Friday, September 02, 2005


The overwhelmed Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin was not up to the job. He sent out an "S.O.S." and had a profanity laced meltdown in a radio interview instead of rolling up his sleeves and saving his city.

As soon as the World Trade Center was on fire, Rudy Giuliani told his police commissioner Bernard Kerik, "Thank God we have George Bush in the White House."

Rudy Giuliani was the central figure of 9/11 for New Yorkers, and for the rest of the nation. As mayor he knew New York better than anyone. He had a handle on all of the agencies and was able to defly maneuver through all of the intricacies of managing America's biggest and most complicated city in response to an unanticipated terror attack.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was overwhelmed by the task at hand despite having advance warning of a hurricane. Can you even name the police commissioner of New Orleans? The commissioner's name is Eddie Compass. In the immediate aftermath of the levees being broken in New Orleans, Nagin was ineffectual and Compass was out of sight. New Orleans police officers turned in their badges. Can you imagine if New York police and firefighters refused to run into the burning twin towers but instead turned in their badges? By the way, where are the New Orleans firefighters? No one has seen one story involving the first responders of New Orleans.

The leadership in New Orleans and Louisiana has been abysmal. The ineffectual governor, Kathleen Blanco, resorted to "tough talk" by saying of National Guard troops, "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will." Mayor Giuliani did not find it useful to speak in such tones because it was his actions that prevented New York City from collapsing into paranoid chaos.

There was a power vacuum in New Orleans as soon as Hurricane Katrina passed the city. The city of New Orleans herded people into the SuperDome because it felt people could ride out the storm in safety for a few days and then return to their homes. The federal government now has to respond to the city's decision to place people in the SuperDome, Convention Center and other areas.

The City of New Orleans did not do a good enough job of securing itself via planning and forethought. There are only 1,500 police officers in the entire city of New Orleans. Even though 80% of the city was evacuated there are still not enough officers to control New Orleans.

The federal government provides a support role in the first few days because city and state leaders take the lead and use the resources that they have to take care of constituents. The chaos we are witnessing in New Orleans is because local authorities dithered before federal help could arrive. The federal authorities cannot move overnight at every instance of every natural disaster. It is in the days, weeks and months that follow that organizations like FEMA do the heavy lifting. The quesion is why did the city and state government prove to be so incompetent in dealing with the immediate needs of New Orleans?

Rudy Giuliani never slept, never gave up when it came to taking care of New York. He was able to deal with the media, more than 10 million scared people and a huge intricate system of police and firefighter personnel. When pressed for a death toll, (at a time when we thought maybe 10,000 people were dead) Giuliani refused to give a specific number but said the final tally would be "more than we can bear."

In contrast, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin revealed their not too sophisticated experience in press conferences and openly surmised that the death toll would be in hundreds of thousands. Public officials guessing death tolls do not accomplish anything. Public officials need to be making phone calls, assembling their fire and police chiefs, finding out where the problems are and addressing those problems. MSNBC'S Martin Savidge showed video of 2 female police officers looting a Wal-Mart that had electricity and was located in dry land. Why weren't those police officers helping to save lives and working in flooded areas?

Worse, Mayor Nagin is now openly blaming federal authorities. By lashing out and losing his cool, the mayor has shown that he was not up to the task of sheparding 100,000 people through a crisis. People will begin to ask how come the City of New Orleans, better aware of its geographical limitations better than any federal agency, was not able to have a long-established plan that could be put into action?

The images of New Orleans are heart-breaking and horrifying. It is distressing to see fellow Americans in such a dire predicament. New Orleans has been battling police corruption and low levels of staffing for years. Hurricane Katrina was so devastating that the levees broke. Unfortunately, the combination of a history of poor city management and an environmental disaster resulted in innocent people's lives being lost and ruined.

Rudy Giuliani did such a good job on 9/11 that he made it look easy. People took it for granted that any mayor can show strength, leadership and comfort millions of people through a major crisis. However, Mayor Nagin's leadership failure, much of it due to circumstances beyond his control, has reminded us that Rudy Giuliani was a special kind of mayor.

Yahoo: New Orleans Descends Into Anarchy , police turn in badges

Other blogs on the story: Winds of Change, Slant Point, LaShawn Barber, Michelle Malkin, Mudville Gazette, Alarming News, Evangelical Outpost, Res Publica, Right Wing News, Captains Quarters, Outside the Beltway, Backcountry Conservatives, Jen Martinez, Back of the Envelope, GOP Bloggers, Vodka Pundit on personal memories of New Orleans, Hold the Mayo, Broken Masterpieces, Ramblings Journal, Deans World, Ace of Spades, Annika, and The Smarter Cop

Check out Up for Anything, a poignant first-hand account of the flood.

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