Whatís more attractive to New Orleans businessesóFree Wifi or not being under water?

Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans will deploy the nation’s first municipally owned wireless Internet system that will be free for all users, part of an effort to jump-start recovery by making living and doing business in the city as attractive as possible.

Article here. And New Orleans isn’t learning from other cities like Minneapolis and Philly. Yes they’re still in the throes of WiFi fever, but at least they had the sense to back away from plans to own and operate the system themselves:

Much of the equipment to run the network was donated by companies, but New Orleans will own it and operate all its components at the outset.

There is talk of outsourcing the system to a contractor at some point, but new bureaucracies have a way of trying to hold on to what they’ve got.

The system, which Mayor C. Ray Nagin is scheduled to announce at a news conference today, also will be used by law enforcement and for an array of city government functions, such as speeding approval of building permits.

But the city probably won’t issue many building permits if it’s under water:

Hurricane Katrina’s devastation has spurred members of Congress to introduce 139 bills. But of the 15 that have made it into law, none provides money for the stronger levees that New Orleans and Louisiana officials say are critical to luring back residents and businesses.

Article here. Perhaps Nagin is banking on the feds eventually coming through with levee money. OK, but there are still pleny of other issues that deserve a tad more attention than free WiFi. Take crime:

Morgan Quitno Press has released its annual dangerous cities list based on crime statistics. For the second year in a row, Camden, New Jersey, has been named the nation’s most dangerous. … Listed as the most dangerous cities are: Camden, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Flint, Michigan; Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Gary, Indiana; Birmingham, Alabama.

Article here. More on screwy priorities here.