Racism plagues the New Orleans drainage system.
Originally posted to r/NewOrleans
A. Baldwin Wood (left), inventor of the wood-screw pump (photo 1)
Drainage and Racism
As we travel once again into the realm of drainage solutions butthurtia, let’s discuss why whyte people get so indignant and angry whenever it rains.
Meet A. Baldwin Wood, inventor of the wood-screw pump. His invention facilitated the drainage of the city for decades. Those pumps were built in the 1910s and 1920s. They were expected to last for fifty-ish years. So, what happened fifty years later?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 happened. Whyte people ran from Orleans Parish to the suburbs. The remaining ones pulled their kids out of public schools in the city, enrolling them in Catholic schools. Those schools were able to continue de jure segregation, protected by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Since they were paying tuition, they didn’t want to pay property tax. That shifted the burden of paying for city services to businesses. Those folks had the money to donate to political campaigns, making sure their property taxes didn’t go up.
“I’m not paying more taxes to give to a black mayor who will misspend it and steal it.”
They said that when Dutch took office in 1978.
They said that when Sidney took office in 1986.
They said that when Marc took office in 1994.
They said that when Ray took office in 2002.
When Mitch took office in 2010, whyte people blamed his daddy for encouraging black people to vote in his first mayoral election in 1971.
All the while, businesses did what they always do, shift the burdens to the residents. Whyte people in the suburbs sat, waiting for the city to tank. Their dream was to have the city fall apart under majority black governance, then step in with regional control. David Vitter led this movement in 2004 with the Recovery School District. By then, Orleans Parish Public Schools were in such a state that the Legislature mustered the votes to take over. The plan was to transition the black-managed schools to charters. (Hurricane Katrina accelerated this like nobody expected.)
The pumps today
Melpomene Pumping Station, named for Baldwin Wood (photo 2)
Back to drainage. Those pumps from the 1920s were in need of replacement by the 1970s. Suburban whyte people missed the boat on where the city anchors the suburbs, not the other way around. As the revenue base in Orleans Parish eroded, the suburban parishes refused to help. They wanted black folks to give control back to them. Regional solutions weren’t going to happen–shit, Jefferson Parish wouldn’t even join the Regional Transit Authority, lest a robust bus system bring more black people near their homes. Republicans in the suburbs wouldn’t pony up to fix the city’s drainage. Federal solutions under Republican presidents weren’t likely, either.
Now, it’s 2023. Louis Armstrong was a twelve-year-old boy selling newspapers on Canal Street when Baldwin Wood’s pumps were installed. They’re still in operation (sort of). Saying you won’t give money to Cantrell because she’s corrupt (translation: she’s Black) is silly. She didn’t create the problem, and wouldn’t have the funds to fix it even if she didn’t travel to Europe and the Emirates.
Reddit downvotes won’t drain the water. Working in the suburbs to affect change in the attitudes of elected officials will.
(h/t to James Karst for the factoid about Pops)
Chris Roberts suicide deserves the benefit of the doubt from us.
Chris Roberts, dead at 42
Chris Roberts died yesterday, most likely at his own hand.
Chris Roberts died yesterday, down off Engineer’s Road in Plaquemine Parish. From Da Paper:
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Roberts’ death, which an agency spokesman described as an apparent suicide. The spokesman declined to elaborate.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the situation said Roberts’ parents had reported him missing to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office earlier Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office tracked his cellphone to a wooded area off Engineers Road in Belle Chasse, near the Jefferson Parish line, and found his body there.
Roberts resigned his seat on the Jefferson Parish Council last year, under the shadow of an extensive federal indictment. He served on the Council for fifteen years. Before his Council service, Roberts sat on the Jefferson Parish School Board. For those unfamiliar with the workings of the Jefferson Parish Council, the body consists of five district and two at-large members. Since so much of Jefferson Parish is unincorporated, the district members function as the “mayors” of their respective neighborhoods. When a district member decides an issue, the others usually respect their decision and vote as they do. Therefore, politicians like Roberts carry a lot of influence.
Until they’re indicted by feds, that is.
Fall from grace
In 2018, the Department of Justice dropped a pallet of bricks on Roberts, with an extensive indictment filing. Again, from Vargas at Da Paper:
Most of the counts related to his work managing a Terrytown-based landscaping company from which he allegedly used money for personal purchases. Roberts was also accused of hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in income over a seven-year period, and only filing amended tax returns accounting for the income after he learned of the federal inquiry.
The indictment painted a picture of Roberts as a profligate spender who used business and campaign funds to purchase a $16,000 engagement ring and spent thousands more at area casinos.
Then, to make matters worse:
In October, federal prosecutors added 10 new wire fraud counts to the indictment, ramping up the pressure on him. The new indictment also accused Roberts of improperly spending business funds.
So, the whole notion of deputies finding this guy dead in the woods, likely by his own hand, doesn’t sound far-fetched. When I read the initial tweets, it sounded like a classic case of, get your affairs in order and take care of your problems.
Benefit of the doubt
Chris Roberts presented himself as an arrogant asshole on social media. His attacks on Mike Yennni were bush league. His supporters say he worked hard for his district. The feds say he’s a thief. Suffering from depression was never part of Roberts’ public persona. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist! So many people struggle with depression, and it does indeed claim them. I can see the weight of his world crashing in on him taking that toll.
“Doing the right thing for the family” isn’t the same these days. People do time for white-collar crime regularly. They come back from prison and often do right by the community. It’s not like a guy like Roberts faced hard time for his crimes.
Influence of family and friends
People coping with depression need a support network. If someone doesn’t feel that support, their depression can deepen. That can lead to suicide attempts as a cry for help. Or worse, you go out to the woods and end it. It’s certainly unclear how much support for his condition Roberts got from friends and family. It’s too late for Roberts, but it’s not too late for those you care for. Check your people.
JazzFest and Public Schools in Jefferson Parish are on tap at YatPundit’s Pub 23-April-2019
YatPundit’s Pub 23-April-2019
Strong brews in the pub this week! JazzFest approaches, so let’s talk about its past and future. Early voting is open for local elections to be held on 4-May. One of the items for consideration is a property tax renewal in Jefferson Parish that’s for public schools. We’ll talk about the complicated history and relationship between public and private schools in #themetrys.
Alabama Shakes performing at NOJHF in 2017 (courtesy Nicholas Henderson)
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is almost fifty years old. Are the Foundation and the producers catering to the wrong audience. After cancellations by septuagenarians Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks, it looked for a while like a satire site said, “Karaoke Craig from Gennaro’s” would headline the 2-May fest date. Rather than tapping an act that appeals to a younger crowd, such as Alabama Shakes (in the photo), Da Fest replaced Fleetwood Mack with Widespread Panic.
It’s not all on the Fest, though. Hotels and restaurants rely heavily now on Da Fest for booked rooms and tables. Is the NOJHF too big t fail?
Jefferson Parish Public Schools
There’s a property tax renewal on the ballot in Jefferson Parish on May 4th. It’s dedicated to schools. Residents of Jefferson Parish have an unusual relationship with their public school system. Initially, the schools were segregated, de facto. The small African-American population lived in specific neighborhoods. Local “districting” kept them out of the majority-white schools. Then federal lawsuits and consent decrees brought court-ordered busing to Jefferson Parish. Racial balance was the goal. By then, however, the Catholic schools in the parish created almost a de jure segregation system. Between requirements related to religion and tuition/fees, white folks kept their schools white. Forty years later, this complicates generating revenue for public schools.
Offbeat’s JazzFest Bible 2019
Last Tuesday’s Pod
Podcast (yatpunditpub): Play in new window | Download
Chris Roberts can’t help himself
Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts has been unable to get any traction on ousting Parish President (and admitted sexual predator) Mike Yenni for months now. It was revealed last September that Yenni admitted to having inappropriate and sexually explicit conversations with a 17-year old. The young man was a senior at Jesuit High School at the time he and Yenni texted. After the original #shitshow the revelations caused, which also included members of the Yenni family, the incident fell from public view for the most part. Councilman Chris Roberts wants to change that.
Yenni went to ground
I’ll say this about my fellow Brother Martin High alum, Greg Buisson: He’s good at what he does. When local politicians need help after doing Incredibly Stupid Things, they call Buisson. His main advice to them appears to be very simple, Shut The Fuck Up. They go to ground and stay there. That’s what Neil Abramson did, after he became embroiled in a controversy over choosing the Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives last Spring. So, Yenni’s situation is exposed. He hires Buisson, and is told to go to ground. He stays out of the public eye until his advisor says the coast is clear enough to get back to work. Buisson must have decided this past week was the time, since Yenni appeared on a local talk radio show last Monday.
Chris Roberts and the recall
Westbank Councilman Chris Roberts doesn’t like Mike Yenni. Their animosity goes back further than when we all learned that Yenni wants to blow young men. Since the effort to recall Mike is halfway through and they have only amassed half the necessary signatures on the petition, Roberts decided to raise the awareness level of the scandal in the wake of Yenni’s radio appearance. Da Advocate describes the letter Roberts circulated:
The letter Roberts sent Tuesday gets more graphic than any media account of the text messages in question. Citing sources familiar with the texts, Roberts’ letter contains a reference to a form of oral sex Yenni is said to have offered to perform on the 17-year-old.
Graphic gay sex is not the sort of thing the Good Republicans of Jefferson. Roberts knows that.
Yenni Fights Back
Buisson knows how to push back. A letter released by Yenni claims that Chris Roberts wrote a bad check for $6500. That ups the ante from a debatable text conversation to check fraud. Thieving politicians are something the Good Republicans Of Jefferson like even less than blowjobs.
Pass the popcorn.