Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Orleans tackling problems..


Mitch Landrieu tells '60 Minutes' the city is confronting its problems

Updated: Sunday, May 01, 2011, 7:12 PM
Dennis Persica, The Times-Picayune 
In a nationally televised interview, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it's "healthy" that the city is confronting its corruption and crime problems.
mitch.landrieu.60mins.jpgMitch Landrieu on '60 Minutes' Sunday afternoon
An interview with the mayor, commemorating his first year in office, was aired on the CBS News "60 Minutes" program Sunday evening.
When reporter Byron Pitts suggested that the mayor might be "defensive" or "riled up" when asked about crime and corruption in the city, Landrieu answered, "'pissed' would be the better word."
He said New Orleans is not alone in facing such problems.
"Political corruption is endemic all over this country; in some places worse than others," he said.
"You have other major American cities where crime rates at different points in their histories have spiked dramatically," Landrieu said. "So this is not something that we get just because we drank it in the water down here. It's not something that you don't find in other places."
But for some reason, he said, New Orleans seems to be put under a microscope more than other cities.
"People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," Landrieu said of other areas that may have similar problems. "Take care of your business, and we'll take care of ours.
"Confronting corruption, confronting crime, making sure the people of America know that we know we've got it and we're going to do something about it is a healthy thing."
Landrieu described himself as a "street rat," saying he loves Mardi Gras, which Pitts in his voice-over narration said is "a two-week long party where even the high and mighty can get down and dirty."
Footage show Landrieu dancing with the king of Zulu, onstage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with Rockin' Doopsie and with members of the 610 Stompers, an all-male marching group that takes part in local parades
Landrieu talked about the confluence of his election last year with the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl win then next day.
"In a crazy way, it was a spiritual moment for the people of the city," Landrieu said. "People here so desperately needed something good to happen, and to believe that you could go from worst to best."
Landrieu said that despite the tens of thousands of abandoned properties as a result of the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding, things are looking up for the city.
"Our unemployment rate is lower than the national average," he said. "Our housing values have gone up 9 percent in the last year, for the first time in -- I don't know --  years. All of a sudden, more people are moving back into the city."
But Landrieu added that no one in the city is naive about the problems facing it.
"What we're doing is hard," he said. "Nobody else in the country has ever done this. People have had struggles in their communities with one thing or another. We're struggling with everything."
Pitts said that when Landrieu took office, he faced the same problems other mayors do, such as fiscal issues, crime and high unemployment.
"But he also took over a city government described as suffering from incompetent leadership and widespread corruption," Pitts said.
Landrieu said his administration can't focus on fixing just one problem at a time and instead has "to fix everything all at the same time.
"You can't concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of the others."
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