The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Friday, September 02, 2005

TRANSCRIPT of New Orleans mayor's damning interview

TRANSCRIPT of mayor's damning interview
by Karen Wehrstein
Fri Sep 2nd, 2005 at 07:46:04 PDT

Did this by myself because I couldn't find it: Transcript of NOLA mayor Ray Nagin's interview with Garland Robinette of WWL Radio. Rushed -- I don't know that I got everything right -- but here it is. It's more striking, more amazing what he says, when you read it over (or transcribe it ;-) )

Anyone know a way to get it to him, or to WWL -- let me know -- or just send it!

Thanks to santoriello whose audio I used.

Ray Nagin: You just tell him we had an incredible crisis here, and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshall resources, and we're outmanned in just about every respect.

You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people, that were stuck in attics, man... old ladies... when you pull off the doggone ventilator vent, and you look down there, and they're standing there in water up to their fricking neck...!

And they don't have a clue what's going on down there. They flew down here one time, two days after the doggone event was over, with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kinds of goddamn -- excuse my French, everybody in America, but I am pissed.

Garland Robinette: Did you say to the President of the United States, I need the military in here?"

RN: I said I need everything. I will tell you this, I'll give the President some credit on this: he sent one John Wayne dude that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lieutenant] General [Russel] Honore. And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done. They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority, to get the job done and we can save some people.

GR: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

RN: I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. I need 500 buses. Man, they were talking about... you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here ... I'm like, you've got to be kidding me! This is a national disaster! Get every doggone Greyhound busline in the country, and get their asses moving to New Orleans. That's them thinking small, man.... this is a major major major deal!

And I can't emphasize this enough, man -- this is crazy! I've got 15,000-20,000 people over at the Convention Centre, it's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines parish... they're air-vacc'ing people over here in New Orleans... we don't have anything and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines parish. It's awful down here, man.

GR: Do you believe that the President is serious, holding a news conference on it, but can't do anything until [Louisiana Governor] Catherine Blanco requests him to do it, and do you know whether or not she's made that request?

RN: I have no idea what they're doing, but I'll tell you this. You know, God is looking down on all this... and if theyre not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying... and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.

We're getting reports in calling that are breaking my heart, from people saying, 'I'm in my attic...I can't take it any more. The water's up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out. And that's happening as we speak.

And you know what really upsets me, Garland. We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, please, please take care of this, we don't care what you do, figure it out.

GR: Who did you say that to?

RN: Everybody -- the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA... you name it, we said it.

They allowed that pumping station, next to Pumping Station 6, to go underwater. Our sewage and waterwork people [unclear] stayed there and endangered their lives. And what happened when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city, and started getting to levels that probably killed more people.

In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city, that's a power station over there. So there's no water flowing on the east bank of Orleans Parish, so critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.

GR: Why couldn't they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that could not be done?

RN: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture but you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done. Then they told me that they went overnight, they built 17 concrete structures, and they had the pulleys on them and were going to drop them.

I flew over that thing yesterday [Wednesday] and it's in the same shape as it was after the storm hit. There's nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull. And they're spinning and people are dying down here.

GR: If some of the public called, and they're right, that there's a law that the president, that the federal government, can't do anything without local or state request, would you request martial law?

RN: I've already called for martial law in the city of New Orleans. We did that few days ago.

GR: Did the governor do that, too?

RN: I don't know. I don't think so. We called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control and we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dead tired from saving people. They worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night, and so we redirected all of our resources and we held... I'm not sure we can do that another night, with the current resources.

I'm telling you right now, they're showing all these reports of looting, people doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that. But people are desperate. They're trying to find food and water. The majority of them.

You have some knuckleheads out there, taking advantage of the lawlessness, this situation where, you know, we can't really control it, and they're doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small [minority] of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.

Nobody's talked about this: drugs flow in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely they were scaring me. That's what we have an escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it. You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city, looking for a fix. That's the reason why they were breaking into hospitals and drug stores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will. And right now they don't have anything to take the edge off, and they've finally probably found guns. So what you see is drug-starving, crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wreaking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city, and form a perimeter around them, and hope to God that we're not overrun.

GR: You and I must be in the minority, because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's been going on to this point has been as good as it can possibly be.

RN: Really?

GR: I know you don't feel that way.

RN: Well... did the tsunami victims request? Did they go through a formal process to request? Did Iraq -- did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there?

What is more important? I tell ya man, I'm probably going to be in a whole bunch of trouble, I'm probably going to be in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

GR: You and I will be in the funny place together.

RN: But -- we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq, lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers -- lickety-quick -- to take care of New York and other places. Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of the oil is coming through... a place that is so unique, when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up... you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands people that have died, and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know I'm not one of those drug addicts, I am thinking very clearly. And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem. But somebody needs to get their ass on a plane, and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now."

GR: What can we do here?

RN: Keep talking about it.

GR: Okay, we'll do that What else can we do?

RN: Organize people to write letters, make calls to their congressmen --

GR: Emails...

RN: -- to the president, to the governor. Fill their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

I don't want to see anybody do any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city, and they come down to this city, and stand with us, with their military trucks and troops that we can't even count. Don't tell me there are 40,000 people coming here, they're not here! It's too goddamn late!

Get off your asses and let's do something. Let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country!

GR: I'll tell you, right now, you're the only politician that's called, and called for arms like this. And whatever it takes, the governor, the president... whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes... I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.

RN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just... I'm at the point now, where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The City of New Orleans will never be the same. And it's time.

(Then there's silence. Background studio noise comes up as the microphones self-adjust to pick something up. You hear sniffling... Nagin's in tears. Interviewer too.)

GR: We're both pretty speechless here.

RN: I don't know what to say. I've got to go. Okay. Keep in touch.


Post a Comment

<< Home