Washington has apparently lost its appetite for helping N.O. to recover:
Michael ONeil of the Chicago Tribune writes:For New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, the dithering in Washington seems to spell trouble. A waning appetite for spending raises questions about the essential first step in the rebuilding process: reconstructing the region's troubled hurricane protection system so it can handle a Category 5 storm - by conservative estimates a $20 billion proposition.
Without official assurance that such a system can be built, state officials say, the region will remain caught in a vicious cycle. Residents and businesses will be afraid to come back, tax revenue will continue to dry up, governments and enterprises will starve and the area will become an even less attractive place to live or do business.
Each day that passes without a sense of confidence in the region's future, officials fear, is another day a resident or business chooses not to return, preferring to settle somewhere that seems more secure.
"That's why we've said Category 5 protection and coastal restoration are absolutely our top priority," said Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, a commission formed recently by Gov. Kathleen Blanco to manage Louisiana's response to the crisis.
And now AP is reporting that FEMA is reneging on promises to rebid the "no-bid" sweetheart contracts to Bechtel (Halliburton) and others.
Despite a month-old pledge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to reopen four of its biggest no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work and won’t do so until the contracts are virtually complete. A promise to hire more minority-owned firms also is largely unfulfilled.
And of course it's all going to go in to the toxic political gumbo.
From WWLTV: The state's Democratic Washington delegation places blame on the President and the Republican majority Congress.
“I was in Jackson Square with the President when he said he would do everything he can to get things back to normal. And I called the President two weeks ago and asked when he would start. And I was told to bring solutions, not problems,” said Congressman Charlie Melancon.
Most Republicans blame a slow response from Washington on an unorganized and misdirected agenda from state and local leaders shortly after the hurricane, and say neighboring Mississippi's approach proved to be more effective.
“They came to it easy. Their Governor came up very quickly with a very specific plan…They offered very specific plans and had an early legislative session,” Jindal said.
Most political leaders say levee protection is number one on their priority list to prevent future flooding. But so far the response in Washington to bring those levees up to Category-5 protection has been slow.
If that slow speed continues, Landrieu thinks it could become a campaign issue in next year's Congressional elections.
“I think it could be a subject of the next national campaign because if this Congress doesn't get it the next one will, because the American people understand the value of New Orleans,” Landrieu said.
Conservative Nicole Gelinas agrees with Landrieu that the slow pace of federal help could become an election issue.
What if the president doesn’t take the lead on rebuilding New Orleans? It’s simple: national Democrats will have the perfect opening to tell an extended version of their story of Katrina by next year’s first anniversary of the storm. Black Democratic leaders, too, will have another opportunity to repeat their disgraceful lie that the president ignored New Orleans because its pre-Katrina population was predominantly black. The White House instead must show Americans that it was gracious enough to rise above this rabid partisan criticism to show a still-flailing New Orleans a new way forward.
Yeah, Mr. Bush, show me that you can rise above rabid partisanship of the type the we liberals are so used to being on the receiving end of. Or not. Blageur would love to see Democrats use federal neglect of New Orleans as a campaign issue all across the nation, oust the Republican majority and finally get something done for this great cultural treasure that you stood in Jackson Square and promised would be rebuilt. Too bad that as your daddy used to say, "We have more will than wallet." Or to but it more baldly, "We have the wallet, but we prefer to use bullshit."