Saturday, December 30, 2006

One silver lining from Bellsouth At&T merger.

As these two telecom giants begin their attempt to swallow the universe whole, there is at least one bit of good news.
Among the conditions offered by AT&T is a promise to observe “network neutrality” principles, an offer of $19.95 per month stand-alone digital subscriber line service and a vow to divest some wireless spectrum.


So network neutrality is safe for the time being. And hooray, we get cheap digital phone lines. For a while.

Friday, December 29, 2006

ICFI: Get ready for the PR Blitz

Stung by criticism from the legislature and a precipitous drop in their stock price, ICFI is readying a media campaign to try to burnish their image. Wonder where money for that is going to come from? Or why they don't just start to repair their reputation by doing their job more efficiently? Silly, you just don't know modern bureaucracy, Washington-style.

In a few cases, the recipients have been asked if they are willing to appear in advertising spots. The reaction has been mixed: Cindy McKean, 36, a Venetian Isles resident in New Orleans who feels "very thankful and very blessed" with her family's Road Home rebuilding grant, the amount of which she wouldn't disclose, said she and her husband, a firefighter, have turned aside the advertising idea.

Update: ICFI stock price now 13.96 off its 12/05 high of 17.87, a loss of nearly 22% of value.

ICFI: Know your subcontractors

In its announcement of the award of the contract for Road Home to ICFI, the following companies were mentioned as subcontractors. The functions and roles of these companies were not disclosed, but they apparently range from data management to nuts-and-bolts engineering. The companies which seem to be most involved in data and grants management (the apparent bottleneck in Road Home) are STR LLC, Deltha Corp., Microsoft, and First American Title Insurance Comapny. KPMG and The Shaw Group might be involved in either data or engineering. Quadel is a consulting firm which provides expertise and training in affordable housing. Providence is strictly an engineering firm. None of the firms' websites provide any information about their association with Road Home or ICFI.

If lawmakers want to know what is holding up the grants in the Road Home program they might want to consult with some of the following persons. A good reporter might simple ring some of these people up, and ask what they are doing on the contract.



Deltha Corporation. Earl E. Washington, New Orleans, Owner.

First American Title Insurance Company. John N. Casbon, New Orleans, Pres. and CEO.

Jones Walker Law Offices. New Orleans.

KPMG. Jack Taylor, New Orleans, Regional Director for the Americas.

Microsoft.

Quadel Consulting. Kathleen Rotondaro, Washington DC, Founder and President.


Providence Engineering and Environmental.
Rich Major, Baton Rouge, Senior Managing Partner.

The Shaw Group. Jim Bernhard, Baton Rouge, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.

STR LLC. (Grants Management) Scott Meyer, Fairfax, Va., President.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best headline EVER!!!

New Orleans Saints: 2 to 1 to win the NFC Championship

Quote of the year!

“He had a brand new pair of breasts. Apparently crime does pay.”
--- store owner Robyn Lewis, victim of transvestite thieves.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

ICFI stock down 3 points.

Handy.
ICFI stock chart
.
Off a bit today to 14.59. Down from its 17.55 high of mid-November. Buy on weakness, anyone?

ICFI: I missed this one.

But Greg at Suspect Device caught it.

Noting that not a single St. Bernard Parish resident has received a Road Home check, the Parish Council on Tuesday demanded that the state government declare every house in the parish 100 percent damaged and start writing checks to compensate residents.

All but five houses flooded in St. Bernard, most to the rooftops.

At Tuesday's council meeting, rage poured from local officials over the continuing delays of the Road Home program, which at last count had paid fewer than 100 of the 87,000 Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal rebuilding or buyout grants.

Hope you're recovering well, Greg.

Bob Herbert on the nation's "open wound."

Whatever you've heard about New Orleans, the reality is much worse. Think of it as a vast open wound, this once-great American city that is still largely in ruins, with many of its people still writhing in agony more than a year after the catastrophic flood that followed Hurricane Katrina.

Ivor van Heerden warned about this.

NEW ORLEANS – Three top-ranking Army Corps of Engineers officials who led the agency's reconstruction work after Hurricane Katrina are stepping down, prompting critics to again question whether the Corps is able to protect the city from future disasters.

The latest retirements include two top civilians and the New Orleans district engineer. They come on the heels of the retirement of the agency's chief, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, who said in August he was leaving his post for “family and personal reasons.”


The departing Corps officials dismissed suggestions that they are leaving because of criticism showered on the agency after Katrina. Forensics investigations into what caused flood walls to collapse revealed flawed work in the past largely caused the flooding of the central parts of New Orleans.


They're not leaving because of criticism; it's par for the course for the Corps of Engingeers. The top people never stay long, and the Corps loses expertise and institutional memory. It's part of what's been wrong all along. Somewhere in the archives I have a quote from an article in which Ivor van Heerden predicted this would happen.

Louisiana to lose Congressional representative in 2010

From Taegan Goddard

Looking Ahead to Reapportionment

According to a new Election Data Services prediction, if the 2010 reapportionment were held today, six states would gain one seat apiece in the House of Representatives -- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah -- and Texas would gain two seats. Those seats would come from seven states losing one seat each -- Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

"The states of Georgia, Nevada, Louisiana, and Massachusetts are new states [this year] on the list of changes."


More of Katrina's aftereffects.

Monday, December 25, 2006

In case you missed it: $1 Billion in Katrina fraud

The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts valued at $500,000 or greater for cleanup work are being awarded without [sic] little competition.

Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm. Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.

In January, investigators will release the first of several audits examining more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. The charges range from political favoritism to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms, which initially got only 1.5 percent of the total work.

"Based on their track record, it wouldn't surprise me if we saw another billion more in waste," said Clark Kent Ervin, the Homeland Security Department's inspector general from 2003-2004. "I don't think sufficient progress has been made."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

ICFI in deeper doo-doo

Finally, someone in the media pays attention to ICF-- who runs it and how.
"They have always failed to understand the magnitude of this undertaking or commit the amount of resources they need to get the job done," said Sam Jones, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Community Programs.
. . . . . .
So far, however, the contract has been very good for ICF. After the company went public, it distributed $2.7 million in one-time bonuses to 30 of its top managers. Byrne said he was not one of the recipients, but he declined to reveal his salary or say what any other executives in charge of the Road Home contract are making.

"It is private information and we won't disclose that," ICF spokeswoman Gentry Brann said. "It wouldn't be fair to the employees."
. . . . . .
"We are ahead of what we said in our contract we would meet," Brann said.

Jones said ICF officials are making a "false argument."

"To meet their contractual obligations, there are benchmarks you have to meet and they were not meeting them," Jones said. "That's it. Our bells first went off when they weren't meeting even the earliest projections. We don't need to find out six months from now that they are going to fail to meet the contract expectations. We can't wait until then."


Uh huh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good USA Today article summing up N.O. conditions.

"Listen," says James Lemann, whose mother's garage became the sanctuary. Down the block, swinging metal groans in a slow breeze; otherwise, the street is silent. "It's a beautiful sunny afternoon," says Lemann, 48. "Do you hear saws? Do you hear any hammers?"

N.O. gets free Wifi.

ATLANTA and NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Doing its part to help rebuild the Crescent City, EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) officially launches the City of New Orleans' municipal wireless network today -- the company's third market build out this year. The approximately 20-square mile Wi-Fi mesh network covers parts of the Orleans parish.
EarthLink is supporting the City's rebuilding efforts by providing a free tier of service available up to 300Kbps for residents and businesses in New Orleans throughout the coverage area (http://www.emnwifi.net/cities/neworleans/). Consumers can access the free tier by logging onto the Web site https://featherwifi.net through the Wi-Fi
access software embedded in their desk- or laptop computer.


Boy howdy, there's a silver lining for you.

Powell blisters Sudhakar Kesavan,

"As I expressed by phone, I have serious concerns about the effectiveness and expediency of the program," Powell said in a letter to Sudhakar Kesavan, chief executive of the Virginia-based ICF International.

"As I write this letter, only 92 homeowners have received financial assistance out of over 80,000 applicants, or .1 percent of applicants," he wrote. "This rate must dramatically improve."

ICFI tweaks the process.

I guess they didn't see the need to speed things up any earlier. I guess 92 out of 80,000 (or 0.115%) applications was good enough.

ICF International, which is running the $7.5 billion program, is under pressure to speed up help for homeowners.

President Bush’s point-man on the hurricane recovery weighed in Wednesday in a letter that takes ICF to task for getting financial assistance to only 1 percent (sic) of applicants.

Since the program began this summer, 92 homeowners have received funding. More than 80,000 homeowners have applied for assistance.

“I have serious concerns about the effectiveness and expediency of the program,” Don Powell wrote ICF.

ICF spokesman Dwight Cunningham said late Wednesday that the company is preparing a response.

“We have received the letter from Chairman Powell and we are responding,” he said.

A New Orleans lawmaker recently pitched a tent on the State Capitol lawn and vowed to stay there until the program improved.

Rep. Charmaine Marchand, D-New Orleans, took down her tent Wednesday, a day after meeting with Blanco and other top officials for three hours at the Governor’s Mansion.

Marchand, whose legislative district includes the heavily hit Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, complained of homeowners receiving offers of $87 from ICF for their property.

The maximum allowable under the program is $150,000.

New Orleans Sen. Ann Duplessis, who has been part of Blanco’s team looking at improving the Road Home program, said in a prepared statement, “The changes make sense when you consider how diverse the New Orleans housing market is. We have an entire team of local professionals dedicated to the real estate and housing industry, and they will now play a vital role in making the Road Home program work better for our people.”



Yeah, the article is wrong. It is not one percent but 0.115% -- or if you want to round that off, 0% of applicants who have received any money from Road Home.

Update: Much more detail on the changes here.

Oil Royalties officially a done deal.

Almost 60 years after Louisiana spurned an offer from President Harry Truman for billions of dollars in federal oil and gas royalties, President Bush on Wednesday made it a reality.

Bush signed legislation that will allow Louisiana to share in the 37.5 percent royalty that the federal government receives from new drilling in 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, it would have been better to have had the money that Leander Perez threw away on the Truman deal.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Recent ICFI/ Road Home stories.

ICFI stock took a big dive on high volume on Monday.

Representative will camp out in tent until ICFI gets its act together.

Legislators ask for federal inquiry into ICFI stock offering.

Some ICF history. How they put this project together.

Here are key dates in the ICF contract.

All of these links are to ICF news releases:

January 2006 ICF hires Michael Byrne from FEMA and Homeland Security.

April 2006 ICF becomes ICF International.


June 29, 2006
: ICFI, Michael Byrne hire former FBI agent Robert Blitzer, Deputy Assistant Secretray at Department of Health and Human Services. According to ICFI,

He also provided leadership and support for preparations and response to imminent threats to public health such as the U.S. Federal Government's response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) threat, as well as other public health emergencies, including the hurricanes that occurred in 2005 and 2006 in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.


June 30, 2006. ICFI announces $87 million preliminary contract for Road Home project. The award of the contract happened on June 12. They hire subcontractors
"Deltha Corporation,
First American Title Insurance Company,
Jones Walker,
KPMG International,
Microsoft,
Quadel Consulting,
Providence Engineering & Environmental Group, L.L.C.,
The Shaw Group, and
STR, L.L.C."

Michael Byrne states:
". . . we expect to double local hiring and team with an even greater number of local firms. We are honored to play such an important role in helping displaced residents rebuild their communities."

However, the press release ends with this curious legalese:

Words such as “will,” "expect,” and similar words or phrasing, identify forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.
(In other words-- we sound like we're promising performance, but don't take that seriously. There's actually a whole paragraph which essentially says, don't hold us to any promises we make.)

October 23, 2006: ICFI moves to sell $49 million in stock.
ICF International (Nasdaq: ICFI) announced today that the underwriters of its initial public offering of shares of its common stock, which began trading on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on September 28, 2006, have fully exercised their overallotment option to purchase an additional 700,500 shares. All of the overallotment shares were sold by ICF. With the exercise of the underwriters’ option, the aggregate net proceeds to ICF of its offering were approximately US$48.7 million.


December 18, 2006: ICFI accentuates the positive.

ICF International Receives Expression of Support from the State of Louisiana

A somewhat misleading headline, since three days previously the legislature asked the Governor to fire ICFI.

More on ICF

In the post below there's a quote of a comment about Michael Byrne, who was hired by ICF in January 2006.(The contract was awarded in June.) Here's how ICF describes him in their press release.

"a Senior Director at The White House Office of Homeland Security, a key official and advisor to Secretary Ridge at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
. . . . . . . .
In 1999, Mr. Byrne joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New York City and served as FEMA Operations Chief at Ground Zero in Manhattan. In 2001, he joined The White House Office of Homeland Security where he was responsible for guiding policy and initiatives for national homeland security efforts. In 2003, Mr. Byrne served as the first Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for National Capital Region Coordination. At DHS, he reported directly to Secretary Ridge and was responsible for regional preparedness, response, recovery, and information sharing."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
At ICF Consulting Mr. Byrne will lead a division of more than 200 professionals who provide advisory, technology, and implementation services for homeland and national security clients at the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, other federal agencies, and state and local governments throughout the country.

Did this White House connection have anything to do with their getting the contract? Did Byrne's FEMA experience guarantee a similar performance from ICF? I'll bet those questions won't be asked by your legislators in Louisiana.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Most arrogant insensitive hang-em-from-the-lamp-posts-provoking comment of the year.

"Unfortunately, $239 million in unnecessary tax credits for insurance surcharge reimbursements were passed." --- Jim Brandt, President of PAR


He's talking about the rebate coming to individual homeowners who got stuck by the state with the extra bill for hurricane protection through an insurance surcharge. There was a time when PAR was a respected, honest and progressive organization. Apparently today they are just shills for big business. Apparently, Brandt thinks that it was a good session that defeated pay raises for teachers and tax cuts for business. Let PAR and Brandt explain their attitudes to small businessmen, teachers, police and firemen whose raises and tax cuts were defeated by PAR and its allies (i.e. Republicans) in the Louisiana legislature. Voters will remember who worked in their interest come next November.

Daily Advertiser editorializes against ICF


Speaking in Lafayette last Thursday, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, joined in the harsh criticism of the private firm responsible for awarding recovery grants in Louisiana's "Road Home" program.

ICF International Inc. is the contractor hired by the Blanco administration to dispense $7.5 billion in federal funds for repair of owner-occupied houses damaged by last year's hurricanes. It is a lucrative undertaking for the Fairfax, Va.-based company. In all, ICF expects to make $756 million off the Road Home contract.

Vitter says the program is an "utter disaster." Of 80,000 applications sent in recently, he says he knows of 60 checks that were mailed out.
The senator is not alone in his criticism. Even Gov. Blanco, who worked with the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development in structuring the program, has expressed disappointment. In mid-November, she reportedly demanded that ICF explain why only 27 families had received money from the program, when an estimated 123,000 homes need restoration.

The administration did not strongly defend the program when state lawmakers launched a blistering attack on it during a recent House and Senate committee meeting. Suzie Elkins, director of the governor's Office of Community Development, which monitors the program, said 68 of the 123,000 eligible homeowners have received grants.

Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc acknowledged that the pace is unsatisfactory.

The Associated Press says New Orleans lawmakers feel there is a lack of urgency on the part of state officials, and, according to the wire service, blame it on the fact that those officials "don't return home each day to devastated neighborhoods where people sleep in gutted homes without furniture or in rat-infested trailers."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lege questions ICF competence to handle Road Home


2theadvocate.com | AP News
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Lawmakers are looking for legal ways to oust the contractor hired by Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration to hand out recovery grants in Louisiana's "Road Home" program.

On Friday, both the House and Senate sent the governor's office similar, unanimous resolutions, directing her staff to fire ICF International Inc. - though lawmakers acknowledged they don't have the authority to order that. However, they said the resolution shows how dissatisfied they are with ICF's slow doling out of grants.


I have some posts archived somewhere that questioned whether they could do the job. I'll see if I can post links later.

Update: This article discusses their contract, and a comment cites former DHS official Michael Byrne as a key figure in gaining the contract.

This article from June 25 indicates a few facts about ICF and has some interesting links to articles about their less than spectacular performance in other projects. A comment by someone claiming to be a former employee predicts that the company will not be able to handle the contract. His/her comment: "So look for this contract to flail and fail."

This article is about the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie, which ICF was contracted to handle.

Monroe Chamber "deeply regrets" insult to Blanco.

"It's something we deeply regret," chamber president Sue Edmunds said Wednesday. "Our organization has worked very well with the governor. We have been pleased with her efforts on behalf of this community."

Dinner with Blanco was the last item up for bid at the fundraising auction last week. Edmunds said the bidding opened at $1,000 and dropped to $500 before the auctioneer accepted a $1 bid from bank executive Malcolm Maddox, a regional chairman for Capital One.

Others were trying to bid on the dinner when the bidding abruptly closed, according to Edmunds.


This indicates just how eager some right-wingers are to install one of their own in the Governor's Mansion.

BTW it's big national news, and another embarrassment for Louisiana.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Suckered. Don't trust Yahoo shops without better verification.

It's near Christmas, and I wanted to give myself a present, so I ordered a coffeemaker from ipriceshop.com (aka ismartshoppe.com). You know what comes next.
Long story short: they are a scam --- so I called my credit card company and cancelled the sale.

But why did I buy from these guys when there is evidence all over the internet saying they are frauds, you ask? Because their site lists them as a Yahoo store, and links to Yahoo. That seemed to provide some assurance that they were honest.

But be aware --- read Yahoo's terms of service. They guarantee nothing. Not even help with conflict resolution. So the logo essentially means nothing. And there's no place on the Yahoo site to register a complaint-- so you can't even report a dishonest site advertising in their name.

I guess I should have known better, but the Yahoo logo made me think the place was legit.

There was also a Bizrate logo on the site, but as I learned, that guarantees nothing as well. (Bizrate is now Shopzilla, and I'll stay away from both.)

AND on another matter, I also got suckered into using blogger.beta for this site. It offers few improvements over blogger, and makes posting through the Google toolbar or through the Firefox blog this extension more, not less, difficult.

I live and learn --- most of the time too late.

Republicans kill raise plan for teachers

Tom Tate, lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Educators, blamed House Republicans for taking a political shot at Blanco that cost public schoolteachers a $2,100 pay raise.

“I believe that, to a person, they were after Gov. Blanco,” Tate said.

“After the session, when Republican lawmakers go back to their hometowns, I think they are going to have some answering to do,” he said.

Blanco said her proposed raise could have moved the pay of public schoolteachers to the regional average, which has been a goal for years.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Headline of the year.

The Daily Advertiser - www.theadvertiser.com - Lafayette, LA:
"Raises dead; session continues"

EDIT: Wouldn't a better headline writer have pounced on "Blanco raises dead"?

They're tryin' to wash us away.

2theadvocate.com | News | Hurricane protection bill dies:
"WASHINGTON — Though Louisiana gained billions in offshore oil and gas royalty revenue at the close of Congress, it was unable to push through funding for the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection project over the objections of a lone Oklahoma senator.

U.S. Rep. Charles “Charlie” Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, were able to get partial funding of the 1,700-square-mile project approved in the House but couldn’t get it through the Senate.

Likewise, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced legislation in the Senate for full funding. U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the chief advocate of the plan, proposed a bill that would at least partly fund the project.

But in the waning hours of the Senate’s conclusion Saturday, no one was able to persuade budget hawk U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to lift his hold on any project legislation. Under Senate procedure, any senator can block legislation."
. . . . . .
"Jerome Zeringue, executive director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, called the setback “frustrating.”

Only one of two things can happen in the future, he said. “We’re either going to wash away, or Congress will authorize it and we’ll build.”"


Tom Coburn, remember that name. He's up for re-election in '08. Maybe you can jump-start his opponent's campaign with a few bucks.

Hmmmm. Two new nuclear plants. Where?

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"Entergy Corp. has filed two letters of intent to construct commercial nuclear reactors. (CityBusiness file photo)"


Anyone know any more about this?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sean Payton: good for the Saints, good for N.O.

WP: Saints’ Payton more than just the right guy - washingtonpost.com Highlights - MSNBC.com: "'At the beginning of the year we talked about the things we can and can't control,' Payton said. 'We talked about embracing some of the responsibility of trying to understand and give this city a little something to be proud of and give this city a reason to get fired up about going to work on Monday and some of the challenges -- there is still a lot to do -- and from an organizational standpoint. [Benson] was clear we want to be out in the front of the effort to rebuild this town. We want to be one of the major players in helping to rebuild this city.

'Well, the first thing we can do is begin to play better, win games and, sure, there's going to be a lot of individual efforts charitable-wise and visits and all those things, but it goes back to the football. That's something that can help, too.'

There is a very good chance the egomaniacal Parcells might not have been able to do this, or even the alternately stoic and folksy Joe Gibbs. Few men could have mixed the football and rebuilding and made it all work.

In the first hire of Mickey Loomis's career -- only the most important coaching hire anywhere in years -- he just might have gotten it right."

Monday, December 11, 2006

The choo-choo is back!!!

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"Once again the train is chugging around City Park's 2-mile track.

Square D/Schneider Electric donated a new locomotive and ADA-accessible coach to the park.

The 50 'experts' called to take the inaugural ride at noon Wednesday are first-graders at Our Lady of Divine Providence School.

Entry is via the rear entrance to the Amusement Park off Stadium Drive.

'In many ways City Park is like the little engine that could. Despite what sometimes seems like insurmountable odds, the park keeps chugging forward. We are deeply appreciative of Square D’s generosity and their donation of the new locomotive and coach,' said Bob Becker, City Park CEO."

One of my earliest happiest moments was riding on this train. Must have been fifty years ago.

US failing N.O. on human rights.

The Blog | Jeffrey Buchanan: Where is US Leadership in New Orleans on Human Rights Day? | The Huffington Post:
"While the US government's failures to respond to Hurricane Katrina have been well documented, fewer people realize its role in stopping the displaced from receiving the aid necessary to pull their lives back together to return and rebuild.

FEMA arbitrarily denied thousands of vulnerable displaced families access to housing aid until a federal judge ruled against the agency last week, describing FEMA's system for delivering aid as 'Kafkaesque', likening it to the writer's disturbing tales of horror. Still FEMA has refused the judges orders to begin payments while it mounts its appeal. Hurricane survivors, leaders from ACORN and Members of Congress like Maxine Waters (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) pressed federal officials in Washington, DC, New Orleans and Houston this week to follow the judge's orders and resume payments to save displaced survivors facing eviction.

Thousands of families have been permanently evicted from New Orleans public housing by the city's US Department of Housing and Urban Development administrator, HANO. The agency plans to use relief funds in a saddening twist to bulldoze 5,000 habitable apartments, the majority of the city's subsidized housing, senselessly denying their former tenants their right to return home. They plan to start building mixed income housing in its place with room for about 10% as many low income people, further shrinking the city's stock of affordable housing as rental prices have already risen 70% by some accounts."

Latino baby boom swamps New Orleans hospitals | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Latino baby boom swamps New Orleans hospitals | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle:
"In the latest twist to the demographic transformation of New Orleans since it was swamped by Hurricane Katrina last year, hundreds of babies are being born to Latino immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, who flocked to the city to toil on its reconstruction.

The throng of babies gurgling in the handful of operational maternity wards here has come as a big surprise — and a financial strain — to this historically black and white city, which before the hurricane had only a small Latino community and virtually no experience of illegal immigration.

'Of all the myriad things that have changed after Katrina, this wasn't high on anybody's priority list,' said Dr. Mark Peters, chief executive of East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie."


Hey, N.O. was Spanish before it was French, before it was American. Full circle.

Best. Football. Ever.

ESPN.com - NFL - Smith: Saints claim spot among NFL's best:
"And Sunday night was the Saints' graduation party. A 42-17 blowout on national television of the Dallas Cowboys (8-5), winners of four straight and five of their previous six and a popular choice as NFC's best team, makes New Orleans a certified championship contender. Not just a feel-good story but a really good team."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is N.O. the new Iraq?

Blanco wants 'exit plan' for forces:
"Blanco said she will not abandon the city, but stressed that 'I want to see a plan' from New Orleans officials for ending reliance on the state help. State Police and Guard personnel 'will be extended beyond December, but we will go month to month until I get a clear plan. . . . We want to see an exit plan,' she said."


When Nagin stands up, Blanco can stand down.

One Leander Perez legacy buried.

State takes long road to share in oil revenue:
"The quest to correct Perez's mistake came to fruition Saturday about 1:50 a.m., when the Senate, as the clock ticked toward adjournment, approved a package the House had passed just hours earlier. It allows new drilling in the Gulf and gives Louisiana and three other Gulf Coast states a share of the royalties."

Isn't it time to rename Perez Boulevard? Call it Landrieu or Jindal Street in honor of rectifying his horrible mistake.

Entrenched political corruption wins in N.O.

JEFFERSON RE-ELECTED:
"Overcoming the specter of a roiling federal corruption probe that threatened to draw the curtain on his 16-year career on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson survived the fight of his political life Saturday, easily defeating state Rep. Karen Carter to win his ninth term in the 2nd Congressional District.

Guilty pleas by aides and associates who admitted to bribing the New Orleans Democrat, and the revelation in court documents that FBI agents had found $90,000 in marked bills in Jefferson's freezer, had prompted pundits to begin inking his political obituary.

Instead, Jefferson, 59, scored a decisive win largely by routing Carter in Jefferson Parish. That may have attested less to his appeal than to the power of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, whose bitter attacks on the challenger appeared to have been a factor in sharply suppressing turnout that Carter needed, especially among white voters.

"

Thanks to Harry Lee. Maybe he can arrange a comeback for Edwin Edwards too. I'm more speechless than usual.
How much money does a guy have to keep in his freezer to be rejected by voters? How many times does he have to commandeer resources that should go to flood victims in order to check on his freezer?

A day of shame for New Orleans.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Article display page - theday.com

Article display page - theday.com:
"So in 2006, Galatoire's changed things up. People would at last be able to reserve these most coveted holiday Friday lunch tables – but for a price and to the benefit of deserving local charities. It started at Mardi Gras this year and continued again this month for the upcoming pre-Christmas Friday lunch. In both cases, the public was invited to an auction in the restaurant's dining room and with bubbling flowing freely from the sponsoring French champagne maker Veuve Clicqout they bid on the right to snag a table for the big day. Bids started at $100 a seat and rose quickly from there. For the Friday lunch before Christmas, people bid up to $1,000 for the smallest tables and over $5,000 for the largest 12-person tables. For that money they will get simply a table for lunch – the bill for the meal itself is not included – and a potential tax write-off.

The haul, by the end of an hour of champagne-fueled, fast-paced bidding was $54,000, a hefty holiday gift going entirely to the local Children's Hospital and Covenant House, a nonprofit helping children in need. Hopefully a new tradition will be born and continued for years to come.

Great idea. Maybe Antoine's can auction off one of its waiters.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh hell!!

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"An annual report released Tuesday put Louisiana at the bottom of its health rankings, while concluding that the nation's health improved slightly.

Minnesota topped the list for the fourth straight year with Vermont second, followed by New Hampshire, Hawaii and Connecticut. At the other end, Louisiana was followed by Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas."

Thank God for Mississippi.

More stupidity from FEMA

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"The Bush administration is challenging a court order requiring it to make housing payments to thousands of families whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said last week that confusing, often contradictory letters to hurricane victims from the Federal Emergency Management Agency didn't explain why housing funding was cut. He said that violated the Constitution, and he ordered the agency to restart the program immediately."

Does this make me an anti-FEMAnist?

Well, OK -- some common sense prevails.

2theadvocate.com | News | Report: Time for MRGO to go:
"The group Environmental Defense released a report urging Congress to take certain steps to control MRGO, called “Mr. Go.” It claims the channel costs taxpayers $11.8 million a year to maintain and degrades wetlands and cypress forests.

The report comes 10 days before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is to present Congress with a plan to close MRGO to oceangoing ships, if not all water traffic."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scout Prime on Levee construction

First Draft - Army Corps of Engineers slows pace on levee construction:
" That's right, the Corps of Engineers is taking a 'strategic pause' between essentially completing repair work to broken levees and 'strengthening flood protection in New Orleans' according to the NYT"


This story is all over the media now.

Benson a nice guy after all.

News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Sports | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | wwltv.com:
"Following the Saints' rout of the 49ers on Sunday, the team announced that season tickets will be available at the same per-game price for those who renew for the 2007 season."

He could have really stuck it to the fans. So this is a nice Xmas present. Way to go.

Hey, Robert, see if you can get me some seats-- I'll drive over from Lft.

Harry Lee: Still a good ole boy.

News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | wwltv.com:
"n a flyer distributed to 25,000 residents, Lee blasts comments made by Carter in Spike Lee’s Katrina documentary. In the film, Carter blasts Gretna Police and Jefferson Parish deputies for blocking the Crescent City Connection and preventing evacuees from fleeing the city. Her comments included allegations that the actions were 'inhumane and unacceptable.”"
Geez! He's still connected, isn't he. Same ole same ole. Wonder how often he visits Edwin in the pen.

Relaxed Bush breaks loose

Relaxed Bush breaks loose:
"He's a joy, all right; just ask Devery Henderson.

'I love watching him make people miss,' he said. 'I've been around some fast guys, but he's the fastest. But I will say one thing: Sometimes it's tough blocking for him, because he's so quick you don't know where he might be. But you also know, if you get just get in someone's way, Reggie might take it all the way.'"

Making me a happy boy. Big game against the Pokes coming up Sunday. On national TV.

It's about time!

2theadvocate.com | AP News:
"More than 15 months after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin is ready to open a city office to direct New Orleans' recovery, with a leading regional planner and disaster recovery expert in charge.

Ed Blakely, who helped coordinate recovery planning in California after two natural disasters and in New York City after Sept. 11, has been chosen to lead what is expected to be a five-person office and to serve as the leader for marshaling a recovery process that critics have derided as too slow."


I don't have any idea about whether Blakely is good or not, but what the hell took Nagin so long???

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The coastal restoration plan arrives

State finishes draft plan to protect coast:

"Among the larger projects in the plan are:

-- A floodgate at the Rigolets, near Slidell, and a dike stretching southwest from there down the middle of Lake Borgne to Proctor's Point in St. Bernard Parish. The intent would be to protect New Orleans and communities fronting on Lake Pontchartrain from catastrophic storm surge.

-- Essentially abandoning increased levee protection of much of Lower Plaquemines Parish for the sake of protecting areas farther up river. The state proposal calls for slicing Plaquemines into three levels of levee protection, with only the areas closest to New Orleans receiving 'Category 5' protection; areas between Oak Grove and Myrtle Grove receiving protection from a 100-year hurricane; and areas to the south of that receiving no greater protection than existed before Hurricane Katrina.

-- Closing the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, or MR-GO, the controversial 76-mile shipping channel that connects New Orleans with the Gulf of Mexico. The channel is blamed by many St. Bernard Parish residents and some hurricane protection experts for amplifying Hurricane Katrina's surge and hastening the loss of an estimated 27,000 acres of marshland that once shielded the metropolitan area's eastern flank."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

61% in St. Bernard won't rebuild

The Picayune buried the lede in a good-news article about progress on Road Home. The truth is, most won't rebuild in Plaquemines and St. Bernard.

Road Home goal may be in sight:
"But That's not the case in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, which suffered massive damage and are generally more at risk from storm surge than the rest of the region. In Plaquemines, 43 percent of applicants say they plan to rebuild, while in St. Bernard, 39 percent plan to rebuild. In Jefferson Parish, where homes tended to sustain relatively light damage, 85 percent of Road Home applicants said they intend to rebuild."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Katrina Komedy

Reuters AlertNet - FEATURE-Dark humor brightens life in battered New Orleans:
"Among the new additions to the comedy scene is a satirical newspaper, 'The New Orleans Levee,' with the motto: 'We Don't Hold Anything Back.'

The free paper pokes fun at politicians and officials who are supposed to lead the post-Katrina rebuilding effort, said publisher Rudy Vorkapic, 42.

'This isn't making fun of New Orleans. This is making fun of people who are failing New Orleans,' he said. 'This is born out of frustration.'

The latest edition features a playful story on local Congressman"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gov calls for tax breaks, pay increases for teachers

2theadvocate.com | News | Blanco calls Legislature into Dec. special session

Big pie to divide: $800 million.

New York Times continues to stand up for N.O.

Katrina’s Purgatory - New York Times: "Excuses sound hollow when you’re trapped in a flimsy trailer. For Gulf Coast residents waiting for long-promised government housing assistance, patience has given way to anger, and anguish. What is clear more than a year after Hurricane Katrina is that their needs — and the demand for action from the American public — have largely gone unmet."

MyDD blogs the Dollar Bill race.

MyDD :: LA-2: Social and Regional Divides & #3 Endorses Jefferson: "
'It's personal between her and me,' Lee said. 'I'm thinking of getting some people together who she so severely affronted by running her foul mouth. I may spend some money and get the clip of Spike Lee's film and show what she said about those of us on this side of the river.'"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wow! Sure is news to me.

New Book Details How Bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated CIA, FBI And Green Berets... | The Huffington Post:

"But the most important aspect of that plea session was what was left unsaid. In that Southern District Courtroom nearly two years before the attacks of September 11, Ali Mohamed uttered nothing on the record about his most stunning achievements: how he had slipped past a State Department watch list and into America, seduced a Silicon Valley medical technician into marriage, joined the U.S. Army, and gotten himself posted to the highly secure base where the Green Berets and Delta Force train. He didn't say a word about how he'd moved in and out of contract spy work for the CIA and fooled FBI agents for six years as he smuggled terrorists across U.S. borders, and guarded the tall Saudi billionaire who had personally declared war on America: Osama bin Laden."
. . . . . .
And yet even today, years after pleading guilty to crimes that would have ended any other terrorist's life via lethal injection, Ali Mohamed remains a legal black hole. Minutes after that hearing he was locked away, hidden from public scrutiny; It's been nearly six years and one of the discoveries made in this investigation is that Judge Sands has yet to pronounce sentence.


This ought to be a bombshell of a book. Apparently CIA leak prosecuter Patrick Fitzgerald really dropped the ball on this one. And the FBI has cloaked this case in deep secrecy.

Grisly coincidence

New Orleans coroner wants new searches for Katrina dead:

The day after Coroner Minyard,to prevent the sort of grisly discovery that happened recently in New York near the Twin Towers, calls for searches of New Orleans East, there's this headline.

Garage worker finds decomposed body in parked car

Probably not a Katrina victim. But a sad reminder.

Lafayette judge, councilman vie to see who can act more childishly.

2theadvocate.com | News | Williams attacks sentence:
"LAFAYETTE — In the past two years, 18 people have been sentenced by 15th Judicial District judges for criminal damage to property, but none received as harsh a punishment as City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, Williams’ attorney said Thursday.

Earlier this year, Williams, in an act of protest, wrote “Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive!” on the council desk with permanent marker. He was also charged with past instances of carving the desk and doodling where he sits.

Williams was sentenced by Judge Marilyn Castle to one year of supervised probation, a $1,500 fine and $60 restitution."

This is a truly stupid bit of business, originating over the question of whether to rename Willow St. after Martin Luther King, Jr. It's an issue which has unfortunately brought to the surface some ugly racist sentiments -- from both proponents and opponents of the idea.


The renaming is a good idea, in my opinion. Too bad Lafayette has to put up with some boneheads in public office.

Dardenne enphasizes savings, not vote integrity.

2theadvocate.com | News | Dardenne reorganizes state office: "Chief state elections officer Angie LaPlace will keep her $100,000-a-year job under the administration of new Secretary of State Jay Dardenne."

The article contains much information about salaries in Dardenne's office, and nothing about how he intends to deal with the nationwide concern over voting integrity. We have machines all over the state which are hackable, or stuffable. Is anyone going to do anything about it? Apparently no plans are forthcoming from Dardenne.

He ignored inquiries about the subject of voter fraud during the election. Now he's only concerned with cutting his staff. (Will that make them more or less effective in checking voting machine fraud?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And she's not the only one.

Blanco dissatisfied with pace of grants

BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday she is not satisfied with the pace of approving rebuilding grants for hurricane victims and wants solid answers from the consultant hired by the state to manage the progra

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What a week!

Democrats take House.
Rumsfeld out.
Mehlman out.
Macaca out.
Democrats take Senate.
And it all started with a great and classy Saints win.


Only regret is that a Democrat with support and endorsements did not run against Boustany. Would have won it walking away.

Anyway, after six years it's great to be part of the majority of this wonderful land.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote.

Throw the bums out.
And the gay-sex evangelists who snort crystal meth.
And gay-hating gay congressmen.
And the war apologists.
And the thieves of democracy.
And the money changers.

Add your own candidate for defeat here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bill Winter for Congress

Bill Winter is running in Colorado against Tom Tancredo, who trashed New Orleans after Katrina (see the sidebar on the right). Winter is a classy Democrat, so why not head over to his site, look him over, and donate some $$$ if you can?

Winter for Congress

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hell And Back

Just go read this. from Chris Rose, the best writer the Picayune ever had.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rodney Alexander implicated in sex scandal again.

AMERICAblog: A blog for a great nation that deserves the truth:
"Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), already enmeshed in the ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) page scandal, now faces a new controversy as a former staffer has sued his office for sexual harassment.

Elizabeth Scott, Alexander's former scheduler, claims that Royal Alexander, the Congressman's chief of staff, 'engaged in a course of misconduct' that included 'inappropriate sex-based comments, ogling and touching' and 'sexual advances,' according to Michael Hoare, Scott's attorney. Scott told the Congressman of his aide's alleged improper behavior but the Louisiana Republican took no action to correct the situation, Hoare said....
"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Your Right Hand Thief asks the right question.

Your Right Hand Thief:
"Why did Alexander's office not insist on an investigation into the allegations of inappropriate conduct between Congressmen and other pages?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A day of shame

2theadvocate.com | AP Top Stories:
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some of the most notorious names in the war on terror are headed toward prosecution after President Bush signed a law Tuesday authorizing military trials of terrorism suspects.

The legislation also eliminates some of the rights defendants are usually guaranteed under U.S. law, and it authorizes continued harsh interrogations of terror suspects."

They've just shredded the Coonstitution.

And Nedra Pickler seems pleased with it.

Say what?

LOSING CYPRESS:
"Extensive cypress logging has occurred in recent months around Lac Des Allemands in St. Charles and Lafourche parishes and in scattered sites within the Atchafalaya River Basin. Corps officials say logging is permissible in those areas."


Why are we still permitting logging of cypress forests? Ask Bob Odom.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Woohoo!

Saints are 5-1.

Sg.
Proud Saints fan for 30 years.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sad. Sad. Sad.

2theadvocate.com | AP Top Stories: "

Oct 12, 6:45 PM EDT

Nearly 3 dozen Katrina victims remain unidentified in La.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The bodies of 65 Hurricane Katrina victims, of which just half have been identified, remain unclaimed more than a year after the storm, the Orleans Parish coroner said Thursday.

In all, more than 1,300 bodies were collected in Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita battered the region last year. Of those, 33 remain unidentified as investigators exhaust DNA and other tests, said coroner Frank Minyard.

'It's getting tougher,' he said. The number of unidentified bodies continues to fall slowly; in August, there were 49."
No one to even claim the bodies.

Humane

2theadvocate.com | AP Top Stories:
"GRAY, La. (AP) -- Senior citizens seeking aid from the state's hurricane housing grant program won't be penalized if they choose to move out of state or into rental housing rather than reconstruct their damaged homes, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced Thursday.

The move exempts the elderly from a penalty that is levied against other homeowners who seek grants but don't rebuild their homes in Louisiana."

This seems like a good idea to me.

NOLA.com: Times-Picayune Updates:
"
A New Orleans judge widely criticized for granting thousands of free and reduced bail bonds to felons accused of violent crimes has been sidelined by the Louisiana Supreme Court on recommendation of its judicial disciplinary panel.

In an order issued Wednesday, the high court barred Criminal District Judge Charles Elloie from exercising 'any judicial function' pending the outcome of a continuing investigation of his conduct by the Judiciary Commission and the court.

In its recommendation, the commission said it has reason to believe that Elloie has violated the law and rules of judicial conduct and that he will continue doing so, threatening the administration of justice and the public, unless he is suspended from office. "

Some interesting articles about Republican candidates.


--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sheepish

I've been away from the blog a while. But I haven't quit. I've just been preoccupied and busy with a new school year, friends, relatives, a trip to New York, and, as of today, a teenager with pneumonia in the guest room.

getting back in the groove, I note that the bigh headlines today are that New Orleans has all the water back on, that they're replacing the street signs, and that Gov. Blanco is proposing a $100 rebate to taxpayers. All good news.

Pics of NY coming soon -- including last Friday's anti-bush demonstration and the much beloved Chrysler building.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

While Bush dithered . . .

Al Gore Quietly Funded, Facilitated Mercy Mission in New Orleans:
"At liberal blog community TPMCafe, Greg Simon, President of FasterCures, gives a fascinating account of the makeshift partnership between former Vice President Gore and FasterCures to 'to airlift approximately 270 medical patients and evacuees from the New Orleans airport to hospitals and shelters in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.'

This must-read is a factual, shocking inside-gaze at the federal 'rescue' effort. FEMA tried desperately to stop this mercy mission. ('Over the next three hours...I was called by an array of Majors and Lieutenant Commanders telling me to stop. Major Webb from GPMRC , Grant Meade from ESF. Major Lindquist from TRANSCOM all telling me they would not cooperate and they did not know how we had gotten permission to land.')

One big challenge of this mission of mercy was to obtain landing clearance in New Orleans. It took Gore's connections to make it happen. According to blogger Greg Simon, 'Sen. Barack Obama called Gore and asked how had Gore managed to land in New Orleans when the Senator had been refused landing rights to help.' "

Kinda makes me think that FEMA wanted to stop anyone from helping in N.O. Read the article at TPM Cafe, too.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Trouble for UNO

Where Y'at : New Orleans' Entertainment Monthly:
"Yet Carl A. Ventrice, Jr., an associate professor in the department of physics at UNO, and other faculty dispute such claims. Ventrice, who has accepted a position at another university beginning this fall, believes UNO could lose another 100 faculty members in a new wave of departures next year in response to the administration’s disregard of faculty tenure, academic freedom and governance through its financial exigency and restructuring plan."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Odd way to describe a politician

Bill Frist: A Doctor at Heart
Frist smiled and spoke unremarkably from the lectern, reeking of silverback testosterone.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Rising Tide Conference

Again many, many thanks to the organizers of the conference -- it was well presented and superbly organized.

Here are some squibs about what I took away from the conference:

Loudest and most applause:
Shane Landry was applauded more than once for his opinion that Louisiana should secede from the Union. "We have food and we can turn on the lights. That's all you need for a civilization."

Most emotional moment:Peggy Wilson's lengthy attack on Mitch Landrieu for vaguely defined offenses which she had heard about but couldn't go into detail on. She was very exercised on the subject, her voice was raised, and there was an obvious emotional animus. One conference organizer walked out on her when she would not clarify her accusations.


Most ill considered remark:
Someone who should have known better said "I am not interested in hearing a blogger's opinion of Bush. I want to hear about that person's daily life and struggles." (my paraphrase from memory) The arrogance of the Washington press corps touches down in N.O.

Most divisive neologism:"Carpet-blogger" I suppose I fit in that category, since I am not living in New Orleans. It makes me feel unwelcome.

Best categorization of Louisiana politicians:
"Corruption aside, they're entertainers and clowns. So when there is something serious for them to do, they are completely incompetant." Greg Peters (my very poor paraphrase.) This struck me at the truest thing I heard that day.
We elect our politicians for their entertainment value, not for their ability. I think maybe that's because we're really a colony of the US, and extractive economy, so our politicians are not really in charge of things here. The owners are, and they live out of state.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Disaster for fun and (especially!) profit.

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Disaster capitalism: how to make money out of misery:
"It's all going to be private enterprise before it's over,' Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for tropical storm Ernesto, said in April. 'They've got the expertise. They've got the resources.' But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it's time to take a look at where the privatisation of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.

The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).

We saw the results in New Orleans one year ago: Washington was frighteningly weak and inept, in part because its emergency management experts had fled to the private sector and its technology and infrastructure had become positively retro. At least by comparison, the private sector looked modern and competent."

University presidents continue to delay meeting with AAUP

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"An investigation into the layoffs of nearly 300 New Orleans-area professors was stonewalled this week when none of the university presidents would meet with the association conducting the probe.

“We hoped to interview the president of the institutions by the end of August,” said Jordan E. Kurland, associate general secretary for the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of University Professors. “But they questioned the way we wanted to proceed and proposed different procedures. They were not able to meet under our system that we’ve used for the last 80 years — and used pretty well. So we’ll likely work out something that meets both of our needs.”

The AAUP’s mission is to advance academic freedom and shared governance at colleges and universities. About 45,000 members are in the AAUP, which consists of faculty, librarians and academic professionals at two- and four-year accredited schools."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sunk!

The images below were all made in August 2006 in New Orleans. I may be able to post more later, but these show some part of what New Orleans looks like today. The two on top were taken at the Yacht Club during the Rising Tide conference last weekend. (Thanks to the organizers of that, BTW#. Great job!)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Now THIS could make a difference.

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"BATON ROUGE — 'The Road Home' pilot program began in earnest Friday as 42 applicants qualified to receive financial assistance for losses from

Hurricane Katrina totaling almost $1.5 million.

“We are off to a great start, and thousands more homeowners will be served

in the coming weeks,” said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. “The Road Home program launched the day the state of Louisiana received federal dollars for compensation. We opened 10 Housing Assistance Centers statewide this week and are closing on the first disbursement accounts in record time."
This is great news. I don't understand why it hasn't gotten more play in the media.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chalmette Rockey and his Potemkin trailer.

Attytood: "Rockey I": If it sounds too good to be true...:
"Now comes Rockey, a plain-talking character who lost it all in Katrina, who nearly died in the hurricane, forced to hang onto a rope for four hours (some of that was captured on film), and now wants to government to do more for Katrina victims. And what a difference a year makes -- not only did Bush, not in Crawford but hard at work in the White House, meet with this 'average American,' but check out the glowing praise our president received in return."
. . . .

This guy is a symbol of the misery that so many people in Louisiana and Mississippi? If we didn't know any better, this couldn't have been more of home run for Bush if the whole thing had been set up by Karl Rove.

Hmmmmm...

In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.

And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ugly rumor out of Houston.

I'm hearing rumors about a very bad situation in Houston, involving elderly Katrina evacuees. Charges include negligence, fraud, embezzlement. Some elderly people, helpless and weak, are being exploited by FEMA sub-contractors. Some have died.

And this only took a year. Imagine that.

CNN.com - Gonzales vows federal aid to fight New Orleans crime - Aug 22, 2006: "Gonzales said he will immediately send 10 federal prosecutors from other locations to New Orleans to help prosecute federal firearms-, drug- and immigration-related violations.

The temporary assignment of prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington and other locations is designed to provide needed assistance until nine assistant U.S. attorneys can be hired, trained and placed in the New Orleans office, he said Monday."

More FEMA crap.

Mayor: B.R. is doormat for feds: "Holden told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not fully reimbursed the city for expenses it incurred last year in housing up to 15,000 Katrina evacuees, about 5,000 alone in the RiverCenter, a downtown Baton Rouge convention and performance facility. Aides said the city has sought more than $27 million in federal money and has received $23.9 million so far."

The Cajundome in Lafayette hasn't been paid yet either.

What?! We have to understand WHAT?!! It was a huge storm? No shit!

Bush repeats pledge to aid recovery: "'I also want the people down there to understand that it's going to take a while to recover. This was a huge storm,' Bush said at a Washington news conference, where he also asked for patience in dealing with the escalating violence in Iraq."

Spike Lee's Requiem: When the Levees Broke

Watch it. Make copies. Send them to your friends who don't have HBO.

It's important.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Jefferson took gifts from Jackson while plotting to take away his company.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 08/20/2006 | Behind the cash in the freezer:
"Jefferson seemed to work as hard for iGate as if he were the owner of the company. He went to Louisville for demonstrations. He pressed the Army to test the technology for use by the military, introduced Jackson to political and business stars, including Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, and went with Jackson to Nigeria to help sell his product. Jefferson even found an investor willing to put millions of dollars into iGate.

At the time of the U.S. Open, Jackson might have appeared cocky about his important supporter. What he didn't realize was that the congressman, while appearing to help, was stealing his company, piece by piece.

And Jackson was paying him to do it.

That, at least, is the view of FBI investigators and federal prosecutors, who have recounted secret meetings in Washington and Louisiana where Jefferson plotted to take over the company from Jackson -- a man he didn't think was up to making the company a success."

Good article on Bush attempt to pre-empt state governors power over National Guard.

The Daily Advertiser - www.theadvertiser.com - Lafayette, LA:
"BATON ROUGE - To Tulane historian Doug Brinkley, the crucial moment in post-Hurricane Katrina politics occurred Sept. 2 when Gov. Kathleen Blanco refused to relinquish control of the Louisiana National Guard to President Bush.

'It's such a big moment, the Blanco-Bush moment,' said Brinkley, the author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 'Gov. Blanco did absolutely the right thing. She stood up to the president's attempt to take over the National Guard.'

A year later, the president again is trying to take over the National Guard, and not only Louisiana's, but any state's."
. . . . . .

U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, said he could see both sides of the argument, but he favors removing the takeover provision.

"I can understand the governors' concerns," Alexander said. "I can understand the president's concern."

The takeover could be dangerous "if you had a president who would be ruthless," Alexander said.
Gee! A ruthless president?? That could never happen.

NO free of contamination

Final EPA report deems N.O. safe:
"The hurricane didn't cause any appreciable contamination that wasn't already there,' said EPA toxicologist Jon Rauscher. 'There are exceptions like Murphy Oil and some localized events like that. But on a broad scale, across New Orleans, the hurricane didn't cause any appreciable change. At this point we don't envision any more broad testing.'"

An entire generation of leadership fails N.O.

Who's to Blame for State of New Orleans? - Forbes.com: "
But the roll of those accused of failing New Orleans is a long one: State and local officials who had no good plan for the disaster, and now preside over a languid recovery. A president who at first seemed remote from the cataclysm, and then made promises that have not been fully realized.

So many did not live up their responsibilities, says G. Paul Kemp, a Louisiana State University engineer and member of Team Louisiana, a group of forensic engineers examining how the flooding occurred. Every time anyone points that out, 'people say, `Oh, we don't want to play the blame game. We've got to get things moving.''

But things are moving agonizingly slow. Piles of debris and wrecked cars are everywhere, and astonishingly, searchers were still finding bodies in ruined homes just weeks ago.

Harried recovery officials say it's only been a year. How much can you expect?

But to Lakeview resident Pascal Warner - who walks through clouds of mosquitoes attracted by a neighbor's fetid, sludge-covered swimming pool still filled with stagnant Katrina floodwater - a year seems like a pretty long time.

'I wouldn't want to spend a year in jail,' the retired stagehand says. 'Would you?' "

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lafayette needs toll roads on new construction.

2theadvocate.com | News | Toll road supporters blast Vitter:
"Supporters of a proposed toll road loop around Lafayette gave U.S. Sen. David Vitter an earful Thursday for his adamant opposition to tolls on highways in the state.

Vitter’s stance drew much attention earlier this month when the Republican senator accused Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration of quietly seeking federal permission for tolls on Interstates 10 and 12."

And New Orleans would benefit as well. The completion of I-49 link from Lafayette to New Orleans would create another new evacuation route for N.O., as well as for most of the southern part of the state. But apparently there's no money in the highway fund for the completion of the link. One solution would be a toll on part of the highway. Vitter didn't seem to be opposed to that idea, but according to this article he left some angry skeptics in his wake in Lafayette.

Jon Stewart's Daily Show says Hezbollah to rebuild N. O.

The Daily Show: August 17, 2006 - TV Squad:
"'Hezbollah might be a ragtag group of undereducated extremist militiamen, but at least they're not FEMA.'"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lee and NAACP on "black on black" crime

News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News | wwltv.com:
"No matter how you cut it, whether it’s a racist statement or not, in Jefferson Parish the murder rate is going out of site because our young black people are killing each other,” said Lee in a press conference he called to address the soaring crime rate.

Lee said the majority of shootings are young African-American males shooting each other over drugs.

The Louisiana NAACP, which has at times found itself at odds with Lee, said it couldn't argue with the statistics. Dannatus King, the head of the local group said the NAACP is fed up with black on black crime and would help neighborhoods organize in attempts to combat it."

Blanco, Vitter on same page.

2theadvocate.com | AP Top Stories:
"Blanco, as part of a campaign to get the state a bigger share of federal offshore royalty money, filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal Minerals Management Service has not done enough to protect Louisiana's wetlands from damage from drilling. As part of the suit, she sought an order blocking Wednesday's sale.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt on Monday refused to block the sale. But he also said the state would have a strong case when the dispute goes to trial in November.

That led U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, to say Tuesday that the Bush administration should delay the sale until the legal uncertainties are resolved."

Introducing Pandora

Self portrait

Saturday, August 12, 2006

THIRD BATTLE: Very little of N.O. is "10 feet below sea level"

In fact, almost half of N.O. is above sea level.


THE THIRD BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS: If You Tell a Lie Big Enough and Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It PART 2: Utah Senator Bob Bennett: "
Three weeks ago Utah Senator Bob Bennett, who has yet to visit New Orleans or the any of the Gulf Coast post-KTMB, made the following public statement concerning the rebuilding of the city:

'Building a city ten feet below sea level does not strike me as inherently, basically a good idea ... '

THE LIE: New Orleans is a city situated ten feet below sea level.

THE TRUTH: The City of New Orleans is not 'built' ten feet below sea level."
This is a great post. I'm sorry I missed it when it first appeared.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Who is the Louisiana for American Security PAC?

And why are they giving money to a race in Georgia?

Boustany fails to get info from FEMA

2theadvocate.com | News | FEMA to Boustany: Nothing:
"Congressman Charles Boustany Jr. said Tuesday that his call for information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is still being met with silence and he is not happy about it."

So what's he going to do?

Boustany said he will not file suit for the information, which he believes is not protected under federal public records law, because he does not believe that would be productive.

Good work.

Hey, he's not just unhappy. He's angry! Anhd he's going to write a letter about it.

Entergy dodging its responsibility.

Entergy Corp. is raking in millions supplying power to New Orleans' suburbs and three other states, so why can't it use that money to help out its customers in Katrina-devastated N.O.?:
"Despite asking for millions of dollars from New Orleans customers and the federal government to rebuild its shattered electric and gas system, Entergy Corp. on Tuesday reported millions in profits for the third quarter in a row since Hurricane Katrina struck.

Though its earnings were slightly down from last year, Entergy Corp. reported earning $282 million between April and June on revenue of $2.63 billion. Why, then, is the company's subsidiary, Entergy New Orleans, asking for rate increases of at least $45 per month per customer, and why is Entergy Corp. taking the firm stance that it can't help bail out its hurricane-ravaged subsidiary and instead is asking for federal aid of $718 million?

'Rain or shine, Entergy has made money from New Orleans. This year it and its parent company has profited again. Isn't it time they gave something back?' said Betty Wisdom, a member of the board of directors for the Alliance of Affordable Energy."

Two houses in Chalmette




Only a block apart.

This is really sad

I hope this guy gets some help and recovers. He's sacrificed a lot.

Photographer for 'Times-Pic' Arrested As He Begs Cops to Kill Him:
"Published: August 09, 2006 12:25 PM ET

NEW YORK A photographer for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans who has undergone severe personal trauma since Hurricana Katrina hit was arrested Tuesday after trying to get police to shoot him to death. Police said he claimed he was depressed after he found out he didn't have enough insurance money to rebuild his Katrina-damaged home.

They said he was seeking 'suicide-by-cop,' but police who found him tasered him instead.

Earlier published accounts had revealed that he had recently taken a leave of absence from the paper and was undergoing therapy.

John McCusker, the photographer, was being held under psychiatric observation and faces unspecified charges.

He had been one of the paper's key photographers in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. 'Katrina didn't flood New Orleans - government failure did,' he told visiting students from Brown University recently."
One policeman said "he sees it [mental damage from Katrina] all the time now."

Excellent!

Central Florida Hurricane Center 2006: "This year has been quite a contrast to last year, in that systems have been slow to develop, and when they do, not holding together or becoming very strong. Lets hope this trend continues for the rest of the season."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lamont wins

Lieberman to run as independent. Bad move.

Stomach virus

Don't get it. It's awful.

But that's why I haven't been much on posting the last few days.

LBJ vs. Bush-- very revealing

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"When Johnson landed in New Orleans the evening of Sept. 10, he went to Washington High School on St. Claude Avenue where many had sought shelter.

Johnson's White House "Daily Diary" describes the scene.

"It was a mass of human suffering. Calls of 'water, water, water' were resourced over and over again in terribly emotional wails from voices of all ages. The people all about were bedraggled and homeless ... thirsty and hungry. It was a most pitiful sight of human and material destruction."

Hardesty remembers Johnson reaching out to the thirsty crowds.

"People were in the shelter and he asked what they needed and they said, 'We need water.' He looked at the officials and said, 'You have a Coca-Cola bottling plant here, don't you?' They said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'You have a 7-Up bottling plant here, don't you?' They said, 'Yeah.' Then he said, 'For God's sake go out there get some soda and bring it back here.'""

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Allstate gambled on Louisiana. . . and lost.

NOLA.com: NewsFlash - Not buying reinsurance for Louisiana cost Allstate $2 billion:
"BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Allstate Insurance Co. bought reinsurance to cover some of the cost of policies all along the East Coast last year, but not for Louisiana — a gamble that cost it $2 billion in claims.

The company's models did not predict a hurricane hitting Louisiana, attorney Edward Collins told a joint legislative insurance committee last week. It did buy reinsurance in Texas and Florida, as well as New York and other Eastern states, he said.

'You didn't take care of your business, so the citizens of Louisiana have to pay for your mistake?' asked Sen. Don Cravins, D-Opelousas. 'Now that you've had a loss, you put the burden on the backs of Louisiana citizens to pay for your shortcomings.'"
Cravins tells it like it is. They gambled, lost, and now want someone else to cover their markers.

Bye bye Chris (we hope)

2theadvocate.com | News | TD Chris to dissipate over Cuba:
"Tropical Depression Chris, which earlier this week was predicted to become the first hurricane of the 2006 season and threaten the Gulf of Mexico, is now expected to dissipate over Cuba today."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Blanco stands up to Bush's power grab, again.

Way to go Governor. Governors bristle at Bush Guard proposal - Yahoo! News:
"CHARLESTON, S.C. - The nation's governors are closing ranks in opposition to a proposal in Congress that would let the president take control of the National Guard in emergencies without consent of governors.

The idea, spurred by the destruction and chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina's landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi, is part of a House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act. It has not yet been agreed to by the Senate.

The measure would remove the currently required consent of governors for the federalization of the Guard, which is shared between the individual states and the federal government.

'Federalization just for the sake of federalization makes no sense,' said Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, a Democrat who had rough relations with the Bush administration after the disaster last year. 'You don't need federalization to get federal troops. ... Just making quick decisions can make things happen.'"
Bush is never satisfied, no matter how much power he snatches. Whatever happened to conservatives' concern for states' rights?


Yeah, I know, that was just coded racism anyway.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Church sign -- altered.



This sign in front of a Ninth Ward church says "Aug us t 28/ Pastor nnvers???" It looks like it was put up the day before Katrina. Or has someone re-arranged the letters?

A Little Church in the Ninth


It seems so strange that everything is so green, and that there is virtually no noise and very few people on the streets.

House + Truck?




When we stopped to photograph this scene, at least three vans and two cars also stopped at about the same time. The kids in the picture are from a youth group that is cleaning up the neighborhood.