My old bowling buddy Karen Gadbois is featured in a glowing article in the NYT today. Amid Ruined New Orleans Neighborhoods, a Gadfly Buzzes. (Don’t be put off by the uber scary picture of her. If you know her you know that she’s about to start grinning like a fool.)
Karen lives in New Orleans and writes the truly excellent blog Squandered Heritage. What she does is listen to words of various pols and bureaucrats about what they say is being done to repair New Orleans and then goes to look and see if it is actually being done. Then she writes up any differences between promise and reality.
It has set off a bomb that has exploded in slow motion here in the past three weeks, largely thanks to Ms. Gadbois: the federally financed program to gut and repair the storm-damaged homes of the poor and elderly, on which the city spent $1.8 million, has been exposed as — at least partly — a sham.
That’s journalism. It reminds me of the great I.F. Stone who covered Congress by staying away from Washington as much as possible. He read transcripts of committee meetings and the fine print of legislation and budgets and found the facts there.
Back in the age of mastodons, Karen and I worked together at a bar called Leo’s. She was a waitress and I was an incredibly surly bartender. She was and is an artist and I was about to re-enter journalism after taking a year off to write a widely unpublished novel. Since then I’ve spent a couple of decades getting paid to be a journalist. I do not knock my own accomplishments when I say I wish I had accomplished half of what she has accomplished with her blog.