More coming soon on the disastrous Costello period of Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association and some of its lingering effects. We will attempt to see into the drama underlying the battles and the bluster. Testimony is emerging from the ongoing litigation that shows not just the grey lines linking the ferocious attack against the Elisio Lofts proposal for 501 Elysian, and the ethics issue fallout, but the personal ambition and pain that drove the battle, in three dimensions and full color.
Marigny is a fine neighborhood that could be great. There are some hints that the FMIA is trying to shake itself free of the old ghosts and rejoin the city.
One consequence of the Elisio campaign:
“City conveyance records show that an entity known as 501EFA Hotel, headed by Amit Patel, purchased the 36,200-square-foot property at 501 Elysian Fields Ave. for $3.5 million from Mercato Elisio, which lists local real estate developer Sean Cummings as its manager. The transaction was recorded on September 12.
The property is bounded by Elysian Fields Avenue, Chartres, Marigny and Decatur Streets and is one block from Frenchmen Street’s numerous bars and entertainment venues. Conveyance records also indicate that a $2.8 million mortgage was taken out on the property through First NBC Bank.
Pinu Patel of Lake Charles-based Patel Construction, a partner in 501EFA Hotel, could not be reached for comment. His company specializes in hotel construction.”
FMIA is generally Residentialist, so possibly disappointed to get a tourist hotel instead of apartments. But maybe not.
Elysian Fields Avenue has been a missed opportunity. If its zoning allowed construction to appropriate height, in scale for a wide boulevard, and allowed cafés and restaurants with outside tables, it could be a pedestrian friendly, walkable, cheerful environment, like its namesake in Paris. Now, even around Washington Square, walking on Elysian feels like trying to take a relaxing stroll on an airport runway. A lively hotel might set a new tone and inspire the city to come up with a real vision, with a variable skyline, and a mix of hotels, apartments, shops, music and refreshments. Elysian is a boulevard, and should be a better version of Canal Street, dominated by hotels and second rate shopping. More outside, more street life, like the original Champs-Elysèes.
New police crimes: have you seen this one?
Apparently trying to achieve a new low in institutional stupidity, the police chief of Hagerstown told reporters resignedly, “Every time we use a level of force, regardless whether we are justified or not, we lose.” He defended his officers abhorrent behavior, saying the girl had become “assaultive.” Five feet, 15 and 100 lb facing about 500 cumulative pounds of cop, and even given Maryland policing’s record of discrimination, reconfirmed in this incident, they couldn’t think of a better way to deal with a scared girl after an accident than handcuffing and Mace. It should either amaze or sicken all of us, depending on how many times we have watched it, that American municipal cops can’t grasp the concept of patience.
I just watched a British crime show. A cop, a young woman, had been murdered. The sergeant, also a woman, was sending her officers out to go door to door for any information. Her last instruction was, “Do not forget to treat people with the compassion and respect they deserve.”
Chief Brito and his street warriors prefer fine-tuning their level of force. Some of our most acute social and economic analysts say, expect it to continue. Police violence is an arm of the corporate statE. TBD in Blue and Black, pt. 2.
Stolen Bikes NOLA started life as a semi-formed idea and a Facebook page to post bike thefts. People who had been robbed could post a picture of their bike and theft details. Bike enthusiasts could look for and identify them around the city. It may sound like a forlorn effort, but in fact one of the founders, Alex Fleming, said that soon after launch, they received 50 postings in less than two days.
Over the following year, they recovered 600 stolen bicycles, and located the owners of 500 of them. Organization was rough and ready, improvisational. Sometimes when the rider had bought the bike, apparently innocently, from a thief, Alex or his associate Dean xxx reimbursed him out of their own pockets, hoping to get it back one day.
As it grew and outstripped their organizational experience, another guy, one Brian Opert, surfaced from the SBN Facebook community. He just happened to have a dormant non-profit company, claimed management expertise and an ability to sort everything out. Then he brought in a sidekick or two. Everybody was a board director. Soon, as far as we can see, he and his little group were pushing the founders around, criticizing everything, taking over. Eventually, having kept himself as real owner of the company and sole signer on its bank account, he kicked the founders off and sequestered all the group’s money, around $4,000..
So either we are looking at a bad dude and his gang, or I have the wrong side of a short stick. Opert and one of his associates have made their case in online writing, in Opert’s case long, repetitive, either angry or feigning anger. My first reaction to Opert’s attack was that it is an example of the mirroring technique we see in the Trump campaign, that psychologists tell us is characteristic of narcissism.
Meanwhile, Stolen Bikes NOLA is reorganizing. They discovered a need and a service they can do for New Orleans cyclists. It should be up and running again soon.
We are going to try to record an audio interview with Alex – the first ever NOLAscape embedded audio.
Debate day. How ugly is it going to be? For the election, I like to watch the odds on the big British betting companies. Of course, they are affected by the pool, the trend of beliefs of the bettors, who aren’t here. But also in the equation is the factor that the companies are not in business to lose. Even with a bit of leveling, and her odds to win double digits about doubled, Clinton is at 4/7, Trump 13/8. I am not very reliable on this arithmetic, but I think that translates to something like 70% probability of a Clinton win according to the international gambling industry, down from about 80% a few weeks ago.
Beats the hell out of me how anybody could vote for Trump for anything but to get off the stage, shut up, and let’s see the trial when they charge his ass for – just some examples – bribing Pam Bondi when she was Attorney General of Florida, serial illegal misuse of tax exempt foundation funds, and illegal backdoor financing from his father when he needed to keep a dead casino looking alive while he prepared its bankruptcy. He would probably skate, though. His business skill seems to be borderline larceny, with maybe some Teflon in his spray tan.
© NOLAscape September 2016