Eggelhofer’s Emotional Quotient (EQ)

FQMD Science Committee has invited the eminent Swiss psychometrician, Dr Engelbert Eggelhofer, to come to New Orleans to present a series of lectures on some of his discoveries in measurement of emotions, social emotions and the propagation of social emotionality through societies and neighborhoods, and their modulation by Neighborhood Associations.

Eggelhofer’s intensity scales can quantify emotions in two dimensional and three dimensional charts using algorithms that integrate love, resentment, pleasure, annoyance, indignation and many other qualities of feeling into a single evaluation unit, the dX. Several parameters distinguish personal from social emotions, and show how relatively normal calm personal feelings can transform into social emotions. The differences are graphed on the B and S scales.

Examples are the religions and spiritual movements that say God is Love; feelings of warmth and community are spread and shared and then create and define communities.

Then there are mechanisms that help spread indignation and resentment. These may start as ordinary private emotions, which in most people remain at low voltage until shared. Personal love tends to reduce in intensity as it is distributed and shared out into a communal interpretation. But indignation and resentment build up in intensity in a non-arithmetic way as they are shared. They follow a logarithmic pattern of propagation and intensity, very much like decibels.

Dave Woolworth is working with our City Council with the help of FQMD to map the propagation and control of sound.

Dr Eggelhofer will demonstrate how data round out the mapping of the debate by measuring and charting the emotions of the members of the residents’ associations public feelings and expressions of resentment against their perception of intrusion by sound and music, and contrast this with their individual, private feelings. Eggelhofer’s analytical tools can discover whether the origin of resentment against music and entertainment bars stems from private antipathy to music, for instance, or to bass tones, or comes from fear. Fear is a fundamental emotion, endlessly manipulated in America for various political ends, so may really be at the source of complex organized social shared emotions that seem on the surface to have nothing to do with threat levels. Usually, people suppress their original feelings of fear when they escalate and complicate into structured social emotions (Freud used to call the process in personal emotional development ‘sublimation.’ Raised to the group level by Eggelhofer’s algorithms, the term increasingly used is ‘sublimation squared’ or S2. The original fear could be that someone is coming into your space, coming to take you away. In adults, that can be sublimated to fear of property value. In primitive terms, there are lower forms of life (see Stuart Smith’s comments on ‘strip club owners’) down the street who may tear down your walls and show what you would look like out there naked, without your stuff as shield against ‘them.’ Sometimes, especially in the South, it can be the age-old terror of the black man with his loud beating drum coming for your mother or your wife.

Doesn’t sound right, does it? We can’t resent music bars because we are scared our Moms will be kidnapped! I don’t know; let’s wait until we hear what Eggelhofer has to say.

Just as Dave Woolworth has been showing us how complex sound patterns and perceptions of music can be resolved by an algorithm into a single number called a “decibel,” Eggelhofer will demonstrate how simple childhood fears become complex, evolving feelings and when reinforced by a supportive neighborhood club can turn into protectionism or even Preservationism. Territorial feelings combine with fear and resentment into a desire to wall off the French Quarter to protect it from slave rebellions and modern popular music, especially bass tones, which might might wreck the foundations of your home by crumbling the 200 year old mortar in the piers.

The unit of emotional intensity is the Dixibel. We asked Professor Eggelhofer if he thought it was safe to come to the South of the United States with a unit named that. The professor replied that the term was derived from Latin qui dixit, which translates idiomatically as something like “who you lookin’ at”, so everything would be okay.

We asked Eggelhofer by email if he would be able to measure the indignation intensity of various crowds, for instance Preservationists on the march, ready to face a rowdy crowd from Wisconsin on Bourbon Street on Saturday night. Did it matter if they were all facing in the same direction? Did the dixibels increase when they were lawyered up? Did it matter who led the parade? Did dixibel levels increase in the presence of a brass band? And if the band played louder, how was the Group Indignation Quotient (GIQ) affected? Was there an ambient dixibel level (ADL) to adjust for?

Professor Eggelhofer’s seminars on civic and emotional algorithms are sure to be very popular. We suggest you contact Robert Watters early for reservations. Don’t forget to ask for the Nolascape discount.

 

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Pitchfork Pieces

Pitchfork v.

“. . . she was even talking about giving enforcement authority to an unethical organization like VCPORA and their executive director, Meg Lousteau.”

“Just to recap: Palmer and VCPORA harassed, threatened, and tried to get the police to intimidate the To Be Continued (TBC) band, an innocent group of high school musicians who played their instruments to the merriment of the tourists. Palmer introduced a more restrictive curfew that largely harmed the African American community”

“Also, what is scary is that Palmer was seriously talking about deputizing VCPORA and Meg Lousteau to “protect the French Quarter.””

These are comments signed “Nola Tourism Economy” following Richard Webster’s article “Lawyer in New Orleans noise ordinance debate accused of intimidation” which appeared in the Times-Picayune/nola.com last Friday.

You can’t say much based on a comment under one of those commenter pseudonyms, but even under a concealed identity – I wonder why people do that – the comments are by a New Orleans resident and voter, so I asked Kristin Palmer for comment or clarification. What does “deputize” even mean in context of City Council? They are not sheriffs or police.

So far, the best I can get is a bland denial by Deborah Langhoff, Ms Palmer’s assistant, saying that they have not planned or contemplated any appointment of Ms Lousteau. My questions to Kristin Palmer ask her for the truth on the issues as she sees it. Was there a story ? If so, what is her side of it? If it is just a rumor, what is behind it? Deborah’s denial is a bit bloodless, and Kristin personally seems to be stopping in the undisclosed “no comment” zone for today.

Well, maybe there is nothing to it. Maybe it is just some smoke and no mirrors.

But the idea of unaccountable neighborhood clubs empowered with enforcement authority for anything is pretty chilling. Bad enough we can’t rid the city of the wasteful, tiresome lawsuits run by their Dementor lawyer, outed by Richard Webster’s article as a would-be thug as well as oxygen depleter. I would think a responsible politician even in Louisiana would want to clear some air on that.

Imagine Meg with a gun and a badge. Things could get dangerous. A Lousteau Preservationist Posse could mean a hard shutdown for Bourbon Street bars who open their windows. Even Hoodies with impure thoughts should probably stay indoors and away from windows with that new sheriff in town.

Put some pressure on CM Palmer to supply more information, gentle readers, and if you have more info on the notion of enforcement authority for the Hoodies, or what happened to the TBC band, please let us know. Public pressure. Maybe one day Ms Palmer might answer one of us.

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They just won’t stay down . . .

 Clown

This is now going to pale before Richard Webster’s great series on nola.com exposing Nathan Chapman’s sponsor and Cheron Brylski’s employer as under investigation by police and the FBI for intimidation. In case you missed it, http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/02/lawyer_in_new_orleans_noise_or.html

A few days ago, The Brylski “Company” sent this to the local papers. Bold black is the press release. Blue is Nolascape comment.

A Statement from Nathan Chapman on Feb. 17 about the start of “noise” sessions by David Woolworth and FQMD:

Today is the first of three sessions to be held by David Woolworth, the city council’s acoustical engineer.

So far so good. One whole sentence and Preacher Nathan hasn’t put a foot wrong yet. Could this finally be the one where he gets something right?. .

These sessions are being run by the French Quarter Management District, a non-elected, state-created agency. FQMD, has no established by-laws governing its mission or operations and is chaired by Robert Watters, an owner and operator of a Bourbon Street adult establishment who also represents the Bourbon Business Alliance.

Oops. I had hoped he could keep it up. Let’s see – who elected Nathan Chapman, or Cheron Brylski, whichever one wrote this? Why, yes – no one.

I looked on FQMD’s web site, not hard to find:

PURPOSE OF FQMD:

The statutory purpose of the FQMD is to strengthen the District as a vital component of Louisiana’s tourism industry; aid in the preservation of the District’s architecture, quaint charm and tout ensemble; beautify the District’s appearance; improve public safety, foster quality experiences and quality of life within the District; and improve commercial and residential vitality. The statutory functions of the FQMD include strategic planning, business and commercial development activities and administering capital improvement funds.

The FQMD ’s enabling legislation, in La. R.S. 25:799(G), also provides that the FQMD may:

• Create and maintain public restroom facilities

• Beautify the District and improve its streetscapes

Enhance the walkability and pedestrian-friendly environment of the District

• Revitalize and nurture the cultural and historical features of the District

• Provide façade grants and incentives to utilize vacant buildings, upper floors and land

• Address transportation concerns

• Facilitate parking and mobility planning, strategies and management

• Develop and implement commercial planning, marketing and revitalization strategies

• Facilitate lighting and signage upgrades, repairs and replacements

Aid in the repair of sidewalks, streets and related infrastructure

Aid in video camera installation and monitoring

Recruit public amenities and services

Foster quality pedestrian experiences

Foster regional and District character

Facilitate removal and prevention of graffiti

I think several of those cover the ground.

These sessions are being held during the daytime, which may be convenient for business owners, but not for the general public.

These sessions are held in FQMD’ Government Committee’s regular weekly time slot, 3.00 PM Mondays. The session was video recorded; if you could not attend, you can see the whole thing through links on the MaCCNO web site: http://maccno.com/?p=182

The residents’ organizations, despite their recognized expertise on this issue, were given no opportunity to help plan these sessions. Mr. Watters appears to be running the city process.

By residents’ organizations, Mr Chapman, self-appointed expert, means VCPORA and FQC – I’ll spare you the long form of the names. Several fun points here:

Two seats on Government Committee were reserved to the residents’ clubs, one to FQC and one to VCPORA. FQC’s post was manned by Brian Furness. He contributed. VCPORA’s post was manned by Meg Lousteau. She invested more effort in undermining FQMD than contributing. She seemed to see the legally mandated organization as a threat to her preservationist fiefdom. Nathan Chapman himself sometimes attended Government Committee meetings. Under guidance of Robert Watters and Kim Rosenberg Government Committee is unfailingly polite and inclusive. They take visitors’ input seriously. All Chapman or any other VCPORA member needed to do for input was turn up.

I don’t really know what the preservationist clubs would have had to plan. They invited Dave Woolworth to teach them sound and the soundscape. Woolworth is the scientist. Would he really have needed help from VCPORA or Preacher Nate to know how to teach his subject? Maybe they wanted more opportunity to use Lousteau’s undermining skills.

Pity they did not come to the session. They might have learned something about propagation of sound. They are boycotting in protest at something. Exactly what has not been clear, and they got a bit scratchy when we tried to figure it out, but now Nathan the Audio Preacher tells us that it was at least in part about the process regarding the sound ordinance for Bourbon Street.

The sound ordinance for Bourbon Street would not be in play except for the well-publicized uproar over the foul play of Nathan and Associates (which they have yet to even apologize for) in trying to slip a really bad ordinance amendment into Council via Stacy Head through some bent process which is still being unraveled. So far we know we are talking about rotten tripe squeezed through Bismarck’s Bratwurst grinder. We don’t know how deep it goes. In the city that contributed Ray Nagin and Oliver Thomas to urban history, though, where cells await the clumsy, expectations are . . . interesting.

Now, as to their expertise, I have been following this debate for about a year. If Nathan Chapman or VCPORA have any acoustic literacy apart from complaining skills, they are doing a great job of hiding it. I have seen audio engineers’ eyes water when they read his ‘7 Essentials.’ It is hard to get a comment; they just shake their heads slowly. I am not going to speak for Dave Woolworth. He is very diplomatic. I suggest asking him yourself. If Nathan the Sound Preacher wanted to really get some notion of acoustics as she is spoke, he should have come to Woolworth’s intro.

The long-time French Quarter resident organizations, VCPORA and French Quarter Citizens Inc., have suspended their membership in FQMD for a number of reasons, including the current process regarding the sound ordinance on Bourbon Street.

What can we say? They didn’t like it that since David Woolworth is a professional who knows what he is talking about, and the Hoodies appear to be cranky complainers, after CM Head’s failed flirtation with the Hoodie contingent, council and FQMD preferred the pro. Perhaps they are concerned that their leader’s plots are unraveling, and he may be dangerous. Some of these guys, they charge when they are wounded, you know. I offer to bring Nathan in from the cold from time to time, but he stays out there in the dark.

Lastly, we have yet to receive answers to the questions recently raised about coordinated actions between Mr. Woolworth, the city’s paid consultant, and local French Quarter bars.

Come on, Nathan, you can do better than that.

The question is first of all bogus, as they all know. Woolworth gave access to his research to VCPORA, FQC and BBA, the Bourbon St Business Alliance, and others. Chapman probably had access to them before Watters. If he did not understand the material, perhaps an attention problem? Woolworth’s 2013 study was not in an adversarial position with any of them. It was all answered very clearly in Woolworth’s deposition for Chapman’s intimidating friend Stuart Smith in his action against a bar called Funky 544. Smith put a deceptively edited version of the deposition on his web site – these guys are playing by different moral rules – but if you read the transcript, you see in a minute that this is a fake issue. There is nothing in it, nil. A phony attempt to discredit.

If the concerns of French Quarter residents and musicians are treated as equally as commercial interests, we are optimistic that everyone living, working or playing in New Orleans will benefit.

” . . . as equally as . . .” Aren’t Brylski and Chapman professional communicators, an ad man and a PR? You can’t say “as equal.” Things are either equal or not. They may try to pass it off as an Orwellian pun. It’s not.

Woolworth’s engagement was by the council. His brief is to work out a sound management program to satisfy everybody. That is what he is working very hard to do. The residents should be putting some sound, sensible people on their Government Committee seats to represent their fair interests, not doing a yah-boo act from the sidelines. Pull Lousteau off; she seems quite useless at this. Find a sane, sensible person in VCPORA that has the horse sense to not listen to Nathan and Smith, to understand Woolworth’s process, and to understand that the evolving sound management division of health department should have the means to adjust and fine tune for the fair benefit of everybody.

Chapman’s stuff continues to be superstition and hooey with a faux-authoritative patina.

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The Soundscape Game – State of Play

I am going to try to write a post without caricature. If you are bored already, okay, check back later.

Sides Now
Current contenders are not “for” and “against,” which still occasionally turn up in some contexts, usually by people not well acquainted with the history or state of play. All sides recognize that there will be a new sound ordinance; the question is, a good one or a bad one.

I like “rational” v “cult.”

Rationalists favor building an image of the problem by careful investigation, data, and analysis; then refine guidelines of what is to be achieved, and then design the means to get it done with least conflict and confrontation. The objective is inclusiveness. If a new law were skewed against entertainment businesses, the companies would defy it, back their rebellion in court, and tie up progress for years; if slanted against residents, legal protests would continue, including private enforcement attempts through vigilante lawsuits, and after all the Sturm und Drang we would be right where we are now: localized loudness and no management or bad management.

Cultists support the “7 Essentials”/VCPORA approach. Their manifesto is a sort of bullet point bumper sticker. I don’t think Nathan Chapman actually claims to have hiked up a mountain for 40 days to get it from heaven, but it is something like. In their scenario, “residents” are a special, precious category, the righteous, the long-suffering aggrieved; music venues are sinners to be castigated by low decibel limits and law-lashed into compliance. The closest to technical support they could claim was Arno Bommer of CSTI, whose impartiality doesn’t stand up because he is contracted to Stuart Smith, a partisan, as expert witness in his private vigilante litigation against bars and restaurants. Since Bommer has been sidelined, Smith has taken to attacking Woolworth to redress the balance, because it would not be easy to find a new independent acoustician who would support their decibel table. Smith uses the attack technique best named by Bill Maher: he Makes Shit Up.

Pretty soon, we are going to take a look at the long history of the French Quarter, back in ancient history – back before the Harrah’s deal, before Governor Edwin Edwards, enjoying the fate of so many Louisiana pols, was sent to jail. We can unpick the story of continuous genteel, quiet residence. We can explore the differences between a gentrifier, a restorer, a preservationist, and a common-or-garden property value hustler. We can take a look at whether VCPORA’s picture of the FQ is history or another Southern romance.

“7 Essentials” was brought to other neighborhood associations with no experts, no science, just complaint and belief. None of the detail and data that Oxford Acoustics’ several studies of the city have added to the story has altered a word of the revealed manifesto, which still stands pristine, impervious to knowledge, science and fact. If you read it closely, you will see that it is also judgmental, like so many pop puritanical religious beliefs. Saints and sinners.

Cult team heroes are Nathan Chapman, “7 Essentials” preacher-in-chief, and Stuart H. Smith, vigilante lawyer and general sound nut, with lieutenants drawn from VCPORA, FQC and some other neighborhood groups.  Like a chorus, Tim Laughlin, Jack Stewart and Deacon John come to the podium at council sessions. Cultists try to give them extra weight because they are musicians, so they must know. In fact, they don’t. Like some other residents of neighborhoods with active night life, probably a minority, unhappy about late and intrusive sound, they don’t like it, but the notion that playing a clarinet makes Tim Laughlin an acoustician is silly.

Most musicians on both sides repeat the same stuff with slightly different slants, without adding much worth serious consideration in the current state of play. I get a feeling some of them want to say, Follow Woolworth, but the message gets lost in the same-old about New Orleans the music city, our great culture, etc., which has now started to obscure the issue at hand. One group says, loud bars are too loud. The other says, maybe, but New Orleans musical culture is holy ground, would you deny us our living, we are culture bearers, etc. Neither is adding significant content to defining the soundscape or developing and implementing the solution. They should think about that as they request serious roles in the next stages of development. If they expect to contribute, they will need to get past the emotional broken record.

If we believe the Neighborhoodies, FQ residential property is Sacred Territory; if we take the musicians at face value, Kulchur is Holy Ground. Under rational scrutiny, both are past sell-by.

An extension of this faith-based expertise thing is that Jonathan Harris, Stacy Head’s executive officer, acquired faux-acoustician chops somehow by working at House of Blues once upon a time. Jonathan is a clever fellow, and I quite like him, in case that matters; but CM Head’s belief that he is in a position to correct or deny Dave Woolworth’s findings is . . . touching. And wrong. Jon signed on to the simplistic program, a recipe for conflict and failure, and the unsavory busted conspiracy, so we have to send him away for re-education in a Chinese labor camp for a few years to un-blot his copy book.

That is basically a snapshot of the soundscape game. Evolution v. Special Creation. Cityscape v. Sacred Ground. Or some, the mean of spirit (like me) might say, Reality v. Bullshit.

Some Holes to Pick
Some unfortunate ideas are bubbling up on the rationalist side of the debate. I will probably be accused of disloyalty for criticizing a few of them, but as I rarely join anything, it is hard to throw me out.

From MaCCNO’s newsletter of yesterday, February 17th:

” . . . backroom scheming undertaken by a small group of wealthy and well-connected residents of the French Quarter . . ”

Similar statements turn up a lot. Previously possibly even from me. We have to watch out for this. There are well-to-do, well-connected people on both sides of the debate, and many of them live in the French Quarter, too. Prosperity, influence and influential friends do not convict one of moral turpitude or acoustic irrationality, and trying to inoculate yourself against them in a political issue in Louisiana is unrealistic. The reductio would be, being poor and friendless makes you a better advocate for or judge of sound management. Let’s condemn the backstairs scheming and dishonorable behavior, and give the bank accounts a break.

Some of this may be because Stuart H. Smith, who is either a VCPORA stalwart or possibly owns the club, is known for having a lot of loot and seems to be a rather unpleasant, bullying sort of person. People look for anything to fight back with. Spare money must help his predatory use of legal action to attack businesses for sound and zoning, but it would be foolish to condemn everybody who has a healthy bank account. We the rationalists should stop this. Let’s appreciate support of all the reasonable people, rich, poor and down the middle.

Another one that has been trying to gather steam is whether Stuart H. Smith lives in New Orleans all the time, which of his properties he elects to homestead, and all that. My reaction is: so what? New Orleans heroes Allen Toussaint and Doctor John Have spent long periods based in New York.  If Smith lived in New Orleans part time but did things for the city we liked or respected like Brad Pitt; if he set up arts funding or supported a modern music orchestra, the same people would be saying he is wonderful. No, it’s not how many weeks a year he is on vacation, or whether he owns or rents the places he stays in. It is the choices he makes. They would be as bad if a zero or two came off the back of his money.

I want to be careful about criticizing MaCCNO because they have been a great force for good in this, identifying the nature of the attack early, rooting out and standing up against the immorality of some of the Council’s and neighborhood associations’ actions in this process, for advocating fair law and transparent process. Nevertheless, another questionable idea is MaCCNO’s advocacy of a working group made up of 1/3 each of musicians, businesses and residents. It sounds nice, but who is appointing it? What is its status? Why do we need another “working group”?

There is a working group in place. David Woolworth is leader. FQMD Government Committee has provided a public, transparent support forum. They have the credentials, the intellectual weight and character. VCPORA and FQC might have used their seats to try to derail progress, but they are on strike for the moment. Do we need another group to appoint itself caretaker of the soundscape?

Businesses, musicians and residents are not distinct species. Musicians live somewhere, and some manage businesses. Business managers live somewhere, and some play music. Residents do things for a living, and some play music. The idea does not stand up to logic.

I am going to get into some hot water with the next point, but have to do it, for truth and reality: MaCCNO has contributed enormously to the struggle against the bullying neighborhood associations, but musicians do not have the same stake in this as residents and the entertainment businesses. Both sides – or at least CM Head – say they will protect street music. Stacy Head had even added a protective amendment to the awful December ‘VCPORA’ bill. Most versions of a new ordinance would be likely to protect the street bands from aggressive police and complaints.

Club bands might possibly be slightly affected if the ordinance shut down some venues, but that is unlikely. The bands are not legally liable for sound ordinance infraction. They do not have to pay the lawyers or the fines. That is probably why so few of the working club musicians are active in the battle. They know they are not on the hook or automatically going to lose work because bars have to put in some management measures, like sound proofing or even turning the volume down. Even with the rational Woolworth process, bars that do not already manage sound well are not going to get off scot-free. There will be adjustments.

What a “working committee” needs is motivation and wisdom, not quotas. I suggest that FQMD Government Committee has both, that its open meeting policy trumps quotas, and we should all support it.

The mixed use neighborhood is going to be made of entertainment businesses and residences. Musicians count, but they are not a different caste. They should join in, understand the process, and not ask to be treated as an endangered species. That is the way of VCPORA. Let’s not encourage it. Are there musicians willing to engage with and follow through the exploration, research and recommendation process to get this right? Some musicians at MaCCNO meetings express beliefs as irrational as the ‘7 Essentials’ cultists. Do we need extra paranoia in the process just because they are musicians, not advertising agents or lawyers?

Don’t forget that Dave Woolworth is also a serious musician. Important entertainment businesses and FQ residents have now engaged in the rational process, following the lead of an experienced, highly qualified professional. Don’t mess it up.

FQMD Government Committee is a well managed, reasonable, transparent, state-sanctioned group which is now sponsoring the Woolworth process, which has been sanctioned by city Council. There is nothing to oppose here. Let’s stick with them.

VCPORA and FQC stepped aside and want to negotiate FQMD’s capitulation to their terms. I suggest the re-negotiation should be turned around the other way. The Hoodies must agree to subscribe to rational thought and engage with the process. Unfortunately, a head has to roll. Change entails sacrifice. They should show evidence of a new direction by replacing Meg Lousteau as delegate to Government Committee. Her stance has been full frontal Horse Feathers:

It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I’m against it.

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The Hoodie Manifesto

 

Big doings at FQMD Government Committee this afternoon, when Dave Woolworth presents the first of three sessions on the science of sound and propagation, for progress on good sound law in New Orleans and Bourbon Street particularly as launch pad. FQ neighborhood associations VCPORA and FQC are on strike, or at least in unresolved dispute with FQMD, so cannot officially attend. But I want to help ensure that their position is represented, so here goes:

image

 http://youtu.be/DtMV44yoXZ0

I don’t know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I’m against it.

Your proposition may be good,
But let’s have one thing understood,
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it,
I’m against it.

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The Sausage Grinder

 

image“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”             Wrongly attributed to Otto Von Bismarck

In an email to Smith, Chapman questioned whether the impartiality of the neighborhood group’s sound expert, Arno Bommer, could be called into question because of his affiliation with Smith. Bommer has provided paid expert testimony for Smith in lawsuits against several French Quarter clubs and has been previously hired by French Quarter neighborhood groups to perform sound measurements on their behalf.

“Stuart is making money off these noise lawsuits and Arno is his paid guy so how does Arno have any credibility?” Chapman asked in an email to Smith. “Stuart, I’m under the impression you are doing these noise lawsuits pro bono but if you can get them to pay attorneys fees, you take that. More power to you and thank god for you, but I just need to know. And before we spend money on Arno coming over, do we think this argument neuters him, no matter how valid his info?”

Chapman also sent the email to Meg Lousteau, executive director of Vieux Carre Property Owners Residents and Associates, Carol Allen, president of VCPORA, Cheron Brylski, whose public relations firm works for Smith and Head, and Wilma Heaton, a member of the French Market Corporation’s board of directors.
Richard Webster, “Attorney Stuart Smith calls on city to fire sound expert” nola.com, Feb 11, 2014

Look at those lovely cc’s! Magical Meg the Reproacher, Carol the Boss, and Brylski, the shared flack! Wait a minute. What is she doing in there? Possibly handing us the key to the back passage we have been looking for?

Zounds, Watson!

Stacy Head was Brylski’s client for re-election in December and January. Putting Ms Stacy on the cc line might have been a bit far out even for Nathan, who has an edgy way with information. But might one of Brylski’s jobs have been to provide an underground link between the Vieux Carré plot cauldron and Stacy Head and Jon Harris? Well, well, well. Nola.com has to be careful about suspicions. Here though, among Nolascape’s cast of thousands, we love it. So I am suspecting we might just have caught a glimpse of the secret door through which passed the bucket of tripe that was poured in the top of Otto’s sausage grinder and cranked out the front as the “bold and historic” legislative wonder that so caught our imaginations between December 18th and January 27th.

I am suspecting that since Cheron Brylski was contracted to Stacy Head’s re-election campaign, not her Council office, she was able to link the Old Squares to council through Jon Harris, Miz Stacy’s exec, off the public record. I am suspecting that Wilma Heaton – who is she, anyway? – is skilled in exploiting this distinction.

Heaton then instructed Bommer to coordinate directly with Harris and herself using their private email accounts.

Again, very sensitive time and lots of misinformation out there,” Heaton wrote. “I want you to be a resource for CM Head’s assistance because of your extremely superior qualifications on the subject. We are out of time for 3rd party translation. Enemies are using false issues and fear to try to defeat the sound ordinance.”

“Enemies are using false issues and fear . . .” The spy who did not come in from the cold. Wilma is still out there in old black-and-white Berlin. She has used her tradecraft to get He of the Extremely Superior Qualifications, aka Arno, to reassure Stacy Head that the 7 Essentials gang’s junk numbers were okay. Dum da dum dum.

But what do I know, poor victim of misinformation that I am?

What is Wilma Heaton going to be like, when I find her? Is she a Bond girl type of spy? Should we drag her through the scandal mud, or just blow something up together, like the movies? Drift away in a stylish float while a pink mushroom cloud billows over Perdido Street? So many questions, so little time.

Okay, a quick look at what the righteous noise cultists are about now, and then get out of here for today.

The Hoodies have “suspended” participation in French Quarter Management District. The reason in their official letter is hard to get a firm grip on. The chiefs are declining to clarify further so far. Board members seem to have been left out of the decision. This is warlord level.

Meanwhile, out here in the light, FQMD is helping to enable a process for setting up good law, a framing or enabling law, which includes getting Dave Woolworth to train up a team to check, measure and evaluate, and work out a best plan for Bourbon Street and the FQ, using the best in applied acoustics to determine the right numbers, and be in position to execute a plan. It starts next week, Monday afternoon at the FQMD government committee meeting.

Sounds pretty good to me. I guess CoCo Garrett and Carol Allen don’t like it, or they would contribute to the process instead of boycotting, but we don’t know the whole reason. We need some French Quarter residents to show up, though, because FQMD’s mission is to synchronize residents and businesses, and get interested, and learn how this can be done professionally.

We don’t even know whether VCPORA/FQC’s coordinated action is because of the sound ordinance issue. If it is, it could relate to Mr Chapman’s warning to Mr Watters to butt out. Mr Watters dared to disobey, and now, and now – reason and science are about to re-enter the city, and maybe we will get somewhere, and that would be great, because Nolascape really wants to get on with reverse-engineering that sausage grinder.

 

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Richard Webster finds the Secret Tunnel

Richard Webster must now be our top candidate for the Pulitzer. If you have not read “Attorney Stuart Smith calls on city to fire sound expert”, I suggest click the link, read it and come right back to explore the next level. Richard is a real reporter; he has constraints that I don’t, so let’s skip right along now.

“At a cost of $15,000.” In case you have not read the study, over two hundred pages of material and analysis, you may suspect this is a lot of money. Consultants like Oxford Acoustics on a contract are probably compensated between $150 and $600 an hour, depending on a lot of variables. To sidestep all doubt, let’s put the Oxford study at the lower end, $150. Dave Woolworth likes New Orleans; he might have been generous. That would allow 100 hours for completion of the study, including research, writing and follow through. Do you think Dave Woolworth brought this project in in anything like 100 hours? I doubt he even tracked it that way, because once he accepted the contract, he had to complete it, so the clock probably went in the drawer. My guess would be closer to 300 to 400 hours. Kristin Palmer got us a great bargain, and Dave Woolworth has been hugely generous in time, effort, commitment and sincerity.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Oh, I don’t know about that. I think Kristin Palmer is being excessively diplomatic. Smith lashes a lot of campaign contributions around the city, which wins him unmerited deference from the political class. His previous blog on sound politics was IMO slanderous to Kristin Palmer and her former exec Nicole Webre, as well as Woolworth. It was intentionally defamatory, written factually not editorially or satirically, and inaccurate. As an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana, Smith is an officer of the court, as we used to hear on Boston Legal, where lawyers of comic crookedness generally behaved better than some of the real ones around here. Doesn’t that make it less acceptable to just say any old BS?

“Ethically compromised.” Dave Woolworth entered this arena on a research mission. He refuses to take sides, except the side of scientific accuracy and civic realism. I know; I have tried to get quotes to help pillory VCPORA and others I consider reactionary, biased and less than honest players in the sausage grinder game. Even now, Dave will not even denounce Smith, who published defamatory, inaccurate statements attacking him, Kristin Palmer and her former exec Nicole Webre, and has now has produced and published an intentionally misleading edited version of the video transcript of an eight hour deposition about one of his vigilante bar attacks. Smith’s output is probably actionable, but he knows nobody will do it, because it would be too expensive. He has a law office as well as himself as primary weapons, and can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on his hobby of expensively annoying everybody. Even now, Dave will not do anything to compromise the integrity of the original mission, despite Smith’s disgraceful carry on.

Remember that “ethically compromised” Dave Woolworth withdrew his offer to represent the bars in any action during this period. I don’t think I would have. There was no exclusive clause in the city’s agreement. And we can be sure that Smith would not have, because he and Chapman regularly recommend Arno Bommer as an authority for city work, and all or most of Bommer’s New Orleans experience is expert witnessing for Smith in private actions against bars. A few paragraphs down, Richard Webster exposes Chapman’s doubts about Bommer’s conflicted position, but that doesn’t stop Smith from aggressively accusing Woolworth of conflict for deciding not to do what his man does, nor did it stop Chapman from saying on the Angela Hill show a week later that he would employ Bommer to review Woolworth’s work. So ethical compromise is a significant concept in this affair; let’s just be a bit more realistic about who we apply it to.

So can we say that Smith is ethically compromised? I suggest the question is meaningless. Think of the scorpion in the fable or the Dementors from Azkaban. There is no ethical position to compromise. Other people are toys you can chuck out of your pram when they bug you.

“Smith specifically points to Woolworth’s relationship with the Bourbon Business Alliance and its former president, Robert Watters, who owns Rick’s Cabaret. Smith said Woolworth shared his findings with Watters several months before the report was made public.”

Findings? Shared? Smith seems to be forgetting that Woolworth is not a member of his private acoustic hit squad tasked to attack entertainment businesses.

Woolworth was on a public mission. The “findings” were ours, not the private property of Nicole Webre or Kristin Palmer. Robert Watters and Jude Marullo are bar owners with Bourbon Street investments, also members of BBA, and also members of FQMD, the state-sponsored public organization whose mission is to support improvement of the French Quarter for all. Compute into the mix that Dave Woolworth presented the same material to VCPORA and French Quarter Citizens, who generally channel the Scorpion Lord, in about the same time frame, as well as earlier through the year. Smith attempted to suppress that when he deposed Woolworth for one of his vigilante actions. You’ve seen the technique in lawyer TV shows. “Just answer the question, please.” But information culling to spin a lawsuit does not change the facts: the Scorpion Lord’s acolytes had the same information.

Now, by these presents, know ye also that on January 12th, which by our common calendar comes before February 10th, the date of Smith’s blog entry, by grace of Richard Webster’s public record request, Smith had been presented with his coven’s concerns that Bommer really was compromised. Let’s quote Richard Webster’s excerpts from the email, because it is wonderful. I know I take the mick out of poor Nathan a lot, but he really is a treasure trove of great material.

Stuart is making money off these noise lawsuits and Arno is his paid guy so how does Arno have any credibility?” Chapman asked in an email to Smith. “Stuart, I’m under the impression you are doing these noise lawsuits pro bono but if you can get them to pay attorneys fees, you take that. More power to you and thank god for you, but I just need to know. And before we spend money on Arno coming over, do we think this argument neuters him, no matter how valid his info?”

Chapman also sent the email to Meg Lousteau, executive director of Vieux Carre Property Owners Residents and Associates, Carol Allen, president of VCPORA, Cheron Brylski, whose public relations firm works for Smith and Head, and Wilma Heaton, a member of the French Market Corporation’s board of directors.

Bommer, who said he hadn’t heard about Smith’s demand to fire Woolworth, said it is no secret that he has been working on behalf of the residents.

So we see Nathan trying to keep the faith – “thank god for you” – but he needs to know. Oh Lord do not forsake me in this my hour of travail. I just need to know. Need to know what? That Smith still cares for his flock, and the Dementor will be there to suck the joy out of The Enemy?

The takeaway is that Smith says Woolworth is compromised, but chooses not to inform us that his own team says his sound guy Arno Bommer is. That is okay; Smith’s blog site is editorial, not a public service with a duty of impartiality. For my friends in the Hoods, though – keep it in mind when you accuse Nolascape of grinding its axe.

Also please note: January 12 is eight days before Chapman publicly proposed Bommer to evaluate Woolworth’s work on Angela Hill’s radio show on the 20th. I think we are looking at some ethical flexibility here, don’t you?

But now, let’s take a chapter break and move on to The Sausage Grinder.

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The Vigilante Lawyer is Back!

You have to read this. Put on some Sergio Leone spaghetti western music for background. Fistful of Dollars should do it, or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Then let’s strip it down and see what kind of smelly little chunks of offal slithered out of the sausage grinder and got stuck in the corners.

“Bold and historic move.” Stuart H. means the crackpot amendment the CMs signed into the agenda on December 19th. Let’s not bog down in His Lawyership’s attempt to deny that it was a mess of tripe. Nobody is going to believe that. Just read between a few of those lines for what looks like confirmation of what a few tens of thousands of us already think: that he or his Hoodie minions wrote it. Smith or Chapman, VCPORA or FQC, doesn’t matter much. Think Dracula and Renfield.

Who is letting you down in this little soap opera? Who owes us an explanation, and in my opinion, deep apology and some penance? VCPORA is a special interest lobbying group that owes no duty of care to the city. Smith behaves like a classic crank and schoolyard bully, now grumpy because he didn’t get his way, but he is a private interest bully and crank. City Council however is responsible to the people. What Is important to know – and we can’t get a straight answer yet – is how the Council let itself be played by these guys. Campaign contributions? Party invitations? Or is Nathan just too smooth a talker? Ms. Stacy Head could not resist his charm. Speculative, but maybe we will get real facts one day. For now, let’s get some more Smithology out of the way and next post we can move over to Richard Webster’s article in nola.com, to see how some of the CMs look through the keyhole.

Historic blunder is what it almost was, until the council got a bit more scared of the villagers’ pitchforks than they are of the Vampire Vigilantes. Smith, Esq. must be pretty angry at the CMs. They did not do what he had trained them to do. Those contributions weren’t working right. The Council betrayed a great New Orleans tradition. Huey Long would not have put up with it.

Let’s do a bit of quoting:

“Out of control and unchecked nuisance bars.” Keep that in mind; we will come back to it in a few minutes.

Then the FQ lawslinger writes a bit of poetry about the coalition of neighborhood groups. Was the Unsteady Coalition cooked up in the SmithStag kitchen, too? Only asking because as I watch Smith’s stuff, there is an oversize ME space in there. Haven’t seen much respect for anybody else’s work. Maybe that is why Meg Lousteau used to get all flappy in FQMD meetings when anybody mentioned His Esquireship. What if he created the whole sad little war game scene and had charged his troops to keep his name out of it?

In the next paragraph, the famous attorney gets argumentative.

” . . . pulled back the measure for further study due to extensive pressure from a small, vocal but vastly uninformed group which seems particularly compelled to defend live street music.”

He is bordering on getting something right. There is a small, vocal group very anxious about live street music. Their hearts are in the right place. They may not really understand the texts, but they do know that street musicians still get hassled and arrested by the cops for the crime of music.

But that is just the fringe. The vast majority of the protest against the Hoodies’ little bungled council conspiracies can actually read as well as a VCPORIte, and has a much better idea of the implications of a simplistic, scientifically illiterate law than most of them. Probably not better than Lawyer Smith, though. He knows how bad law plays into his vigilante hobby.

“Last year, I deposed a Mr. David Woolworth,” he writes, “the same man being used as the Council’s sound expert, when it was discovered he consulted as an expert for one of the Bourbon Street nuisance bars I am fighting in court.”
.
That is what a Mr Smith writes as an intro to the edited video clip. Edited down to 19 minutes from eight hours of deposition. A couple of things ol’ Honest Stu cut from the depo: Dave Woolworth discussed his material with BBA, including Robert Watters and Jude Marullo, in the same time frame, I believe the same weekend, that he discussed the same material with Smith acolytes VCPORA and FQC. Smith tried to get that out of the whole deposition. “Just answer the question.” You’ve seen the sort of thing on Boston Legal. It is in the transcript, but he just cuts it out of the video clip, and I can’t find a mention of this material fact anywhere in the blog article.

Notice the two paradigms running in the video: the underlying assumption of the narrative Smith is trying to set up is that Woolworth was employed by the Council in a battle against the BBA and the Bourbon Street bars. He also slips in a subtext that owning and operating Rick’s Cafe or Jude Marullo’s businesses is morally inferior to being a tort lawyer. Work that one out for yourself.

Notice that Smith slides in, “. . . one of the Bourbon Street nuisance bars I am fighting in court” as if that were relevant in the deposition. Woolworth was not working for Smith. BBA, Watters and Marullo in no way represented conflict of interest for Woolworth. Maybe Smitty has trouble understanding that other people do not necessarily share his frame of reference. We see that problem a lot in toddlers and psychopaths.

In the video, Dave Woolworth is answering within the actual frame of reference: that he was working on a study of the soundscape of New Orleans. BBA and VCPORA represented significantly different viewpoints in sound politics at the time. Talking to both of them was part of putting the picture together. There was no instruction in the mission to withhold information from any of the interested parties. Sound management ideas or the state of his research were not funds in escrow, with the consultant as fiduciary of the Council’s proprietary secrets. Smith’s scenario is a fantasy.

Although cut out of real video footage, Smith’s edited clip really amounts to a lie. I wonder – since it claims to be a report of a sworn deposition, does that make it perjury? Probably not. The honorable attorney seems okay with stuff that looks like slander to me, but maybe perjury is still a step too far.

The “gotcha” stuff at the bottom, with the numbers: I won’t bore you, at least not right now, but to sum it up in approved journalistic jargon: bunch of crap.

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French Quarter Management District, Government Committee

I couldn’t get to last Monday’s meeting. A shame because I am a fan. Maybe since I was not there, I should let it go.

But let’s play with a couple of topics anyway. The temptation to hang some preachy stuff on them and poke a bit of fun at one or two of the pompous among us is too strong.

If I get anything wrong, I invite you to let me know. I will check out any comments and retract if we have gone off the rails.

Penalties
CoCo Garrett stirred up $5,000 fines again, a useless old chestnut that FQMD had got past. Ms Garrett represents French Quarter Citizens, usually the smarter of the FQ hoodie gangs, but in this case, maybe not so much. Another little eruption of the past-sell-by “7 Essentials,” I guess.

If you get a parking ticket for $50, you pay it. If you park there again later, you get another one. Do it again that evening, you get another one. You pay that. Same-day is no excuse. Pretty soon, you get the message and park somewhere else. If not, you probably hit some scofflaw offense.

If you got a parking ticket for $5,000, you would get a lawyer. He would discover that you were not there that day, your car was stolen, it never happened, you don’t even have a car, you are suing the mayor for false arrest . . . . The case continues, appeals, years to resolve, a sandbox for lawyers. Not to mention that you can’t even legislate a fine for $5,000 without state intervention.

Similarly, the idea that a violating bar gets one fine a day. That would mean that after getting a citation, a bar would have a license to blow out the neighborhood.

What the Hoodie Tendency can’t get is that the rational people opposing them, including me, do not advocate no law.  They oppose bad law and futile enforcement schemes, which will not deal with the issue and will enable Dementorish legal vigilante action. Absurd dB limits, a crude approach to measurement methods and unwieldy penalties will at best enable a few show trials, Dementor QC for the prosecution.

Has anyone noticed how the mind-set of VCPORA’s Seven Essentials is similar to Prohibition and the War on Drugs? I don’t mean in scale or violence, of course, but in futility and setup for unintended consequences.

Crime and Punishment. Severe frowns and tsk-tsk from Colonel Blimp. Can’t we find a less boring way to address a problem?

Once a fair management system has been set up, the object is not high fines and making examples. The object is to get everyone on board and make it work. Once we get a good system in place, management should be vigorous, fast, consistent, persistent and effective. Objective should be to get everyone on the team, but you can enforce the hell out of a good law.

Has everyone started to notice that the Hoodies are slowing down the process of dealing with the problem? They had something to do with high-profiling the issue in 2012, but now they function mainly as a dragging anchor. If they would stand aside, the Woolworth initiative would get under way and they would actually get the improvements they say they want.

Their dull gray way masks the danger they represent: tiresome respectability as the new brand of New Orleans.

One of them occasionally gets word out of the huddle that I am mean-spirited, or words to that effect. I could respect that if I thought for a minute that they were interested in real, inclusive benefit to the city. I don’t. How about you? Anybody want to speak up for them?

Their attitude on this issue shows a stubborn, shut-down mindset, willfully blind to science and evidence. To promote bad ideas that don’t stand up in debate, the light of day or democratic process, they resort to covert politickin’. Not a cocktail to be nice to, or about. So the Nolascape recommendation stands: keep your pitchforks dry, stay ready.

Sound measurement at emanating v. receiving points
Also discussed at FQMD. I wonder whether attempts to resolve this as an either/or choice may not be futile. Buildings and urban spaces are not all the same . Determination of what is reasonable in specific situations might require integrating measurements of various spaces: emanating, receiving and ambient, possibly on several scales. Both emanating and receiving premises have sizes and shapes, walls and windows. Complete evaluation should be a job for a trained team, not for a clutch of us amateurs, in which class I include our esteemed CMs. We need to set up a framing law with guidelines, not every detail. A hospital administration does not tell a surgeon how to hold his scalpel.

Summary
Pretty much everyone is on board with the Woolworth process toward a fair future.  Holdouts: a few grouchy neighborhood associations, and most of the City Council sitting on the fence, saying nothing clear, waiting to see which way the votes jump, whether the popular movement outweighs the campaign contributions.

Oxford Acoustics and Dave Woolworth are trying to fix the problem the Hoodies are in full advocacy dudgeon about, and they can’t even spot when they have won.

Time for them to wake up, don’t you think? I want to change the record soon. There are other windmills to slay.

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Seven Guiding Principles of Sound Management

Another entry, Anonymous again!

I wonder whether these entries have been smuggled out from inside VCPORA/FQC.  What if normal, generous, inclusive people have infiltrated the Hoodie cults? Sleeper cells, lurking under deep cover to rejoin humanity when the time is right. Until then, it would not do to show critical thought, flexibility or inclusiveness under their own names. Anonymous heroes, quietly striving to save the city from the Dementor threat.

Third entry. We are building up an unstoppable head of steam here.

1. Any proposed legislation should be created in a fair, representative, transparent manner that includes public comment. Resident Groups and lawyers involved with ongoing lawsuits with music establishments have a conflict of interest and should be excluded by our elected officials. Groups assembled to develop inputs to future legislation affecting music must include business owners, musicians, residents, and independent professional sound scientists.

2. Proposed legislation should address the various sources of noise (vehicles, motorcycles, etc) and not just music.

3. The Constitution of the United States, particularly the First Amendment, should be respected in any laws dealing with music and freedom of speech

4. City wide regulations are inappropriate as they do not recognize the unique characteristics present in our neighborhoods. Regulations should be appropriate to the individual character and soundscapes of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, communities, and traditions.

5. Making music is not a crime – any revised ordinances should delete the criminal penalties and make it unlawful to arrest someone for making music.

6. New Orleans needs a dedicated Sound Management Office directed with handling noise complaints. The staff must be independent of NOPD and trained in sound management and be available during the evenings and weekends. Noise complaints should lead to a formalized mediation process rooted in the involvement of the impacted residents, affected performers, and businesses.

7. Hours of performance and sound levels for street musicians and other performers requires careful consideration. Regulations on street performers must be crafted in consultation with the performers themselves as well as residents and businesses. Once determined, hours and levels shall be clearly posted on each street block and online. Furthermore, all involved parties should have access to training and workshops regarding these regulations to ensure a common knowledge and understanding of the issues should the need for mediation arise.

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