Friday, September 16, 2005

Nagin Shows a Little Swagger

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, whatever one might think of him (and I do think he did a lousy job on the front end of this disaster), may have found himself. This post from the New Orleans Times-Picayune is even better in the video version.

Nagin seems to be using the disaster as a gain for the future of New Orleans, indicating that crime won't be tolerated (as it was before and during the disaster):
The various law enforcement personnel have an impressive arsenal, containing everything from M-4s to M-16s to night-vision goggles, Nagin said. "They might even have a couple of bazookas they're saving for special people," he quipped. "So if you're coming back to this city and expecting it to be what it was before, we have a rude awakening for you."
Bazookas...rude awakenings. This is priceless, not just because Nagin is playing Dirty Harry, but because it shows that Nagin may actually be getting it. The Nagin who broke down on radio may be being replaced by a guy who is finding out the hard way what leadership is and how it's done. And make no mistake, this is a very real opportunity.

Never before has a city been emptied and repopulated like this. Which means that the local officials are controlling the who, when and how of the city's resettlement. Meaning that they are already in town and have control of the peace, making established patterns of crime all the harder to reestablish and all the easier to interdict. Which does not mean that old ways will not again set in, just that Nagin has a rare opportunity to prevent it.

If he does, and redefines the Crescent City, he'll be a hero. If he screws it up, and it turns back into a crime infested mess, we're back to the inept guy who collapsed on the radio and told his citizens well before Katrina that they were on their own in the event of a disaster.

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