This is the transcript from Anderson Cooper's 06/26/06
It speaks to the sentiments of a lot of us regarding the city, the inactivity, the crime, and the frustration:
It is June 26, 26 days into Mayor Ray Nagin's plan for rebuilding New Orleans. Coming up, he won a second chance to steer his city into better times, but what has really changed since he launched this 100- day plan? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Plus, another reality check on the streets of New Orleans -- a wave of murders has some people in the Big Easy heading to the nearest gun store -- next on this special edition of 360, live from New Orleans.
COOPER: So, the mayor of New Orleans says he has a plan to rebuild the city. So, how's that plan working so far? Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest" -- next on 360, live from New Orleans.
COOPER: And, as we told you, we are broadcasting tonight live from -- from New Orleans, part of our continuing effort to keep this story alive and keep reminding the country of what continues to happen here every day.
Just hours after winning reelection last month, Mayor Ray Nagin said the city of New Orleans was ready to take off, certainly, nice words to hear, but what has happened since then? Words alone don't put lives back on track, and they don't put houses back together again.
Tonight, 10 months after Katrina and 26 days into the mayor's plan for rebuilding New Orleans, we're "Keeping Them Honest."
CNN's Randi Kaye.
MICHAEL REED, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: You can see we have to put it in one sheet at a time.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Reed is braving New Orleans' summer heat and rebuilding his mother's home in the Lower Ninth Ward.
REED: We have to be self-sufficient. We can't wait on these people to do anything for us. We realize that the only thing that's going to get done is if we do it ourselves.
KAYE: Like many here, Michael is fed up with waiting for government help.
(on camera): What do you think about the mayor's new 100-day plan?
REED: Well, you know, I'm kind of disappointed that I don't see anything that's actually happening right now.
KAYE (voice-over): After his reelection, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin made a promise. Within 100 days, he would have a plan for rebuilding, reducing crime, improving health care, and cleaning up trash. It's now day 26.
ROB COUHIG, 100 DAY INITIATIVE PLAN COMMITTEE: This is not a magic wand 100 days. It is to lay the predicate for the next three years.
KAYE: Rob Couhig heads the 100-day Committee.
What can I tell the people of New Orleans has changed since before the 100-day plan was in place?
COUHIG: I think a couple of things. First, we're approaching things differently than was approached in the first term.
KAYE: What has changed, though?
COUHIG: When you say what has changed, we now have a focus on criminal justice. We do have National Guard troops. We do have state troopers out. But here's what else has changed. The politics and the working with people has changed.
KAYE: Remember, Katrina struck 10 months ago. So do people still living in FEMA trailers really care how politicians get along, or do they want to know how billions of dollars in federal aid heading to New Orleans is going to be spent and when?
Do you have a concrete plan in place yet for what that money will be used for?
COUHIG: I think we have most of the elements in place.
KAYE: But no matter how many times we asked neither Rob Couhig or the mayor's office could explain where that money will be spent. Mayor Nagin declined to be interviewed for this story, but Monday afternoon announced progress. MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I don't know where this came from but there seems to be this incredible perception that we have done no planning.
KAYE: 26 days into it the National Guard is fighting crime. A pothole program is under way, and volunteers are standing by to rebuild abandoned homes. Starting Monday, four times as many trash collectors will be on the street. But the city councilman Oliver Thomas says more should have been done by now, especially in terms of housing.
OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS COUNCILMAN: If there are leaders who believe that certain communities are not viable, say that. Don't let these communities and these people waste their time talking about rebuilding and coming back home. That would be extremely unfair.
KAYE: Unfair to people like Michael Reed, who says he's heard it all from politicians, over and over again.
MICHAEL REED, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: That's what politicians do. You know, they threw out a 100-day plan, and then when that 100's over they throw out another 100-day plan, you know. So I guess we'll be like that for three or four years, you know, with these 100-day plans. I guess by the time he gets out of office the next mayor will throw a 100-day plan at us.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Well, he can laugh about it. I guess that's all you can do at some point. Day 26 of this 100-day plan. What's the progress report?
KAYE: It depends on who you ask. Everybody has their own view of progress, Anderson. But in speaking with the mayor's team, they promised that within these first 100 days they will restore 100% of all the stoplights and all the stop signs, so it's easier to get around here. You know, getting around is very difficult without all that. Is that progress? Not to the people who have been living in these FEMA trailers all these months. But in speaking with the head of the 100-day committee he says look, its day 26, don't criticize us just yet. Come back here on day 100, if the streets aren't clean, if we haven't made enough progress, criticize us then. So we will do that and we'll hold them to it.
COOPER: The big picture problem, though, seems to be what gets rebuilt and what doesn't and it doesn't seem like there is an answer to that. Is the lower ninth ward going to be rebuilt? What parts are going to be rebuilt? And people don't know where to donate money because they don't know where to put the money.
KAYE: And a lot of these neighborhoods are making their own plans for rebuilding and they could very well be told in a few months, oh wait a minute, your neighborhood is one of the ones that isn't going to be rebuilt. These people need some answers. They've waited a long time. COOPER: Well, the wait continues. Thanks very much, Randi. Appreciate it. Here's the number that has a lot of people in New Orleans worried. 54 murders so far this year. Crime is making a comeback, at least the homicide rate is making a comeback in the big easy. Not everyone is waiting for the police to protect them. We'll show you how some citizens are trying to take matters in their own hands.
Also tonight two mothers who said they heard voices telling them to kill their children. One was declared insane, the other was convicted of murder. Why the difference? And will the outcome be different for Andrea Yates this time around in court? That's coming up next on 360.
COOPER: Welcome back. You're looking at a live picture of downtown New Orleans, heading toward the French Quarter over there. It looks like city life has kind of returned to normal from this vantage point, of course. Of course not everything is normal here. In New Orleans tonight there is actually a curfew in effect for anyone under the age of 17. The city reinstated the curfew on Friday, less than a week after five teenagers died in a bloody gang-style shooting.
Crime is making a major comeback in New Orleans, or at least I should say the murder rate is. 54 murders so far this year. And that is a lot for a city with only 220-some thousand people. A city that no longer feels safe to many. Take a look.
COOPER: Angel Johnson had never fired a gun until today. But with New Orleans' murder rate soaring, this mother of three no longer feels safe.
ANGEL JOHNSON, GUN OWNER: I have it for my safety because I work like 12 hours a day, I get up at 4:30 in the morning, don't make it home until like 8:00 at night. So it's just for my protection. I looked at a whole lot of them, and I wasn't getting a good feel of it. When I looked at it, I saw it, I picked it up and I was like yeah this is me right here. So it's just like a pair of shoes.
COOPER: At The Shooter's Club, a retail gun store and firing range in nearby Metairie, business is brisk.
MICHAEL MAYER, OWNER, THE SHOOTER'S CLUB: We're seeing more just regular people instead of a sportsman-like customer. They're coming in here looking for basic protection. And it's more of the family- oriented crowd. Most of them say that they thought they would never, ever want a gun or buy a gun or use a gun, and of course now they're forced sort of to buy a gun for protection. And that's a means to protect themselves and their family now.
COOPER: Police say the jump in the murder rate is disturbing but with school out and the temperatures rising it hasn't come as a complete surprise. New Orleans' growing murder rate burst into national headlines two weekends ago, when on this spot in a Central City neighborhood in New Orleans in the predawn hours on a Sunday morning, shots rang out. Five young men were killed here. Police believe the killings were drug-related. So far, though, they've made no arrests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1131 Marengo.
COOPER: Assistant New Orleans Police Chief Anthony Canatella took us through one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods, Central City.
ANTHONY CANATELLA, ASST. NEW ORLEANS POLICE CHIEF: The hurricane flushed all of our drug dealers out, most of them went west toward Houston, Dallas, San Antonio. They're starting to come back now when they found out that the jails in Houston and Dallas aren't letting them out.
COOPER: These drug dealers could come back but they're competing for a smaller base of client.
CANATELLA: I think so, yes. What we were seeing immediately after the hurricane, it appeared to us that the criminals weren't coming back. I thought for sure -- I was sure praying hard that it was true. But they're back.
COOPER: Criminals are back, and now so is the National Guard. They begun patrolling ruined neighborhoods, freeing up New Orleans' police to focus on known problem areas, where drug dealers fight for turf. As for citizens arming themselves, Chief Canatella doesn't think it's a good idea.
CANATELLA: That's a natural reaction when people start fearing crime and some people arm themselves. Citizens pull guns and think they can threaten people into submission. And that's when shootings occur.
COOPER: Angel Johnson says she isn't taking any chances.
JOHNSON: It was a feeling that's not describable. You know. I mean, for a first-time shooter. It was really unbelievable.
COOPER: Unbelievable, but does she actually feel safer?
JOHNSON: Not just yet. Not just yet. When I start hitting a 10 then I'll feel --
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Right now of course it is really just the murder rate which has gone up here. Other crimes are about -- actually at a very low level for a city in this size. We'll continue to watch what happens in the weeks ahead.