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September 09, 2005

A Conservative Defense of Ray Nagin

250px-Hurricane_Katrina_President_Bush_with_New_Orleans_Mayor.jpg I like Ray Nagin and I won't apologize for it. Somebody is going to have to do an awfully good job of convincing me that he's as wrong as many claim. I think he's a scapegoat of blind partisans and is not getting the credit he deserves.

The problem with having an analytical mind and not a general dispensation towards advocacy is that this blog is not as popular as it might be. But as thoughtful readers have reminded me, that's a good thing. And so I'm going to be analytical again. The interesting thing is that I feel that I must advocate for Nagin because my analysis raises point I haven't seen discussed. Furthermore, it's because I like the guy and I see knees jerking all over the joint.

In my opinion, Nagin is the target of convenience for a lot of people who are shouting because shouting is what they do best, but any thoughtful and nuanced accounting will show that he acted selflessly in defense of his police force & staff, and most importantly the people of New Orleans. Furthermore, I contend that he did so with an unvarnished sense of realism without unrealistic expectations about the ability for government agencies to handle a crisis.

I am getting as my primary sources of information:

  • Wikipedia
  • Rightwing Nuthouse Timeline
  • City of New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Website
  • I'd like to bust up a couple myths:

    Myth #1 - Ray Nagin is a typical liberal black Democrat, and that his 'failure' stems from fundamental ideological problems.

    Junkyard Blog says:

    If we let Ray Nagin, Jesse Jackson, RFK Jr and the rest of the leftist mob define Katrina and tell us what went wrong, the coming big bang will be dangerous. These are dangerous people. They taste the air and sense blood. They feed on misery. They must be answered, they must be pushed back, or they will win.

    First thing's first. Who is Ray Nagin? Well if you listened to Hannity or Limbaugh today and yesterday you would have heard him lumped in with the 'Democrats' and/or 'black leaders'. This is just appalling to me because the first thing I noticed about the guy was that he is not a career politician. He was a business executive at Cox Communications and a Republican in his life before becoming mayor of New Orleans. This seems to have escaped everyone's notice but mine in the tirades against him.

    Furthermore as a Democrat, he campaigned for a Republican candidate for Governor, Bobby Jindal, whom I like for the some of the same reasons I like Nagin. The new professional face of the Republican Party these two could be, if people would stop and think for a minute.

    Indeed much of the criticism of Democrats and of New Orleans talks about black mayors and cronyism. Yet Nagin campaigned on a reform platform. He came out swinging:

    Mayor C Ray Nagin has defied the conventional wisdom from the beginning of his political life. His surprise victory in the New Orleans mayoral election in May 2002, proved that New Orleanians were looking for the city’s leadership to take bold new steps to protect their future. He became the first New Orleans Mayor to rise to the post in nearly 60 years without holding a previous elected office. Ray Nagin put his career in business on hold to lead the city where he was born.

    Shortly after he was elected, Mayor Nagin revealed that he would not tolerate the atmosphere of political corruption that had pervaded city government. He instituted a criminal and administrative probe with the help of the New Orleans Police Department and the Metropolitan Crime Commission – an area watchdog group - that resulted in the arrest of 84 city workers and the restructuring of the New Orleans utilities department. Mayor Nagin is resolved to erase the image of New Orleans as a place where graft is part of the old-world charm.

    Myth #2 - Nagin Didn't Follow the Plan
    This is a kind of tail wagging the dog and rather typical of internet nonsense. First somebody finds dramatic pictures of buses underwater and then decides that this is a problem. Then they went to find out where it had to be part of a plan that the buses were to be used. Given that buses could be identified as part of a plan, somebody must be to blame, Nagin has become the goat. The biggest promoter of this reversal of logic is the Junkyard Blog in an attempt to lay blame on Democrats and deflect criticism of the Bush Administration.

    I have three rebuttals, the first of which is what I see as the backwards logic of finding a picture on the internet and then a clause somewhere that justifies the importance of that picture. This is clearly a meme gone awry.

    The second rebuttal makes use of the nature of the plan. The evacuation plan clearly places the overwhelming majority of the responsibility for evacuation on the citizens themselves. One cannot logically parse the volume of information presented by Nagin's office and conclude that any government entity, city, county, state or Federal would bear significant responsibility for getting people out of harm's way. In statement after statement Nagin has explained clearly that the Superdome was a 'shelter of last resort'.

    Junkyard Blog attempts to cite chapter and verse from the Emergency Plan:

    They just didn't follow it. So they were planning to fail. By "they," I mean pretty much every government official in Louisiana, and by "plan," I mean a signed-off set of procedures they were supposed to follow in the event of a catastrophic hurricane. You know, like the one that just hit. And by "fail" I mean complete catastrophic failure.

    Here's the southeast Louisiana evac plan supplement, most recently revised in 2000. Go to page 13, read paragraph 5. It states:

    5. The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

    I've bolded that first sentence in paragraph five. What part of that is ambiguous? Most people were to be responsible for their own evacuation and that is exactly what most people did. The Red Cross (see below) has tracked a maximum of less than 100k out of a city of 500k, which means at least 80% of New Orleans evacuated, at the order of the Mayor, under their own power. This is what was expected and this is what happened, according to plan.

    We know however, that there were a maximum of about 30,000 individuals at the Superdome, but not how many thousands refused evacuation until the approval of the use of forced evacuation. But nobody was as clear on the shortfall of evacuation as the Mayor, when he went on the air and called for assistance.

    Thirdly, no plan survives contact with the enemy. I see nowhere in any of the documented evacuation plans that people would be rescued by boat. In fact, thousands of people were rescued by boats manned by the New Orleans Police and obviously deputized volunteers. This is clearly the rescue operation that saved the most lives and yet Nagin has been given no credit or even benefit of the doubt for the sake of this bus story.

    Myth #3 - Nagin's Unused 'Motor Pool' Would Have Saved Lives
    This is actually not a myth. It's a fact, but the significance of this criticism depends entirely upon the number of lives lost because of a failed evaucation of navigable roads. The precise number of lives it could have saved would be all of those people who died within access to roads that school buses could use. Right now since the New Orleans death toll stands under 200, the deaths that could have been prevented maxes out at about 2 buses. But I'm willing to bet that only a couple dozen of those died on the side of the road. And considering the number of police vehicles available, buses weren't necessary to save lives.

    The Red Cross has registered about 94,000 survivors from Louisiana. As of today they providing shelter for about 55,000 in over 200 locations. Assuming that the New Orleans death toll goes to 1,000 (and today there are only 118 confirmed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals as of September 9th.) the most plausible explanation will be drowning because of the levee flooding, in which case the buses would have been of no use vis a vis evacuation.

    It is more correct to assert that use of buses could have made the relocation process more expedient and greatly contributed to the comfort of evacuees at the Superdome.

    I want to make some other points very clear here about the use and availability of buses that have could have been used to ease congestion and overcrowding at the Superdome.

    1. Nobody could have predicted which of the levees would burst or how badly. Their bursting was not inevitable, nor was the combination catastrophe of multiple failures and failures of pumping stations. The severity of the need to evacuate after the passing of the storm was caused by this flooding, which is the same factor that disabled the buses. I will show below that this resulted in the loss of only relatively few lives anyway.

    2. Nobody could have predicted that Highway 10 would have failed aross to Slidell. With that route closed, evacuation from the East became impossible. No buses could help from that direction.

    3. If you haven't read it already, read The Anchoress on the first 100 hours.

    The following negative and positive points are those I have considered in defending Nagin. You may assign different weights to them. In the end, I say Nagin ends up in the plus column or breaking even depending upon how many lives are lost. Considering that this was the greatest catastrophe to befall any American city since the Civil War, that kind of context must be maintained.

    Minus Points (Goat Factor)

    GF #1 - Nagin's Cops Quit
    Nagin's police force bugged out on him, and as many as 200 have reportedly abandoned their posts and gone AWOL. The responsibility for the morale of the PD falls squarely on Nagin's Administration. With a force of 1500, that is a huge failure. This may have been the best way to get rid of the marginal cops and weed out the losers, but it's a huge divot. Nagin's leadership of his police force was not what it could have been.

    GF #2 - Nagin Sent Cops to Vegas
    This should have been kept on the QT. One week of pure hell duty and fungus infections on the feet merit time off in anybody's book, but such matters should have been kept quiet if possible. This was a pure press disaster.

    GF #3 - Nagin Failed to Cooperate with Blanco
    Nagin's antipathy to Blanco evidenced itself in his ignorance of what Blanco's plans were to engage the National Guard and other disaster plans. It can't be determined whether Blanco was refusing to communicate with Nagin or vice-versa which mitigates this factor.

    Plus Points (Hero Factor)

    HF #1 - Nagin Blew the Whistle at Great Political Risk to Himself
    Whatever you think about Nagin's November 1 radio broadcast - love it or hate it, there is one thing that is perfectly clear: Nagin sounded the alarm in an emotional way that is risky for a politician. Depending upon your point of view, you either love this kind of demeanor or you hate it in a politician but there was no doubt that he was willing to take that risk in order to bring attention to the crisis he faced. He wasn't afraid to say he needed help, and he did it in an unselfish way.

    Nagin gave credit where credit was due to George Bush for sending in General Honore to oversee the developing crisis. He called for centralized authority, but didn't demand it for himself. From the first we heard of Honore, Nagin was perfectly willing to give the general full control.

    HF #2 - Nagin Upheld Civil Liberty

    Whatever you think about the looters or what it may signify, one thing you have not heard is any charges of police brutality. Nobody was shot by accident. No great numbers of innocent people were arrested.

    HF #3 - Nagin Redirected All Police Efforts towards Safety.
    When it became apparent that shooting was taking place in the city and gangs of junkies (as far as we can tell there was only one sniper, however) and thugs, Nagin took the risky move and redirected his entire police force from rescue to safety. Nagin clearly understood that no rescue could take place if rescue workers had to fear for their own safety. This was a smart move and the right thing to do. He didn't hesitate, he didn't half step.

    Non Points (No Factor)

    The following points I don't think merit serious consideration in regards to an evaluation of Nagin. Either they are trifling and petty or they are things beyond the reasonable control of any human being or bureacracy during a catastrophe.

    NF #1 - Squallor at the Superdome
    Long before the Superdome situation degenerated into typical refugee camp status, Nagin called for resources to help move people out. It is this context that gives whatever credibility could be assigned to the weight of the lost buses. Nagin also directed evacuees toward other refuges such as area hospitals and the airports. There were no such reports of squallor. At no time can it be said that people were safer on the streets than in the Superdome. Americans may be squeamish about the way it is in refugee camps, but that's the way it is. If the Red Cross gives any weight to the suggestion that conditions at the Superdome ran below what they typically see, then this moves to the negative column. Remember that according to the plan, the Superdome was the refuge of last resort, it being the only building certified to withstand Category 3 in New Orleans.

    NF #2 - Nagin's Use of Profanity
    That's a weak ass argument. Dismissed. But seriously, you cannot support General Honore and diss Mayor Nagin on the question of cursing.

    NF #3 - Nagin Overreacted & Exaggerated the Number of Potential Dead
    I say this one balances out to zero. While it's true that lots of people may have panicked at the news, most unfortunately the cowards on his own police force, it's better on the whole to say that the sky is falling than it is to say everything's under control.

    Add all these things to what I've said prior and I think Nagin comes off as well as anyone could expect under the circumstances. I certainly welcome retorts, corrections, and broadsided criticisms. I'm willing to admit where I am biased, but I think an objective view of the situation leaves Nagin less damaged than some people have wrongly tried to make him.

    I say he breaks even. He made some tough calls and they were all correct and timely. He may have lost his temper, but I say that's a good thing when lives are involved, so long as it's not counterproductive. There are some plusses and minuses to be considered, but at the end of the day Nagin is the man who called for and oversaw the most complicated and largest evacuation of a major American city in history, a city of 500,000, while only losing 118. That's commendable. He did his job.

    Posted by mbowen at September 9, 2005 10:26 PM

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    Defending Nagin from the right from Signifying Nothing
    For what it’s worth: a counterpoint to my cheap shot at Ray Nagin comes from Cobb (þ: Xrlq). [Read More]

    Tracked on September 10, 2005 05:42 PM


    "No plan survives contact with the enemy."


    The problem with alot of the "blame game" is that it assumes a level of mendacity or sloth on the part of the purported culprit that is simply unrealistic. Obviously, Bush, Brown and Nagin are human beings who don't want to see other human beings suffer. Obviously, they all want to do what they can to help other people. I think that principle applies to Nagin and to Bush.

    On the other hand, it is fair to look at the situation - later - and see what went right and what went wrong. An awful lot went right in New Orleans, and we can learn from that. For heaven's sake, a major urban area was substantially evacuated in 24 hours. I don't think that has ever been done before.

    I personally am wondering about the levee itself, and why it failed. That's something that needs examination.

    Posted by: Peter Sean Bradley at September 10, 2005 12:42 PM

    No plan survives contact with the enemy

    That's correct.

    For the record, I don't blame Nagin for the response of the cops. That's on them.

    On 80% of people getting out. That's the good thing. On the other 20%, that's where I have trouble.

    The bus use was to help account for the other 20%. Actually, it would probably be less since some just wanted to stay regardless.

    Next, if there was an issue between him and the gov., it should have been shelved during this time. The blame, if any, goes to both of them on that one.

    Lastly, like I wrote before, the fact that he's a Dem, to me, doesn't matter. Nor does it matter to me that he's "really" a Rep.

    Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2005 12:56 PM

    I don't think anyone believes the final death toll will be anywhere near 200, and even if it is there was no way of knowing that at the time the buses should have been moving, so I'd give that factor a lot more weight than you seem to. As to the plan, the part you didn't bold is just as important as the part you did, especially in a city as poor as New Orleans, where many people lack cars.

    I agree that Superdome squalor should probably be a non-factor WRT to Nagin, but not for the reason you give. Right now, it strikes me as a huge negative factor against Gov. Blanco, whose administration appears to have prohibited the Red Cross and the Salvation Army from bringing any supplies there. I don't know Mayor Nagin played any role in that, however; I assume he probably didn't.

    Last, but not necessarily least, I don't think it is correct to say Mayor Nagin upheld civil liberty. Right now his police chief is ordering everyone disarmed, which is almost certainly a violation of R.S. 14:329.6, not to mention the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article 1, Section 11 of Louisiana's.

    Posted by: Xrlq at September 10, 2005 04:31 PM

    If Volokh says so it must be right, however I think that Nagin has wiggle room now if he were willing to call martial law. This latest issue with forced evacuations initiated yesterday seemed to be handled fairly diplomatically, either way I didn't think it's so important.

    I didn't mention it, but he never did declare martial law, nor did Blanco (which is really bizarre since she gave the illegal shoot looters sentiment lots of airtime. Could that be construed as incitement?) I'm not sure that it was within Nagin's power to declare martial law which is why I left that unmentioned. But he clearly operated short of that which is why he took heat early on for letting looters loot. I should have been more clear on the point but I didn't want to build up Nagin by tearing down Blanco.

    I think she'll implode from several directions especially if what you're saying is true.

    I'm willing to bet a nickel that they'll find fewer than 200 more bodies in the city.

    I think it's significant that Nagin was a Republican before going Dem for the election. Like I said a lot of righties are kneejerking on this and some of it is pure racial bigotry. I hear it loud and clear and I want people called on that.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2005 06:36 PM

    Like I said a lot of righties are kneejerking on this and some of it is pure racial bigotry.

    Yep. I agree with that one.

    Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2005 07:21 PM

    This is the part that gets to me:

    School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

    I didn't see any effort to mobilize these resources for the people it's meant to help (and this is important) prior to landfall -- Sunday, when the majority of the roads were still passable. Post-landfall, it's very touch and go whether rolling buses would have been any use.

    Additionally, I haven't seen any plan that effects notification to those who would be willing to take advantage of public evacaution methods. Given even 24 hours to start rolling buses at planned intervals to planned pickup locations and then out of the city, how many fewer people would have been picked off roofs?

    Point being -- this part of the plan (public transport evac, pre-landfall) doesn't need to survive contact with the enemy. It proactively avoids contact with the enemy for those who want to do so. The rest, of course, go into the grim calculus being done.

    And, for my money, Nagin has performed as well as any big-city mayor can be expected to perform. Kind of a camera hog pub seeker, but that's just endemic civic politiosis. I shudder to think how my mayor would perform in his stead.

    Posted by: Scott Chaffin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2005 08:06 PM

    Never ascribe to racism what can be more easily explained by other, more socially acceptable stereotypes. Speaking only for myself, prior to reading this entry, I shared many of the same assumptions early on about Nagin myself. I assumed the worst about the guy not because he's black, but because he's the mayor of New Orleans.

    Posted by: Xrlq at September 10, 2005 09:08 PM

    Mr. Bowen, I find your Defense of Mayor Nagin in your post bears out some interesting findings. On a word frequency analysis of the entire post, the word Nagin occurs 51 times. The word responsibility occurs but 3 times:

    1. The evacuation plan clearly places the overwhelming majority of the responsibility for evacuation on the citizens themselves.

    2. One cannot logically parse the volume of information presented by Nagin's office and conclude that any government entity, city, county, state or Federal would bear significant responsibility for getting people out of harm's way.

    3. The responsibility for the morale of the PD falls squarely on Nagin's Administration.

    Further on we are told:

    4. “Nagin's antipathy to Blanco evidenced itself in his ignorance of what Blanco's plans were.”

    I would like to ask a question:

    Did the Mayor of New Orleans have any significant important responsibilities regarding disaster preparedness in event of a hurricane of any magnitude in New Orleans ?

    Posted by: Mckiernan at September 10, 2005 09:19 PM

    The Red Cross was not allowed to send supplies in. Nagin bears at least some responsibility for that happening. Nagin also seems to be fond of advocating illegal forced entries, gun seizures, and forced evacuations. Democrat or Republican, he should have created some sort of relationship with the surrounding parishes law enforcement so the poor could at least walk out.

    In the end, the guy's going to take his lumps in the after action report, just like everybody else. I'll hold final judgment until then and anybody who doesn't is a fool. Everything is provisional right now.

    Posted by: TM Lutas at September 10, 2005 10:23 PM

    Scott I see your point with regard to a proactive mandatory evac using buses for indigent people before landfall. That was a window of opportunity for which I can see Nagin clearly has responsibility whether or not it was part of a stated plan. Since he had declared the evacuation to be mandatory it draws attention to the estimates he must have had with regard to the number of people he expected to evacuate by bus and those who would be using the Superdome. This is something I could not see because of the diversion of buses underwater. Clear.

    I believe Nagin and state officials certainly had a responsibility to have a plan, and in reading what has been published regarding preparedness, my interpretation was that they felt that it was impossible for them to handle any significant responsibility for evacuation. Given that, their communication of that incapacity appeared to me to be very self evident. I've said all along that "you're on your own" with regard to the primary responsibility for evacuation was loud and clear in Nagin's plan.

    However it was the matter of the flood which ratcheted up the responsibility. Once people would have to be rescued long after landfall the magnitude of the catastrophe became clearer and the Mayor screamed for help.

    I believe that the contingency of a levee failure was not part of their evacuation plan, and for that they are accountable to the extent that the flood caused extra suffering and death. The revelation of the failure of the City (and state?) to secure matching funds for levee improvement from the Feds by not kicking in their own tax dollars is significant as well, but it is not clear that this is soley Nagin's burden. Furthermore on that score I had been previously convinced that an infrastructure project of the magnitude required to secure the levee system from Category 4 would have takend many many years and billions.

    On point three, I am not clear, aside from the media concentration on it, what material effect Nagin's PDs morale had on the disaster relief. I say that strictly as a political failure. The responsibility of cops to stay on duty is their own.

    Point four is all on Nagin. Again I'm not going to take down Blanco here. Nagin's second guessing of her may all be vindicated. I don't know. But that too is all a political failure.

    TM, all this about forced illegal entries and gun seizures is news starting from yesterday afternoon. I haven't followed that. Again, I think if Nagin has the legal authority to declare martial law, then he can disarm the populace.

    I don't discount the probability of racial sterotypes playing here. Am I the only one who has heard that Nagin is just another in a succession of black mayors?

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2005 11:35 PM

    The morale of the NOLA PD has nothing to do with the mayor.

    The NOLA PD has a strong history of being corrupt and criminal. That has more on morale than anything Nagin has done or not done.

    Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 12:28 PM

    Anymore...I hate to align myself with any party. They're both letting me down something horrific with all the postulating and finger-pointing and positioning. But I won't go there.

    In defense of Ray, what I liked most about what I have seen and continue to see from him is raw, true emotion. Heartbreak, anger, concern, human response to a situation of great crisis. And frankly, that's not something I see much in any politician. Not with any great sincerity.

    Posted by: **RPM** [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 12:54 PM

    You're probably not the only one who has heard that, but I haven't heard it myself, despite having been recently overrun by a herd of racist trolls from Steve Sailer's personal web site and VDare, who have managed to find some way to attribute almost everything else about New Orleans to race.

    Posted by: Xrlq at September 11, 2005 01:02 PM

    I think I've learned the hard way, X, that you can't really step halfway into racial discussions, even though common sense and courtesy dictates that you should. So I've kinda determined that I have to go to the wall every time the subjects are raised, even though I hate getting bogged down in it. It's frustrating. It used to be compelling, but now it just wears on my nerves. Ultimately, you can't be squirrelly on it, because the number of people who are wrong boggles the mind. What often passes for sensible keeping of the peace is, embarrassed silence or shame or codewords. That's cheesy...

    Ed, you're right about the NOPD. The question is more properly whether Nagin's reforms (and the police analyst who used to work for Bratton in NYC on the 'broken windows' theory) have help or hurt overall. I wouldn't doubt that New Orleans has similar problems to Los Angeles with regard to recruitment in some communities. The Coalition of the Damned is probably lurking out there, defending snipers. Let's see if Tony Muhammad makes it out there... At least Rev Al shutup and was a Reverend for a change.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 02:15 PM

    More interesting reporting from the NYT.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 04:17 PM

    I think Nagin did what he could. He certainly speaks his mind and although he made mistakes, I think he probably saved a lot of lives as well.

    As for the buses, that was a question that I had and he answered it. Althoug he had buses, he lacked the human resources to protect all of them. And I think the city was overwhelmed as soon as the storm hit.

    I was really critical of Nagin at first but I've come to an understanding of his position and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. From what I hear, most in New Orleans will as well.

    With Mike Brown retiring today, at least that point was proven. He was not the man for the job.

    Excellent post, Cobb.

    Posted by: james manning at September 12, 2005 12:43 PM

    On Nagin, his performance will be determined at the polls. Be it re-elected or not or a recall vote.

    Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 04:21 AM

    I'm willing to bet a nickel that they'll find fewer than 200 more bodies in the city.

    There's one bet I was really, really hoping to lose, and for a little while it almost seemed like I might. Unfortunately, I just won it.

    Posted by: Xrlq at September 13, 2005 02:05 PM

    Sorry, Cobb, I'm not buying. From what I've seen, Nagin looks like a guy who's in way over his head, and has been quick to complain how everybody but himself is screwing up.

    His defense of why the buses didn't roll was particularly weak. It has been widely reported that at least one 18-year-old kid comandeered a bus, picked up a load of people, and drove them to safety on his own, presumably without any specialized training.

    Race isn't an issue for me here -- but competence is. As Xriq so deftly put it: "I assumed the worst about the guy not because he's black, but because he's the mayor of New Orleans."

    Posted by: digdog1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 06:29 PM

    Nagin figured out that black republicans talk trash, black democrats win elections.

    Simple as that!

    Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2005 09:32 PM

    I'm a 66 year old white guy in Florida. My first impression of the Mayor was that he was a typical Democrat. I don't follow the MSM but as I read more about what he was saying and doing on the web, my opinion about him has gone way up. He sounds like a straight shooter and I wish him the best in a terrible situation.

    Posted by: Carl at September 14, 2005 07:03 PM

    I like your blog and your analysis. Many, on both sides, have overlooked the fact that Nagin was a Republican prior to taking office.

    I agree with many of your points. He seems like a nice guy. He has been dealt some rough cards. Goes with the territory.

    I see leadership failure in a time of crisis, which is the worst time for a problem to manifest itself. This is the type of weakness that is not readily apparent until a crisis presents. We had an idea of Giuliani's backbone given his tenure as District Attorney for NYC. I think all were still amazed and relieved by the steps Giuliani took.

    Neither the mayor of N.O. or the Governor of LA showed strong leadership. This is not a dem/rep issue. It's a leadership issue. If you know a CAT 5 is bearing down on your city and you've studied the evac plan and the catastrophic scenarios, it's time to follow a plan and then to deviate as needed. This calls for drastic steps. "Above and beyond the plan we have in place, I am recalling all city bus drivers to report for duty. I am directing the police department and requesting assistance from LA Homeland Security to assist with the evacuation of those who cannot move themselves. I have been in touch with the governor who is doing her best to ensure that other cities in LA can provide temporary shelter. This is not a perfect solution, but we are facing something we have not seen before, we face the potential for drastic loss of life."
    There's no playbook for that. Perhaps you think this commentary unfair, and in fact, it is. This is what differentiates a situation of mass chaos from the general public at least understanding people hustled and did everything that they could.
    Kind of hard to evaluate a candidate (of ANY party) in this regard. When disaster strikes, we expect results.
    I hope he leads his city to better days. I hope America can learn from the perfect storm: Katrina/Nagin/Blanco/FEMA-Brown.

    Posted by: David Garcia at September 15, 2005 08:03 AM

    Excellent post, McdBowen. In my opinion, Nagin did a good job under impossible circumstances.

    With regards to the issue of the unusued buses: The possibility in the state and city plan of using buses for an evacuation was contingent on having enough drivers who can be counted around on to stick around for a Category 5 hurricane. If you're a driver, your incilination is going to be to gather your family and get the hell out of New Orleans as soon as possible. As Nagin told Tim Russert, the city barely had enough drivers as it was to transport people to the Superdome.

    Posted by: Peter at September 16, 2005 06:30 PM

    With all due respect, I consider the "not enough drivers" meme to be lame. Driving is a skill taught in high school. If the Mayor felt hard pressed for drivers he could have walked into any video arcade or street corner and found people who could have done the job. For that matter need he looked beyond his own office? "I need X number of volunteers who know how to drive to use buses to take evacuees out of town. Get them away from here. You and you and you! You've all volunteered. Now get going!" Would these deputised drivers necessarily have been as skilled at it as experienced bus drivers? Maybe not but they would certainly be more useful than cowards who were too gutless to do the job for which they were hired however skilled and experienced such cowards might be.

    "Not enough drivers" my eye! If Nagin truly thought there weren't enough people who knew how to drive buses in New Orleans then either he suffered from a deficiency in imagination in the face of dire emergency or else he must hold the people of his city in a truly profound pit of contempt. I hope for the sake of New Orleans that it's the former.

    Posted by: Small Pink Mouse at September 16, 2005 09:14 PM

    Yesterday on the news I saw the mayor of Slidell trying to 'pull a Nagin'. His complaint about FEMA promising assistance and delivering nothing sounded remarkably familiar. He did a bit of grandstanding in front of the reporter, then went on about his dismal thankless job.

    I'll add this one note as well. Nobody has suggested at any point that Nagin has been criminally negligent. The DA has already filed charges against some nursing home operators. Do any of the naysayers think that Nagin should pay anything greater than political consequences?

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2005 11:16 PM

    dud e you need to open your eyes and step back on earth! Nagin failed his people and thats all its to it. wether you like it or not NAGIN is a murder in is curupt muder,drug use, city. he had ample time to evacute his people at least three days notice of this storm coming then turn around and wait to the last 24 hours is not a good leader. then try to repopulate the city with all the dangers there and plus another storm is on the way? THE MAN IS AND IDIOT! Open your eyes and stop smelling the roses cause ther died!

    Posted by: bigdickdaddy at September 25, 2005 08:05 PM

    I've never had it spelled out to me quite that way.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2005 10:04 PM