This city's biggest problem is a total lack of leadership.
Let's suppose for a minute that the local bloggers get together and launch a Coup D'Etat against the city. The people cheer, the crooks run for the hills, and then we get down to work.
Here are 3 things that I'd do if I were dictator:
#1- Like Rumsfeld, Donald Powell has to go. He's actually not a bad person, but he has no presence. The Gulf Coast Recovery Czar should have the ability to command broad bipartisan support and use the bully pulpit. Donald Powell has NEVER ONCE used the bully pulpit. He simply can't. Everyone sees him as a bean counter, which is pretty much accurate. A Czar should be able to inspire fear in other politicians. We need someone with balls. Here's my short list of acceptable candidates:
* Colin Powell
* Sandra Day O'Connor (She has balls in a Margaret Thatcher-sort of way)
* John Breaux
* George H. W. Bush (the bonus for him would be all the psychoanalysis of Shrub that would eat up the 24 hour news networks...)
* Bill Clinton (If the Republicans were really smart, this would be a genius move on their part because it would occupy Hillary's greatest strength)
#2- Institute the Death Penalty for corruption in Louisiana and "chop down the tallest trees." You've got to signal that the old ways are gone. You've got to prove to the rest of the nation that we're cleaning up our act and you've got to signal to the politicians to stay out of the most important public projects, like our schools and our levees.
For the first round of executions, I suggest Bob Odom, Bill Jefferson, and as many former Orleans Parish School Board members as possible. Hang 'em all in Jackson Square.
Here's the biggest advantage of the death penalty for public corruption: FAR easier to make cases. It's a real motivator for plead deals. These guys are cowards and I think an incentive like that would cause smaller fish to roll left and right on their political patrons
The final reason to institute the death penalty is we've already screwed up once. Onshore oil production in Louisiana was once HUGE and the state got royalties from that production. Unfortunately, the royalties went into the pockets of human slime like Leander Perez. As onshore oil reserves were depleted, oil production moved outside areas where the state got a cut of revenue. Hence our current dilemma. This state cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. We have one chance to get this right, so let's not fuck up again.
#3- Something has to be done about the city's footprint. A tax base of 150,000 people can't support a city footprint for 600,000 people. I've come up with 3 ways this could be done.
Option A- Shrink the footprint of the city. The smallest the city can be is the heavily populated "sliver on the river." The largest it can be is the area west of the industrial canal, plus Holy Cross/Lower 9th. The area I think would be the most efficient is just the area west of the Industrial Canal. The city would amputate injured limbs to save the body. It's not pretty and the people in the abandoned areas would hate it, but it would save the city. There would also be horrible press from "abandoning the Lower 9," which the press has adopted as its pet. You'd also have to plan out the shrinkage. It's not an ideal solution, but there just comes a point when you have to acknowledge you can't 'pick up a turd by the clean end.'
Option B- Annexation of surrounding parishes, especially Jefferson. Gobble up Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, and Plaquimines Parish. Maybe also St. Charles Parish. The surrounding Parishes have a huge tax base, which could finance city services. This would be the New York model. The surrounding parishes can't survive without the white collar jobs in the CBD and the port and Orleans needs the porperty taxes from those parishes. Pulling this off would be really tricky, though. It would have to be done at the state level and Orleans Parish politicians would have to surrender significant powers to their neighbors and we all know how politicians HATE giving up their power. One of the deals that would entice the suburbanites to join up would be dissolving NOPD and creating a regional police force under the leadership of Harry Lee.
Option C- "File for Divorce." There comes a point where government becomes too big and too unresponsive to the citizens. A lot of people have problems getting a meaningful response from their district councilman, much less their mayor. But, look how responsive neighborhood groups can be. Dissolve the city and set up smaller cities all over Orleans Parish. The Levee already suggested something along these lines. Over time, they can reformulate a new, unified city government that is more responsive to the citizens.
I think any of these options would work and I have no real preference on which is selected. Bits an pieces of each of these is already being implemented. The mayor's office has already told RSD and Orleans Parish Public Schools to limit the number of public schools opening on the western side of the Industrial Canal. JPSO and NOPD are cooperating like never before and have even extended "hot pursuit" privileges to each other. A long time ago, when friction between the Americans and Creoles reached a crescendo, the city subdivided itself into 3 separate cities. The city 'cited irreconcilable differences and filed for divorce. The three cities were Carrolton (Uptown - American), New Orleans (Quarter and Marigny - Creole), and I can't remember the name of the last city, but it encompassed the CBD and Central City.
Anyway, I hope these ideas get people thinking.