Entries for December, 2006
December 5th, 2006
I’ve been in a bit of a blogging funk lately. It feels like beating a dead horse sometimes, and my flogging arm is getting worn out. If only you could mechanize it some way… But wait, you can if you have 2.4 million dollars, and you can beat it from five different cities simultaneously! Yes, I let morbid curiosity overcome me again, and I attended UNOP/AmericaSpeaks’ Community Congress II last Saturday.
I have to give them some credit – this Congress came much closer to pre-Katrina demographics where race and income were concerned, although not on age or planning district residence. This Congress was rather more participatory than the last one as well. Rather than voting exclusively on pre-ordained options, the “Theme Team” synthesized alternative scenarios besides the ones presented by UNOP based on the submissions of each table. It’s a good thing, too, because “scenario” is a strong word for what the original options were on each of the six topics. For example:
Roads, Transit and Utilities
Spread available funds evenly throughout the city. Concentrate available recovery funds in areas of the city with the greatest need* Raise additional funds, possibly through higher taxes or user fees, so that all infrastructure can be repaired and improved.
- (note: “greatest need” wasn’t explicitly defined, but from the pros and cons section of the handout, it was clear that UNOP equates greatest need with greatest population, not level of damage)
More (but not all) of the scenarios and alternatives can be seen in the Preliminary Report.
Someone remind me again – how many months of planning has it taken to come up with these “scenarios”? I thought at first that this sort of narrowing the scope – from extremely vague to somewhat vague – via citizen input might have been a good thing to have done back in July or August. The sort of information produced strikes me as where to start planning, not refine it. But then I got sticker shock:
6 topics approximately 2,500 participants $2.4 million (for just this session)
At $400,000 per topic and roughly $960 per participant, what do New Orleanians really gain that’s of lasting value? Is that really all the public input we can buy for $2.4 million? I hope the funders are watching.