Friday, September 2

MAYOR RAY NAGIN FUMES; BUT WHERE'S HE BEEN?

The Associated Press (AP) reports today that the "SOS" mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, is fuming over what he believes to be a woefully inadequate federal response to the plight of his city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and severe breaks in the city's levee system that led to the catastrophic inundation of the Crescent City. From what I've seen on cable television and read online and in the print media, he's not off the mark.

My question, however, is this: if nearly 20,000 people were transported to or fitfully made their way to the New Orleans Superdome, then why couldn't the mayor get over there and present himself as the "authority figure" that those hapless people have been begging for -- someone to grab a bullhorn and talk to them and provide whatever information he could? That's leadership in a crisis! It doesn't do the mayor a whole lot of good in terms of what has been a growing, day-by-day crisis at the Superdome to be mugging television cameras and doing radio interviews, as the huge population of displaced hurricane victims sweltering in egregious living conditions at the Superdome (as well as the rest of his city's citizens, most of whom were trapped in flooded homes or seen wading about in the filthy water) had neither televisions or radios from which to gain information or any kind of encouragement from government or civic leaders.

It strikes me as "dugout mentality." Look in the mirror, Mr. Mayor; some of this is about you (and your state's governor, Kathleen Blanco, who from all accounts seems in over her head in a crisis).