Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Weary Worker Blues

The work grind has been pretty hectic for yours truly. I’ve been on the “do more with less” agenda for a minute and it’s starting to take its toll. Since I am the kind of person that likes to make life even more hectic that it already it, I went and accepted an evening job a few nights a week for a short amount of time. That was probably not a good idea with school being in at the time but you do what you have to do to pay the bills. The evening gig is actually a good change of pace from the daytime because I am teaching some ladies how to use Microsoft Office and basic computer skills. If I had a few more weeks with them I would make them start a blog so they could post how great of a teacher I am. Of course I am too modest to make them do it I would just sit back and let them come to that conclusion on their own.

My day time job isn’t feeling like that at the moment. I’m having an internal conflict. Lately I feel like I am not handling the balancing act between being competent and admitting limitations very well. There’s a delicate balance between the people you work with thinking you can handle everything with no problem or thinking you just can’t cut the mustard.

In my mind if I kept bringing up the fact that we are short handed and handling way more information, people, and deadlines than our current staff can maintain, the powers that be would start thinking that maybe they needed someone else who wouldn’t be falling apart and complaining all the time. In these times no one is that gung ho about spending extra money so the winners are going to be the people who make it seem like they can handle everything no matter what the manpower is. I’ve been that person but it’s wearing me out lately.

The side effect to being that guy who tries to make everything seem possible to accomplish is that eventually the higher-ups take you for granted. They just keep piling on more and more and demanding more and more because you smile in the face of pressure so they think it’s no big deal. Everyone is so used to you just handling everything that when you don’t or voice any disagreement with how things are working out it seems like you are the one who’s being unreasonable.

That’s been my position for awhile now. Whatever you have in mind to get done just bring it on and I and my people will handle it. We’ve handled it all but we are starting to get a little beat down and it’s getting harder and harder to handle everything. We could use some help and I have expressed that. My biggest issue is that how I got to this position keeps me form ever admitting I can’t handle anything. I’m not a highly pedigreed cat with a bunch of letters behind my email signature. I’m a blue collar dude who found himself in the white color world because of my grind, work ethic and personality. I’m doing as well as I ever have and since I am so scared of going backwards I don’t say much. I just put my head down and work. That's not always good because when you do say something everyone thinks you have gone crazy.

I need to stop that and let the personal ownership of everything go. I have four more weeks of vacation then I am supposed to have because I never let go of the job. I better admit a bit of defeat and let go of some of this responsibility for I end up having a moment where keeping it real goes wrong. I think it's time to take a few weeks off and work on my new hobby of gardening. I'm trying to get my cantaloupes to grow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Sixty Six : The Flood Stage Edition

I just left a nice even at KIPP Central City Primary school to celebrate the first year of the CP3 Afterschool Zone. It’s a good program and the kids had fun. Chris Paul and his family are very down to earth people. I’m going to miss them when he signs with a big market team. Once I got home I turned on the television and started checking out some of the New Orleans Voodoo arena football game. I was happy to be at the event this evening and to see the Voodoo playing at home because that let me know there is no impending doom from the rising river. I don’t think Chris Paul and his family would be hanging uptown in danger.

Since the river started rising I have learned that the word flood is a trigger to wake up a lot of post traumatic stress. Some of my friends even asked me where I was evacuating to. I’m not tripping like that. I am 99.9 percent sure we are safe and sound thanks to the levees and spillways. I have to say however that the .1 percent of me that is unsure is so magnified after Katrina that I have been checking news updates every 15 minutes just to make sure that nothing has changed. I’m mad at myself for doing it but I can’t help it. If I am going to live in New Orleans for the rest of my life like I plan to I am going to have to trust the Corps of Engineers ability to protect me and my property from water. If I can’t get to that point then I need to move. I will give them credit for putting in a lot of work the last few years. I think we are a lot safer than we were on August 28, 2005 and I hope that in the next 100 years nothing happens that puts that to the test.

This weekend the Corps of Engineers is going to open the Morganza Spillway which will relieve pressure on the levees in Baton Rouge and New Orleans but give us all guilt when thousands of people near the Atchafalaya River are flooded. There's no such thing as a good scenario when it comes to rising water.

One of the most disappointing things about everyone being paranoid about the river rising is that the City Hall bribery trial isn’t getting the proper shock and awe it deserves after this week’s testimony. I hope that’s the reason you can’t find the story on most of our local news websites front page. I hope it’s not because of the fact the people in question are well connected and their skin tone doesn’t match the criminal element a lot of people in these parts are willing to embrace. I’m going to be positive and blame it on the river. Dambala was at the trial and it looks like he had a good time. As huge Soprano’s fan I had to wonder that if Tony, Paulie, and Silvio hadn’t shot Big Pussy on that boat for being an informant and dumped his body in the ocean his testimony would have sounded a lot like Greg Meffert’s. When I read about him and his boys using my tax dollars to act out a scene from a Cash Money Record video all I could do was shake my head in disgust. You only get to the level of spending public money they did when you have absolutely no fear of retribution.

There’s a huge part of me that hopes when the move on Ray Nagin starts someone finds a offshore account with a few million dollars in it. I have been one of the few bloggers to defend the former mayor so I don’t want him to be a crook at all. I just hope he didn’t put his name and reputation on the line for landscaping at his home and vacations that he had enough money to pay for himself. A trip to Hawaii is how you corrupt a regular working man like me. It should take at least seven figures to corrupt a successful business man like Ray Nagin. He’s going to look worse than Bill Jefferson if that’s all he got out of the deal.

In the last few years there’s been a lot of discussion about leadership in the area centered on race. I think trials like Mark St. Pierre’s should end some of that and bring us closer together. Mayor Landrieu won almost every black precinct in the city partly because of the fact the brother in office before him was tripping. Plus, when you look at the people who have fallen in the last few years for corruption across the metro area, I think we can call the contest to prove who’s the most dishonest a tie and move on.

There were some conservatives who objected to President Obama inviting Common to the White House for a poetry reading. A few people even called him a thug. I guess when all else fails when you are trying to scare America pick on the rapper. If Common is a thug every guy I know is a thug because the thug threshold is very low. I’m going to dedicate this Common song to Sarah Palin and Karl Rove. If either one of them can write anything this creative I will walk right through the middle of the hood with a Sarah Palin t-shirt.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Repost: The New Face of Corruption and Watching For The Double Standard

On November 6, 2009 I wrote a blog post about Greg Meffert and the new face of city corruption. Since the City Hall bribery trial of Mark St. Pierre started today I figured it was a good time to repost my feeling and get everybody back into the spirit of ending corruption.

Before you read these old words I want to say something about race, corruption and the perception of people. For a man that bribed his way to millions of tax payer dollars the picture of Mark St. Pierre in today’s paper is kind of small. He made money on the scale of Stan Pampy Barre and there was an entire section the Sunday paper dedicated to him when he went to trial. In the last few weeks there have been a few issues with members of our police force making money off of taxpayers with questionable business dealings concerning traffic camera tickets. Chief Serpas was trying to figure out a way to get out of the situation without throwing his friends under the bus. The mayor stepped in and suspended Commander Edward Hosli and the Director of Public Works Robert Mendoza.

From my vantage point the mayor had two reasons to do this. The first is he’s the leader of the city and the buck stops with him. He doesn’t have to sit around and wait for other people to act. He showed leadership in stepping in. The other reason is the thing that many people aren’t going to talk about. For the last few years of Mayor Nagin’s term the former Chief Warren Riley was treated down right horrible and had some nasty things said about him on radio, in blogs, and other platforms. Some of it was personal and out of bounds but it was okay because he worked for Mayor Nagin and the murder rate was high. I could only imagine if the traffic ticket hookup had been discovered under Chief Riley and the officers running it just so happen to be his close personal friends. People would have demanded he resign as well as all of his friends and any officers who were working for him.

These are the kind of things black people talk about among themselves but since we don’t control the media that angle doesn’t get covered. Mitch Landrieu knows that and that’s why saved the chief by stepping in. You can’t bring a city together with two sets of rules.

It doesn’t matter about the race or ethnicity of a person when news breaks of a corruption indictment in New Orleans. My reaction is always the same. I get sad because I think of what we could have done with whatever money or opportunity that was wasted to pull off whatever the scam was. Did we even need crime cameras in the first place? What could the Recreation Department have done with at least half of that money? I guess it’s too late to worry about that. I still think that any news story concerning crime that comes out of this city does damage because no one sees it as a clean up. Everyone sees it as a reminder of just how crooked we are. With that in mind, I feel like it’s time to go ahead and point out that the current face of corruption in New Orleans just so happens to be white.

I realize Nagin is the mayor and he is famous for making the Chocolate City comment that stirred up so much emotion. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to corruption and dealing under the table the city is more of a vanilla and chocolate swirl. Maybe this case will make corruption just a New Orleans issue instead of a black against white issue. Maybe this will make Jim Letten look fair because I happen to be one person that wants him to stay in office as a warning to potential hustlers. Maybe Mr. Meffert will turn over some evidence against the mayor and satisfy the blood thirsty mob that won’t sleep until they see him get arrested. Maybe he won’t because he doesn’t have anything and the only thing Mayor Nagin is guilty of is falling asleep at the wheel while his boy got paid. Whatever happens we need to look at this as tying up lose ends of the past so we can move forward.

Now, there is one thing that can bring the race card back into play. A 63 count indictment is nothing to sneeze at. Mr. Meffert and his wife got hundreds of thousands of dollars from this plan. I’m thinking that if Oliver Thomas has been in prison for since 2007 and serving 37 months for only 15,000, then if Greg Meffert is found guilty he has to at least get a sentence five times that amount. If Oliver Thomas does three years and Greg Meffert gets probation or any kind of soft treatment then I am going to pull out my race card and throw it on the table because that will be the right card to play in my opinion. I don’t think I will have to do that because I believe Mr. Letten is going to set an example with this case. That’s going to be a great thing if it can stop everyone from trying this kind of thing again.

Monday mornings are always the worst time of the week. It takes a minute to get going. Nevertheless I am feeling alright today. Yesterday was a good Mother’s Day despite the fact that mom lives in another city now. In the post Katrina chapter of my life I honor her and the other women who raised me by honoring the mothers around me. I think I do a good job at that. I also got to hang out this weekend with my friends and that is always cool. It doesn’t happen a lot these days since we got older and started going in different paths. Too bad we spent a lot of that time watching the Lakers get destroyed by Dallas. I guess everything can’t be perfect.

I’m ready for the week ahead. Hopefully nothing too serious happens while I work my way through all the other stuff that’s on my mind. I’ll consider it a good week if there’s minimal flooding of people’s homes because of the river, there are no murders for one week in the city and no one in the police department gets suspended of fired. I would add winning the Powerball so I could quit working and buy my parent’s a mansion but the other three things I named are already lofty so I better be reasonable.

Friday, May 6, 2011

There's A Lot of Water Coming

There’s a lot of water in the Mississippi River right now and it’s headed this way. People all along the river are evacuating and hoping for the best. I’m not reluctant to admit that the rising river scares me. It’s predicted to crest at 19.5 feet and that’s right up to the limit of our levee protection. I hate to bring this up but levees and my community don’t have the greatest history together. Of course this is different because the water isn’t being pushed along by 100 mile per hour winds and the energy of a hurricane but it still makes you worry a little. I keep hearing terms like blowing levees and levee breaches and it makes you think about the worst.

I am sure we will be okay and the Corps of Engineers has everything under control. I just wish I had more confidence in the entities that are supposed to protect us. I was joking with a friend the other day after the story came out that New Orleans was the second best city for jobs. We laughed because no one that we knew personally thought this could be true and the funny part is all the people who said they felt that way already had jobs themselves. We don’t have much faith in a lot of things working out in our favor and high on that list is the Army Corps of Engineers. I guess time will have to heal that wound. In the meantime I just hope not too many people get flooded out in cities along the river while it is cresting and that the levels go down quickly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on Bin Laden

There are topics that I don’t like to discuss with people anymore because they are just too complicated. I don’t discuss religion anymore. I don’t discuss parenting with people as it relates to their own children. I don’t discuss Hurricane Katrina unless I know you were affected. Personal emotions make that situation hard for me to accept any opinion different than my own. That’s also the reason why I don’t discuss 9/11 with anyone. What happened on September 11, 2001 affected people in different ways and changed so many lives and families. From the victims of the terrorists, to the folks that got sick trying to rescue people, to all of the soldiers that have fought and sometimes died in the two wars that followed, I find it difficult to just shout my opinions all over the place without taking into account how some of these people and their families might feel.

Sunday night after the news broke that Osama Bin Laden was killed the reaction was crazy from all sides. There were some people ready to throw a parade and celebrate a great moment in American history. There were crowds singing and chanting USA outside in cities all over. Then there were the other people who felt disgusted with the taste for blood and actually felt sadness and reflection by Bin Laden’s death. We also have the other group of people who don’t believe he’s really dead, don’t believe he planned 9/11 and think President Obama is his cousin and set the whole thing up to keep planning his takeover of America. There might not be anyone that believes all three of those together but a lot of people fall into that group in some variation.
I can’t debate anyone about how they feel so all I can do is give my opinion.

When I heard Osama Bin Laden was killed I didn’t celebrate but I wasn’t upset either. His life and death was a situation that didn’t lend itself to many other options than how things ended. The country that wanted him to pay for what he did would never forgive its leader for trying to make peace with him. The president did what he had to do. Bin Laden was also in a position where he could never do anything but hide and use his status as America’s main enemy to keep his movement going. I don’t see how this could have ended any other way. At least now when the troops start coming home there might be a little closure to the original purpose of why they started fighting to being with. The crazy thing about the situation is that I just gave my personal opinion and I am not sure if I feel the right way about it. One thing I am certain of is that all of this could have been avoided if Osama and his boys didn’t decide to crash airplanes into buildings.