Another day, another citizens' group: It's been a foregone conclusion among residents for a long time that the French Quarter is too dangerous and the NOPD too inept to do anything about it.
Now--in the wake of Wendy Byrne's murder almost 2 weeks ago--it seems citizens are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more.
Just short of taking up torches and pitchforks, they're sitting down in meetings to stand up to the powers-that-be to vent their anger and frustration.
If M.O.M's not happy, nobody's happy: Today's confab, monikered "Meeting of the Minds" (M.O.M) and honchoed by Chuck Ransdell, is the latest effort to budge the city and state to recognize that the French Quarter is the goose laying the golden egg of tourism.
"2) Adequate police presence, including frequent, visible patrolling of every block in the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle by foot as well as vehicle--even if the city must request assistance from the governor for State Police patrols;
3) Repair and upgrade of all public street lighting (in the French Quarter consistent with Vieux Carre Commission guidelines);
4) Monitoring working police cameras strategically placed in and around the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle;
5) Zero-tolerance of graffiti, pan-handling, loitering, hustling and public urination;
6) Repair of public infrastructure, particularly streets and sidewalks;
7) Timely towing of all vehicles illegally parked around street corners and on sidewalks, or that block driveways or business entrances;
8) Seeking funding opportunities for these law enforcement and infrastructure needs in the Federal economic stimulus package currently being considered by Congress;
9) Quarterly and annual reports to the undersigned and the public at-large on progress made on the foregoing list of demands; and
10) Include representatives of the undersigned in the development of the city's comprehensive crime-fighting strategy for the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle for the implementation of the foregoing list of demands."
Riley rips one: Big Chief Warren Riley attended MOM's meeting but didn't speak until after it, when he stunk up the place by telling reporters that crime is down significantly since last year. He might be referring to 2009 over 2008--but who knows? The NOPD's crime maps only record up to Jan. 14 this year.
Then he had the audacity to tell them that with 1,500 officers now, his force could protect the entire city. But he admitted being baffled "too much juvenile crime"--the very thing that brought down Wendy Byrne.
Buffa's bash: The ad hoc grassroots group that planted itself at Buffa's Lounge (Esplanade Avenue and Burgundy Street) last week will be back at noon on Saturday (1.31.09), and supposedly Chief Riley and Maj. Hosli, among others, will be their to hear their liturgy of gripes.
Slow justice: A juvenile court judge won't decide until 2.25.09 whether to try Ernest Cloud, 14, as an adult in the death of Wendy Byrne. His two 15-year-old buddies are going to play with the big boys.
Scooter boogie?: Some residents expressed alarm when they said they saw the motorscooters from in front of the 8th District HQ being loaded up and shipped out of the Quarter. They were worrying that the NOPD might be trying to hide their lack of use.
Narcs on the prowl: You're not likely to notice them, but the 8th District has undercover officers on foot every night in the Lower Quarter.
Lighten up: Some residents have practically made a hobby of counting the streetlights in the Quarter that aren't working.