Short Takes on the 1% and Other Weirdness in the Small World

Ideas and Issues Rebuild New Orleans

New Orleans    As we fight to regain population in the wake of Katrina and so many other demographic struggles over the last half-century, New Orleans in the NBA/NFL world is a “small market city,” which means we often find that we are living in a very small world.

I thought of this recently while hanging around some Regional Transit Authority employees that our union represents and over hearing folks talking in the hallway about how the 1% and old money and prerogatives really work in the Crescent City still.  The RTA has been installing automatic ticket machines in several high bus traffic locations in the city, which is a good idea.  One location right downtown is at the corner of Canal Street and Carondelet.  2000 people a day catch buses or streetcars at that location, so it was an ideal location for the City to locate a standup shelter with a ticket machine and route maps obviously.  RTA went through all of the formalities and won approvals from the Vieux Carre Commission, Downtown Development, Historic Landmarks, etc.  They dug the hole, spent the money (about $40,000), and were ready to put up the shelter, but…

This location was in front of Adler’s Jewelers, the long time, iconic location for uptowners, the Carnival Club crowd, members of the Pickwick Club nearby, and others to buy their jewelry and get their watches fixed.  Late in the construction process, the senior member of the Adler family started coming out from time to time to observe the work.  He didn’t say much, just looked from time to time.   Suddenly, a call came to RTA from the Mayor’s office cancelling the entire project!  Adler claimed they hadn’t realized what was happening in front of their store, despite all of the hearings and notices.  Turns out, if you serve the 1% in New Orleans, it’s not what you know, but still “who you know.”  RTA covered the hole and pulled away the trucks leaving working people stuck like chuck.

Quelle shock!  That’s how “we roll,” I guess?

Ps.  One person who heard the story said, “at least they haven’t moved all of their stores to the suburbs.”  We’re even abused as consumers, much less citizens, it seems.