Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Who runs Bartertown?

I was amused and somewhat surprised to see an ad for MWH on's homepage this is the link:

As I've stated on this blog before, I do not question MWH's competency in the majority of the services they've provided for the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  They were basically running our city government up until the final departure of the Naginites.  But here's the thing, our recovery from Katrina is over, we can't continue to sub our basic city services out to a private company, it's time to cut the umbilical cord and get back to running the show ourselves.

While MWH did perform herculean tasks in the wake of the storm, they have also sent us herculean bills.  Bills which we have yet to pay, mind you.

Remember when city experts we're trying to gauge how much money the city will owe when the Landrieu administration took over?  The estimate was like $20 million.  Well, I have it under good authority that the outstanding bill we have with MWH is in the neighborhood of $47 million.


So I'm somewhat bewildered to see this ad because I'm not quite sure to whom it's directed.  I would have to assume the new administration, but I'm having trouble believing that the new administration would continue to contract MWH, unless they are lobbying to continue to handle LRA/D-CDBG projects.  I'm certainly not opposed to that but my concern lies in our ability to separate MWH from standard city services which we need to be performing out of our annual operating budget (even though it's probably depleted or near depleted...thanks, Ray).

It's like separating Master from Blaster in Bartertown.  They ingrained themselves so deeply in our standard city services, we became crack addicts. We have to sober up and learn to run our own life now.

I'm not dissing MWH's performance, I'm just saying we can't afford to hire them to run our city, and we shouldn't have to do that in the first place.

If they're lobbying to continue to manage the LRA/D-CDBG projects, well that's cool, but we seriously need to separate them from our annual operating procedures.


Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who has ice cream brain after reading this?

Zombie, I think you are great, and this is a useful post...but I can't be the only one who gets brain freeze whenever I try to think of what a mess this all is, can I?

Do you get brain freeze, Dambala?

Another question: do you ever eat frozen brains?

Jason Brad Berry said...

Whoever you are...thank you for paying attention.

I think it may be because I don't use exclamation marks behind the numbers. I should have said:


I think it's just the presentation that creates the reaction or lack thereof.

But to you sir, or madame, I bow.

I will eat frozen brains when there's no other option, but I prefer to pick them right off the vine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Like I said, I have a Dora as Yemaya sippie cup for you if I ever chance to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Link this post to the last one and you might be on to something. Who are MWH's subcontractors?

MWH admitted to hiring a non-existent company started by O.C. Coleman and Ben Edwards' brother after Katrina because Ben Edwards told them to. MWH admitted to bribing Ben Edwards through donations to his church to get water board work. The feds didn't bust Ben Edwards until after MWH had already billed tens of millions under this recovery contract. Maybe MWH employees did a great job like you say, but how much of that $47,000,000 was billed for work done by subs MWH hired to please certain city officials?

Jason Brad Berry said...

I realize all of that. I never said they didn't play the game, I just said they did their job.

I'm not stumping them in any way, I want them out of standard city services, that's my main priority.

And in fairness, I think they saved us millions on the Mahalia Jackson construction. It was headed into a money well before they took it over and finished it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, your comprehension of the situation is astounding. Prior to Katrina, the city would handle maybe 3 projects a year in the Capital Projects department. Post Katrina, they have almost 300 to handle. The city did not nor currently does have the manpower to handle that kind of volume. Assuming you have competent people managing that volume, in a normal project management environment, it would take a lot of project managers ( 20 or so) to complete the list in a timely manner. If the city had attempted it, it would be worse. For all of Nagin's faults, at least he recognized that nothing would get done and so did FEMA who encouraged the hire of MWH to assist the city.

What you have at city hall right now in current projects is giant string ball. Some single projects are paid by 3 different financial streams, all have different rules for procurement and execution, it is a mess. And that is WITH MWH's assist. Can you imagine if they had not been involved??? I am sure they got strong armed in the pay to play game that is a BOLD, SOUL method of operation. However, I also think they got thrown under the bus without any recognition for what they were able to accomplish.