I just got back from the Unified New Orleans Plan Meeting. I'm glad I went because now I better understand the Herculean task that we're up against. This UNOP was formed basically to get federal funds into the city. The Louisiana Recovery Authority on the state level won't give New Orleans the federal money until we have a single city-wide recovery and rebuilding plan. That won't be easy. Today we were divided up into our districts. I believe there are 13 districts. The ultimate goal of the UNOP is to come up with one city-wide plan, as well as a plan for each of the 13 districts. But today's meeting was poorly planned. I believe they predicted about 150 people to attend, but there were more likely 1,000. The meeting started with the majority of people still in line. One of the bottlenecks was that people were asked to put a red dot on a large map representing where they lived. Then once inside, there were chairs for about 1/10th of the people. Most went home right away. I think my district, planning district 4, had the most people in attendance, but it also faces some of the biggest problems. We are a very diverse group, with neighborhoods like the Treme, Seventh Ward, Fauberg St John, and my neighborhood Mid-City. Before we could discuss serious business, we also had to put another red dot on another map showing where we lived. Here is our map:
Notice the dots show that at least three people are living in City Park. Our district's facilitator for the UNOP, Carlos, even had a red dot stuck to his glasses, as you can that see here:
Here is another picture of Carlos, he's "facilitating" with a lady named Jean(?) behind him.
Jean spoke to us like we had the IQ of a five-year-old. In the end we were basically told that we wanted one overall district planner. That's not what I wanted. Then we're actually supposed to vote on the planner in 48 hours after they make a 10 minute presentation Tuesday. This is one of the most important decisions in the history of New Orleans, and I feel like we're being manipulated. Very few people who live in New Orleans will actually have a voice in who we choose to be our planners. I've got to do quite a bit of research on these planners before Tuesday.
For further depression, read Becky Houtman's history of the UNOP, and Schroeder's "Res ipsa loquitur."
Also, check out Mark Folse's image of the convoluted recovery process. It's brilliant.
Later Note:Alan Gutierrez explains the inherent problems in the UNOP's voting system.