Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let's Go Beyond Transparency

I have been taking an assessment of my local leaders. I have a mayor that is so hated by the media and some citizens that they want to know what is said in every meeting, sent in every email and what him and his wife eats for dinner every night. Even though the city charter gives him the authority to hand out contracts, he can’t get anything done because people are going to go over every single detail. In some cases that's fair. In other cases it seems a little unnecessary and personal. The personal part bothers me because even though I am not happy with the mayor's performance, he didn't rewrite the city charter once he got elected to office. I don't like when people talk like he's doing something different than every administration since the 50's. Then we have the city council that never has any ideas or new solutions . They just like meeting and arguing to validate all the negative thoughts about the mayor. They are really good at demanding answers for things that they already knew about and acting shocked when stories hit the news like they just found out with the rest of us.

I have a solution to make the council happy, ease the mayor’s stress, and satisfy all the watchdog groups. Starting next month, we will do all city business by majority vote. Who needs elected officials? No matter whom the person is there’s going to be some section of the population that thinks they are doing something underhanded. Let’s take this transparency and citizen involvement to the next level. Freeze all city business. Print out a copy of the charter, laws, and all city contracts and deliver them to each household. I’m sure regular citizens have the time to review them all. In 90 days we can have one big mega election day and decide what stays and what goes. This is the only solution I can see at this point. Let’s not have any exit polls after the vote so when something stupid makes the cut and passes we can be mad at a certain percentage instead of picking out certain people and sections of the city.

Everyone is so emotional and divided along racial and class lines now that the next election cycle will do nothing to bring this city together. It’s all going to be a big waste of time because unless there’s someone no one knows about sitting at home preparing the greatest speech since The Gettysburg Address no one person can heal this place. Our local media won’t let it happen because they can’t sell advertising time to the companies that cater to some closed minded people in the suburbs who need to feel good about themselves by making New Orleans corrupt even though their areas couldn't survive without the city. There are too many people within the city that haven’t figured this out yet so we can’t have legitimate conversations about issues. At least my idea is true democracy so after things are settled everybody can just shut up, deal with it and stop all the grandstanding.

The way we are handling things is really disheartening.


Anonymous said...

"people are going to go over every single detail"

Actually, there aren't -- but it might be a nice experiment to see if we could, for a change, get more efficient delivery of services which impact the well-being of this city's least advantaged, when people finally have an opportunity to "go over every detail" if they so choose.

That said, there is no incongruency between transparency and efficiency. The process of observing in and of itself doesn't create inefficiency. You don't slow down traffic by watching cars go by, but you might like to see what kinds of cars are going down the street, and you might even write down a license plate number or two if you see something speeding through your neighborhood.

As for the racial animosity. It's being created by Nagin's cronies as a surrogate for substantive debate -- which is even more deplorable than the actual substance of what's being argued in the debate.

Anonymous said...

>I don't like when people talk like he's doing something different than every administration since the 50's.

That is the problem. We have to talk about doing things THE SAME way and expecting new results. Isn't that the very definition of insanity?

Anonymous said...

Cliff, you rock! I think we are all culpable in this circus of a city government. The council is full of self serving morons with political aspirations that reach far beyond the confines of their respective current posts. The mayor is "certifiable" and these daily squabbles only do a disservice to the city. It's time to demand productive leadership and sadly, I don't see this coming from the folks currently in office.

oyster said...

"I have a mayor that is so hated by the media and some citizens that they want to know... what him and his wife eats for dinner every night."

No, I don't want to know what he's eating unless he's paying for it with a city credit card.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone realizes that the way we've done things for the past 50 years hasn't worked, and that we have to implement some drastic changes. In fact, that was basically the Nagin campaign theme the first time around.

Now what we see is a man circling the wagons, taking giant steps backwards on both specific and general promises, regardless of what the letter of the law says. It might be different if he'd come into office this way, but to make a 180 can *only* invite questions as to the motives.

As for the racial issues Nagin and others interject, I do think that some are valid. No doubt there are some white people in this city who would never subject a white mayor to the same level of scrutiny. But in the end, what really matters is a functional government in which we, the citizens, have faith. And when Nagin pulls stuff like this, he is giving his critics - black and white - plenty of fodder.

mominem said...

The problem with this Mayor is that he was elected on a platform of changing the way things were, he came in with widespread support (including mine) and he started to clean things up again to widespread cheers.

He promised to be "transparent" he reneged on his promise. He's had 7 years to make good on his promises.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

u know when Obama talsk of such, well let us say Orwell would call it NEWSPEAK