Wednesday, September 21

Squire Nagin backpedals for the cameras; real estate speculators descend on Louisiana

What a difference a day and a presidential visit makes! After sneering that Vice Admiral Allen had crowned himself "the new federal mayor of New Orleans," yesterday Mayor Ray Nagin presented Allen with an "I Love New Orleans" T-shirt. He accompanied this gesture of noblesse oblige with a stiff little hug for the cameras.

We're "one leadership team," Nagin announced. "We may not always agree, but we have one mission: to bring New Orleans back."

And here I thought Allen was also tasked with the safety of the people in New Orleans. Silly Pundita!

In other developments, a real estate boom is on in Louisiana, with speculators from around the country snapping up property in New Orleans and nearby areas; this has sent prices on a steep climb.

So now, residents returning to the affected region to find their homes uninhabitable will not be able to rent or buy at pre-Katrina prices. And there is the added adventure of facing foreclosure:
New Orleans investors will be "pretty big investors who can write a check," said Dave Barry, a Boston-area investor who buys houses entering foreclosure. He predicted huge numbers of foreclosures in Louisiana, a process starting Sept. 1, when many probably missed mortgage payments. "This is a process that's going to play out over the next few weeks."(1)
One can sympathize with the eagerness of residents who only want to pick up their lives in New Orleans. And the determination of business leaders to get things moving again in the city is admirable. Yet it would be helpful if Mayor Nagin and the business community he represents considered the limitations of the hired help -- that being the federal government. And backed up their cheerleading for New Orleans with planning on how to accommodate returnees in a city still without basic services.

1) Boston Globe

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