Guest blog: "Please forgive me if I don't grab my hangman's noose and storm city hall..."



(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff's Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

After listening to the radio this week and hearing callers speak about the big NOAH story on WWL, I realized we have a communication problem here in the city. I think black people try to explain what is viewed as support for the mayor and it doesn’t come out the right way. I thought I would take a shot at it.

Black people hate corruption more than any of you can imagine. We don’t show it as much publicly because we don’t know who to be mad with exactly. We usually live in areas where you can visually see the effects of what corruption and lack of funding can do. We have the parks and the schools with inadequate resources. We have the abandoned public buildings. Our quality of life is directly affected by these things. I am certain there is or was big time corruption and patronage in the city. I just get frustrated when the only things we get are Pampy, NOAH and Oliver Thomas. When are the big fish that we have been hearing about as the reason for our conditions going down? You can’t tell me that my community looks the way it does because someone has been dishonest or mismanaging funds but no one gets in trouble for it. When I see billion dollar problems and I get thousand dollar investigations I start thinking someone is playing games and picking on certain people.

I’m not trying to minimize NOAH, Pampy Barre, or Oliver Thomas. I have said in the past that these little things add up to the huge problems the city has had for decades because it discourages people from coming to the city and investing time and money here. If someone did something wrong they should pay the price for it. All I am asking is that the size and scope of the scheme matches the neglect I see. I see how everyone is rallying around this NOAH story but if you added up all the questionable payments on that list it would be a drop in the bucket of the money that has been drained from this city. That’s what I want to find out about.

I want the folks who caused me to have a ten year old 7th grade English book investigated. What about the people who crippled NORD leaving the poor kids of the city with no organized recreation? What happened to all of the money the gambling industry was supposed to bring? Why isn’t Lincoln Beach open yet? Why didn’t any class I sat in from 7th to 12th grade have air conditioning? Where has all the money been going even before Ray Nagin and Marc Morial got in office?

If someone can find out and indict these people regardless of their color we will make them King of Chocolate City. We would welcome that because no one has suffered because of whatever they did or didn’t do more than we have. Until then please forgive me if I don’t grab my hangman’s noose and storm city hall because a contractor got paid to gut a house that he didn’t.

If we can’t find the big fish that everyone keeps saying is out there, the next logical explanation would be discrimination based on race and class. I don’t really want to believe that but no one is showing me otherwise.

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