Thursday, January 25, 2007

To my anonymous source

To my anonymous source:

At the recent trial I asked the question that you suggested I ask of the person in question and the answer was in the affirmative. Due to constraints and agreements with my co-plaintiffs I was not allowed to follow up with further questioning or witnesses.

It appears that everything you have provided me is true. What do you suggest I do at this point?
Would going to the feds be appropriate?

I will be out of the country for a year soon, so if you have any thoughts try and send them in the next week.


City Hall wouldn't mind Boston full of only Rich People

BRA says wealthy only in Boston would be OK. "At the annual AIAS conference ( held at the Back Bay Sheraton over New Year's weekend, a senior BRA official, Prataap Patrose, Director of Urban Design, suggested in his comments, as part of a panel discussion on Urban Planning, that it would not necessarily be a negative development if Boston living was only affordable to the well to do. A fellow panelist Globe Architecture critic Robert Campbell, took the official to task noting that successful cities result when people of all incomes and educational backgrounds can and want to live and work in the city. According to audience members the fact that the press and other elected officials were not present prevented a quite larger public discussion and outcry about the official's comments."

this came from the livable streets alliance

Friday, January 19, 2007

Late night thoughts from the Bywater

Vaughan's, 1 am, January 19, 2007: New Orleans

Needless to say, there are no wireless networks available here in the Bywater, but then no one is asking for one. The city is Saints crazy, I've seen half a dozen bands in the last fortnight, from soul to brass, blues to the reincarnation of Mama Cass and every one has played "the Saints go Marching In" with cries of "Who Dat, Who dat, Who dat say they are going to beat them Saints?!?!

I was privileged enough to get a couple tickets to the Eagles game and I hate to say it, but it was louder than Yanks/Sox. It wasn't as intense, but it was loud!!! I was invited to a tailgate party by one of my workers, what a great time. It was about 130 yards from the front door of City Hall, in a park with a pavilion. There were about 60 friends, throwing the football, BBQ'ing, with kegs, pot luck food like crawfish cheesecake, and people smoking joints all within view of Mayor Nagin's office. (Known as C Ray by some pundits due to the fact that you Don't see Ray around) There was also the life size state of Ernie K Doe, deceased singer and perpetual Mayoral candidate with his personal Hearse. His widow brings him to events and parties around town. The Times Picayune recently had an editorial suggesting that Ernie K is seen around town more and is more engaged than our live Mayor. Despite being dead, Ernie didn't finish last in the most recent election.

I have put together a temporary work crew of an out of season professional golfer, a Tulane Law grad who hasn't taken the bar, and a guy from New Zealand with immigration issues who is going to join the infantry as soon as he sorts it out. Never a dull moment down here. We are getting great work done, with a wide range of topics discussed on the job from Caddyshack, to NZ's universal health care to whether anyone has seen a grown man naked, and of course the daily betting pool of when our resident white trash laborer will show up and what his excuse will be. (So far, two instances of not being able to find his way, despite being a Louisiana native, and one instance of locking his keys in the car) It's all good.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets down right, or on time, or at all down here. You may come to Boston and never see or eat a bean, but you can't escape the morass of the Big Easy down here. I drove 27 hours down here a couple weeks ago, with a 3 hour sleep in a Tennessee rest area and before I went to my place I stopped at the store for some food. With my 14 items I was third in line at the 15 items or less lane. 20 minutes, and two phone calls later I had checked out…, this morning at Home Depot (Lowe's is definitely better, cleaner, more organized, more knowledgeable staff) as I was trying to buy a microwave the two young clerks discussed boys and their cellphones while I clicked my heels. My standard sighing response these days is "well, I can certainly see how we won the war…, I'm just amazed it took so long" they usually nod in agreement. Everyone knows it, but no one does anything about it, kind of like the Weather, George Bush and Global warming. Or trash in Boston and the elected officials, see today's heeelarious Boston Herald article, "I'm going to do something about this right away", "I'm going to hold a hearing", "within 30 days I am going to have a report" Are they for real???!!!

Braintree has taken to spray painting "NO TRASH" on the street or sidewalk in front of people's homes who haven't paid their trash bills, in order to shame residents into paying. The trash collectors don't take the trash from any house that hasn't paid up. Maybe I should call my local elected official and suggest it.

Back to the present and Kermit is playing his IPOD during his "Reefer break", from Beyonce, to Michael Jackson, to 'Bounosera, senorita kiss me goodnight" His album "KERMIT RUFFINS LIVE AT VAUGHAN'S" is coming out on February 12, 2007. Their version of "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing" will be worth the price alone. Plus versions of "I'll be around" and his 13 year old daughter showed up at 1 a.m. to sing "I know what it means to miss New Orleans" with him. I can't wait.

Thanks to people who have asked me to run for Jimmy Kelly's seat, but first of all I live in Chuck Turner's district and two, I am absolutely taking the year off to travel the world with Clara. Can't wait to get further down the road, we're taking a family friend with us who is somewhat familiar with Central America on the first leg of our trip to Panama.

An All-Star jam is getting together here, with members of the Rebirth Brass Band such as 'trombone slim' in the house, the aging "Sleeping Giant" has already sung once, and more are on their way.

That's a lot of entertainment for $10. Happy Mardi Gras!

Another interesting thing from the Open Meeting Law trial was Steven Murphy. He had an amendment written up that would have kept any councilor who voted against the pay raise from receiving the pay raise. What a great way to coerce people and squelch democracy. He got very aggravated on the stand when I asked him about it, saying that it must have come from his computer and he would get to the bottom of whomever leaked it out. (It was his Lawyer who gave it to us) Interestingly though despite it being supposedly only on his computer, all the white counselors who were asked about it were familiar with it. Chuck Turner had not heard of it.

Speaking of Chuck he called me on my cellphone the night before the trial and started to discuss his personal finances. His lawyer had mentioned to the judge that even though some people voted against the pay raise, they were still taking the pay raise. The City's lawyer then apparently told Chuck that the issue of him taking the raise might come up at the trial. We had no knowledge of his pay, and it had nothing to do with the matter at hand. But it seemed to have an effect of bringing him into line with saying on the stand that despite the fact that the public never had a chance to see the pay raise statute, let alone a chance to comment or have a hearing he believed that the "public's business had been done in public" I was not surprised, but some on our team were.

It is odd being next door neighbors with the daughter of Congressman Jefferson, he of the $90,000 in the fridge. Me being so anti corruption and influence peddling. Some of the local wags refer to him as "Dollar Bill", the old nickname of the white high top wearing Senator from New Jersey who shares Sam Yoon's alma mater.

John Tobin has been quietly going around the city meeting with parents of schoolchildren in the Boston Public Schools. Whether it is politically motivated or not, good for him for putting in the work. One Ward committee has already talked about who they would support in a race between him and the Mayor. John better have some more good ideas in the next few months so that the Mayor can steal them and proclaim to be ahead of the curve.

It's 2 a.m. and the band is starting to roll again, with every song having a Saints and Super Bowl reference worked in.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Orleans March against Violence, written at Tipitina's

The Rally

I went to the Rally at City Hall Thursday, which I thought was an extraordinary affair. Three different marches, from 3 different parts of the City converged on City Hall. The crowd was white and black and Asian, young and old, business leaders and bikers.

There were about 5,000 people there, and the People spoke. There were about 10 speakers. An underlying theme was "enough is enough", which was repeated often. I was incredibly impressed with these common folk who came to speak. They really understood the core problems facing the City. They spoke of how the problem was not a Katrina problem, it was a problem that had started many years earlier. There were ministers, siblings of the murdered, business people, neighbors, community people, all speaking of the Anger and Frustration of trying to rebuild with a government
that "just doesn't get it."

They spoke of how music was taken out of the schools in 1985, how athletics have been taken out of the schools. The crowd was chanting "Music in the Schools, Music in the Schools" for awhile. Blacks and Whites spoke about how this was not a racial issue, this was a human issue that affects everyone, one preacher talking about how the city survived the water running through the streets, but it could not survive blood in the streets.

They spoke about how we needed independent accountability of our government and law enforcement officials. How the police needed to be paid more money. About how parents needed to take control of their kids, about how parents needed to stop worrying about other people telling their kids the proper way to act, about how we all needed to look in the mirror, about how young black youths needed to step up to the plate (this was said by a young black youth), they talked about the need for better schools, and hope for the children.

I was most moved by a speaker from the Hot 8 brass band, who had one of their members murdered around New Years. He talked about how he was scared to death of the police, as he looked directly at the Mayor, and a number of Police Officials. He talked about needing lights on in the streets and of being pulled over by cops while carrying his instrument around town, and of being arrested for having the wrong name. But, he also addressed the black youths directly saying "I am speaking as a black youth, you black youths have to stop messing around. I am tired of hearing 'Nigger this, and Nigger that.' Let me tell you I AINT NO NIGGER, AND I DON'T KNOW NO NIGGERS." This got one of the loudest rounds of applause of the day.

The crowd held signs from "Recall Nagin" to pictures of the Dead, to personal expressions of grief and tragedy endured. In standard New
Orleans style, marchers were led by traditional drumming, being met with drums when converging together, and the drums giving crescendo riffs at high points of speeches, a low frequency reminder of the important words being spoken.

One Minister gave the powerful words "New Orleans might be known as the city that care forgot but This won't be the city that forgot to care."

One of the Hot 8 members also talked about how we need to get Christianity back in the schools, this was met with tepidity and a low rumble of boos. He pulled out a dollar bill and started talking about it saying "In God We Trust" and how that somehow meant that we needed God in the schools. But, I thought the crowd was very respectful, with the tacit understanding that everyone was here with good intentions. In another forum, he may have well been loudly booed off the stage by this crowd.

Mayor Nagin was right behind the stage for all of this, listening to the anger of the residents, while catcalls occasionally bombarded him from the crowd.

Overall, I think the residents were on to the right issues. The Government needs to be held accountable in a transparent manner, with independent auditing. Bad schools lead to bad results for all the residents. Law enforcement needs to be adequately funded, and also open to oversight and audit. The leaders need to lead, to have a plan, and to advocate the State and Federal government for appropriate help. There were loud calls for the government to be honest with the citizens.

I was also impressed about how race was essentially a non-issue, that everyone realized they were in this together, and they were honest about the major source of the violence being the drugs in the city, and young black youth involved in the drug trade or victims of its effects.

The Mayor held a news conference later in the day to say that he heard loud and clear and that he gets it. Here is hoping that he does.

(This is very stream of consciousness, written with my laptop on the bar at Tipitina's while an all-star cast of New Orleans favorite's celebrate the 29th anniversary)

So, here I am speaking to Anne Deady from the University of Maryland Law School, we are enjoying the ambiance at Tipitina's for their 29th anniversary party gathering, they are inscribing names into the sidewalk outside, the Neville's are singing, people are chanting and dancing.

And of course, the Hi-Life's are $2.

She is here volunteering with the public Defender's office here in NOLA.
All week, she has been doing client interviews, one person has been in for 22 months without a trial. There were 250 people from around the country volunteering during their winter break from law school. Thank you Ann, and the others for trying to help this legal and law enforcement system which is on the verge of collapse.

Soul Rebels just came on, there is nothing like a late night brass band in New Orleans, Who Dat, Who Dat, Who Dat says they're going to beat those Saints???!!!! Of Course, they are breaking into the Saints Marching In.
Luckily I was able to get a ticket to the Big game tomorrow for $240 bucks, it is my first foray into the Dome, and I am excited. This city needs and wants the Saints to do well, and the Saints have been reciprocating and really connecting with the people. The group I'm going with is frying up some chicken, bringing some kegs and tailgating from about noon on just outside of City Hall.

Looks like Anderson Cooper has been reading my blog, and decided to head to Vaughan's last night for Kermit Ruffins. It was a rocking show by all accounts, and I'm sorry I missed it but I was grouting a bathroom and the grout was setting up and getting away from me, so I ended up until 1 a.m. doing the Karate Kid, "sand on, sand off" with a sponge, two buckets of water, and a lot of elbow grease.

Sorry, while I'm writing this the Rebels just broke into a non verbal brass version of the Violent Femmes…"…Love to strut your stuff" sings the crowd.

While I was writing this at the bar, many, many people came up to me and read over my shoulder and offered their thoughts and comments. From the law student above, to an English teacher at Delgado community college who didn't like the improper English of the Hot 8 speakers, to a woman who saw the "N" word and wanted me to stop writing and have a drink, to a middle aged woman who insisted I give her my card because she wanted to be my friend. I met a couple from Newburyport who were here for his 40 year birthday celebration. They had been coming for years, and turns out he has a couple motorcycles so of course the conversation drifted that way.

A group of 6 or so 40 something cousins insisted I dance with them when they found out I was from Boston, as one of them grew up in the Southie projects. Best of all, there were many more Red Sox hats than Yankees hats being displayed in the throbbing mob.

Long and short of it, is that I want people to know that New Orleans is still very much open for business, people are coming here and having a great time, and feeling completely safe. The City needs you, will welcome you, and will absolutely make sure you have a great time.

Come on down, help out, be a part of the solution.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Citizens March on City Hall to protest violence

There were 9 murders in the first 8 days of 2007 here in New Orleans. The violence and crime is everywhere, not just a few neighborhoods like in Boston. On Sunday a stolen car thief
screeched around my corner, 30 yards from my house, slammed into two cars, got out and brandishing a gun starting running down the street. He started taking his clothes off (will there be a "baggy jeans running" event in future Olympics?) until he was naked, as it started to rain. He wasn't caught, and the dogs lost his scent in the rain.

Welcome to New Orleans.

Murdered last week was the Hot 8 drummer, shot in the back of the head while he was in his car.

Also murdered was Helen Hill, the murder that really put this city over the edge. Helen and her husband met at Harvard. Lived in Nova Scotia, the South and here. Her husband was a doctor, she a filmmaker. They were great friends with friends I've made down here, a group I call my "anarchistic doctors", who set up a free medical clinic after the storm because the government wasn't getting anything done. This group of people are the most warm, wonderful group of people who are all about peace, loving the creativity and vibrancy of New Orleans, of all races and nations. We spent the Fourth of July playing with the kids in someones front yard, eating watermelon, and shooting fireworks off in the Neutral Ground. They had started a Food not Bombs group that collected donations at Whole Foods and distributed it to the needy.

Helen didn't want to return to New Orleans, with her husband and 2 year old. But he was insistent that the City needed people like them. So they returned to help. Last week an intruder broke into their home, murdered her, shot her husband 3 times and left, not to be caught.

The two murders have galvanized the City. There will be 3 marches converging on City Hall today, ending up there demanding accountability by their politicians. It has been reported on NPR this morning, with a soulful yearning message written by a friend and attorney.

The murder rate here is approximately 4 times greater than Boston on a per capita basis.

Please try and help anyway you can. Insist that your congressman release funds for FBI and other law enforcement help. People are really reaching the end of their rope here, and everyone is concerned, rich and poor, black and white, young and old. Hopefully those controlling the purse strings will hear.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When I die, you better be second line

I LOVE New Orleans...
as frustrating as it is on a constant basis. They are just so darn polite..."I'm sorry we didn't call you back after the 10 messages you left us, we've been really short staffed. I appreciate your patience sir...." All said with total conviction.

But, really God's genius can be seen on a consistent basis in the presence of Kermit Ruffins. I'm not into drugs, but marijuana can't be that bad if combining it and the trumpet player results in so many, many, many smiles and joy.

Tonight I took a young white liberal woman from my area to the 'hood to see Kermit, despite being a native Louisianan (but growing up in the suburbs-like marriage, "the death of hope") Although she proclaimed to be really disturbed about the 9 murders in 8 days here in NOLA, when I mentioned the area off of St. Bernard Street she started asking the usual "is it safe there? Can you be intimidating to people? Isn't that where all the murders are?", and when she saw the neighborhood as we drove there she became more fearful.

All we have to fear is fear....

Once we arrived at Bullets Sports Bar, the good times began. The BBQ was smokin' right outside, the smell so good I told the chef I was getting fat just sniffin' it. The crowd was 90 percent black, and I realized that in New Orleans EVERYONE is a character. Three young guys pulled up on Superbikes for their share of the fixin's and to check the scene. I started a conversation by noting that one of the 3 was clearly a better rider, a fact I'd ascertained by looking at his tires, they were impressed and said yes indeed the youngest of them was a motorcycle dragracing savant and they regaled me with stories of highway wheelies, and dragracing stories of milliseconds and thundering wobbles. We got into a debate over roadracing v. dragracing, which quickly devolved into the glories of Nitrous and the latest computer shifting schemes, racing on the streets, before one guy humorously explained 'we're young and black, you think we can get a track?" After exchanging info and agreeing to go for a ride later, they headed off and I headed in.

Inside, James Brown was shouting that Papa's got a brand new Bag, and patron's were tappin, smiling and dancing, and this is before the act came on! Once Kermit started, the smiles expanded, the aisles got crowded, and the washboard player literally had sparks flying from his spoons.

Rounds of beers were shared, I learned the wisdom of 71 year old Ray who is a retired plasterer who still smokes and drinks, but lost everything in Katrina and moved to Baton Rouge, but he still comes down to his local when he can. I told him I think there are good people everywhere and he corrected me to say "there are good and bad people everywhere." He also told me, in the only sobering thought of the night that "this is my neighborhood, and I don't know what has happened to it, even I can be afraid walking these streets."

There were birthday salutes, funky hats, and Kermit playing one of my favorites, "when I die, better be second line, Oh when I die, you better be second line" I was wishing my wife was with me so we could dance to the second line, soon, soon...

Before the evening ended, I was licking my fingers with some BBQ and met lifelong Raiders fan John, who used to live in Dorchester. He escorted me to my truck, got my phone number and we agreed to hang out more in the future.

There was more, so much more, as always with the Crescent City, that will never die...

RIP Jimmy Kelly

Sunday, January 07, 2007

How Conservative or Liberal are you?

There is an interesting questionaire at

if you have a couple minutes you could take the quiz and see how conservative or liberal you
are. It is very subjective, and I even changed my answer a couple times so it is clearly
not an in depth analysis but can give a quick look at where you are. I seemed to come out as left leaning middle of the road. My results:

Overall: 40% Conservative, 60% Liberal

Social Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Deval Gets Inaugurated, thoughts on a bold use of the Bully Pulpit

As I was driving through the South Bay Shopping Center yesterday, seeing a new building go up, I thought of a good way Deval could use his bully pulpit.

There is something called the Boston Jobs Policy. 50% of the construction jobs in the City are supposed to goto Bostonians, 25% to minorities and 10 percent to women. However, this policy is not enforced, and basically given lip service by the Mayor and his administration. A review of 5 years of BRA projects showed that only between 20 and 25 % of the jobs are going to Boston residents and fewer still to minorities.

Why are young minorities in the City shooting one another? One reason is very tiny job prospects. Look around at the construction jobs, mostly white males, which the data show mostly live in the suburbs. Even in the heart of Roxbury/Dorchester a new building going up has only white guys visibly working on it (at least 10 as I drove by, with no women or minorities). Our trade school, Madison Park has fewer than a dozen young people getting the training to be carpenters and according to the teachers they are not getting the resources they need to prepare the kids for the real world.

Perhaps Deval could work with the Mayor on giving these kids an opportunity, so they have more to look forward to than guns and violence. Use that pulpit to get the City of Boston to enforce its own guidelines and hire local people, local minorities for these honest, good paying jobs.

Talking about Police Staffing, Violence on WRKO

I will be on WRKO sometime between 10 a.m. and 1 pm on Saturday talking about the police staffing levels and the increased violence in the City. In particular, I will be talking about our Citizen Lawsuit to force the Mayor and the City of Boston to enforce it's own laws by staffing the Boston Police Department to the number required by Ordinance, namely 2500 police officers.

Please call in and join in the discussion, with your thoughts and ideas on how we can reduce the violence in the City.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Patriots Playoff Tix Raffle for Good Cause!

A friend of mine who is a bigwig at Spaulding Hospital is offering a chance to
goto the playoffs, and help raise money for a great charity. Please indulge

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network, official rehabilitation hospital
network of the New England Patriots, presents:

> New England Patriots Playoff Raffle
Includes two seats on 45 yrd line and two passes to VIP tailgate party

AFC East Champs, NE Patriots
> vs. New York Jets
> Sunday, January 7th
11am VIP Tailgate Party (includes barbeque and open bar)
> 1pm: Game Time
> Gillette Stadium
> Raffle tickets will be sold as such:
> 1 for $5
> 3 for $10
> 7 for $20
> The drawing will be held at 2pm on Friday, January 5th.
> Proceeds to benefit the Spaulding ski-a-thon teams.
> If you would like to purchase tickets or have any questions please contact
> Suzanne Showstack at or (617) 573-2903.