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Mar 6, 2007

Source: Bayou Buzz

New Orleans Unified Plan Needs Unity

New Orleans Unified Plan Needs Unity

Written by: Stephen Sabludowsky

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Early last summer, after Mayor Nagin was re-elected during an overly-watched and highly scrutinized election process, the Administration immediately started to be criticized that it did not have a plan. These attacks came from Anderson Cooper and others.

Meanwhile, the City of New Orleans had no money since it was holed up in the coffers of the federal government and the federal cry was show me the plan and you will receive your paydirt.

Consequently, a very long process started involving private foundations, Mayor Nagin, Governor Blanco, and various departments within the federal government on the process of building New Orleans.

The purpose of this plan, which ultimately was called the Unified New Orleans Plan drew much criticism, infighting, backbiting in that a Marshall Plan was required to rebuild New Orleans and instead, the City received so little funding in putting the plan together that it was doomed to fail—especially under the highly-charged fractured political process.

While hundreds of thousands of New Orleans were dispersed into the winds, the program finally after much urging “got the ticket” and employed a process that at most had four thousand people at one of its Congress to help develop the plan.

By contrast, the New Orleans Saints had more people greeting them after losing a playoff game in Chicago on a cold winter night.

In walks the Bureau of Governmental Research yesterday and slammed the GNOF plan and made specific recommendations. Some of the language used in the BGR’s executive summary appeared to suggest incompetence by the individuals involved. Read : http://www.bayoubuzz.com/News/NewOrleans/New_Orleans_Citywide_Plan_Criticized_By_Watchdog_BGR__3009.asp

The Unified Plan was supposed to be presented to the state this spring for funding. While the BGR is a powerful civic group, it remains to be seen whether their findings and recommendations pick up steam with other civic organizations.

What is incredible, however, is that the outreach process in putting together this plan has been at best anemic. Certainly the federal government and the state government which has been flush with money could have funded a process that would have been more inclusive, more expressive and reached more of New Orleans whether the citizens lived on Thoupitoulas or Timbuktu. Now, that the City Plan has been published its future is questioned.

BGR made some very good recommendations in its criticisms. However, whatever is done with the UNOP plan, it must be accomplished immediately. Either the city ignores BGR and accepts the UNOP plan as drafted or the City goes back to the drawing board in some form. Yet, New Orleans does not have another second to wait and this is where politics and leadership must make sound and quick decisions. UNOP has taken the first step and BGR has responded. Now, it is up to the leaders of the City of New Orleans to decide its own fate otherwise the national media, once again, will be asking—“where’s the plan”?.

Mar 6, 2007

Source: Bayou Buzz

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