Monday, April 17, 2006


Government change tough sell

Jim Beam Columnist

Old habits definitely die hard, and nowhere is that more evident than in the halls of the Louisiana Legislature.

Opponents of government reorganization in New Orleans and elsewhere are reluctant to wipe out someone else’s public job, particularly when it is held by a relative or friend. Three members of the House, for example, have close relatives who are three of the seven tax assessors in New Orleans. The 63 other parishes have only one assessor.

Self-preservation is another motivator. The more political plums there are out there, the more opportunities there are for legislators who are term-limited. New Orleans has a multitude of officeholders, and that makes it easier for some lawmakers to continue their political careers in other positions.

Race, unfortunately, also figures into the picture. Blacks have been calling the shots in New Orleans for decades now, and they see efforts at reorganization as unwanted intrusions into their territory.

What opponents of reorganization refuse to admit is that when times change, government has to change, too.

Change isn’t to be feared. Life’s challenges give each of us an opportunity to cope with new issues and new ways of doing things.

People all along the Gulf Coast have shown their resilience following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Legislators and other political leaders need to get in step and give the people of New Orleans and elsewhere the modern, efficient government structure they deserve.

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