Governor Jindal was my guest Thursday. The entire transcript is here, but I asked the man who helped New Orleans rebound from Katrina what Detroit ought to be doing to rebuild:
HH:I want to talk about a few things with you, but I want to start, probably no major city in America has had a better comeback story than New Orleans. As you look up at Detroit, which goes into Chapter 9, and is in just terrible shape, what’s your advice for a city that needs to come back from the depths like New Orleans did, and now Detroit has to do?
BJ: Hugh, I think that’s a great question. Obviously, they were, faced different challenges, but they both face a huge challenge, and I think Rick Snyder is going to do a great job up there of helping them get back on their feet. The key to it is, you know, it’s that old adage. You’ve got to rip the Band-Aid off. So in New Orleans after Katrina, I’ll give you a couple of examples. You look at our school system, we have 80% of our kids in charter schools. The state went in there, they nullified the collective bargaining agreements, they started from scratch. In five years, they double the percentage of kids getting, doing reading and math on grade level. You look at the health care system. Instead of just recreating the old Charity hospital system, we’ve got a modern complex being built between LSU, Tulane, the VA, but most importantly, with the private sector. With Children’s Hospital, they’re going to run the hospital. So the most important lesson from New Orleans’ recovery and their ongoing success was economic development and education reform and health care reform. My most important piece of advice to Detroit is you’ve got to go ahead and rip the Band-Aid off, make the big changes. Incremental reform is not enough. When you’re doing that badly, you cannot just take small steps. That is so important, because the temptation from the status quo is going to be look, you can’t make big changes. When you look at the school changes in New Orleans, that was just a sea change. And nobody asked for Katrina, but the schools are so much better now than they were before Katrina. Katrina didn’t cause all of New Orleans’ problems, but it gave the people of New Orleans a choice of how they want to rebuild. The people in Detroit have that same choice.