Squandered Heritage Vintage
 

The Rosedale Church and Ed Blakely and stuff you think about while watching a trial.

The role that Ed Blakely played in the role of the demolition of the Rosedale Baptist Church was an interesting one. According to one of the members of the Church the former Recovery Czar had admonished the Church with the statement that God was angry at them for not repairing the church in a more timely fashion. So the Church, while engaged in a protracted legal battle with the insurance company was also fighting off the recovery czar who was already setting the stage for this demolition.

Post Gustav Ed Blakely did his best to show a strong show of force, and in some ways it would seem that Gustav was Blakely’s perfect storm. One that did little damage but emptied out the City of pesky residents. In fact one of the first times I met Dr. Blakely he was crowing about his suspending council meetings in Oakland after the fire. His assertion was that he could cut through the red tape if it just didn’t exist. Employing the same logic post Gustav he worked with the Mayor to craft an Executive Order to cut through that red tape and ultimately tread on constitutional rights.

Obviously Ed Blakley had political aspirations when he ran for Mayor of Oakland in 1998 and lost to Jerry Brown. He garnered 14 percent of the vote which I would consider a stunning loss considering he was running on his role in the recovery after the Loma Prieto earthquake in 1989 as well as the 1991 Oakland fire.. A role which he declared made him one of only “5 or 6 people” who could do the job of managing the recovery of New Orleans.

Interestingly enough when I was searching for some information on the earthquake and the numbers of homes destroyed {12,000 homes} , lives lost {57 directly, 6 indirectly} and other after effects, there was a surious lack of information about the role that Blakely claims to have played, in not just the earthquake but also the 1991 Oakland fires.

In fact the only reference to the work he claims to have done on both of these disasters was written in the Unified New Orleans Plan it would seem the inclusion in that document was self serving at best.

I found this foot note in a wiki entry on the Oakland fires.

The book “Almost Home: America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Community” contained a chapter of critical assessment of the social aftermath of the fire. It highlighted how the selfish and individualistic desires by some of the victims of the fire overwhelmed any preliminary voice of community togetherness, including fraudulent and greedy practices towards charity and insurance claims.

So it would seem that even Oakland after the fires suffered the realities of imperfect humankind.

Ed Blakley summonsed me into a meeting after I appeared in various national media outlets calling out the City on it’s lack of due diligence in the demolition process, a lack of due diligence which led to the consent decree that the City entered into in Federal Court which arose out of the Joshua vs The Ciity of New Orleans

Joshua et. al. vs. City of New Orleans and Mayor Ray Nagin, a second class action case on behalf of New Orleans residents whose homes have been demolished and are slated to be demolished without prior notice and opportunity for hearing

Dr. Blakely led a meandering and often pointless meeting where he seemed to be trying to determine my motivations, he asked me questions about who I worked for and seemed to lack a basic understanding of the complex nature of City government, mistaking agencies and chain of command. At one point he seemed to be asking me if I had a “program to sell” the City to help make the demolition process more effective.

I would suggest that Ed Blakely does not like red tape, but red tape takes time to negotiate and red tape is there for a purpose, often the purpose may be outdated and obscured, so then it is up to those who oversee the red tape to get a new roll. And it is up to the citizens to demand it.

Good luck with your next job Dr. Blakely and I hope for your sake your next employer does not know how to use google

In Ed’s own words I would say to his new boss “read it and heed it”

Ed Blakley

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use for Squandered Heritage. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.