With economic tough times ahead, the New Year will be a challenging one for Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular. Whatever else it turns out to be, 2002 should not be a year for business as usual. With that in mind, we offer the following resolutions for last year's newsmakers:
· I, Gov. Mike Foster, resolve to give up duck hunting and law school until Louisiana leads the South in the creation of non-farm jobs. I also resolve to stop demeaning the office I sometimes visit by publicly deriding my critics with names such as "nutcakes" and "Internet kooks."
· I, Mayor Marc Morial, promise not to leave an operating deficit or any other "booby traps" for the next mayor. I will conduct the smoothest, most constructive transition of the mayor's office in the history of the city.
· We, the 15 candidates for the job of mayor, resolve to identify at public campaign forums the people, processes and programs associated with Mayor Marc Morial that are worth retaining in the next administration.
· We, the members of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, resolve to postpone until after the March 3 general election all further action on the controversial, 20-year, billion-dollar privatization contract for sewerage and water services. [Note: The March 3 ballot contains a proposed amendment to the City Charter, which, if approved, would require voters to give prior approval to enter any privatization contract with a value over $5 million. The board's request for proposals (RFP) is scheduled for Wednesday (Jan. 2), and the deadline for privatization proposals is slated for the day after Mardi Gras (Feb. 13). The process is on a fast track to conclude before the new mayor takes office.]
· We, the developers, preservationists and neighborhood activists of New Orleans, resolve to support a master planning process that allows for the creation of jobs and retention of our city's unique character, history and culture.
· We, the critics of the Orleans Parish School Board, finally realizing the failure of rudeness as a political tactic, resolve not to heckle, jeer or otherwise interrupt board members as school board meetings.
· I, public schools CEO Col. Alphonse Davis, resolve that in 2002 every school employee will receive timely payment of a mistake-free paycheck -- including my dad.
· We, Robert Guidry, convicted felon and federal informant against former Gov. Edwin Edwards, and restaurateur Al Copeland, resolve to take our brawls out of the posh steakhouses and back into the back alleys where they belong.
· I, Harry Lee, sheriff of Jefferson Parish, resolve to make peace with the Metropolitan Crime Commission and the Bureau of Governmental Research.
· I, Jazz Fest impresario Quint Davis, resolve to not book Mystikal and the Dave Matthews Band -- or bands of equal national popularity -- for performances on the same day at the Fest.
· We, officials of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, resolve to close the juvenile detention facility at Tallulah, which makes a mockery of the department's name because of continuing prison beatings and inmate rapes of youthful offenders.
· I, Mark Doherty, judge of Orleans Parish Juvenile District Court, resolve to keep holding the Department of Corrections accountable and responsible for New Orleans youth in its custody.
· We, the State Police, resolve to learn how to independently audit the number of employees at Harrah's Casino in New Orleans, a statutory requirement.
· We, the leaders of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), resolve to break ground in New Orleans for the Grammy Hall of Fame museum.
· We, the emergency service providers of Orleans Parish, pledge to better educate the citizens of the city about "shelter-in-place" and other public safety responses in the event of a toxic chemical release from rail cars, maritime vessels, or trucks in our city.
· We, the Downtown Development District, resolve to keep our April 2001 millage election promise that a "large portion" of our downtown capital improvements program will be finished in time for Super Bowl. (See "Vote 'Yes' for the DDD," April 3, 2001.)
· We, the officers of the New Orleans Police Department, resolve to correctly inform the public of the total number of Carnival-related arrest figures. [Last year, NOPD failed to promulgate arrest statistics for the 11-day Carnival period, allowing national media to erroneously under-report the 512 arrests for the Eighth Police District as the figures for the entire city. Those statistics did not square with Criminal Sheriff Charles Foti's reported arrests of 2,677 people citywide during Carnival for all types of offenses. Despite promises from spokespersons for both Foti and Police Chief Richard Pennington, cops never made the promulgated arrest figures available to the media.]
· We, the media, resolve to continually work to improve our response time whenever a reader or viewer points out: "Hey! How come I haven't seen that story anywhere?"