August 4, 2023 7:00am

Confidence low in New Orleans' future

Poll also tests property values, school calendars

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
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New Orleanians’ dichotomous view of New Orleans dates from at least the late 19th century and Lafcadio Hearn’s “crumbling into ashes” letter. Its embers burned again last month in a public farewell by 75-year-old Bruce Nolan.

And they glowed anew among Power Poll members when asked this week about their confidence in the future of New Orleans. While celebrating the city’s renowned charms, two third of the respondents express slight to no confidence in New Orleans 25 years from now.

Some focused on the current political class or target a visceral threat.

“Until we take the criminal element seriously, the city will continue to decline,” said Jeffrey Smith, co-founder of Holly and Smith Architects. “We must take on the drug gangs with military-style effort and hold all criminals accountable. Workforce training for all criminals while in jail. New Orleans is just too wonderful to allow the crime to destroy it!”

Others took a broader view.

“We will win because the culture, talents and sheer genius of our citizenry is unparalleled,” said Asali Ecclesiastes, CEO of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. “But it must be matched by the kind of leadership that values people over property and profits, that is visionary rather than performative, that demands accountability from all and not just the most vulnerable, the kind of leadership that is willing to go to the mat to battle injustice rather than heap more of it on our heads.”

“As a city we live taking short-term views: ‘How do I fill this pothole?’ Not, ‘Why does it keep coming back’ and fixing the root problem,” said Minor Pipes III, past president of the Louisiana State Bar Association governing board. “This is true of crime, education, Sewerage & Water Board, road construction — you name it. We have to have a long-term plan to fix the issues that continue to plague us.”

Property values

This week’s poll also asked about property values, with the quadrennial assessments for tax purposes taking effect in 2024. New Orleans is reappraising property now, and other parishes will do so next year.

Less than half the poll respondents think their assessor’s appraisal reflects fair market value.

Back to school

With school starting this month, what’s the ideal academic calendar for kindergarten through 12th grade?

Almost half favor the old school Labor Day-to-Memorial Day schedule that took hold in the late 19th century, when the country was still largely agrarian. And equal numbers favor the current setup, starting class in early to mid-August, or year-round schooling.

Storm season

Lastly, as we near the historic peak period of the Atlantic basin hurricane season, Power Poll respondents largely agree with the meteorology experts on the number of named storms we’ll see in 2023. Colorado State University analysts predict 18, and the federal government forecasts 12 to 17.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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