Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Random election day thoughts from the Crescent City

First of all please vote, even if you go to the polls leave a bunch of blanks and write in the name of the Raving Green Loonies party candidate from Lincolnshire in the UK, it sends a message. Make no mistake, today's politicians take most folks ambivalence for granted.

I think the biggest issue for change on a ballot is here in N.O. where they are voting to get rid of the inherently corrupt 7 assessor system. I haven't seen any advertisements for keeping the current system.

I am for the Arizona measure to have a 1 million dollar lottery for voting participants. We need to get more people involved. So many people feel as though the politicians don't care about their needs or concerns, just the people who can pay the "admission fee."

This years political season isn't over yet and already papers are writing about next years. The West Roxbury Transcript called me to see if I'm running for city council again. Highly unlikely, as I've made commitments to my wife, to rebuilding in New Orleans, and I've just put another historical building under agreement to renovate last week.

I'd like the papers to do a column on campaign promises six months into each politicians terms. I heard so many promises from city council campaigners, and have seen not much but emptiness and pettiness so far. Work on housing, schools, PILOT payments, more streamlined permitting (what a joke, every politician from Sam Yoon, to Tom Menino, to Deval Patrick talks about this but I'm yet to see it at any building department I go into), and yet I don't see anything. I will say in watching a City Council meeting on line that Michael Flaherty runs an objective tight ship. Also, I hope Sam Yoon continues with his pursuit of a 311 plan (watch out for the Mayor stealing your idea!! Ask John Tobin). The 311 calls work well in New Orleans and it is an efficient way to seperate emergency calls from neighborhood issue calls.

Morning 40 Federation is a great band out of New Orleans who should be on Saturday Night Live. They are from the Bywater, and headlined last weekends neighborhood festival which was a great time. The premise of the band is that every morning they wake up and have a 40 ounce malt liquor before doing anything. They are tight, they have charisma in buckets, and sign great songs about being drunk and partying, sometimes through a megaphone. "Wake up, turn over and carry me home" is one of the clever lines, surely only a love drunk person (or drunk love) could understand.

Congressman Jefferson is in the fight of his life here, he will probably win the first round, but may lose a run off.

New Orleans is in tough shape. The violence here continues unabated. Virtually every other day there is a murder, and this in a city 1/3 the size of Boston. People are getting crazy, drugs abound and I don't hear as many hammers or nailguns which usually form a daily cacophony in the neighborhoods. People are excited about the Saints, but not a lot of people are marching back into the City. There is no discernable increase in population, and of course money for rebuilding is stuck in the pipelines.

Rumors....about the City Council Race, it all depends on whether Murphy gets hitched to the Patrick regime. If he goes, then John Connolly is on the Council. Someone at my Ward Committee meeting said there maybe an agreement between Connolly and Tobin to let Connolly have the West Roxbury Seat and Tobin runs at Large. Doesn't make much sense to me as John has almost won city wide already, why would he take a step back to district councilor? But, Tobin wants to advance and although he is quite popular in his district, it is limiting him. I wonder if he will again vote for Flaherty for City Council President? If I had to handicap it right now, if Murphy stays and runs again, the money would be on all 13 councilors being re-elected. Remember 98 percent of incumbents get sent back to their office in MA. Especially if no one starts running by Jan. 1. Remember both Sam and John were running at this point last year, it is no coincidence that they were the top vote getters amongst the new candidates.

A police union person I spoke to was hesitant to talk about the new police commissioner. Very cagey, which doesn't bode well. A friend is a public defender in Lowell and she says that the police there are notorious for pulling over minorities, especially asian and hispanic kids. So, there are an inordinant amount of drug related arrests for those kids, but not as many for the whites, even though she says they believe that just as many of the white kids have low level amounts of drugs as well. Sort of like Bill Belichick's kid in Weston!

The New York Times had an interesting piece on the City Council in New York. (Name one! I dare you!) They just voted themselves 25% raises, although they, like Boston do not have much power and many of the members hold outside jobs making hundreds of thousands a year. However, they do have two, four year term limits so at least there is turnover. They now make $110 or $120K a year, the second highest in the country and they are the only body in NY that can vote itself raises.

I am getting frustrated working in New Orleans. The low level of education and high level of incompetence makes getting things done increasingly difficult. In the last day I've had countertops made incorrectly, tile that was ordered two months ago turning out to not having been ordered, doorknobs that I've been after for months coming in and being the wrong ones.
It completely underscores the importance of good education.

Speaking of which there are some very fishy numbers in the Boston School Department budget, more on that later. But, essentially we are spending more and more on the budget while we have fewer and fewer students.

Go out and vote, and do a good deed,


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