NJ For Change

Friday, February 24, 2006

Welcome to the State of Employment

This story isn’t about New Jersey, but it’s about an attitude change our elected officials need to make if they want to turn our state around. People are starting to wake up to the fact that we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results.

Mayor Ray Nagin down in New Orleans is a complete fool, but I sure do like the words of their City Council President, Oliver Thomas. He certainly got the public's attention when he told residents that post-Katrina New Orleans would be a different city.

At a meeting of the council's housing committee, Thomas bluntly said evacuees would be welcome back only if they wanted to work. Those who don't "roll up their sleeves" are better off staying away. He said that for too long the New Orleans’s government has "pampered" many citizens and allowed them to get away with being idle.

We don't need soap opera watchers right now," he said. "We're going to target the people who are going to work. It's not that I'm fed up, but at some point there has to be a whole new level of motivation, and people have got to stop blaming the government for something they ought to do.
Thomas explained that he was directing his comments at able-bodied people, not the elderly or disabled.
There's just been a lot of pampering, and at some point you have to say, 'No, no, no, no, no.'... If our legs don't hurt, you can walk somewhere," he said. "I'm saying these things to motivate my people.
In a show of unity with Thomas, Councilwomen Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and Renee Gill Pratt said they supported his views. Clarkson said preference for spots in permanent public housing should be given to people who show a willingness to work because the city needs a base of taxpayers before it brings back other former residents who can't work. She said Thomas' comments were "an indictment of those who can work, but don't work."

Nadine Jarmon, the appointed chief of the Housing Authority of New Orleans, says it's necessary that returning residents understand the realities of the situation:
"Sometimes you have to not do what's politically correct, you have to do what's right."
Let's hope the people of New Orleans reward the new attitude of their elected officials with votes in April.
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