Dr. Ed Blakely watchers know that former Mayor Ray Nagin's "recovery czar" declared mission accomplished on the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2009 and took his metaphorical "cranes in the sky" to Australia, where he works with the University of Sydney's United States Study Centre. According to a report on ABC News Australia last week, Blakely has a new challenge, one that might be more in line with his skill set than rebuilding a city: He's teaming up with "urban designer" Ethan Kent to revitalize a shopping mall in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.
Among the statements in the ABC News Australia report: Blakely was appointed by then-President George W. Bush to rebuild New Orleans (he wasn't); Blakely says "The city fell down. Eighty percent of it was ruined" (it didn't; it wasn't); and Blakely claims, "We had to build it from the ground up and that's what we did" (he didn't).
As for Sydney's Church Street Mall, the budget is more modest (a $2 million cosmetic upgrade), but Blakely is already on it: "Have talent contests, kids' contests and so on. Flower shows, all that kind of stuff can be done now. We don't have to wait until the end of the process."
Concluded the planner, "We're not going to plan, we're going to do." God save Australia. — KEVIN ALLMAN