Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh schnizzel....here come the fireworks

Inspector general urges City Council to reject Municipal Auditorium deal

This plan is rapidly becoming a flash point behind the N.O. politico scene. I spent last night reading an email exchange between activist and former mayoral candidate, Leo Watermeier, and one of the plan's developers, Stewart Juneau....with an indignant Jackie Clarkson exchange thrown in.

It looks like there is much concern over the plan from FQ preservationist groups as well.

Watermeier is demanding an economic feasibility study from Juneau. Juneau says the study exists but its confidential as an agreement with FEMA and a tax credit buyer are still in the works. Juneau claims the TP has a copy of the economic feasibility study, but that's yet to be determined.

Problem being the plan seems somewhat half-baked and it may go to a City Council vote before the public gets access to information like the feasibility study....in other words, they seem to be shoving it through the back door.

I don't know enough about the plan to make an educated evaluation...even after watching the video, I'm not really sure what "the 80 million dollar vision" is.

Right out of the gate I am concerned about the notion of using tax credits and FEMA money in a "public/private" partnership to create a for profit recording studio. There are a lot of recording studios in the metro area that are struggling to get by....a state funded recording studio would most likely drive a stake through their heart. And you know it wouldn't stop with recording...it will bleed over into video/film production and every other business aspect of entertainment. Even if they're suggesting all these companies are private investment companies....I suspect you would see a lot of favoritism as to who gets in and who doesn't.

I detect the strong odor of old school politics.

I'm not saying I'm against the development on face value, but I have to admit it looks to me like it could be one more grand set up (and kick back) with phantom resources....something we've seen all too many times in this city.

I like Quatrevaux's quote:

"Grand projects for entertainment centers are nice," he said, "but we have fire stations that have not been rebuilt and police stations that have not been rebuilt."

Exactly. At least you will have some place to be entertained while your house burns down. Not to mention we have a DA's office who for the first time in....i don't even know how long...is making real progress but is being forced to beg for their fiscal life.

Check out the video:

CECI Presentation from Stewart Juneau on Vimeo.


9 comments:

termite said...

i'm very interested in this project, but i can't form an opinion just yet - all the facts aren't in..or we aren't privileged to that information. ;)

but what i'm most curious about is nagin's interest in all this.
can't help but think it will somehow line his pockets down the road.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that a majority of New Orleans citizens would choose to spend $80 million on this project when so much of our basic infrastructure and services need to be improved first.

Look at the way that Ray is trying to sell this project. This project benefits him and the vendors more than the citizens. Good projects that have the support of the taxpayers don't need to be "sold".

Ray Nagin might have just replaced Barney Frank at the top of my "would slap if I saw in person" list...

Anonymous said...

Dambala, I agree with you that the locals who are struggling to keep themselves in the game should not be pushed out by this.

The fire station point was solid, too.

The comments about the politiking made me sigh.

Who is lined up to do the building? Any of the usual suspects involved?

They should just fix the monster pothole in front of my Auntie's house first. It looks hungry. We think it might eat her car.

Anonymous said...

So the video was done almost a year ago on this project yet the RFP comes out a couple of days ago. Hmmmmm is that what you call bid rigging?

Colby said...

The video is a lot of logrolling, employees and partners saying what a great idea this whole thing is...what's Jeremy Davenport going to tell his boss and landlord? The only person who doesn't seem 100% connected is Kermit.....

James Gill had a good piece in the TP today....

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2009/11/patronage_of_the_arts_nagin_an.html

Anonymous said...

I AM CURIOUS ABOUT THE UNROLLING AND ROLLING OF CHICKEN WIRE ON THE VIDEO. GOLD CHICKEN WIRE TOO!

Anonymous said...

The graphics remind me of CSI Miami.

mcbrid35 said...

The RFP was issued September 3, which is the same day I started making people aware of it via email. It was obviously a huge giveaway of a public building to private interests.

The solicitation is still available here:

http://www.purchasing.cityofno.com/bso/external/bidDetail.sdo?bidId=2285-00784

The media started sniffing around the next day, and then Nagin's team put the solicitation on the city's front page (that's where they usually put stuff up they're trying to defend, but which is usually full of bad ideas). The link for that is here:

http://www.cityofno.com/Portals/PublicAdvocacy/Resources/RFP_%20Municipal%20Auditorium.pdf

The T-P wrote a rather milquetoast article about it a few days later:

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/09/municipal_auditorium_developme.html

Anonymous said...

The video is sometimes funny--showing the auditorium and discussing its "Culture" with the porta-potties lined up outside. The graphics are kind of lame. The sound when Rehage is speaking picked up the wind almost as much as his voice. None of the people in it were very persuasive, although Leah Chase is just so damned sweet you want to say, "Yes" to anything she asks. Did the Zulu president really say that this project would "vibrate" the community???