Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered his State of the City address to an audience at the new Treme Center. The setting was appropriate because it represents not only how New Orleans is coming back, but also points to the city’s future.
Mayor Landrieu’s speech painted a very positive and optimistic view of the city. He talked about how the city’s population increased by 9,000 last year, the economy is booming with 9 million visitors a year, large and small businesses are thriving, the graduation rate is up and unemployment in the city is down and below the national average. The Mayor said the economy is “humming.” And he’s right – I see it every day.
But with all the positive things that are happening in the city, the crime and murder rates still loom as major obstacles in the path of New Orleans becoming the city it can be. Mayor Landrieu said that the New Orleans Police Department needs to continue to improve standards and training. He spoke of new technology that continues to advance the city’s ability to fight crime. A multi-agency gang unit has been working to diminish and ultimately rid the city of gang-related violence.
Mayor Landrieu spoke about the many things that have improved about New Orleans since he became mayor 3 years ago. For one thing, Landrieu said the city is spending about $40 million less every year since taking office and that customer service at City Hall has improved and will continue to get better. He talked about countless new projects currently in the works that will improve our city overall.
I like Mayor Landrieu and I applaud the job he has done as mayor, especially considering the city he inherited. The Mayor is a great cheerleader for the city and I don’t mean that to sound like a superficial title. A mayor should rally the citizens around positive hope for the future without ignoring what needs to change. This mayor has been an excellent mayor for New Orleans and has helped guide the city in a positive direction.
However, in addressing crime and making this a city a place where children are safe on the streets, the Mayor did not address the most fundamental problem that NO politician wants to address. Parenting!
Talk show hosts can say more than politicians when it comes to many topics. One of the biggest problems we have in this city that elected officials don’t like to talk about is the mentality of breeding without concern for raising children and the system that encourages having babies without requiring parental responsibility.
There are many people in New Orleans, the surrounding areas and across America who do need help with their children. And those who choose to have a baby rather than an abortion should be respected by society. But if even a young person makes a mistake and gets pregnant, there is no excuse for continuing to make the SAME mistake over and over. These mistakes that result from reckless and mindless sex have become a cultural way-of-life. That must change.
Since many crimes and murders involve people who know each other, the crime rate is often seen as less of a threat to innocent people walking down the streets of our city. The truth is – a lot of crime IS random. Recent armed assaults in the French Quarter and my own personal experience walking to work in the CBD prove that there is far too much random crime against our citizens and visitors.
The problem with defining much of the criminal mentality in New Orleans as the product of parenting is that there are no easy solutions to that problem. More police, more money spent on crime fighting, more jobs and improved neighborhoods are all positive steps in curbing the crime rate, but as long as children are rewarded for having children and as long as society accepts and supports the mentality of breeding rather than parenting – this problem will not go away.
Even if the problem was accurately defined and addressed, it would take several generations to manifest real change. And that’s not something politicians like to address.
Because the population of New Orleans has been dominated by blacks does not make this a ‘black problem’. By defining it as such is an easy cop-out for anyone who is not part of that community. It’s an easy way of saying “that’s not my problem.” In the same way, many Americans dismissed the threat of HIV because if was believed to be a ‘gay problem’ or a problem for street drug users. When HIV spread and became a threat to everyone, then it became a problem.
Regardless of where you live, the crime problem in New Orleans can touch you. If you come to the city for work or pleasure or to entertain family, friends or business associates, the crime problem in New Orleans should be your problem, too. In New Orleans, there may be a greater crime problem in the black community, but that doesn’t make it a ‘black problem’.
All we can do is the teach and demand sexual responsibility with every young generation and stop looking to politicians or rap music or any outside influence to blame for what is truly a problem of humans bringing children into the world they have no intention to actually raise.
We think we are the most intelligent animal in the animal kingdom - at least other animals take care of their offspring until they can take care of themselves!