Monday, October 31, 2005

Damn flu

But thanks to LD for pitching in.

NFL wants Saints to stay -- But they may not belong to N.O. alone

Monday, October 31, 2005
By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

BATON ROUGE Saints owner Tom Benson has balked at making a firm commitment to keep his team in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

On Sunday, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue did it for him.

Making the strongest pledge yet to the storm-ravaged area's weary fans, Tagliabue said the Saints plan to be a part of a rebuilt Louisiana, albeit perhaps as a remodeled franchise that represents the entire state and Gulf Coast region.

"The Saints are Louisiana's team," Tagliabue said before the Saints' 21-6 loss to Miami at LSU's Tiger Stadium, the club's first official visit to Louisiana since the storm devastated the region two months ago. "We're dealing with a rebuilding here, and we're going to make every effort to keep the New Orleans Saints as Louisiana's team."

However, Tagliabue stopped short of making a long-term commitment, saying the recovery of the New Orleans and Gulf Coast regions ultimately will decide the club's future. The projected loss of population and businesses could potentially cripple the city as a professional sports market, he said.

"We have to be realistic and consider not only the facilities issue but the human issue," he said. "It's more about the overall recovery of the area than it is about facilities. We need to realize there's been a tremendous human toll, and for the Saints and NFL to come back in the proper way we need to recognize the human toll and take it into account."

No decision made


The governor said Tagliabue urged Benson not to exercise a force majeure clause in the team's lease for the Superdome in late November that would allow the club to get out of its contract with the state without having to pay an $81 million exit penalty.

"(Tagliabue is) interested in having the Saints extend that drop-dead date to some point beyond that, which would take us past the end of the season," Blanco said. "And that would give everybody a chance to calm down.

"Anytime you have a major trauma or a major loss in your life, you don't make quick decisions because it will inevitably be possibly the wrong decision," Blanco said. "And so he (Tagliabue) is urging that the Saints should back off of their legal ability to demand a decision quickly."

You know, its always the bottom line . . . Benson's a no-good, piece-of-work!

NEWSMAKER-US court nominee Alito a conservative like Scalia

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Samuel Alito, a federal appeals court judge chosen by President George W. Bush for the U.S. Supreme Court, has a staunchly conservative judicial philosophy that has earned him the nickname of "Scalito." The nickname was given to the 55-year-old Alito because his views have been similar to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the two most conservative members of the Supreme Court.

Folks, this is frightening.

Alito has affirmed abortion restrictions

10/31/2005, 12:34 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush's new Supreme Court nominee has a clearer track record on abortion and would become a tie-breaking vote in deciding how far the government can go to restrict women's access to the procedure.

It is not guaranteed that conservative judge Samuel Alito would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court's landmark ruling ensuring a woman's right to abortion. However, he has sharply different views from the justice he was picked to replace, Sandra Day O'Connor, and could shift the court to the right on the issue.

O'Connor has provided the fifth vote to limit government power to restrict abortions. Under her standard, limits that impose an "undue burden" on women must be struck down.

NEWSWEEK COVER: Cheney's Man - Secrets, Lies & A War With the CIA

In the November 7 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands today, Monday, Oct. 31): "The Libby Indictment. Cheney's Man." Newsweek looks at what Scooter Libby's indictment means for the Bush administration. Plus: Evan Thomas profiles Libby and examines the inner-workings of the vice president's office and how, if the Libby case goes to trial, it could shine a light on the machinery that sold the Iraq war. Also: an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad; a look at Ben Bernanke.(PRNewsFoto)

NEW YORK, NY USA 10/30/2005

Newsweek reports that at least some administration officials-speaking on
background, of course-have begun to retroactively dismiss Cheney's role. As an
aide now tells it, Cheney's influence began to wane from the start of the
second term and effectively came to an end as the Fitzgerald investigation
gained momentum in recent months. "You can say that the influence of the vice
president is going to decrease," says a senior official sympathetic to
Cheney's policies, "but it's hard to decrease from zero." Even on foreign
policy, says a senior Bush aide, the veep has been eclipsed by Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, who now has the president's ear and works effectively
with her successor as national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. Bush has
grown more confident, aides say, having jettisoned the Cheney training wheels.
"The president has formulated a lot of his own views," says an aide, "and has
a very firm idea of what he wants to do and accomplish with his foreign

What does this mean? Blageurette thinks Cheney could be a little more than a thorn
in the side of W as all of the story unfolds!

Cheney aide to make 1st court appearance Thursday

A public trial could expose the role played by Cheney's secretive
office in the leak case, which has put a spotlight on how the
administration sold the nation on the war in Iraq and aggressively
countered its critics.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It had to happen.

It looks like Tom Benson didn't like what Tagliabue had to say about the Saints staying in Louisiana. Or he didn't like the score. Or he didn't like the camera. Anyway, he "lunged" at it. Then he "lunged" at a fan.

The team is an embarrassment, and now the owner is an embarrassment.
Give it up, Tom. It's time for a new owner.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Meet the Press Transcript for October 23

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the situation here in Washington, the CIA leak investigation, very much tied in obviously to the war in Iraq and the way it was presented to the American people. And bringing you all back to September 30, George Bush addressing the American people and he said this.

(Videotape, September 30, 2003):

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Now, one week later, Scott McClellan was asked specifically about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby whether they had been involved in disseminating information about Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and this is what Mr. McClellan said.

(Videotape, October 7, 2003):

MR. SCOTT McCLELLAN: They are good individuals. They're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt with that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you. And that's exactly what I did.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "They were not involved." Senator Allen, is that statement still operative?

SEN. ALLEN: I don't know. I wasn't in any of the grand jury investigations, and I think that from what you're saying and most indications is the prosecutor, special prosecutor Fitzgerald, will be coming out with whatever the resolution of those grand jury investigations are. So I don't know what the testimony is, what the evidence is, and I guess we'll find out sometime this week.

MR. RUSSERT: Based what's in the public domain from Judith Miller when she wrote in The New York Times and others have said publicly, do you believe that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby discussed Joseph Wilson's trip and his wife's employment at the CIA?


MR. RUSSERT: Senator Schumer, there's been a widespread discussion that this is bigger than just Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame and White House aides; that it really goes to the core of the Iraq War, what cases were made to the American people about weapons of mass destruction and other systems and other analyses and other intelligence data. Based on what you now know today, do you regret having voted for the war?


MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

Frank Rich in New York, let me start with you and read for you and our viewers your column from this very Sunday morning in The New York Times: Headline: "Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure. For Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories, and for Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney to get what they wanted most, a war in Iraq for reasons predating 9/11, their real whys for going to war had to be replaced by fictional, more salable ones. We wouldn't be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we'd be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons. The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed. ...Should Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove have lied to investigators or a grand jury in their panic, [Special Prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald will bring charges. But that crime would seem a misdemeanor ext to the fables that they and their bosses fed the nation and the world as the whys for invading Iraq."

Frank Rich, you're suggesting that the war in Iraq is much on trial as perhaps individual behavior may be.

Isn't it fun when you know (beyond anyone's imagination) the truth?? I think Tim Russert ought to get an Emmy for this broadcast . . . whad ya think?

Libby's testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from NBC's Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove.

Russert account

Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The network has said Russert told authorities he did not know about Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it.

Prosecutors also have evidence that Libby initiated the call with Russert and had initiated similar contact with another reporter, Judith Miller of The New York Times, several weeks earlier. Miller was jailed for 85 days before agreeing to testify before the grand jury.

This indicates that Tim Russert has known all along just who the leaker was!

Friday, Jul 22

Little Russ And The Prosecutor

timrussertleak.jpgThis morning's Plame/Rove leak investigation developments make it appear that NBC's Sunday star Tim Russert, who has long been known to be a bit player in the saga, might actually end up proving to have a decisive role in the case.

No matter your income level . . . you can afford to pay attention.

The Libby Indictment

The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, now the former chief of staff to Vice-President Cheney, is available here. The five-count indictment primarily involves Libby's testimony regarding his interactions with Time reporter Matthew Cooper and NBC news personality Tim Russert, both of whom Libby told the FBI and grand jury were the source of his information about Valerie Plame's position at the CIA. Libby had two interviews with the FBI, and testified twice before the grand jury. Although the indictment does not reference directly the testimony of Cooper and Russert, the government's case is based on their providing contradictory statements, so the prosecution appears to be one based largely on whether the jury believes the reporters or Libby. While the indictment identifies various persons with whom Libby discussed Plame's CIA role, the crux of the case is his false testimony regarding his conversations with Russert and Cooper, so that will be the key to the prosecution.

The obstruction of justice count sets forth the matters that were "material" to the grand jury investigation, a key point that must be established for the charges:

During the course of the Grand Jury Investigation, the following matters, among others, were material to the Grand Jury Investigation:

i. When, and the manner and means by which, defendant LIBBY learned that Wilson’s wife was employed by the CIA;

ii. Whether and when LIBBY disclosed to members of the media that Wilson’s wife was employed by the CIA;

iii. The language used by LIBBY in disclosing any such information to the media, including whether LIBBY expressed uncertainty about the accuracy of any information he may have disclosed, or described where he obtained the information;

iv. LIBBY’s knowledge as to whether any information he disclosed was classified at the time he disclosed it; and

v. Whether LIBBY was candid with Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in describing his conversations with the other government officials and the media relating to Valerie Wilson.

The indictment does refer to Libby speaking with a senior official in the White House, who is then identified as "Official A." From recent news reports, this would appear to be Karl Rove. One official specifically identified as providing Libby with information about Plame's CIA status is the Vice-President, which likely means Cheney will be a witness for the government in the case. This witness will be a particularly delicate one for the prosecutors to handle because of the long relationship between the Vice-President and Libby. (ph)

Explaining the Charges

Lying about a crime, the accusation against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has itself been a crime since the time of Hammurabi.

Then, it was punishable by death. Today, perjury is punishable in federal courts by a fine and up to five years of prison for each count.

Then and now, the theory has been essentially the same: If people are allowed to lie during the investigation of a crime, the crime cannot be proven. It may go unpunished or an innocent person might be wrongly punished.


Perjury, the Supreme Court has said, is "an obvious and flagrant affront to the basic concepts" of justice.


Big fact. Big question.

IN Libby's indictment, it is stated that "Official A" told Novak about Plame.

SO the actual revelation of Plame's CIA connection was done by "Official A."

SO who is "Official A"?

Any guesses?

I think it's D.C.

But what do I know?

But I guess we do know that Novak snitched.

And it turns out that Judy Miller served time in vain. They didn't need her.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blogger is driving me crazy.

Dear Blogger,
I am not a spammer.
Quit making me type in silly letters.


Benson doesn't get it.

These guys get the concept. They understand the best way for the Saints to prosper is to create an environment that fosters unconditional fandom. The other part of the understanding is there are two components in the fan world, fans and business partners.

Their “sins” were simple. Fielkow felt the Saints owe something to their fans in Louisiana. He says the decision to stay in New Orleans is simply “the right thing to do.” Abandoning the city now makes sense economically but it stinks from a moral standpoint.

Kowal’s sin is apparently a good relationship with Fielkow. I’ve always heard things are tough in the big leagues. Now that I see it up close and personal, it stinks, too.

Benson will never find fans as loyal in San Antonio or Los Angeles. When he loses, and he will lose a lot, they will desert him.
Shuttle service to begin between Baton Rouge and N.O.

FEMA requires new elevations in St. Bernard

FEMA officials reviewing required flood elevations for St. Bernard Parish structures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are expected to announce in mid-November how high they think any new construction should be elevated.

It's unclear how the recommendations will affect the reconstruction of St. Bernard because parish officials aren't required to implement them, said Richard Rein, a community mitigation planner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in St. Bernard.
. . . . . .
No matter what happens, it appears that for the most part, homes that need to be just gutted and rewired won't be affected by any announcements in November, Rein said. Under FEMA rules, people who are existing flood insurance holders would be grandfathered in but might have to pay higher rates, Hunnicutt said.

What's left? City will decide,

Privately, city officials said 30,000 to 50,000 houses will be deemed tear-downs. But even that figure could prove low, as city agencies are being more liberal in their interpretation than their federal counterparts, according to City Council members. It remains unclear which agency will make the final call on homes facing possible demolition, or if it will be the exclusive provenance of the homeowner.

"If it was up to the federal agencies, they'd tear down most of the city, based on what I'm hearing," council President Oliver Thomas said.
The city is posting red, yellow or green stickers on homes. They've just begun, and so far there are few ed stickers (unliveable), but they haven't got to the Ninth Ward and Gentilly yet.

Bush reverses, reinstates prevailing wages

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was among congressmen critical of the administration's decision to waive the requirement and who met Wednesday with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated Nov. 8.

"We thought it was bad policy and bad politics, and I guess they accepted our argument," King told The Associated Press. "There's no need to antagonize organized labor.

UPDATE:Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that Dems were all onboard the bill to reverse Bush, a bill which had no Republican co-sponsor, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) had found a way to force a vote on it by November 7. Thereby putting every representative on record as pro- or anti-labor.

And good riddance!

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The head of the Orleans Levee Board has quit amid questions about no-bid contracts to his relatives in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

The final days of board president Jim Huey's tenure also had been marred by his collection of nearly $100,000 in back pay several weeks before the storm. Huey had led the board for nine years.

How to get Katrina cleanup contract? Friends in high places.

Indeed, on Sept. 1, just days after Hurricane Katrina unleashed its fury on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, AshBritt hired former Mississippi lawmaker and ex-Army Corps of Engineers head Mike Parker as a lobbyist. The company listed his duties on federal disclosure forms as "federal affairs for debris removal after Hurricane Katrina."

Parker joined an AshBritt lobbying roster that already included former Louisiana Representative James Hayes (D) and the services of a Washington firm founded by Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and now governor of Mississippi.

OUT OF LOCKSTEP. Fourteen days after Parker came on the scene, the Army Corps awarded AshBritt a competitively bid contract worth $500 million to remove Katrina debris in Mississippi, with an option to increase the dollar amount to an even billion dollars. AshBritt had already been activated under a preexisting contingency contract for $56 million, rocketing it to the top of the list of Katrina contractors to date in a cleanup effort expected to total more than $100 billion.
. . . . . . .
INTERNAL AFFAIRS. But AshBritt has been the focus for the strongest criticism since the storm clouds parted. A recent report in The Washington Post revealed that until October, AshBritt listed itself in government databases as a minority-owned, woman-owned company, even though it's run by a white man. Perkins' Cuban-American wife, Saily, was listed in Florida state records as company president, while Perkins was listed on AshBritt's Web site as managing vice-president.

Good reporting from Business Week. They're not afraid to name the names. Read the rest to learn about Trent Lott, FEMA and others. Nothing illegal here. Move along. Nothing to see.

Subpoenas issued in hospital deaths.

The state attorney general's office subpoenaed 73 employees of Memorial Hospital on Wednesday as part of its investigation of deaths at hospitals and nursing homes in the New Orleans area during and after Hurricane Katrina.

The subpoenas were "for all levels of personnel" and included doctors, nurses and support staff, said Kris Wartelle, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Charles Foti.

They included people who were at the hospital during the storm and its aftermath "or they knew something about it," Wartelle said.

"All we can say is that we had to issue the subpoenas to get those people to talk to us," she said.
The attorney general's office will get to the bottom of the rumors about euthanasia.

Governor surveys damage in Southwest Louisiana.

It's smaller in scope, but just as severe as New Orleans, if not more so.
-- Gov. Kathleen Blanco's hurricane recovery team Wednesday got a first-hand look at some of the utter devastation caused by Hurricane Rita.

During a walking tour of Cameron -- ground zero for Rita damages -- officials saw crumpled homes, businesses and schools.

"I don't know if there are any homes in Cameron that are salvageable," said Scott Trahan, president of the Cameron Parish Police Jury.

Members of the Louisiana recovery authority who took part in the tour were almost speechless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Is the Corps stonewalling on the levees.

The team of engineering experts rushing to complete a preliminary report on the reasons behind levee failures that flooded much of the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina said it has been hampered by the Army Corps of Engineers' failure to provide documents and access to local corps employees.

"This makes me sad," said Robert Bea, who is part of a National Science Foundation team of University of California-Berkeley professors investigating the levee failures. "My first plea to them was to stand tall, come forward, bring out the information.

It's CYA, is what it is. Maybe the folks in New Orleans won't notice we built its levees on unstable soil if we just keep our mouths shut."

There goes posse comitatus

Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the military's defense command for the United States, on Tuesday said he's proposing that the Department of Defense be given complete authority for response to rare, catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

In that deadly storm, emergency response floundered, and more than 1,000 people died. No one person or agency was in charge - or is today. A general commanded the military units, a civilian ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency and governors were in charge of the states.
One small step toward military rule. No thanks, Admiral Keating.

LA last again, but at least this study tells us some good places to work.

Delaware ranked first and Louisiana last in a University of Massachusetts study that tried to measure where workers are treated best, based on factors including job opportunities, job quality and workplace fairness.

Rounding out the top five best states for workers were, respectively, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Iowa. After Louisiana, the next-lowest states were Texas and Arkansas, along with three states that fared slightly better in a tie: Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah.

Washington Dems put Katrina at center of agenda

House and Senate Democratic leaders charged Tuesday that their party is the only one that considers meeting the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims important and that Republicans are trying to take aid money away from the victims "to give tax cuts to the wealthy."

Michele Baker rode out Hurricane Katrina with her husband before her home was destroyed. The couple then waded through flood waters to get to the Superdome.

"I never though that I would have to live through something like that," Baker said. "And I can't believe that some people in Washington think that after a category five hurricane the solution is to unleash a 'category five assault' on working people."
. . . . . . .

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Baker and a group of approximately 30 union members and other hurricane survivors from New Orleans that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill view their situation differently.

"We believe that Katrina's victims should be one of the top priorities that we have in Congress," Reid said. "But we Democrats are the only ones that believe that."

LA unemployment soars.

Job losses after Hurricane Katrina sent Louisiana's unemployment rate soaring to 11.5 percent, the highest level since the 1980s oil crash, officials said Tuesday.
Actually, I'm surprised it wasn't greater.

Nagin: New NO to be half its previous size.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who has vowed to resurrect his crippled city, conceded Tuesday that New Orleans will shrink to nearly half its pre-hurricane population and will have to make do with one-third of its previous budget.

With as many as 250,000 homes uninhabitable and some neighborhoods still lacking basic services, Nagin estimated the city's shattered infrastructure could support 250,000 to 300,000 residents over the next year, compared with the half a million people who lived here before Hurricane Katrina struck Aug. 29.

Feedback please.

Blageur has been on line for about a month now, and there a few people out there who seem to be regulars. We'd like to hear from you about why you came here, what you like and don't like, the usual stuff. Mostly we'd like to know if we've made a connection.

And, BTW, don't be shy about recommending us to your friends --

Let us know what you think in the comments. Or email

Well, he's got some pull in Washington.

But he can't lobby for Louisiana.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco tapped former U.S. Sen. John Breaux Monday to lead the state's push for federal funds in Washington, D.C.

So far, the state's efforts have produced mixed results.

Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter aimed for an ambitious package of $250 billion in hurricane relief. The U.S. Congress agreed to $750 million but demanded the money be paid back.

Breaux is prevented by law from lobbying for Louisiana. He hasn't been out of Congress long enough.

So he won't lobby? Right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Click here for the Times-Picayune's map of New Orleans fatalities.

Not as specific as it could be, but good nonetheless. The cluster of red dots at the bottom of the map is simply tragic. St. Rita's.

Galatoire's opening a branch in Baton Rouge.

Don't rub your eyes. You read that right. The venerable and tradition-bound Galatoire's restaurant is opening a branch in BR to be called Galatoire's Bistro. A word of advice for the management: Remember what happened to Schwegmanns when they tried to expand.

How to protect New Orleans

The TP has an excellent round-up of ideas about how to protect NO. Flood gates, levees, marsh restoration --- all are covered. It's a long article, but well worth reading.

FEMA finally gets to use its ice.

In a stroke of good fortune, FEMA had plenty of ice on hand — thanks to its over-ordering of millions of pounds of ice that went unused during Hurricane Katrina.

"All that ice we got criticized for storing is now being used," Paulison said.
It's still good, it's just two months old.

President's weekly address on Katrina.

He's compassionate. He's conservative. He's . . . he wants you.

Amazing pictures of break in levee in St. Bernard.

These photos, shot by Entergy plant manager Don McCloskey, are part of a home video he shot from his workplace at Michoud Entergy.

The power of Katrina is astounding. There are more pictures at this site.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Where were the busses? Ask FEMA.

Federal transportation records show FEMA gave the agency the go-ahead at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31. Five hours later, buses were being dispatched from points around the country to LaPlace, 25 miles west of New Orleans, and by midnight some 200 buses had arrived.

By the end of Thursday, there were 657 buses on hand. By Friday there were 935 buses and by Saturday 1,094 buses.

In congressional testimony earlier this month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta blamed FEMA for holding up his department's efforts to move people out of New Orleans. He said buses that arrived in the first wave Wednesday sat there because FEMA didn't give orders to move.
Perhaps Brwonie was having dinner or something, and couldn't be bothered.

Rep. finds way to force vote on Bush's suspension of Davis-Bacon

I was able to determine that, under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, I am able to force a vote within 15 calendar days of introducing a "Joint Resolution" - which I did at noon today. In this case, that means that if Congress doesn't act by Friday, November 4, I can go to the House floor and demand a vote on my resolution. Congress then has three days to schedule that vote.

So the bottom line is this: by the first or second week of November, there will be a vote on whether or not construction workers who are rebuilding the Gulf Coast will get a fair wage for their labor.
We owe our thanks for this to a California representative. Are our own reps too afraid of contractors to propose this?

The dead are here. Map shows death in NO had no regard for wealth

More surprising were the high death figures in upscale neighborhoods once considered less vulnerable to flooding deaths because residents had the means to escape, particularly along Lake Pontchartrain in Lakeview, a predominantly white neighborhood where 21 to 30 bodies were recovered on streets where homes routinely sell for $1 million. Nearly all of Lakeview is uninhabitable, and several thousand residents, most relocated to neighboring cities or states, gathered Saturday in a church parking lot to seek answers about a recovery process expected to take years.

Ninth Ward: A long history of distrust and neglect

The very construction of the Industrial Canal in 1922 helped to choke off poorer New Orleans blacks, historians say.

"Ever since then, that part of the Ninth Ward has been orphaned," says John M. Barry, author of "Rising Tide," an acclaimed account of the devastating 1927 Mississippi River flood.

"That canal is a manmade body of water that's separated from the rest of the city. They've gotten no services ever since. Part of that is because they're poor and black. Nobody cared. Some of that area was developed, but a lot of it wasn't."

After the 1927 flood, hundreds of thousands of blacks along the Mississippi delta were forced into filthy refugee camps, often without food or water, sometimes ordered at gunpoint to work on levees and relief projects.

Historians have said the response of Republican President Calvin Coolidge - who was criticized in the press as failing to grasp the enormity of the crisis - helped spur the seismic shift of black voters to the Democratic Party.
The response to Katrina is reminding blacks of 1927. Bush has a 2% approval rate among African Americans.

Government may temporarily take over private property in NO.

Officials and community advocates are quietly planting the seeds for an enterprising program that could give the government temporary control over thousands of privately owned homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

An increasing number of Louisiana housing authorities believe the proposal, based on an arcane legal concept called "usufruct," could be a key to determining whether New Orleans will again be a seminal American city or whether it will stagnate with a population, like it has now, equal to that of Duluth, Minn., and Fort Smith, Ark.
. . . . .

Authorities would locate scattered homeowners to determine if they have the means or the inclination to rebuild. There are believed to be at least 100,000 homes in New Orleans that are damaged to the point that they are not habitable. If the owner is not planning to return anytime soon, local officials would strike a deal.

The owner would sign over controlling rights of the property — but not the title — to the government. In most cases, that would likely be the city of New Orleans, but the program would apply statewide and could involve numerous municipal or parish governments.

Through contracts targeting hundreds of properties at once, the government would then pay to make the home habitable again, while assuming, in most cases, mortgage payments for the owner.

The home would then be rented out, first to displaced "essential workers" such as teachers, police officers and firefighters and their families, then to the public. Rents would likely be subsidized, and checks would be written to the government agency that signed the deal or to a company hired to manage the money.

The owners would be allowed to return after an agreed-upon period of time — perhaps three to five years — provided they could repay the government for repairs made. If, at that point, the owner did not want to return or could not pay for the fixes, the government would have the right to sell it. If the house were sold, the government and the owner could share in profits and losses.
A very bold idea, and likely to be controversial. But at first look, it seems like a good one. IF, and that's a big if, the program is administered fairly.

Blanco gets support from governors.

Remember the flap when Gov. Kathleen Blanco rejected President George W. Bush's attempt to preempt her authority in post-Katrina days?

In recent weeks, Democrat Blanco has gotten some pretty strong support for her stance from fellow governors. She refused to turn over control of National Guard units to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Even Republican Haley Barbour supports her decision.

Sun Sentinel: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste

The handling of aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina is only the latest in a series of missteps and fraud that has plagued this tax-funded government agency.
The Sun-Sentinel took a look at 20 recent disasters and found mismanagement and misallocation abound.

This meticulously researched series by the Sun Sentinel is worth spending part of your Sunday afternoon with. Maybe worth sending to your congressmen and senators with a note to pay attention to the real waste and abuse in the FEMA syste.

Boy, was I wrong about Fielkow.

This is from, and a very reliable source. Arnie Fielkow was fired as NO Saints Vice President because he opposed Benson's plans to move the Saints to San Antonio (and then on to L.A.).

...congrats on all that you and the people are doing on the Baton Rouge games. It is very important that the games be well attended and your efforts will definitely go a long way in achieving this objective....The past week has been personally difficult but I have been greatly comforted by all of the very kind phone calls and emails. Please feel free to pass along to all of the SR members how much I personally appreciate their comments and support and, working together, I am very optimistic the Saints will remain long term in their rightful place- in New Orleans!


PS. Let's hope for on-field success the next couple months and that the Saints can still make a playoff run.

The fans at have been collecting money for flyers, radio ads, and a banner to fly over Tiger Stadium for the Miami game. They's raised thousands of dollars. The radio ads will eventually be heard all over the state. Many thanks to all of them. And my apologies and gratitude to Mr. Fielkow, and best wishes. I'm sure he'll land on his feet somewhere in the NFL.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Ever-gracious Tom Benson

"Git off mah propity"

Winton Marsalis on his home town.

His message to Congress and to the media, distilled from these calls, is that the physical rebuilding of the city is just one part of the self-appraisal that the hurricane should spark.

"We should use the chance to rebuild New Orleans to find our soul as a nation, and to understand that we are responsible for what happened as much as any 'they,' " he said. "Democratic living requires engagement, you can't just sit back and wait for somebody."

Property records searches slow down real estate market in NO.

The displacement of the thick books, which had to be sent to Chicago in refrigerated trucks for restoration and then returned to New Orleans, has shut down the local real estate market for two months, deepening the uncertainty over property values as New Orleans struggles to rebuild.
Thousands of records were flooded during Katrina. This article implies that most were not lost, but they are a mess to work through.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha rocks!

ARETHA Franklin threw a party on Friday for dozens of people displaced by hurricane Katrina, sharing soul food and memories of New Orleans with them at a Detroit hotel.

About 40 people from the US Gulf Coast are staying at the hotel.

Franklin, who lives nearby, said she wanted to do her part to help them.

"It's the right thing to do," said Franklin, who was planning another dinner at the hotel last night.

Will NO follow the "New Urbanists" or fall prey to big developers?

While the city's unique needs and interests should be considered, the experts say, some principles of good growth can be applied to the "new" New Orleans. High-density planning, defined as the concentration of housing units in a specific area or a specific property, is one.

Nearly all of the experts suggested integrating such housing into neighborhoods that are still viable.

"Density is very healthy," said Pres Kabacoff, chief executive officer of HRI Properties. "We're not a very dense city. We could handle twice the population in the Bywater, the Lower Garden District and along Canal Street."

Citing Vancouver as a model, Kabacoff suggested building medium-rise and high-rise apartment houses and condominiums in appropriate places throughout the city.
Sounds nice, but can local people control the rebuilding?

Updated: Huh? We're going to BUY mud from Illinois? For Louisiana?!

Some unnamed Louisiana officials are thinking about it.
They are in early talks with Illinois to transport by barge or pipeline large amounts of mud to the Louisiana coast.

"The material we have here is very much like what the delta was built up with," said John Marlin, senior scientist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The biggest obstacle to the plan may be the cost of the 1,240-mile trip down the Mississippi River.

Last year, officials estimated it would cost $24,000 to bring a barge laden with 1,200 tons of sediment to Louisiana. Since then, the price tag has skyrocketed because of the jump in oil prices.
Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to let the Mississippi River do the work like it used to do? It seems to me we're wasitng a lot of mud by letting it spill over the continentla shelf, instead of using it to repuild the marsh.

UPDATE: From the comments "Very interesting . . . according to the price officials estimated AND the annual amount of sediment (avg 230 million tons) moved through Louisiana as the Mississippi empties (beyond the continental shelf)we are throwing away $4.6 billion in the very commodity necessary to rebuild the barrier islands and wetlands of Louisiana. You know, I'm wondering if anyone in OMB has a clue about this . . . this sediment doesn't require a barge for delivery!"

Photo analysis

A friend of mine tells me that when newspapers start printing photos like this of a politician, it means that they have turned on him and are looking to destroy him. This looks like a confirmation of his theory. It looks almost like some of the cartoon caricatures by Bush critics.

An explanation for the rumor-mongering.

This brings us back to rumours and “reports” about “subjects supposed to loot and rape:” New Orleans is one of those cities within the United States most heavily marked by the internal wall that separates the affluent from ghettoized blacks. And it is about those on the other side of the wall that we fantasize: More and more, they live in another world, in a blank zone that offers itself as a screen for the projection of our fears, anxieties and secret desires. The “subject supposed to loot and rape” is on the other side of the Wall—this is the subject about whom Bennett can afford to make his slips of the tongue and confess in a censored mode his murderous dreams. More than anything else, the rumors and fake reports from the aftermath of Katrina bear witness to the deep class division of American society.

This very challenging article offers a psychoanalytic explanation for the apparently racist rumor-mongering about Katrina that even some African-Americans like Mayor Nagin and his Chief of Police helped to spread. Blageur encountered rumors as evacuees were being moved to Lafayette and Lake Charles. Suddenly the internet was afire with tales of rape, wandering gangs, random vandalism and assault. Police issued press releases denying the rumors, but that didn't help. The rumor mongers insisted that they had "personally seen" events that proved later not to have happened. Blageur tangled with some of them on a local bulletin board where he was accused of being naive and immature.

Halliburton's addiction to illegals.

Federal agents have identified 10 suspected illegal immigrants working at a naval base near New Orleans where the Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root is leading hurricane reconstruction, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A spokesman for the base said last night that 13 workers were barred from the base this week for lack of proper work papers, and that they were employees of Texas-based BMS Catastrophe. Officials of the company could not be reached yesterday for comment.
This must be a mistake. Halliburton? Hiring illegals? Must be a mistake. Now move on. Let's get closure on this.

STILL finding bodies?

Nearly two months after Hurricane Katrina struck and more than two weeks after the official quest for bodies was abandoned, corpses of Ninth Ward residents are being found every day.

The discovery of new remains shows no sign of slowing down: Workers hired by the state remove several ossified bodies each day, many of them discovered by residents returning home.
. . . . .
Neighbors of the dead see them afforded none of the respect that Blanco promised. Finding and burying the bodies outweighs the property-rights argument that has held up the recovery process, they say.

"That homeland security, they were supposed to kick down those doors and get those bodies out. Somebody messed up," said Lower Ninth Ward resident Keith Calhoun. "It's just a sad situation for people who are trying to get closure."


Check out David Sirota's article of October 24 in In these Times titled, "WELCOME TO NEW ORLEANS;How the Katrina catastrophe proves that conservatives' tax cut zealotry has left America vulnerable to disaster."
This is a reality visible in the numbers. Year after year, the Bush administration insisted on massive tax cuts for the wealthy. And year after year, the White House refused to provide the funding government experts said was needed to strengthen levees, beef up hurricane preparedness and get federal emergency response ready for an onslaught from Mother Nature. America's budget surplus, built in the '90s to serve as a rainy day fund, was robbed to provide more and more giveaways to the rich. When the rainiest day of them all came, our country was left totally -- and unnecessarily -- vulnerable.

An independent film of rescue efforts from Lafayette.

by Jared Arsement.
Arsement documents the efforts of civilian boat owners to rescue flood victims in New Orleans.

This article on independent film-makers lists other efforts to document the flood.

UPDATE: Sorry LD, I didn't realize you had already posted on this. I guess I need to read my own blog more carefully.

Opinion: It's STILL a disaster. (FEMA, of course.)

First, FEMA continues to be next to useless. It is not providing relief workers with the access they need to areas crying out for their help. It is not keeping up with bills for the emergency work it has authorized so far. A shockingly large number of doctors and nurses are being told that their services are not needed. Those with the guts and the initiative to go ahead regardless are finding that the exact opposite is true –- thousands upon thousands of storm evacuees who have run out of their prescription medications, or require new prescriptions, or need help with a panoply of storm-induced problems, from simple cuts and bruises to infections and depression and suicidal feelings.

Secondly, FEMA and the Red Cross are not talking to each other to sort it all out. At the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana –- home to more than 5,000 evacuees –- there was, as of a few days ago, no formal on-site medical care. That meant people had the unenviable choice of going to the emergency room of a Lafayette hospital, waiting in line for hours and hoping for the best, or somehow fending for themselves.

Thirdly, the failures of the first six weeks or so since Katrina struck are likely only to compound the problems down the road. Sanitation in the shelters is a nightmare. Some professionals don’t exclude outbreaks of tuberculosis or other diseases one might have associated, pre-Katrina, with an earlier, more backward era.
It's taking FEMA a while to get their act together. Maybe they miss Brown?
All the emplyoers around New Orleans are crying out for workers. But FEMA isn't providing temporary houseing for workers. It's subcontracting with companies like Halliburton, who bring in illegal aliens and house then in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. FEMA wants to build trailer cities as far away as Lafayette. That's not going to do the workers who want to return and help rebuild New Orleans much good. A two and a half hour commute to a constructions job isn't very practical.

More arrests in elderly deaths expected.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Investigations into scores of patient deaths at nursing homes and hospitals during and after Hurricane Katrina are likely to lead to more arrests, the Louisiana attorney general's office said Friday.

Six hospitals and 13 nursing homes in Louisiana are under investigation. At least 140 patients died in the storm and its aftermath.

Attorney general's spokeswoman Kris Wartelle said the allegations are wide-ranging, including patients being abandoned, evacuated improperly or euthanized, to spare them from further suffering while waiting for rescuers to arrive.

"The allegations run the gamut," Wartelle said.
This is a heckuva way to treat grandma. When the put Blageur in a nursing home, I hope it's on high ground.

They knew the levee was weak.

Original soil tests and design documents for the 17th Street Canal flood wall show layers of weak soil under the wall's steel base that investigators believe gave way during Hurricane Katrina, likely causing the breach that flooded large portions of the city.

Army Corps of Engineers officials and the contractors who designed and built the wall were aware of the soft soil and took it into account in their design calculations, the documents show.

That only deepens the mystery about whether the wall breached because of a design or construction flaw, some factor unaccounted for in the calculations -- or was hit by forces beyond its design capabilities.
The lawyers will be all over this. Who would you sue?

New Orleans Filmmakers Tell Their Own Stories

Jared Arsement of Lafayette, Louisiana took his camera along as he joined a citizen rescue fleet that plied the sodden streets of New Orleans. Jared speaks directly into the camera as he looks around the flooded streets that surround him. He realizes that both his hometown and his life will never be the same.

Jared sent his raw footage to producers at Al Gore's new, independent cable and satellite TV network, Current TV. They edited the material into the piece, Citizen Rescue that aired on their network and now streams online. Seeing someone from New Orleans telling their own story in their own way has a lot of power. Because Current TV's content is 30% viewer-produced and created, Jared was able to make a short piece and have it broadcast almost immediately.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Just check it out.

This post. It will make you laugh. If you are a Democrat. Or just think the Preznit is only human.

Refrigerator speaks truth.

More Benson stupidity and hypocrisy. Does he think we don't know what he's up to?

Saints owner Tom Benson wants to terminate the lease for the team's Airline Drive training facility, claiming the National Guard and FEMA left the building in poor condition after using it following Hurricane Katrina.

However, state officials said the damage—if any—was minimal. WWL-TV cameras found at the facility Thursday seem to back that up.

A look down one hallway of the team's practice facility through an open door does not show the entire two-story Saints complex, but it does reveal two parts used by FEMA and the National Guard after the hurricane. Both portions of the building had been completely cleaned after their departure.

“From all indications the site is certainly useable. And we’re gonna verify that next week,” said Tim Coulon, Chairman of the Superdome Commission.

Mr. Benson.
Sell the Saints to a buyer who will keep the Saints in NO, then leave. And get yourself another franchise. Or not. Just leave, please.

Best wishes,

Must read: Colin Powell will bring Cheney down.

Cheney will be Agnewed!!

Fred Flights, an assistant to John Bolton, is a named name who could be indicted.

-Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been suggested as replacements for Dick Cheney.

-Colin Powell told John McCain he showed the infamous memo with Plame's identity on it two just two people; Dick Cheney and George Bush.

-Fitzgerald is looking at the precedent set from the indictment of Tricky Dick's veep Spiro Agnew to pursue against Cheney.

There's lots more. Go. Read.

UPDATE: This is not confirmed. See the comments. One says that showed the report to be false. But I cant find the entry.

Arctic Map Vanishes, and Oil Area Expands

Is this another one of Dick Cheney's precious little plots??

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - Maps matter. They chronicle the struggles of empires and zoning boards. They chart political compromise. So it was natural for Republican Congressional aides, doing due diligence for what may be the last battle in the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to ask for the legally binding 1978 map of the refuge and its coastal plain.

It was gone. No map, no copies, no digitized version.

The wall-size 1:250,000-scale map delineated the tundra in the biggest national land-use controversy of the last quarter-century, an area that environmentalists call America's Serengeti and that oil enthusiasts see as America's Oman.

"People have asked me several times, 'Do you think someone took this intentionally?' " said Doug Vandegraft, the cartographer for the Fish and Wildlife Service who was the last known person to see the old map. "I hope to God not. So few people knew about it. I'm able to sleep at night because I don't think it was maliciously taken. I do think it was thrown out."

Mr. Vandegraft said he had folded the map in half, cushioned within its foam-board backing, and put it behind the filing cabinet in the locked room for safekeeping.

Now really, this little blageurette has to believe that even the cleaning folks would have no reason to throw away a wall sized map without being instructed to do so!

Mayor of New Orleans Vows to Rebuild Two Devastated Areas

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 20 - Mayor C. Ray Nagin gave a firm commitment on Thursday to the rebuilding of the destroyed Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East, clearing up doubts that had grown in the city about whether his administration would allow residents to return to the hard-hit areas.

"Read my lips," he said. "We will rebuild New Orleans East. We will rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward."
Mr. Nagin said after the news conference that the residents of the areas would be given "the levee protection that they need to rebuild." "They may rebuild a little different," he said, "but they are going to rebuild."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Must see TV: Brown couldn't save New Orleans because he had to have his dinner first.

He was told people could die, but he needed his dinner first.
Video link

Here's a print version of the story.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials did not respond to repeated warnings about deteriorating conditions in New Orleans and the dire need for help as Hurricane Katrina struck, the first FEMA official to arrive conceded Thursday.

Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA regional director, told a Senate panel investigating the government's response to the disaster that he gave regular updates to people in contact with then-FEMA Director Michael Brown as early as Aug. 28, one day before Katrina made landfall.

In most cases, he was met with silence. In an Aug. 29 phone call to Brown informing him that the first levee had broke, Bahamaonde said he received a polite thank you from Brown, who said he would check with the White House.

"I think there was a systematic failure at all levels of government to understand the magnitude of the situation," Bahamonde said.

The testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee contradicted Brown, who has said he wasn't fully aware of the dire conditions until days later and that local officials were most responsible for the sluggish response.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who chairs the panel, decried the testimony and e-mail released by Bahamonde on Thursday as illustrating "a complete disconnect between senior officials and the reality of the situation."

"His urgent reports did not appear to prompt an urgent response," Collins said.

Get rid of the Orleans Levee Board.

In the past few years, as the board focused on casinos, marinas, bridges, police forces, fancy new administrative buildings, private detectives while the mundane work of levee maintenance never received top billing. Now, after the casino and other Levee Board projects were ruined by Katrina, all anyone wants to focus on is the construction of world class levees.
If and when the levees are constructed to Category 5 protection, the levee board should not be the agency supervising the work or maintaining the levees. We need a formal investigation into what happened in the years leading up to Katrina and whether there was any criminal negligence involved.
Governor Blanco should immediately fire Huey and disband the Orleans Parish Levee Board. Legislation in this special session should be introduced to combine all local levee boards into one state board, with statewide oversight. This would remove the politics and the multiple fiefdoms around the state.

Hear, hear!

Are Yats an endangered species?

This writer gets it right. I hope there are plenty of other Yats who can help bring back a little of what was really wonderful about New Orleans> My favorite part of the article is his explanation that New Orleans is what it is because it's been "on simmer" for 140 years. That's the way you make a good gumbo. It's not just the ingredients, it's the simmering.

But this amazingly rich culture that has produced far more than its share of America's artistic, culinary, literary, and musical riches is likely to be gone before we notice that we miss it. Outside experts will have no chance to see it alive before they decide to bulldoze it into oblivion.
Many locals can't describe it because they are blind to it the way a fish is blind to water until he finds himself flapping helplessly on land. You cannot replace forty square miles of antique neighborhoods with a California vision of what a proper up-to-date American community should be and expect the soul of New Orleans to survive any more than a salmon can thrive in a parking lot.

Wisdom from the East.

From the Pakistan Daily Times.and Razi Azmi

Such pearls of wisdom, however, are not confined to our co-religionists, although they are far more prevalent among them. “Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” stated Repent America director, Michael Marcavage, referring to the devastation caused in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. “New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge.”
. . . .
Why would God punish the poor blacks of New Orleans rather than the gay community of San Francisco, or destroy Muzaffarabad rather than the nudist clubs of Europe, or devastate Aceh rather than the massage parlours of Bangkok?

Powell's Chief of Staff lets Cheney have it.

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

As LA. spends good money trying to repair Benson's venue, Benson stabs LA in the back.

Some of us are getting pretty tired of Tom Benson, owner of the Saints, and his continuing attempts to blackmail Louisiana and the City of New Orlenas with threats to move his team.
Despite NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue´s unfavorable comments about a move to San Antonio earlier this season, football fans in southern Texas have not refrained from obnoxiously waving "San Antonio Saints" signs at the first two games in the Alamodome.
Why don´t they just do the "Benson Boogie" on New Orleans´ grave while they are at it?
Benson, a former car salesman, pulled off the biggest lemon push in his old industry´s history when he goaded his political ally Governor Mike Foster into inking a deal that would shovel millions of dollars in tax dollars to appease Benson´s avarice.
With Hurricane Katrina destroying most of southern Louisiana, Benson´s siphoning of the state treasury will likely come to a close. Even a strong governor like Foster would have a tough time selling to the legislature subsidizing an extremely profitable business with so many other pressing needs.
So says BayouBuzz
Blageur and all the Blaguettes would like nothing more than a new owner(and perhaps a new coach) for our home team. Here's what Jim Mashek of the Sun Herald has to say
Tom Benson reached a new low Monday.

And that's saying something.

The New Orleans Saints' bumbling, fumbling owner canned Arnie Fielkow, one of the classiest executives ever to work for the star-crossed NFL franchise, because Fielkow wanted to do right by New Orleans and the Gulf South in the aftermath of deadly Hurricane Katrina.

Benson had already sent out some storm warnings in Monday's editions of the San Antonio Express-News, when he used San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger as his mouthpiece.

That was bad enough.

Then he had the nerve to summon Fielkow, his executive vice president for administration for the past 5 1/2 years, and lay down an ultimatum.

Fielkow was given five minutes to submit his resignation, and when he refused, he was fired.

Benson always had the finesse of Mussolini, but this was ridiculous.
Mashek's article got national play, and all of us Blaguettes hope that Benson takes note that the whole country is watching his antics. (Not that he ever cared about embarrassing himself before.) The final indignity is that with all the trouble on New Orleans' plate, they find themselves forced to get started fixing up the Superdome hurriedly so that Benson won't use the damage to the Superdome as an excuse to move.
The state is moving swiftly to repair the storm-battered and vandalized Superdome even as the Saints flirt with the idea of relocating to San Antonio.
Officials are meeting today to select an architectural firm to design 125 (m) million dollars in repairs to the New Orleans landmark.
That's $125,000,000 for Mr. Benson's pleasure. For more reaction from the fans, check out
Some recent bits and pieces of Saints news:

UPDATE: Some of the fans as are going to buy "save the Saints" radio ads. They are going have an airplane fly a banner around Tiger Stadium for the Miami game saying "Tagliabue--Save our NEW ORLEANS saints."

MR-GO may be cause for St. Bernard lawsuit.

Blaming the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet for most of the flooding in St. Bernard Parish during Hurricane Katrina, parish officials said they are considering suing the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Orleans Dock Board, which respectively maintain and use the shipping channel.

The Parish Council on Monday authorized the administration to consult with attorneys about whether the parish should sue the agencies, saying the MR-GO served as a corridor for Katrina's surge to reach St. Bernard neighborhoods. The Aug. 29 hurricane flooded the entire parish.

Some of the water entering the parish also came from breaches in the levees on the Industrial Canal. But some officials say the water from the MR-GO was responsible for the brunt of the flooding.

Chertoff says Blanco, Nagin not to blame.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff disagreed on Wednesday with a charge by the former top federal disaster official that state and local authorities were to blame for the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff told a House of Representatives special committee investigating the highly criticized government response to the hurricane that he had no difficulty dealing with Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other state officials.

"My own view is this, I‘ve got to get my own house in order," Chertoff said. "I am not here to judge others. I did not have a problem with state and local officials."

Michael Brown, who quit as Federal Emergency Management Agency director under fire for his agency‘s slow response to the hurricane, told the committee last month that Louisiana officials were "dysfunctional."

In contrast, Chertoff said devastation caused by the storm overwhelmed the disaster-relief system. Some response systems were improved by the time hurricane Rita hit a few weeks later, Chertoff said, but he said FEMA still needs to be retooled.

Death toll from Katrina rises.

Four more bodies have been found in debris from Hurricane Katrina, pushing Mississippi's death toll to 228, a Gulf Coast coroner reported.

The number brings to 1,281 the deaths from Katrina reported by state and local officials in five states.

Wilma, category 5, heads for Florida

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Saints VP fired.

SAN ANTONIO--Saints executive vice president of administration Arnold Fielkow was fired Monday, ending nearly six seasons as one of owner Tom Benson's senior administrators, according to several team sources.

Fielkow most recently had been placed in charge of the team's marketing and ticket sales operations in Baton Rouge for four upcoming home games at Tiger Stadium.
The ticket selling for BR was a disaster. But note, Fielkow was fired, not because the team performed badly, but because of poor ticket sales. He was not a customer-friendly sort of guy, and I never cared for his policies.
Could this be a warning to the coaching staff?

UPDATE: And now the Mayor of San Antonio says he's going to negotiate with Benson to move the Saints. Benson must not think he needs a good reputation in New Orleans, or any friends there. There are parts of New Orleans that he'd better not venture in unescorted if he moves the team.

Unemployment surges after Katrina.

Nearly 282,000 Louisiana residents, 14 percent of the state's workers, are unemployed because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The huge number of filings is draining Louisiana's unemployment trust fund.The 281,745 hurricane-related claims filed over the past seven weeks are 45 percent more than the total for all of 2004. They are 13 times the normal seven-week total, Labor Department spokesman Ed Pratt said.

This is a pretty deep hole if we have to climb out of it all by ourselves.

Many not covered for loss.

Robert Hartwig, chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group, has tallied insurance payouts after natural disasters in the United States, Western Europe and Japan. On average, private insurance covers 62 percent of the economic losses after natural disasters in those places, he said. But in New Orleans, he expects that insurance will cover less than half of the losses — and perhaps much less than that — because of the magnitude of uninsured flood losses.

The Financial Times is predicting that insurance rates will rise 15-30% across the globe because of Rita and Katrina. Makes that flood insurance look mighty cheap now.

Blanco calls for a "better" Louisiana.

The 26-member Louisiana Recovery Authority appointed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is set to focus on issues like jobs, housing, education, health care, the environment, family services and transportation.

"We can't replace the hopes and dreams of our people, but we can help them to build new ones," Blanco said.

Much of the storm-ravaged area "will never be the same, but that does not mean our people and institutions can't emerge stronger and better," Blanco said. "We cannot simply re-create what the storms destroyed. We must make the new Louisiana smarter, safer and stronger."

The two hurricanes wiped out roughly one-third of the state's economy and forced more than one million people from their homes. A few thousand have been able to return to their homes in New Orleans, but many more still are in shelters, hotels, Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers or in private homes.

Agence France Presse: N.O. workers exploited.

Some contractors leading reconstruction projects in the hurricane-hit southern United States have badly exploited workers and taken away business from local firms, Senate Democrats and labor groups said on Monday.

Housing for workers often lacks running water and contractors have failed to provide food, training and wage rates as promised, James Hale, vice president with the Laborers' International Union of North America, told a policy conference of opposition Democrats in the US Senate.

In one case, workers had not been paid for three weeks and at another site there were allegations that security guards were mistreating laborers, said Hale, who supported his allegations with photographs.

An electrician and foreman with Knight Enterprises cried as he recounted how his team of workers were kicked out of government tents by an out-of-state firm and forced to sleep in their cars.

"Most of our workers, some of whom had lost their homes to the two hurricanes (Katrina and Rita), were sleeping in their personal vehicles and showering in a car wash located on base," Mike Moran said.

Moran's employer was given a 20-month contract to provide power to a camp for military personnel but the contract was cancelled after 17 days.

Knight Enterprises alleges the contract was terminated because the firm was paying the prevailing hourly wage and an outside contractor that was hired paid its workers a lower wage.

Terminated for paying a living wage. That's our FEMA. This seems like more than incompetence, this seems like malice.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Second storm surge hit Louisiana coast

A first storm surge hit coastal Cameron and Vermilion parishes when Rita's eye wall slammed ashore around 3 a.m. Sept. 24, Erickson said. It takes a while, sometimes hours, for the water to move inland, hence the time lag of several hours between the first surge and the second, which hit after daybreak. Intensifying the problem was that lower Vermilion Parish experienced tropical storm force winds from the south through the day Sept. 24.

"We were warning people about this in Iberia and Vermilion parishes," Erickson said. "We definitely could have had some people killed because they went out before the all-clear was in effect."

The phenomenon of a secondary surge is not common, Erickson said. Even the director of the National Hurricane Center seemed unfamiliar with it, so it could be unique to this area, he said.

"We're researching it now to see if it can happen anywhere or if it's a local effect," Erickson said. "We may have discovered something that overall we weren't aware of."
Again, after we thought it was all clear, the waters began to rise. But this time the metrorologists arre stumped.

State following up on rumors of euthanasia.

A state investigation into whether critically ill patients were left to die or were euthanized at a New Orleans hospital during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is part of a probe into an estimated 215 deaths at nursing homes and hospitals across the area, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

The Louisiana attorney general's office, which is overseeing the inquiry, has launched a "monumental investigation" that is examining what happened to patients and residents at 19 hospitals and nursing homes, spokeswoman Kris Wartelle said. The scope of the probe — which now includes 21% of the 1,035 Louisiana deaths linked to the Aug. 29 hurricane — came to light after a doctor at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center alleged that some of the 45 patients who died there might have been euthanized to end their suffering.

Let's remember who did the planning that allowed all those deaths to happen as well.

Spaghetti model of Wilma

Senate Committee asks for answers from Blanco and Nagin.

This is the one Nagin is going to have an easy time answering.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has asked Nagin for:

r A description of "all actions taken to evacuate or attempt to evacuate individuals without personal transportation and those with medical conditions and special needs."

Answer: There were none. And no plans to do so either.

More important: What was Bush doing during the six days of the disaster? But I don't suppose the Senate committee is concerned with such details. Of course he was doing everything he could, right?

This Reconstructioning is HAAARD!

With the immediate crisis past, administration officials may be hoping that state and local efforts — and the free market — will relieve them of the thorniest decisions, as well as a substantial chunk of the estimated $200-billion price tag for the region's revival.

However, a variety of prominent Republicans warn that the president's approach is a recipe for trouble.

"So far, all we've done is shovel money out the door to meet the humanitarian needs," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "But henceforth, we've got to be very careful how we spend the money, and that means we're going to need a plan and somebody in charge."

A former Cabinet member had similar concerns.

"With all due respect to the president, things are not going to bubble up from the bottom," said Jack Kemp, who was Housing and Urban Development secretary under President George H.W. Bush. "There has to be some federal leadership here."
Why do these republicans hate America? Don't they know how HAARD the presnit is working?

Citybusiness plans symposium on rebuilding.

It’s important to stay focused on rebuilding our city and the greater New Orleans region.

It’s also important to do all we can to make ensure the rebuilding effort reflects good judgment, common sense and economic relevance.

To that end, CityBusiness plans to play host to a three-day online symposium to collect and disseminate the best ideas from national experts about rebuilding the city. The workshop will be called “New Orleans.New — Rebuilding the Crescent City.”

Starting Oct. 25, we will assemble experts via the Internet and ask a series of questions. Answers will be posted instantly through our Web site,, and be available for comment from the general public.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

This one could go just about anywhere

Click on the headline for spaghetti model of latest tropical depression.

Cafe du Monde to reopen Wednesday

After the longest break in its 153-year history, Cafe Du Monde will once again fill New Orleans' Jackson Square with the luscious smell of beignets and rich, chicory-laced coffee.
Good News!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rove lawyers expect him to be indicted.

Rove's defense team asserts that President Bush's deputy chief of staff has not committed a crime but nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks, the source said.
Hoooooo weeeeeee doggies!
via Kevin Drum and Atrios

Yep. It was poor construction of the levees, after all.

Soil tests indicate that a soft, spongy layer of swamp peat underneath the 17th Street canal floodwall was the weak point that caused soil to move and the wall to breach during Hurricane Katrina, an engineer who has studied the data says.
. . . .

The contractor who built the 17th Street Canal reported problems drilling the sheet pilings in the soil. Segments of the wall leaned slightly when the concrete was poured, according to a legal ruling in a contract dispute over the matter. An administrative law judge ruled that was due to the unusual bracing system used to build the structure rather than unexpected soil conditions.

Bea said that while the investigators have theorized the Corps missed the peat layer in soil tests before the wall was built, that data they now have shows the peat would be hard to miss.
What effect will this have on insurance claims? On possible litigation against the Corps or the contractor? Blageur speculates that these questions will be in the courts for years.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Small item from International Oil Daily

"We believe the full impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is downplayed by the government and the oil industry," Oppenheimer analyst FadelGheit said in a research note Wednesday. "The government is concerned that the news could undermine consumer confidence, which could further curtail economic growth. The industry is concerned that record earnings could reinforce negative public perception and piling record cash could tempt politicians to push for a windfall profit tax."
No link. Sub. req.

LSU clears N.O. water of toxic claims.

LSU researchers concluded that New Orleans-area flood waters from Hurricane Katrina were no more toxic than the normal storm water running out of the city.

But, they concluded, chemical levels were higher than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems safe for freshwater and saltwater ecosystems.

"The metals (such as copper and zinc) are the things we are most concerned with," said John Pardue of LSU Water Resources Research Institute on Tuesday. Fish, crabs and other aquatic critters "would be vulnerable" to bioaccumulation of toxic metals, he said.

Further study will be needed. Lead, cadmium, arsenic and nickel levels exceeded some, but not all, regulatory criteria, Pardue said.
It's something of a relief to have more independent confirmation of the EPA's findings about the toxicity of the N.O. floodwaters. Not that we don't trust Bush's EPA.

Euthanasia at Memorial Medical Center?

The Louisiana attorney general's office is investigating allegations that mercy killings occurred and has requested that autopsies be performed on all 45 bodies taken from the hospital after the storm.

Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard said investigators have told him they think euthanasia may have been committed.

"They thought someone was going around injecting people with some sort of lethal medication," Minyard said.

Dr. Bryant King, who was working at Memorial when conditions were at their worst, told CNN that while he did not witness any acts of euthanasia, "most people know something happened that shouldn't have happened."
Looks as if something very dark went on at the hospital. Did someone panic? Were conditions bad enough to justify mercy killing? Again, why weren't there evacuation plans for the seriously ill, the bedridden, the elderly?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

N.O. Universities co-operate to re-open

Tulane, Xavier, Dillard and Loyola universities are working together to support one another's efforts to resume classes in January. The four institutions have formed a consortium that will allow Xavier and Dillard to hold classes this spring on the campuses of Tulane and Loyola universities, as well as to share meeting and administrative space among the four schools.

The effort will allow Dillard and Xavier students to maintain a sense of community and identity -- physically and symbolically -- for the calendar year 2006.

"New Orleans and Louisiana need their institutions of higher education to continue to grow economically and academically," said Scott S. Cowen, president of Tulane University. "We are gratified to be able to offer Xavier and Dillard universities our available space to help them through their rebuilding phase as we continue our own rebuilding efforts."

N.O. needs a conspiracy theory. Enter Spike Lee.

Filmmaker Spike Lee on Tuesday announced he is making a film for HBO about the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans, and said he wouldn't be shocked if conspiracy theories of intentional government involvement in the flooding proved true.

At least there's discussion about the poor.

For example, [developer Joe]Canizaro and others envision mixed-income housing, where poor would live in subsidized homes side-by-side with the middle-class. There is also widespread agreement on some of fundamentals needed to draw people back to New Orleans and help them prosper, such as overhauling the school system and creating job training programs.

"If you're talking about building a city, you've got to create a place for everybody. This city doesn't just belong to rich white folk, and it doesn't belong to poor black folk," said Barbara Major, who runs the St. Thomas Health Clinic, working with poor from across the city.

Suspicions run deep, however.

"I've heard conversations - some by good people, some by evil people - those who would leave the poor out," said former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who nevertheless believes that "New Orleans goodness and decency" will win out.

Cyril Neville abandons New Orleans.

"New Orleans is dead, man. It's dead," the singer-percussionist says, sitting on a red couch in an otherwise drab South Austin apartment complex where he has lived for the last month.

"Don't get me wrong. I love New Orleans. But the New Orleans I loved was gone long before the storm hit."

Music has long been the pulse of New Orleans' culture. But now musicians are scattered across the country. And no one can predict how many will return and how many will stay put in Austin or New York or Nashville, where Aaron and Art Neville are now living.

If too many of them stay away for good, the funky vibe that defines New Orleans may never be the same.

Bad news. Very bad news.

Gambit will return.

Clancy and Margo DuBos, who co-own the New Orleans-based Gambit Weekly, say the newspaper will be back in print on November 1. "There was never a nanosecond of doubt that we were coming back," Clancy explained in a statement.
Unfortunately, the staff has been halved.

Didn't learn from Andrew. Will they learn from Katrina?

Early situational awareness was poor, a problem that should have been corrected following identical damage assessment challenges during Hurricane Andrew," McHale said in a group interview with Pentagon reporters.

L.A. Diocese & Pedophiles: More of the same

Newly released records of sex abuse claims against 126 priests that are at the core of hundreds of lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles show that church officials for decades moved accused priests between counseling and new assignments.
No comment necessary? You've heard it all before, starting in 1985 in Henry, Louisiana with Gilbert Gauthe. But, fer Christ's sake, it's twenty years later, and maybe someone should do something about this?

St. Bernard Parish. RIP.

So sad. This means that 26,400 families have lost everything in that parish. There's just nothing you can say about misery on that scale.

Wooley, who has visited the region four times since Katrina struck on Aug. 29, said he had not seen many salvagable homes among the 33,000 residences scheduled for inspection next week. Officials have estimated that at least 80 percent of the homes in St. Bernard Parish will have to be razed. Most homes in southern Plaquemines Parish were reduced to concrete slabs by Katrina.

OK. Here's the good news. I got great rates from GEICO

It's an ill wind, blada blada blada. And in Lafayette, where some N.O. firms have had to relocate, housing prices have soared. Good for sellers. For buyers, not so much.

Bacque said the free-market system in real estate also has driven home prices in the area to increase substantially. The average sale price for a home in September was $220,000, compared with $175,000 in September 2004, he said.

This writer has a handle on what's happening here. But is anyone listening.

The writer, Jennifer Moses is from Virginia, but has lived in Baton Rouge. This article, (read all of it' it's short)very accurately describes what Blageur has been feeling lately. Sometimes I wish I had not taken up the work of this blog, all the stories are depressing. Layoffs. Destruction. Indifference from Congress. Incompetence from FEMA. Near hopelessness that anything will be the same again for Louisiana. The bad news is a flood. The good news comes in little trickles.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Nearly six weeks after Hurricane Katrina altered both the landscape of Louisiana and the national psyche, most Americans seem poised for the next news cycle: the fight over the new Supreme Court nominee looks to be especially juicy, as does the fun brewing down in Texas over Tom DeLay. But here in what has become, by default, Louisiana's most populous city, the hurricane just won't go away, and the initial excitement of being the state's primary triage center, and suddenly finding ourselves elevated from Nowhere on the Bayou to the center of MediaWorld, has long since worn off.

For one thing, there wasn't just one hurricane, there were two, and while the national media focused on Houston's horrific traffic jams, Hurricane Rita managed to wipe out most of southwest Louisiana, displace additional tens of thousands and cause huge disruptions in the state's already crippled economy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, always on its toes, managed to confuse Iberia Parish, where hundreds of homes were wiped off the face of the earth, with Iberville Parish, which had minimal damage, and gave disaster relief to the latter while withholding it from the former. In some neighborhoods, garbage hasn't been picked up in weeks. Local energy rates, already among the highest in the nation, are about to go a lot higher.

Jobs are as rare as snow in August, and thanks to Washington's prevailing ethic of handing out the goodies only to chartered members of the Goodies Club, barely a trickle of cleanup jobs are going to Louisiana businesses or Louisiana workers, and those few that are magically trickling down into the local economy are grossly underpaid. This because the president suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that federal contractors pay workers prevailing wages on federally funded projects. The Louisiana State University system, which includes not only the state university but also three public hospitals, is about to lay off 5,000 more workers. Trailer parks intended to house the displaced are being set up in overstrained and underserviced areas that all happen to be -- surprise! -- majority black, while Baton Rouge's solid, if old and often abandoned housing stock, is left to rot. Meanwhile, the governor flails around, her heart in the right place and her hand in a wallet stuffed with IOUs. Happy fall, y'all.

What's the good news? Actually, there is some, but it's as amorphous as it is sad, having to do with the slow erosion of our shared national fantasy of an endless party, our waking up with a bad hangover, only to find that the living room is cluttered with empty bottles and overflowing ashtrays. Even in Louisiana, where the prevailing culture is almost outrageously laid-back and endlessly forgiving, people are getting angry.

What a horror.

I know that you can't blame anyone for this. But imagine how it must feel.
Paul Murphy returned to the New Orleans house where he was raised on Wednesday to salvage mementos from his childhood, but instead was plunged into grief by the unexpected discovery of the body of his cherished grandmother.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Matt Lauer gets up in Bush's grill.

Q I talked to a prominent Democrat in Louisiana who has said that this type of appearance, while it's great to see you guys rolling up your sleeves and grabbing a hammer and helping with this piece of wall here, that it's a photo op, and they want to see a plan on paper, your plan to rebuild this region. Do you have that kind of a plan?
Or at least is there a guy up there we can talk to?

And apparently, according to Washington Post's Dana Millbank Lauer rattled Bush with some other pointed questions about Katrina.
But this much could be seen watching the tape of NBC's broadcast during Bush's 14-minute pre-sunrise interview, in which he stood unprotected by the usual lectern. The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts. Bush has always been an active man, but standing with Lauer and the serene, steady first lady, he had the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.

The fidgeting clearly corresponded to the questioning. When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was "trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression," Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.

When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer -- along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling. Laura Bush, by contrast, delivered only three blinks and stood still through her entire answer about encouraging volunteerism.
See also this picture of Bush hammering with "cowboy swagger and yuppie self-consciousness"

Governor doesn't like Nagin's gambling plan.

"I have never believed that gambling should be the base on which to build our economy," she said.
She's in good company with that idea.

Not a fan of Jesse Jackson?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday accused the Bush administration of using Hurricane Katrina to reconstruct Louisiana politics, saying the U.S. had no plan to return displaced residents.
Jackson also criticized the government's awarding no-bid contracts to outside contractors importing out-of-state and foreign workers to rebuild New Orleans, while thousands of displaced former city residents are "languishing in 40 states" looking for work.
Also true.
"There is no plan for massive rescue, relocation or return of residents," Jackson said in St. Louis, one stop along a route that a bus caravan of Katrina evacuees is taking to New Orleans to claim those jobs. The evacuees, escorted by Jackson's Chicago-based Operation PUSH, are due to arrive in New Orleans on Tuesday.
Hmm. Concrete action?
He said the able-bodied workers who survived Katrina have a right to return home and rebuild their city, but that they are "last on the list."
Seems true to Blageur.