New Orleans Mayor Sends Police, Firefighters On Free Vacations
According to the article, beginning today, New Orleans officials will be sending 1,500 security workers and their families to Las Vegas or Atlanta in two shifts. Those electing to accept the paid time off will be given air transportation and hotel rooms. Police officers and firefighters may opt to fly to other cities, but will not be provided with lodging.
Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Matthews, who is also the director of the city's Office of Emergency Preparedness, said: "We've been at this six days and we need to give our people a break.” Forty percent of the city's officers will remain at their posts while the others are on vacation. When the first group returns, those who stayed behind will go on leave.
Colonel Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, responsible for the city’s recovery and rescue operation, and police superintendent, P. Edwin Compass both said that they planned to take a break as well, but probably for less than five days. The two will continue to direct the recovery by telephone.
Mayor Nagin, who has been demanding more federal assistance, asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the trips but the agency said no. Nagin has decided the city will pay the costs.
Nagin now believes there are enough National Guard members in the city to allow the police to take a break and still keep the city secure. The Mayor brushed off questions about whether such a trip might look like a dereliction of duty. "I'll take the heat on that," Mr. Nagin said. "We want to cater to them."
W. J. Riley, the deputy superintendent of police, said that by late Sunday afternoon more than 2,900 National Guard members and law enforcement officers from around the country were operating in New Orleans. By early evening, Mr. Riley said, the advance units of a 2,200-person force from the 82nd Airborne Division had landed. Several thousand more soldiers were expected, including members of the First Cavalry Division.
“Officials said they expected the military, with much greater resources, to expand rescue work, begin cleaning up the city and take the first steps toward reconstruction.” New Orleans officials said they would remain in charge. "We haven't turned over control of the city," Colonel Ebbert said.
We learned long ago not to believe everything we read. If someone told us this story we would assume it was a crazy rumor and wouldn’t believe a word of it. However, the article does quote the major players in New Orleans, so it just may be true. Given the performance of the leaders of New Orleans and Louisiana, abandoning their own people in their hour of greatest need seems plausible.
Last night Geraldo Rivera was in New Orleans interviewing members of the 82nd Airborne he met while covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These guys have been to two major battle zones and now have to defend New Orleans. Meanwhile, six days into protecting their own city, New Orleans’ finest are being sent off to Las Vegas for R&R? Unbelievable.
Nagin and company appear to be in charge alright - in charge of blaming others, but not much else as far as we can tell. Wait until this crew gets a hold of the billions of federal dollars that will be coming their way. The poor people of New Orleans never had a chance and things aren’t likely to change under current local leadership.