In your May 23, 2006, Scuttlebutt column, under the heading "PANO Picks a President," you state "PANO is the largest and arguably most influential of the city's four police organizations."
While we will agree that PANO's being the most influential is, in fact, arguable, there is no question your statement to PANO's being the largest of the four police organizations is incorrect.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Crescent City Lodge, is by far the largest association representing the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department. Our organization boasts a total membership of over 1,700 active and retired police officers, with 1,025 members employed by local law enforcement agencies.
The F.O.P. currently represents 985 N.O.P.D. police officers, and our membership continues to grow. The national Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the world, with 325,000 members nationwide. We have nearly 6,000 F.O.P. members in the state of Louisiana.
Sgt. Jim Gallagher
Fraternal Order of Police
Crescent City Lodge 2
Jazz Fest Blues
For the 20th year in a row, I came to New Orleans Jazz Fest to dance with my friends. But I came also for the grieving I had kept suppressed under my bitter anger at the corruption and/or incompetence of the city, state and federal governments in the face of Hurricane Katrina. I wept at the ruin of Debbie's home in Gentilly where I had stayed for so many of those years, and later in my refuge at Maria's in the Bywater, I wept some more.
To the Fair Grounds I came, flying the rainbow tie-dye flag to replenish my joy at Jazz Fest, which I saw as a brave, defiant declaration of New Orleans' will to live, to celebrate life. But in truth, I found it a grand gesture flawed. The organizers of Jazz Fest, it seems, were intent on forgetfulness and denial, not healing, of the devastating wound suffered here. I enjoyed the big-name groups to be sure, but I missed many of the local New Orleans bands I come every year to hear. Jazz Fest is not complete without the Neville Brothers (and though Aaron cannot return for reasons of his health, my friend Charles, I understand, was not even invited). And word has it that other local groups were offered less money than usual to play at the Fest. This made my mango freeze taste less sweet.
Among my prized possessions is a collection of mint-condition official Jazz Fest T-shirts spanning the last 20 years, and I looked forward to adding this year's first Fest since the hurricane. But I was sorely disappointed in the shirts this year; the designs are, for the most part, uninteresting, repetitious of other years and devoid of any reference to Katrina. The only one I found acceptable was the one of the clarinet-alligator caduceus with its oblique reference: The Healing Power of Music.
When I voiced my disappointment and displeasure to a woman selling me the shirt, she told me that the organizers of the Fest had nixed the original submission of the designers with the slogan: Come Hell or High Water. That would have been brilliant, brave and defiant, and true to the spirit of the New Orleans I know and love. But, no, apparently it was not acceptable to the Fest's organizers, who were intent on presenting a "business as usual" front. (Talking to my friends, both from New Orleans and those that come in from far away year after year, I found everyone shared my sentiments.)
After seeing the corruption/incompetence of FEMA and such firsthand, I am convinced this kind of denial does not serve New Orleans and the region well. I found the devastation in New Orleans and environs worse, its mitigation less, than news we get in California led me to believe. The nation, the world, must be kept aware of the devastation the hurricane caused here, especially when the monies that should be used for health and protection are squandered bringing the even worse devastation of an unjustified war upon the men, women and children of Iraq. To be sure, I came to New Orleans Jazz Fest, as I have for the last 20 years, for the healing power of music, but this year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, more so because New Orleans, for better or for worse, with its darkness and its light, is the soul of the nation which we must save, come hell or high water.
Rafael Jesus Gonzalez