New Orleans Is Humming Again

New Orleans trombone player Big Sam of Big Sam's Funky Nation plays to the partying crowds as they parade and second line at  Maxim's Mega Mansion at Buckner Mansion on February 15, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans trombone player Big Sam of Big Sam's Funky Nation plays to the partying crowds as they parade and second line at Maxim's Mega Mansion at Buckner Mansion on February 15, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Skip Bolen/Getty Images

I went back to New Orleans last week - one of my very favorite places - and you know what?

After the worst five years any city could have, New Orleans is humming again.

The city shared the recession with the rest of us, but for New Orleans that was just the half of it. Katrina left 80 percent of the city underwater, and six months ago that was bookended by the worst oil spill ever, which sent its economy for another loop.

Yet at a conference on innovation sponsored by the Daily Beast, the city's dynamic new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, told me that while Washington was rendered dysfunctional by partisan wrangling, his city had no time for such distractions. It had to come together and attack its problems head-on.

Here's the news: It's working.

New businesses are starting up faster than the national average. There's still a way to go, but a daring experiment in charter schools already has the educational system in better shape than before the hurricane.

Facing the highest murder rate in the country, Landrieu did the unthinkable and brought in the Justice Department to investigate his own cops and root out corruption.

For now, Landrieu wants the rest of the country to hold the applause - still too much to do - but he sees his city becoming a lab for innovation the rest of us can learn from.

And here's the best part: In the midst of it, New Orleans remains more fun than any place I know - best food, best music and the best people.

Check it out: New Orleans knows how to show you a good time!

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.