The “Rebuild New Orleans” elephant is still sitting on the table, but folks are starting to nibble at the edges. One big chunk – whether to build the entire city or just some – has even been carved out, and lots of people are starting to chew there in earnest.
There’s a huge piece of the behemoth, however, that is not just untouched; it’s being ignored. I’ve kind of started thinking of this piece as the entrails – distasteful to most, but part of the whole.
It’s called crime, and this morning’s story in the Time Picayune should serve as a reminder to everyone that levees, schools, electricity, and even houses – though crucial – aren’t NOLA’s only problems.
Not long after the storm, Mayor Nagin commented that the crime rate in NOLA had gone wayyyy down. Recently, I even read a comment that it was like “Mayberry” there (what a bizarre thought). New Orleans has been called the safest city in America — even while the Houston Police Department is asking to increase manpower to deal with the apparent crime spike there.
Nicole Gelinas wrote recently in the City Journal:
New Orleans’s immutable civic shame, before and after Katrina, is not racism, poverty, or inequality, but murder—a culture of murder so vicious and so pervasive that it terrorizes and numbs the whole city.
Yes indeed. I recall it well.
So what I want to know is – what’s the plan for keeping the criminals from coming back to New Orleans? Obviously, Nagin’s statement that New Orleans doesn’t want them back is not enough. (Nobody wants the criminals.) But that doesn’t explain how the city will be safer in the fuzzy future. How will the city keep the cycle from starting again?
Why isn’t anybody talking about that?