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.


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.

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 ( Consumers can access the free tier by logging onto the Web site 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,
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 | 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 (aka 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 - - 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. | 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 - Highlights - "'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 | - Houston Chronicle

Latino baby boom swamps New Orleans hospitals | - 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. - 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.

"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 -

Article display page -
"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. | 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 |
"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 |
"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! | 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???