Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Road to Collections

"They want people to pay for their incompetence and their mistakes. What they need to be is aggressive about finding the underpayments," he said. "People relied, to their detriment, on their expertise and rebuilt their houses, and now they want to squeeze this money back out of them."
Frank Silvestri, co-chairman of the Citizens' Road Home Action Team

I heard ICF wants some Road Home money back.

First I got screwed by the Corps of Engineers. They built a sub par levee wall and it collapsed and ruined what I thought was a pretty good life. Ever since then I have been putting up with all kinds of bullshit from local government, the media, people in the area who weren’t flooded, and a host of other uninformed and stupid people. We have been through it all to get to this point. ICF is the company that our incompetent ex governor selected to manage the Road Home program that is designed to help people rebuild or settle their lives in other places after Katrina and Rita. I am pretty sure she selected ICF and paid them a incredible amount of money because the company wasn’t from the state so they could be heartless bastards and make the process so complicated that many people wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle and the state could keep that money. They also made the process almost impossible to cheat. They wanted deeds, birth certificates, DNA samples, photos, and anything else they could ask for to disqualify you for eligibility. This company had no problem telling a person whose house was completely washed away from water that there were getting nothing. After awhile the citizens got angry and stories of the evil company started coming up everywhere. In their effort to keep the politicians from doing what they should have done in the first place and hold them accountable, they started speeding up the process. Now they claim that because the process was accelerated they paid thousands of people an average of 35,000 too much and they want to collect this money back.

I know allot of people who have went through the Road Home process. I don't know anyone who got the maximum amount. First of all, none of us understood the process to begin with. The decision on what we got was all on ICF. I don't think the folks in Baton Rouge that selected that company understood either. They only knew you were trying to discourage everybody and that turned them on. I am comfortable with the thought that there wasn’t one person that came into that office and knowingly beat the system. All applicants did was submit their paperwork and wait. Some people had to go back dozens of times with more documentation. My grandmother passed away during the storm. The house she owned was on the same lot as my parents' house. My parents and my aunt damn near had to bring her remains into the office before they would even start the process on their application. Secondly, I am one of the people who believe that everybody should have gotten the maximum anyway. That would have been the right thing to do. This is poetic justice to me. It’s 2008 and I still can’t believe how many people act like this wasn't a government made disaster. All of this could have been avoided by adding up all the destroyed homes and dividing the money evenly to the homeowners. If you had other funds to rebuild or relocate beyond that then so be it. I have said it before and I will say it again, if I sit here and make a list of everything, and everybody I lost during this foolishness, not only should we get the maximum Road Home payout but our debt should be cleared and our kids should be allowed to go to any college for free. Maybe then it would be even.

A strange thing happens when you lose all your possessions. Whatever money you get to rebuild is actually money you need. There’s no saving for a rainy day. This is the rainy day. I can guarantee you that most of that money is spent. These people commenting on some of these websites make me sick accusing someone of trying to get over. Yes, I bought a big television with some of my Road Home money because I lost a big television when that raggedy flood wall broke. We are not getting over. We are getting whole again. If a man had a Cadillac in his driveway that he only drove on Sundays and it got flooded during Katrina then let him buy another one as long as his house is finished. If a family in Lower Plaquemines purchased a new shrimp boat with their money then call me for the first boil. I would hate to think that the same government that flooded me out is going to allow this corporate monster to come in and destroy my credit because of a mistake that I had nothing to do with. ICF needs to take the lost out of the millions they already pimped out of the state.

Contrary to what some people may think, my disgust for this process is not just about the Lower Ninth Ward, or New Orleans East. It's not all about the black community either. There is a group of educated but uninformed people that live around here who have pre conceived notions of what is really going on with this recovery. If you think this is about some poor people looking for a handout, think about it like this. The 900 million dollars ICF has received probably could have rebuilt every public building in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish. This whole thing has been a joke for everyone and if everyone would see it that way it wouldn't keep happening. I have a good idea. Today I am heading to the Crawfish Festival in St. Bernard Parish. Why don’t someone from ICF go down there to make that speech to the crowd and lets see what happens. I am sure the folks will give them a warm Chalmette reception right before they are dipped into a big pot of crawfish water.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sittin On My Porch Part VII

I have to make a correction on something that I said in my previous post. I make jokes and suggestions that somehow if I in public office there would be this scandal involving women or something crazy. I joke around like that to keep people from asking me about getting involved in political stuff. Politics fascinate me but I have no interest in running or being part of a campaign. The truth of the matter is that I would never do anything in the public eye to put a stain on my daddy’s name. It's been a long time since I had the lack of self control needed to do the kinds of things that get these cats in trouble. If Katrina wasn't strong enough to pull me into the dark side then I am sure the power of public office couldn't do it. For the chance to make the lives of the people in the city better I would even give up drinking the whole time I was in office. My character and principles are bigger than I write about. Hell, I could be mayor. I could be president if I felt like it.

I'm not trying to question Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barak Obama. My question is more of a general one concerning endorsements. Didn't Bill Richardson only get around two percent of the vote when he was in the race? Why does the media make it such a big deal when candidates get endorsements from losers? America wasn't feeling John Kerry so much that they voted for Bush again. How is that endorsement so special?

I know John McCain's advisers are hearing the concerns about his age. I just hope that he doesn’t start trying to start adding some slang to his speeches. People over 50 should never use slang even if its something their generation invented. I don't want to hear anyone referring to him as John McCizzleNizzle.

If Chris Paul wins the NBA MVP that he rightfully deserves it will be the greatest achievement in New Orleans sports since Rickey Jackson played a game on Sunday with screws in his face after wrecking his car that Friday before the game. Takes one tough SOB to pull that off. Rickey should be in the Hall of Fame. Look at these stats. I am dedicating this post to The City Champ, my favorite professional player of all time in any sport.

I don’t want to say my bank’s name because my case is still pending. Let’s just say there is “One” number in the name. That commercial about hassle free banking is a joke. Here it is that someone stole my bank card and the operators at their customer service center keep talking to me like I stole my own money. After having the same bank account for ten years there was a television I wanted to buy bad enough to mess up my light bill money? I hope they ship your jobs to Indonesia. Of course, if anyone in the fraud department happens to read this, please remember this is only for entertainment.

In about two weeks all of the big four housing developments will be torn down completely. That’s when the real fun starts. Residents of the Iberville Project you are now on the clock. Please find another place to live. They are selling three hundred thousand dollar condos in the building directly in front of you. Like I said before, it’s 2008 and we don’t have one new school building and the public hospital plans are still being discussed but I am supposed to believe they are going to rebuild four major housing developments in two years time? If this happens I will not only be surprised, I will shave all my hair off.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kwame Don't Be Like William

Dear Kwame,

I see you have a little trouble up there in Detroit. Wouldn’t it have been better to just admit you were getting your freak on and only had that one thing to deal with? I know the politics game requires that you don’t step down for the perjury charge but I wanted to ask you to step down anyway. I realize I don’t live in Detroit. Hell, I am having problems with my own vagina friendly mayor here in New Orleans. I don’t have a chance to vote against you but I’m sure if I was in Detroit right now brothers would be walking away from me because I would be ranting and raving against you any chance I got. I will give you the two reasons why you should step down in my opinion.

The first reason is the same reason I would never run for office. See, I know and am very comfortable with all my vices and weaknesses. I know I have the type of personality that would have tried to have a stripper party full of Crown Royal. I would never hold office until I knew I was fully ready to let go of those flaws. Why embarrass my family like that? Then I know we have a problem with how brothers view and treat our women in society. Since politics are where we have set the bar for our best and brightest, I believe that any man or woman who holds office should be morally solid and at least have the will to not break his vows. If you were single the text messages would be kind of funny to me. Every man can slip every now and then. When you slip then you should leave the public eye. Your transgressions don’t make you a bad brother. They do make you unsuitable to lead and represent the aspirations of the people who support you.

The second reason is that those people I was just talking about have a habit of putting their efforts towards protecting people like you. We can’t really help it. We find our drive in the actions of our public figures. The problem with that is that usually the figures themselves can be selfish and have trouble letting go of the power they have to benefit the group. That means the group looks stupid and accepting of destructive behavior. I’m tired of throwing my support behind people who don’t have enough sense to not be taped on camera, wiretapped, or use the city issued phone to send freaky text messages. It’s not a good look for you to give a speech about being called a nigga after messing over your wife and have a room full of people stand up applauding like they were listening to the Martin Luther King speech at the Selma March.

Brother Kwame, don’t do to the people of Detroit what William Jefferson did to us. Get out the way brother, let another person take over as mayor and take care of your personal issues without holding all of your citizens hostage. I got love for you brother but you shouldn’t be the mayor.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Much Respect for the Chicken Man

I would not be a good New Orleans blogger if I didn't pay respects to the one and only Al Copeland, the founder of Popeyes chicken. Like Harry Lee, I don't know if any other city could have created a dude like Al. One of the best guilty pleasures in the world is a three piece spicy dinner from Popeyes with a pineapple Big Shot cold drink.

Remember when Al Copeland but those Christmas lights on his house and people would drive pass all night like a tourist attraction? I remember back in the day when my boys used to say Al Copeland had the speedboat that could make it to Cuba in 30 minutes. My first real date was at Copeland's Restaurant on St. Charles Avenue.

Who could forget the Popeye and Pals cartoon show on Channel 4 growing up. "One Two Three Roll em!!!!"

In the last few years the city has lost Al Copeland, Buddy D, Harry Lee, Tootie Montana and Austin Leslie. If you add Krauss, and Masion Blanche being closed, we are slowly becoming a city full of regular people and regular places. We need to start running old Seafood City commercials or something.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Registration Blues

Before you read any of my personal account of trying to get a child registered in school here, I want to give a shout out to my blog friend Leigh who's been all over the school situation and is probably being followed and investigated by the secret society as we speak. Also, I stole the picture of this application directly from G's page. Thank you ladies very much. I am now living the New Orleans school application nightmare so this won't be my last post about it unless I have a stroke from fussing so much.

Let me paint a picture for you. Say there is a nice young family living in Texas since the storm. The area they live in and the school their kids go to are good but they are homesick. It’s two and a half years later and they finally found a place they could afford and decent jobs. They decide to wait until the end of the school year to move back so the kids are not affected too much. Finally, in July they move back to New Orleans. They like the neighborhood, the jobs are cool and they feel good about being home. Then, they start trying to put their children in school but realize that the best public schools in the city either have a two year waiting list or stopped taking applications six months before they moved back. Imagine the feelings of guilt these parents must have knowing they are about to send their kids to a school that pales in comparison to the one they just left in another state or city. To be fair, there are probably more good schools than the ones with the waiting list but these parents would have two problems. The first problem is that they probably won’t have an idea about where these schools are located and what the criteria is to get in. The second problem is they all have stopped taking applications too.

I sent an email to the city and the school board with a few suggestions. I think it would be a good idea to have the same registration dates for every public school and that date should be sometime in June. Our population is changing too much daily for the current process to be fair to parents. The second suggestion is that people shouldn’t be allowed to register a child for school unless that child is actually the age required to go to school. There is no way pre-k programs should have a two year waiting list. People are registering their kids for school when they are two years old and I am sitting here feeling like a bad parent for actually waiting for my daughter to turn four. Waiting might be a costly judgment call. The last suggestion is this. I think the city should spend the money and create a map of every available school in the city with phone numbers and class ratio and mail it to every house in the city regardless if kids live there or not. The person at that address may have ten family members about to return home. We should do it every six months or until the situation is stable (whatever that means). There are schools open that I only found out about by seeing them in the Mardi Gras parade. Who has the time to track every single opening or new charter? Of course, I could always send my baby to the school around the corner from the house. Since they just started cleaning old furniture out of it recently, I don't think it's going to be ready by the time she graduates elementary school. She'll probably end up going across town to a school I have to pay for and have to get up at the crack of dawn like she's going to work in the ship yard.

To be continued......

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

History to Me

Before you read this keep in mind that I am only 33 years old. The best speech I ever saw in person was Cornell West at UNO. The best speech I ever watched on television was Jesse Jackson at the Million Man March. Giving the circumstances of the speech today, Barak Obama may have topped those. I’m not sure how everyone is going to take the words he spoke today. I have heard enough of Limbaugh and Hannity to realize that not everyone felt like I did. Either way the cards are now all on the table. America now knows that Barak Obama represents all people of America even the black ones. Since the campaign started all I wanted was for someone to acknowledge that my community has certain issues and concerns that are probably not shared or understood by the rest of the population. I think it’s fair to address those things in the general conversation of American politics since we are Americans. Up until the last week that wasn’t happening. Now, Reverend Wright may be brutally honest about how he feels about race in this country and I am sure that there will be some race neutral black people who will accuse him of destroying Obama’s campaign. I believe that this was the only way those feelings ever get brought to the table. The way he delivered the sentiment may be uncomfortable but those feelings are real for allot of people. If Obama wins and we have the open dialogue on race that he envisions Rev Wright would have been a catalyst for something special in this country even if he didn’t mean to do it in that manner. I think Obama was very fair today. He did everything he could to explain the existence of people who look like he does and at the same time understand the feelings of the folks that look like the people who raised him. His background allows him to do that comfortably. You can’t get more balanced than that. The ball is in white America’s court. As a black man I know and understand the philosophy that sometimes the actions of one brother can affect the group. I will be pissed if Reverend Wright is the sole reason someone doesn’t vote for Obama but I will understand that. White America has a chance to destroy that mind state. You can judge Barak Obama on his policies and if you don’t like him vote for Hillary or McCain. That is fair. Black people should vote based on the same criteria. On the other hand, you could log on to Youtube and watch as much Reverend Wright clips as possible. Then you can listen to talk radio all day and make up your mind who to vote for based on everything but the actual candidate. If that happens then I will move on knowing that my country is closer to the Katrina aftermath than it is to the Iowa caucuses.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Know She Wanted To Slap Him

Sex scandals in politics really make you realize just how much personal sacrifice it takes to be a successful political family. Take the governor of New York’s wife for example. She has to stand behind that dummy and have this look like she understands and supports him. I am sure they will be making a tape like Kwame and his wife in Detroit. I guess you have to make some tough choices to gain power and influence.

Don’t you wish just one time during a press conference where the guy is standing there asking for forgiveness, one of these women would snap and break a chair over his head? Would anyone be mad at her? If Hillary would have slapped Bill when she found out about Monica she would be the president already. I don't know any women personally that's about to forgive over thirty grand a year for getting your freak on. Some cats get have to sleep on the sofa for taking twenty dollars out of the strip club ATM. I don’t want to condone violence but I don’t know if I could stand there next to the guy that spent over 4000.00 a session with a prostitute without at least balling my fist up. I couldn’t stand next to my own brothers after that. I have seen some FINE women in my lifetime. I don’t know if I have ever seen 4000.00 a date fine. If she’s out here in New Orleans I don’t want to meet her. With gas prices, bills, a recession, the cost of food and Crown Royal going up, and possible school tuition, it would take me five years to pay for our date and twenty years to get over the fact I spent that much on sex. At least Bill Clinton and Kwame used status and talked their way into shame. You are the governor of New York. I am sure there was someone out there who was impressed enough by that to do it for free or at least a job recommendation. There are guys getting dates using their construction site hard hat and you can't have fun as the governor?

This blog is being ended before I get in trouble.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Audacity Of Entitlement

"Sen. Clinton is fighting hard. She's tenacious. I respect her for that. She is working hard to win the nomination. But I want everybody to be absolutely clear. I'm not running for vice president. I'm running for president of the United States of America,"

"With all due respect. I won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I've won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So, I don't know how somebody who's in second place is offering vice presidency to the person who's in first place,"

Barak Obama

This week Senator Obama had to shut down any idea of him being Hillary Clinton’s running mate. I know and understand why Barak doesn’t want to be labeled the “black candidate”. The longer this thing goes on the more he has to deal with black people situations. Do you know how many times I have had to train my future supervisor? Do you know how many times I lost jobs to friends of the CEO’s cousins and nephews? The feeling of entitlement in those circles is real. I have spent lots of time working under someone that should have been working under me. Hillary just played the "accept your place" card on Obama.

See, here is where things get tricky. Maybe the people that brought this up didn’t have race in mind when they did it. They are probably just playing the political game. I guess that's what you do when you get behind and time is running out. On the other hand, have you ever heard of the leading candidate being asked to consider being the sidekick before? I don’t think so. That's offensive, dismissive and disrespectful. I would like to thank Senator Obama for responding to that foolishness the way everybody wants to at their job when this happens but needs the paycheck too bad to actually say it.

Personally, I would have added “kiss my ass” to the quote but I guess that’s why he’s running for president and I am not.

Thanks to Neecha for dropping those quotes on me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

High Tech Dysfunction

The city’s number one revenue generator just went high tech. Red light cameras are now online in the city of New Orleans. This is going to be so entertaining. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that technology and New Orleans have a bad relationship. A few years ago I got a ticket downtown. I went looking for it for months to pay for it online so I wouldn’t have to take off from work. To this day it’s still not there. I can’t wait for the story about someone getting a ticket from a camera six months after the picture was taken. I may just go hang out in traffic court during the summer. I just hope that the cameras work better than the parking meters we have. I still don’t understand why I have to park, walk to the middle of the block to pay. Then I have to hope the machine is accepting debit cards and has receipt paper in it. If all of that works out, I still have to walk back to my car, unlock it again, and put the paper on the dashboard hoping that the meter maids are not walking on the other side of the car pretending they didn’t see that little piece of paper. Don’t get the wrong idea, I am all for stopping people from running red lights. There are some intersections in the city where you not only need a camera, you need a electronic laser beam to stop some people from flying through the light. The cameras should cut down on that. In Jefferson parish people are stopping on yellow lights now. I have no remorse for anybody who endangers other people by acting like they can’t see that yellow light about to change. I just think it’s fair for people to get the ticket within a reasonable amount of time so they can actually remember being on that street. Let's hope whoever the friend of the city council was that got this contract can make it work right.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Burnout........Then Get Over It.

burn·out a. Physical or emotional exhaustion, especially as a result of long-term stress or dissipation. b. One who is worn out physically or emotionally, as from long-term stress.

Everyday I do the same thing. I get up in the morning. I shave, brush my teeth and take a shower. I get dressed. I take the same route to work. I park in the same spot. I get the same thing for breakfast. Talk with the same people everyday. I go home and iron clothes. I watch the same television shows. I work out then I surf the internet. I drink my evening cocktail and then I lay down on the same side of the bed every damn day. Every now and then I wake up and say "DAMN!, I am tired of this shit". It’s funny when you get a case of burnout. You don’t get much done at work. You stop reading the paper. You can’t watch the news. I can’t find anything to make me want to update this damn blog. It feels like I am in a trance. I want a hug but at the same time I don't want anyone within ten feet of me. I want to fight and get a lapdance at the exact same time. That has to be those people I see sitting at the bar in the middle of the day. When you have the issues in life I have, you need to be careful. Feelings such at this can go from "This is only a test I have passed before." to "Fuck everything. I understand how James Evans daddy felt. I am gassing up the truck and getting the hell out of here." You have to dig deep to get out of that place.

Back before a storm named Katrina hit the city I could get out of this mind state easily. There were a good amount of people around me that understood sometimes you have to take a day and go fishing or light the grill on a Wednesday afternoon. These days tend to linger longer now because things are set up to feel lonely and boring. One day I left work this week to go mess around the city for awhile. I went a few blocks and realized I had nowhere or no one to mess around with so I went back to work. I should have driven to my old crabbing spots except gas is too high to drive all the way down there and have them be closed because of the flood. Hell, if I was in another place at least I could expect to be confused about where to go. I realize everybody is supposed to be moving on and everything but this is bullshit to me.

It’s all really just another challenge on the road to a new way of life. You can’t fall back on the old ways of dealing with things. Like the old Keith Sweat and Gerald Levert song says, It's just one of them things I am going to get used to. I have to come up with new solutions. Some quiet moments of meditation is a start. Enjoying a cigar on the lake after work while listening to some old school hip hop helps a little. Talking with your boys that are dealing with the same thing is good. Throw a Hornets game in there somewhere. Having over 30 years of daddy quotes doesn't hurt. If you are lucky enough to get some kind words from special people you can get the energy back to go home and play parade or do some color by numbers with the little ones. Now I can get back to the grind for another few weeks.

re·plen·ish 1. To fill or make complete again; add a new stock or supply to 2. To inspire or nourish