Sunday, October 31, 2010

An uncaged city

The bounds of reason know no limits.
I have an inkling why the caged bird sings.  It sings for thee and me.

New Orleans is not about keeping animals in cages, except at the zoo.  New Orleans is about setting ambition free.  As I witness the chickens and peacocks that inhabit yards on Prytania Street, I am struck by how much freedom of movement and display exists in this freewheeling city where everyone is a talker except the dumb.  Well, even the dumb talk, just go to any watering hole with a congregation of Tulane students.  The mute don't.

New Orleans City Hall at night.  Some lights need replacing.
They say New Orleans' government is broken.  I think it's on the mend.  I haven't met anyone who says that things are worse now than during the past administration.  I also haven't heard anyone say that the form the city's government has taken over the decades is what is best for the city. New Orleans seems to run on a Tammany Hall model, if that is possible in this age of transparency and civic activism.

People have good things to say about Mayor Landrieu, but they are hesitant things.  So far, so good, but the proof will be when nobody is arrested for corruption after the fact.  So far the administration seems clean.  The mayor seems honest in providing an administration that works for the citizens.  The mayor, as promised, knows what to do and how to do it.  It isn't a smooth road, but it is much better and professional than I expected.  The decay that has been ever-present in New Orleans may reverse.  There is nothing wrong with decay when it doesn't impede progress.  There is something wrong with neglect.

I don't see the present administration neglecting its responsibilities.  It is active and robust and seems to strike the right balance between renovation and renewal.  Time will tell, of course.  In the meantime, the only consistently positive I hear is that Mitch Landrieu is no Ray Nagin.  Faint praise, perhaps, but in this case it seems to be that anything is better than the devil you know.



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