money that I didn’t have to work it’s not worth it. Maybe that means I don’t have enough courage but at least I still have my career which is more than Mark Traina can say. He may not have a job anymore but he probably picked up some new Twitter followers. I hope that makes him feel good about the situation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Calling In Sick of Politics

Today was a long work day but I struggled and made it through. I didn’t really sleep at all last night. When I woke up this morning I thought long and hard about calling in to work but I didn’t. In my entire adult life I have only called into work without a good reason once. That was to go to a Saints game in 1996 so even my manager understood. I believe when you make a commitment to a job you stick to it. That’s why I fought through my day today and why it makes no sense to me that my city council person is not going to work right now.

I often wonder what makes political leaders take certain stands when they do. Out of all the things that have taken place in the city, could Councilwoman Hedge-Morrell and Councilman Johnson really be holding up city business because of the way we elect at-large council members? That should be something that can be worked out without a protest. They also voiced concerns over Councilwoman’s Head’s replacement for her District B seat. They feel he’s unqualified. My opinion is who cares who’s the councilperson is District B. If the people of that district are okay with an unqualified person to replace their former representative so be it. I’m concerned with having nice things in the area where I live.

 I believe in the phrase “to the victor go the spoils”. Ms. Head won her new at-large fair and square. Let her name who she wants to her old seat just like every other person has done. If they didn’t want her to have that much power they should have ran against her or helped her opponent Cynthia Willard-Lewis. None of that happened so just let it go and deal with it.

The other theory as to why they are holding out on going back is they are doing the mayor’s bidding so he can appoint his own foot soldier to the council. If that’s true then I have to ask what’s in it for Districts D and E if that happens. Are we getting extra police patrols? Will some of the projects that haven’t been completed in our area move up the list? Are we getting the second Costco store? What about a hospital? ….Wal Mart?......Anything? If all they are doing is helping the mayor gain more influence so he can turn over entire neighborhoods to the Hospitality Zone and spur development in other areas then they could have went back to work already. The least they can do is get something out of it for their districts so they won’t look like the pawns they are appearing to be right now

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This is my third day of a week’s vacation and I am ready to go back to work. Being a tourist in your own city is overrated. I’ve seen all of this stuff hundreds of times already. Plus all my friends that I would hang out with are working. I guess I shouldn’t complain about that. At least they all have jobs. I’ve been taking this time to sleep late, clean up my yard and spend some time away from the constant download of people’s opinion on the information highway. I'm making a conscious effort not to pay attention to things from time to time.

I’m pretty sure that makes me an irresponsible adult.  I think a big problem is people aren’t paying enough attention to issues that are happening in their community.  That’s why we have so many people who either sound ignorant and clueless when they speak. Lucky for us we have platforms like Twitter and Facebook that allow them to showcase their ignorance to the rest of the world. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite and pretend like I am not dialed into the grid but it’s different with some people. Some people just have a bold confidence to make the craziest statements ever. It gets to be a bit much sometimes.

The blogging struggle continues….

Rest in Peace Rest in Peace to Adam “MCA” Yauch

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Thoughts on the New Orleans Hospitality Zone

The city of New Orleans is preparing to have a hospitality zone to generate money for the tourist industry. The particulars are already broken down by LunaNola on the NOLAFemmes blog so I don’t have to do it. I am not anti tourism. I realize that a lot of people in this city including my closest friend depend on visitors to fuel their livelihood and I respect that. I don’t want people to stop visiting the city. I just don’t know why we have to create all the extra layers of government and taxes to feed the tourism industry. It seems to me the industry has been doing okay without a special tax zone.

Do we need the extra money for the Superbowl? New Orleans was hosting Superbowls before they had a Superdome. I think people know what they are going to see when they visit here. A lot of the money is set aside for advertising. Maybe advertising does make a difference in the number of visitors to the city and if it does there should be a hospitality zone in Baton Rouge and other areas around the state because New Orleans is barely seeing any of the money from tourism anyway.

I read this article in the Times Picayune last week about the amount of money the city gains from all the big tourism events. It included how much the city actually received from being the host.

“For the first three months of 2012, when the city played host to numerous headline-making events, Chief Financial Officer Norman Foster said, the city's revenue from hotel-motel taxes was up more than 30 percent from the same period in 2011. But that increase amounted to only $800,000, barely a drop in the bucket of the city's almost $500 million operating budget.”

“In fact, visitors paid far more than that in hotel taxes, a hefty 13 percent of their bills. But the city's share of that is only 1 percent. The other 12 percent goes to the state, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Superdome Commission, the Orleans Parish School Board, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and others.”

The state and the tourism industry are already getting most of the money from the visitors we have now. Why do we need to section off entire portions of the city if the city itself won’t be seeing any increase in revenue? We are losing out on the current money and the potential extra money.

The other thing about this idea is that it creates yet another appointed board with control over public money. We have so many boards now that I have lost track. I don’t know who has control over which decisions anymore. Its bad enough we got about a dozen deputy mayors. You have to go through two consultants, three boards, and four deputy mayors before you can determine if the person you actually voted for is doing their job.  Now we are about to add the Hospitality Zone Board to the mix. That means when citizens want to write and complain about the extra ten dollars they spent in taxes on a steak at Ruth’s Chris downtown they’ll have to email twenty different people. In my opinion this is too much for the average person to keep up with and maybe that’s part of the plan.