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This Might Be Funny If It Weren’t So Tragic

Posted on Monday 5 September 2005

It’s in the NY Times, so it must be true, right?

City to Offer Free Trips to Las Vegas for Officers

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 4 – A day after two police suicides and the abrupt resignations or desertions of up to 200 police officers, defiant city officials on Sunday began offering five-day vacations – and even trips to Las Vegas – to the police, firefighters and city emergency workers and their families.

The idea of paid vacations was raised by both Mayor C. Ray Nagin and senior police officials who said that their forces were exhausted and traumatized and that the arrival of the National Guard had made way for the officers to be relieved….

Mr. Nagin, who has been demanding more federal assistance for days as his city struggled with despair, death and flooding, said he had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the trips but the agency said it could not….

Colonel Ebbert, the senior official running the recovery and rescue operation, and [Police Superintendent] Compass both said that they planned to take a break as well, but probably for less than five days, and that they would continue to direct the recovery by telephone.

Of course those folks should take a break. Most of them have probably been on the job nearly non-stop for over a week. But right now, while there are snipers shooting at those trying to rescue the stranded and repair the city? Reduce their shifts, give them personal time to find and hug their families, and get them the bleep back on duty. Send ’em to Vegas later.

Should we assume that the complaints by the Mayor and his cronies about the ‘slow federal response’ really was because they wanted to take a break sooner? And one supposes that the police deserters (between 13% and 33% of the NO force, depending on whether you believe the Times or the head of the National Guard) won’t be going?

If you had any doubt as to the competence of the city leaders in New Orleans, that doubt should now be gone. The water in the streets should evaporate so fast.

And as for the Times… wasn’t it just last week that the Times editors complained about Bush being on vacation during the storm? (New Orleans in Peril: “…it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation.”) I guess tomorrow’s editorial will take the NO leadership to task for taking a break.

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