Sunday's UNOP Meeting

I wrote the following letter-to-the-editor after readings John Pope’s article in Monday’s Times-Picayune (7-31-06):
Like approximately 1000 of my neighbors, my family and I attended the Unified New Orleans Plan meeting Sunday. However, our experience varied dramatically from the one reported by John Pope, who writes “participants sat on white folding chairs as they were told which technical assistance teams will be available, and they discussed criteria for working with these groups and the projects to be undertaken.” Instead, most of the people left early when they saw the lack of space, though we stayed and stood for five hours. We strained to hear our facilitator who knew less about the process than most in the audience, and the task that was allotted the most time was putting red dots on various maps to represent our houses. We were “helped” to formulate questions for the planners in a manner which would have insulted those with the IQ of a six-year-old. Our district was TOLD by our facilitator that we wanted one overall district planner. Then 48 hours later, after 10 minute presentations by the planners on Tuesday, we’re asked to choose a planner. It seems this “Unified” process, certainly one of the most important choices to be made in the long and storied history of New Orleans, is meant to have the veneer of having public input, though our voice is not being heard in the process thus far.

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