Cedric Grant has the blues, in several shades. “Icicle” and “Marine” for the walls, “Waterway” for the floor.
And green is the valley for contractors and vendors who provided on the ratepayers’ dime a $60,000 renovation of the office of the new director of the Sewerage & Water Board.
The Lee Circle building that is the outward and visible sign of the S&WB is drab and aging, representative of the old pipes that S&WB oversees and vainly tries to patch. But for a graduate of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s high-tech administration, Grant’s old and drab inner office did not have the information-age cachet that he was used to; expensive “white board” equipment, presumably going well with the Waterway blue floor, was a must-have for Grant.
That this was a tone-deaf expense is obvious. That is only underlined when the Mayor’s Office declined to allow The New Orleans Advocate to take photographs of the new splendor.
We believe that Grant did a good job in his old post at City Hall, pushing street repairs and other needed projects funded with a complex array of revenue sources including hurricane recovery money. Technology isn’t wasted if it takes better care of the taxpayers’ dollars. But as Grant said, “What’s the image that we need to put forth?”
The S&WB is an agency that started in the hole upon Grant’s arrival, given the gap between the city’s infrastructure needs and the agency’s $300 million-a-year budget. When Grant is gone in his turn, S&WB needs will probably still be in the billions, too. “The Sewerage & Water Board’s recently approved rate increases will cover only a fraction of the estimated $3.2 billion cost of overhauling the leaky water distribution network,” the Bureau of Governmental Research reported late last year. “The S&WB is also facing new drainage expenses that are not covered by the recent rate increases.”
It will face them in tasteful shades of blue, around a new conference table and leather chairs and the full Grant treatment.