why won’t ray nagin shut the fuck up?

Sep 14, 2008 by

As the hearts of New Orleanians go out to the folks in Texas and West Louisiana who felt (and continue to feel) the brutal force of Hurricane Ike, it is rather demoralizing that our knucklehead mayor continues to work miracles by actually making an unfathomably bad situation decidedly worse – and in such spectacularly imaginative ways. In a sense, he is a wonder. I mean, this shouldn’t even be possible, right?

For those unfamiliar with Hizzoner’s latest stunt, it seems C-Ray held a press conference Thursday afternoon in which he encouraged people in Texas to evacuate to New Orleans, with promises of cheap, flat-rate hotel rooms in the city. He told the people of Texas, “Just ask for the Ray Nagin Special.” He later explained that his message was “to say to our friends in Houston and Texas that we want to take care of you, since you have taken care of us.”

Isn’t that sweet? I think so.

Problem is, he forgot to mention the “Ray Nagin Special” to hotel owners across the city. Problem is, it’s actually against federal anti-trust laws to create such a flat rate, even voluntarily. Problem is, it’s not voluntary anyway – it can’t be voluntary if the people being asked to donate don’t even know about it. Problem is, New Orleans businesses are still limping along economically since the 2005 storm and can’t really afford to do something like this – especially without any sort of a plan or information at all beforehand so they can figure a way to make it work. Problem is, it just isn’t nice for The Mayor to be so generous with other people’s money. Problem is, it’s not exactly brilliant to ask disaster victims to evacuate to a far-from-fully-recovered disaster area in the first place.

There are other problems, too. Apparently some folks from Texas are seeing this offer as an opportunity to turn an evacuation into a vacation. And why wouldn’t they? That’s how it’s been presented to them. So we’ve got some very confused Texans showing up at five-star French Quarter hotels expecting Motel 6 rates by simply uttering the magic words, “I’m here for the Ray Nagin Special!” Things get tense when the poor hotel clerk scratches his head and says, “I’m sorry, but what in heaven’s name are you talking about?”

To help reduce the impact of the mayor’s latest insult-to-injury disaster recovery plan, the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association sent this memo to its members, basically imploring them to be kind, sensitive, generous and hospitable in the face of the bizarre “Nagin Special” gaff, if at all possible.

It isn’t that people and businesses in New Orleans don’t want to help. We do, all of us do. But Nagin can’t just make an announcement like this, as if he is The King of New Orleans And Anything He Says Goes, and expect the city’s struggling businesses to foot the bill.

It’s true that Texas took in a lot of New Orleanian evacuees three years ago – sometimes with compassion and open arms, and sometimes with hateful and racially charged resistance. Hey, people are people, and it takes all kinds of people to make up a world – we weren’t born yesterday, we know the score, and we don’t necessarily expect to receive unconditional love from strangers just because our city is under water. But I don’t recall any bargain basement prices being offered in hotels. Do you? What I remember was a sea of folding cots in the Astrodome. Which is fine, we all really appreciate that – beggars can’t be choosers and a lot of folks had no place else to go. Maybe C-Ray should have done the same thing and offered Texas evacuees the Superdome. That would have been absolutely reciprocal. But no, that would have been expensive, and the mayor doesn’t want to waste that hard-stolen money his administration extorted from New Orleans citizens last year via that ridiculous and financially crippling property tax hike many of us got hit with. He’d rather make the people of New Orleans pay twice. First by taxing us into the ground when we can hardly make ends meet anyway, and then by forcing local businesses to pay again in this new and bizarre way.

Texas evacuees are not at fault here. Neither are New Orleanian businesses. This is all C-Ray. The man with the amazing mouth that defies various laws of physics, common sense, and good taste. He is a scientific marvel.

People of Texas, please try to understand: We are not even close to recovering from the 2005 storm – I’m figuring we’ve got about 10 years to go on that. We just suffered another, though lesser, blow from Gustav. Call it a tiny set back, but it didn’t’ help. We want to help, we will help, but our abilities are limited at the moment. If the State of Louisiana or the Office of the Mayor has resources to send your way, or wants to pay your hotel bills, that’s great. And many of us who are able to are already sending help and money your way. And you are absolutely welcome here. But remember that the citizens and businesses of New Orleans have been taking a consistent beating here, not just from mother nature, but from all levels of government, as well as disingenuous insurance companies, crooked contractors by the thousands, and various other vultures, thugs and goons. We are a city of walking wounded, where there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have some form of PTSD.

Of course, it’s the people of New Orleans who will wind up looking bad here. Nagin is just our goofy squawking clown mascot. Thanks a lot, Ray. Then again, our city has been so consistently maligned by the media and right-wing extremists since our 2005 misfortunes, it really shouldn’t make a heap of difference anyway.

You know, our mayor sure does have a knack for turning people against each other at exactly the worst possible moment. First, he turned blacks and whites against each other for self-serving political purposes with that unforgivable Chocolate City speech. Now he’s turning disaster victims against disaster victims with this latest load of horseshit.

Why won’t Ray Nagin shut the fuck up? Because, baby, he’s a star. Loves that camera. Doesn’t even care why it’s pointed at him, as long as that little red light is blinking.

Maybe “Bernardo” can arrange another out-of-left-field “award for courage” for the mayor. This time it can be for the courage to make a fool out of himself – and the entire City of New Orleans – again and again and again.

Here’s my “Louie Special.” Go to your local bar and order a round for the house, then send the bill to Ray Nagin.

Just ask for the “Louie Special!”

– Louis Maistros

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