[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/28/shearer.new.orleans/art.harry.shearer.jpg caption="Harry Shearer says the White House isn't getting actively involved in protecting New Orleans from flooding."]
Special to CNN
I spent much of this month in my adopted hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Uncharacteristically for August, the streets and restaurants and galleries and music clubs were largely full and throbbing with energy.
There are hubs of entrepreneurs all over town trying to invent the future. And thankfully, Mayor Ray Nagin's term is only months away from its end.
Between my weeks in the Crescent City, I joined some local folks in traipsing up to the Aspen Institute to share the news of New Orleans with interested outsiders. One talked about the progress in rebuilding homes. Another discussed the reform of the public-school system, the decoupling of the schools from a centralized board, resulting in the city becoming the leader in charter-school enrollment.
A third talked about the move to neighborhood medical clinics, an effort to replace the hospital beds missing in the flooding's wake.
A fourth reported the good economic statistics, marred only by the continuing shortage in affordable rental housing (80,000 units were whacked by the flood). And a fifth discussed the citizen activism that is helping, along with a determined U.S. attorney (who's just sent Rep. William Jefferson and his brother Mose to jail), to clean up local politics.
After all, it was New Jersey pols, not New Orleans ones, who got snagged in a scheme involving black-market kidneys. Wish we'd thought of that.
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