Ed Blakely

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Edward James Blakely (born 1937) is known primarily for his contributions to urban and regional planning through an academic and consulting career spanning more than three decades. The most significant period of his career was his time as a tenured Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Notably he was also Executive Director of Recovery Management for the City of New Orleans. He is currently Honorary Professor in Urban Policy at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.[1]


Blakely earned his Certificate in Administration and Management from the Foreign Service Institute, his B.A. from the University of California at Riverside (phi beta kappa), an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, a master of management from Point Loma Nazarene University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Professional Affiliations[edit]

Planning Institute of Australia member of the national education board

Member of the Advisory Board of GROW Sydney

Chair of the Reference Panel for the Sydney Metropolitan Plan, appointed by Bob Carr in 2004

Board of Directors One Hundred Black Men-Chair of Policy committee cited for outstanding work on New York Mayoral Debates

Board of Directors ITAC (city small business agency to stimulate small and light manufacturing sector in New York City)

Mayor's commission on Housing and Community Development, New York City

City Council Commission on Economic Development New York City

Trustee of the Presidio Trust, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997

Board of the Fulbright Commission

Board of Directors of Environmental Science Associates

Advisory Board, Local Initiative Support Coalition of Southern California

Santa Monica Mountains Authority, a board of the State of California to preserve the Santa Monica Mountains for community use and habitat maintenance

Advisory Board, Community Health Councils Project of Los Angeles County

The Nature Conservancy Board of Directors

Presidio Military Base Conversion Commission

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Panel on Cooperative Action Programme on Local Initiatives for Employment Creation

NASLGUC Council on Urban Affairs, UC Berkeley Representative

Ford Foundation Advisory Panel on Community Development

State of California Advisory Panel on Economic Development and Technology

University of California Agricultural Issues Center, Technical Advisory Committee

State of Victoria, Australia, Advisor on Technology and Regional Development

Member of Accreditation Panel, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning

Member of the Western States College Accrediting Panel

Member of several public and private sector advisory boards

Professional Associations[edit]

National Academy of Public Administration Fellow

National Research Council Transportation Research Board Panel on Sustainable Transportation

President and Board Member, Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development

Board Member (1977–79; 1983–85), Community Development Society of America

Board Member (1988–92), American Planning Association

Urban Land Institute, Executive Committee

Lambda Alpha Land Economics Fellow

Fellow, International Society of Social Economists

American Sociological Association

Rural Sociological Association

Fellow, Australian Institute of Urban Affairs

Fellow, Australian and New Zealand Regional Science Association

California Association for Local Economic Development


Early career[edit]

Blakely was a US foreign service officer in his early career (1969-1971).


Blakely is a leading academic, specializing in urban policy. Professor Blakely has held several academic positions over the last 35 years. Much of his career academic career was at the University of California, Berkeley, where he held the position of Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning(1986-1994). Over his career he has written several books and hundreds of articles. His Google Scholar profile can be accessed here.

He has held several positions of importance including and won several awards:

United Nations Human Settlement Award for promoting Equity in Disaster Recovery 2012

Jay Chatterjee Award for National Service to the Planning Profession for Katrina Recovery in 2009 [2]

Urban Leadership Award, University of Pennsylvania for leadership in urban policy in reshaping New Orleans, 2008

The Eliot Richardson Award of the American Academy of Public Administration for Ethics and Service in Public Administration, 2008

Alumnus of the Year at the University of California at Riverside 2007

New South Wales Chapter of the Planning Institute of Australia Research Prize with Nicole Gurran for Seachange Research, 2006

Community Development Society Award for Lifetime Research Achievement 2002

Appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Presidio Trust in 1997

Lincoln Land Policy Institute Senior Fellow and Harvard University Visitor for Spring 1995

Received the Samuel Guggenheim Fellowship 1995

Winner of the Paul Davidoff Award, Best Book in Planning, 1993

University of California Academic Senate Committee Member

Senior Fulbright Fellow, 1995-86

1990 San Francisco Foundation Award for improving community life in the San Francisco Bay Area

President of the Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development (1993) 1977-84

Assistant Vice President of System wide Administration for the University of California 1977-84

Dean of the School of Urban Planning and Development at the University of Southern California

Dean of the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University in New York City

Awards, honors and centers in his name:

The Edward Blakely Award - The Planners of Color Interest Group (POCIG) of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) award established because: "Edward Blakely has been a tireless champion for social justice over many years of service as an urban planning professor, author, and practitioner in the U. S. and abroad."[3]

UC Riverside Center for Sustainable Suburban Development was opened in his name.


With Nancey Green Leigh Planning and Local Economic Development (Sage, 2009 4th edition)

With Bill Goldsmith Separate Societies: Poverty and Inequality in US Cities (Temple, 2010 2nd edition)

With Mary Gail Snyder Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Brookings, 2000)

Global Engagement[edit]

Blakely has been advisor to local and regional governments in the United States, France, Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Vietnam. He served as policy adviser to the mayor of Oakland. He has held positions on the Board of Directors of the American Planning Association, the Nature Conservancy,[4] and the Board of Directors of Environmental Science Associates. He has also advised the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Blakely was hired by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin after Hurricane Katrina.[5] When his role in New Orleans ended in 2009, Blakely returned to his permanent job on the faculty at Australia's University of Sydney.[6]

Role in New Orleans[edit]

Blakely's role in New Orleans was never far from controversy: he was criticized for describing New Orleans as a "third world country"[7] and its residents as "buffoons"[8] and for not accomplishing enough.[9] He alleged, in a speech in Sydney, that the actual population of New Orleans pre-Katrina was known to be lower than the official number reported by the U.S. Census Bureau but that local politicians blocked an update of the figures because of the potential downward effect on federal grants.[10] On another occasion he also analogized New Orleans to divided neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shias; at Johns Hopkins University he was alleged to have said that New Orleans needed birth control (Blakely later explained that he had been misquoted, his actual statement being only that the New Orleans public schools were unprepared to enroll a growing population of children).[11] Additional targets of criticism were his "on loan" status in which he continued to receive part of his University of Sydney salary while New Orleans paid him full-time[12] and his alleged involvement in transparency issues similar to the New Orleans e-mail controversies.[12] Blakely's New Orleans salary was $150,718 for 2007 and $154,510 for 2008.[13]

According to the Times-Picayune, "Blakely has acknowledged that trying to shepherd a clumsy and sometimes-inept City Hall bureaucracy through the maze of federal rebuilding rules has been a challenge. He admits perhaps some of his early promises about a speedy recovery were overblown."[14] Columnist James Gill used Blakely's resignation to poke fun at Nagin, who had professed being unable to remember the facts of certain controversies during Nagin's second term as mayor; Gill averred that Nagin and Blakely "complement each other admirably": "Nagin cannot remember things that did happen, while Blakely can effortlessly recall a bunch of things that didn't."[15] Subsequently, Gill's fellow columnist Stephanie Grace asserted that Blakely and Nagin have behavioral similarities such as "unfulfilled promises" and cited a 2007 comment by Blakely that New Orleans would soon have construction "cranes in the sky" as part of the rebuilding effort.[16]

In October 2009, Blakely again made controversial statements about the New Orleans recovery and his role in it. In a video interview on U.C. Berkeley's CalTV,[17] Blakely said "I should have left a little earlier, for two reasons: One, my health wasn't good. Secondly, I had other things I wanted to do, and administering a recovery is not one of them." In the same interview, Blakely claimed that the people of New Orleans were lazy and virulently racist, and that "Unless the next mayor is very clever, it's going to explode and there are going to be race riots."[18] Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu responded to published reports of Blakely's comments, saying that they were "offensive and untrue" and calling Blakely's tenure in New Orleans a "complete failure".[19] To highlight Blakely's total failure at accomplishing anything during his time in New Orleans, he was quoted on February 23, 2011 as saying that only 30 percent of the New Orleans' residents have returned when in actuality over 75 percent have returned.[20]

Despite some strong opinions against Blakely, in academic and professional circles his contributions were recognized. He was even awarded several key honors based on his work in new Orleans including:

-Urban Leadership Award from the University of Pennsylvania for leadership in urban policy in reshaping New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2008;

-Jay Chatterjee Award for National Service to the Planning Profession for Katrina Recovery in 2009;

-United Nations Human Settlement Award for promoting Equity in Disaster Recovery in 2012; and

-the establishment of the Edward J Blakely Award by the American Collegiate Schools of Planning in 2011.

Return to Australia[edit]

On May 6, 2009 Blakely announced his intention to resign from his position as "Recovery Czar" in New Orleans effective 2009 July 1 and to return to Australia. Simultaneous with his resignation, his agency was renamed the Office of Community Development, supervised by Blakely's deputy director Austin Penny.[21] In a farewell presentation to the City Council's Recovery Committee, Blakely urged that New Orleans "face south" to increase trade with Latin America in view of the Panama Canal expansion project. He also recommended focusing the city's biomedical industry on tropical diseases and working on New Orleans East to rebuild Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital[22] and to "let people know we're in the technology business" by making the Michoud Assembly Facility a tourist destination.[23]

Shortly before his departure from New Orleans, Blakely was asked whether he would return if the city suffers a future disaster. Blakely's response:

"You don't invest this much time, this much heart without coming back. . . . I'm an American. I'm not going to let this city become an embarrassment."[24]

Blakely's name continued in the New Orleans news, as when Nagin was quarantined in China while on the way to a University of Sydney conference where Nagin was to discuss, according to the printed program, how he "launched several high profile investigations that resulted in a paradigm shift that unleashed unprecedented economic development"—a statement which attracted a quip from satirical columnist James Gill:

"Shifting paradigms sounds like heavy work. Maybe Nagin borrowed a crane in the sky from Blakely."[25]

In 2011 Blakely published a memoir about Katrina[26]—a book which Gill reviewed scathingly, asserting that "It would take another book to list all the errors in Blakely's."[27]

The book has also been reviewed by Assoc Professor Manning where he states: "Despite these flubs, Blakely’s account makes insightful observations. Blakely reveals several warning signs that he witnessed during early unofcial visits in 2005 and 2006, including ill-informed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives who suspected that New Orleans was too corrupt to control its own recuperation, several competing “official” recovery plans, and recurring racial tensions (p. 18-22)." [28]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Profile - United States Studies Centre". nited States Studies Centre. nited States Studies Centre. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Jay Chatterjee Award for Distinguished Service". ACSP Award History. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Edward Blakely Award". Edward Blakely Award. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Author-Edward J. Blakely". Sage. Sage. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Australian "recovery czar" of New Orleans Ed Blakely at Sydney Ideas, 2007 March 27 (accessed 2009 April 26). Australian Business Foundation profile on Professor Ed Blakely.
  6. ^ Professor Blakely Australian media coverage, 2007 April 18 (accessed 2009 April 26).
  7. ^ Steering New Orleans's Recovery With a Clinical Eye, Adam Nossiter, New York Times, 2007 April 10
  8. ^ Jeff Crouere, New Orleans Recovery Czar Plays Buffoon Again.
  9. ^ "Running in place" posted on nola.com by the Times-Picayune editorial staff on 2008 October 22 (accessed 2009 April 30).
  10. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1888991.htm
  11. ^ Michelle Krupa, "Blakely says Louisiana needs birth control" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 17. Many of the respondents to the article agreed, however, with the statement which Blakely said that he had been misquoted as making.
  12. ^ a b E-mails' inconvenient truth, editorial in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 2009 April 26, Metro Edition, p. B4. See also the English Wikipedia articles on Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, Stacy Head, Shelley Stephenson Midura, Ray Nagin, and Tracie Washington.
  13. ^ Michelle Krupa, "Blakely leaving post as city's recovery chief" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 7, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B3; the salary figures appear on p. B3 (web version = Blakely confirms he's leaving recovery director post 'as soon as I can,' but definitely by July 1).
  14. ^ Michelle Krupa, "Blakely leaving post as city's recovery chief" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 7, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B3; the quotation appears on p. B3 (web version = Blakely confirms he's leaving recovery director post 'as soon as I can,' but definitely by July 1).
  15. ^ James Gill, "Nagin did, Blakely didn't: It's a blur" in Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 2009 May 10, Metro Edition, p. B5.
  16. ^ (Stephanie Grace, "Blakely and Nagin are two of a kind" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 12, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B5)
  17. ^ "In Focus: Edward Blakely", www.caltv.org, 2009 October 16. Part I, Part II
  18. ^ "Ed Blakely lambastes New Orleans, saying its residents are racist, lazy", The Times-Picayune as posted at www.NOLA.com, 2009 November 2.
  19. ^ "Statement from Lt. Gov. Landrieu on Ed Blakely", www.abc26.com, 2009 November 3.
  20. ^ [1], Ed Blakely tells Australian radio that only 30 percent of New Orleans residents have returned since Katrina.
  21. ^ Michelle Krupa, "Blakely leaving post as city's recovery chief" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 7, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B3 (web version = Blakely confirms he's leaving recovery director post 'as soon as I can,' but definitely by July 1).
  22. ^ Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital data.
  23. ^ Bruce Eggler, "Recovery panel gets Blakely farewell" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 21, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B3 (all quotations from p. B3); web version = "Blakely details recovery progress").
  24. ^ Michelle Krupa & Frank Donze, "Forever Blakely" in Times-Picayune, 2009 June 27, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B3.
  25. ^ James Gill, "Mayor goes global" in Times-Picayune, 2009 June 10, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B5. Much of Gill's essay lampoons Nagin's ability to maintain "sustainable globalization" as newsworthiness.
  26. ^ Blakely, Edward J. (2011). My storm: Managing the recovery of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina The City in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-4385-4.  Foreword by Henry Cisneros.
  27. ^ Gill, James. "Blakely can't get anything right". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. B5.  Gill posits that Blakely, on p. 1 of the book, seeks to name five great performing artists whom New Orleans has produced. "Blakely did get two—Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson—right, but Tina Turner is from Tennessee, while Scott Joplin was born in Texas and Josephine Baker in Missouri.
  28. ^ Manning, Christopher (2014). "Voices from the Storm". History: Faculty Publications & Other Works. Paper 8: 3.