Everybody and their mother is commenting on Nagin's recent remarks on a supposed conspiracy afoot to keep African-Americans from coming back to New Orleans. While I am somewhat surprised the rest of the country even listens to the man's rants, I do have one log I'd like to throw on the fire.
When speaking about planning the recovery of the city, the two most conservative candidates in the mayoral election, Peggy Wilson and Rob Couhig, were constantly spouting out the line "Let the market decide". This is essentially an admonition to allow the gentrification of the city to run it's course unchecked. The market is heartless, it cares not about affordable housing or displaced New Olreanians. The only way we would have been able to avoid gentrification and spiraling real estate rates was to implement some type of socio-economic plan which would have tempered the market and allowed people to come back to New Orleans.
In other words, if we truly wanted to get folks back into the city, the market was the last thing we should have let decide our fate
The Road Home Program, in essence, resembled such a plan but it was stalled and took forever to roll out. If there is conspiracy afoot...the RHP is where to look first. Without a preemptive plan the market has indeed run unchecked and real estate prices combined with outrageous insurance rates and criminal...yes I said criminal...utility bills have put New Olreans citizenship out of the reach of most former residents of the city. It's become so bad it's even proving difficult for many "established" residents of the city.
Shortly after Nagin was elected, I was surprised when I heard him start spouting out the line..."We need to let the market decide." I know he said it on at least 3 occasions. I don't think he actually understood what that meant. I think he was just regurgitating the line after Couhig beat it into his shiny head.
However, if he did know what he was saying....then he need look no further than a mirror to find his conspirator.
I actually think there is some degree of gravitas to the claim of a conspiracy to gentrify the city. The irony, is Nagin has done nothing to stop it and has possibly promoted it....cognizant or not.
Why is he making these allegations now when it's too late to reverse the process?
The probable answer is he's playing racial politics to make himself appear as a victim to African Americans nationwide. I think the African American population of this country needs to know what has happened here as well as every other American. But they also need to know that wether by ignorance/inaction or collusion...Ray Nagin was part of that conspiracy he's preaching and was just as responsible as anyone for the resulting gentrification.
I would assume it's ignorance and inaction, not collusion on Nagin's part....never assume conspiracy when stupidity and incompetence will suffice.
Oliver Thomas provided a great response to Nagin's conspiracy theory by saying, "Right now...I'm more concerned about keeping the citizens we do have."
I think the only thing Nagin is truly concerned about is his national image...I don't believe his eyes are on the prize of which he's preaching.