Wednesday, October 01, 2008

By the time I finish posting this, only one thing will be absolutely certain:

We have until midnight.

In all honesty, there are times when I don't know why I'm still doing what I'm doing. There are times when it is exhausting to care. Days when it feels as though banging one's head against a wall will do so much more than sitting through yet another meeting, enduring yet another litany of what people ought to be doing and aren't, wondering why people in power don't just do the right things. Yep, this was definitely one of those days.

I kinda envied one councilmember who didn't show up to the Facilities Master Plan meeting in the City Council Chambers today. Perhaps he was the one who was doing the right thing in not legitimizing the show I saw Paul Vallas, Darryl Kilbert, Constance Caruso, the principal planners of Concordia-Parsons, and Torin Sanders put on for nearly an hour and a half. Several public commenters who managed to tough it out beyond noon to make their comments noted that the public comment period that day actually began at 11:20 AM, not at 10 AM, the scheduled beginning of the meeting.

The same bunches of folks speaking up for their schools came to the podium, as well as some new groups voicing their concerns and their needs. Most of those needs were not reflected in the current Master Plan. Many spoke of the double-talk they encountered when taking their cases straight to Vallas and the RSD planners, and Vallas himself spouted a great deal of that same double-talk in his answers to these parents, educators, community (re)developers (apparently, Wendell Pierce, from HBO's The Wire, is the executive director of the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation. His group wants Coghill Elementary School to be rebuilt where it is, not moved to a different site.), and other citizens who presented one instance after another of the myriad ways in which the communities were not considered at all despite the many community meetings held by Concordia-Parsons before this day. When even Louella Givens, a BESE board member, is speaking out against the Master Plan, something's wrong.

The real kicker, however, the one that made me want to rip out the seat in front of me, was when Frances Sewell of the English Turn Civic Improvement Association expressed her indignation at having a school put in the middle of English Turn without the knowledge of anybody living in the area...and she wanted to know "who put the money there to go into a wilderness park?"

I know. It's English Turn. The place that buses its children out to schools for everybody's Peace of Mind and Convenience. "The Realm of the Extraordinary", where all the rest of us peons must scrimp and pinch to the nth degree to manage to wedge a toe in the gate of their community if we really want to. That place. (Note from an anonymous commenter: Frances does not live in the Subdivision. Before the English Turn subdivision there was English Turn. That is what she is talking about. My apologies.)

Paul Vallas did the best song and dance he could. He touted a Species Survival Center that was going into that wilderness park, saying it was going to be classrooms meant for high school students at the junior and senior levels for specialized instruction. He threw in something about the Audubon Institute's involvement in the center. He said the RSD was not using FEMA or state money to build these specialized classrooms.

"Yes, but where is the money coming from?" Sewell pressed.

Vallas finally got to it: Ed Blakely and the Mayor's office had authorized the use of Community Block Development Grant monies to fund this wild 'n' woolly Species Survival Center in the wilderness of English Turn.

Ummm...why is that money going there when it is clearly needed on the East Bank and in other parts of Algiers on the West Bank?

Throw in the fact that Parsons bears responsibility for this mess in Iraq and we have ourselves a serious problem here in the Crescent City.

From Paul Vallas' point of view, we have to strike with some sort of plan, any sort of plan, while we still can. Moneymoneymoneymoney, citizens - take it and run while we still can, because the economy's going down the tubes and that money will go with it unless we get this thing done right nownownownow.

Wendell Pierce threw out a bit of a Freudian banana peel when he spoke of the numbers folks behind the planning as being "demagographers". Very, very apt slip.

We have until midnight to comment at

At least it will be on record.


About the only other thing I got out of today:

Another piece of advice: never watch Children of Men in the middle of any school facilities muddle. Period.


Anonymous said...

Frances does not live in the Subdivision. Before the English Turn subdivision there was English Turn. That is what she is talking about

Schroeder said...

A beautiful fortune. Sorry about the school mess. Here's one I have to sit out, and it kills me. I can sign petitions, send emails, and wave signs. Other battles to fight right now. Keep up the advocacy, and thanks for putting in the time.

saintseester said...

I absolutely love that fortune and am trying to pin it into my mind.

I am sorry Children of Men made you feel bad; I thought it was very powerful movie (the book, not so much).

Leigh C. said...

Oh, I thought the movie was amazing. The scenes that showed the fugitives hiding out in a school left for dead, however, absolutely floored me. Especially since I've been in so many that look like that in N.O. East and the Lower Nine.

Sophmom said...

Love the fortune and Pierce's inadverdently apt coinage. Take care, darlin'. I'm sorry it's so damn hard.