Friday, March 30, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An old friend is gone

My friend of 25 years, David Thibodaux, died in a traffic accident on Saturday. He did a lot of good things, we had a lot of friendly disagreements over politics, but I will remember always his great idea for the "Louisiana Mold and Mildew Festival." It never got off the ground, but it really sounded like fun. It may be just the thing for us right now.

I'll miss the guy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My theory about ICFU

Here it is, take it for what it's worth.

The day after the announcement the stock of the company (ICFI) that was running the Road Home Program, and failing, jumped 15 %-- to an all time high. Stockholders were figuring either one of two things: 1. That Blanco was holding their feet to the fire and cutting into their profits. or 2. That now that they had done the dirty work for the Bushies they would be rewarded with nice fat federal contracts. Maybe a little of both. But I hold with the second. The stalling by ICFI was calculated from the beginning. ICFI, headed by Washington insiders from FEMA and Homeland Security abetted by the feds, to sabotage the program long enough for Jindal to defeat Blanco. The most recent example of fed interference was the HUD roadblock which sabotaged that Louisiana's plan to have the reconstruction money put into escrow accounts instead of awarding a lump sum. HUD found an obscure regulation to monkeywrench a policy that had been in place and announced for more than a year. They said they just found out about it. Yeah, right. An article in the Picayune this morning said that the HUD move was the last straw for Kathleen. She knew then that the feds would never open the spigot on the money till she was out of office. And now that Blanco is out, ICFI stands to get a windfall in federal contracts from this administration.

When The Advertiser interviewed Blanco, and she said that she should have changed her party to Republican immediately after Katrina. Then the recovery would have been no sweat. She's right.

Yeah, sure. It's not all their fault.

It's just 99% their fault.

A day after Louisiana scientists said decades of mistakes by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led to the floods that filled New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the corps said it has found many of the same problems but can't be blamed for everything.

"We have not read the entire 480-page Team Louisiana report," began a news release e-mailed Thursday by the corps. "However, after initial review of media reports and the executive summary, the Corps does not agree with any assertion that USACE is solely responsible for the events of Hurricane Katrina.

HUD gave the coup de grace to Blanco.

The Governor had been in serious trouble for months, mostly because of the slow response of the Road Home program. Money was snagged for months by ICFI (run by former FEMA and Homeland Security officials) At the point when it seemed that money might be starting to flow for the recovery, HUD refused to approve the safeguards the state had built into the program to assure that the money would be spent on recovery, and not on anything else (Remember those $2000 credit cards the feds gave out after Katrina--- used for strippers and beer in some cases. The state required escrow accounts for the Road Home money to prevent those abuses.)

But the final straw came Friday, when federal Housing and Urban Development officials criticized the way the state was distributing aid through installments from escrow accounts and urged the state to begin making lump-sum payments to homeowners who have applied for assistance from the Road Home program.

HUD claimed that it had not known about the requirements until now. Yeah, right, then how come I and everyone else in Louisiana has known about them for more than a year? Was there politics involved in the timing of this? Ya think? Maybe someone at HUD thought this might somehow benefit the Administration? Ya think? Does this maybe validate Blanco's charge that the Bush administration has been playing politics with the recovery effort? Ya think?

So maybe the BIG jump in ICFI's stock market price came as stockholders realized that ICFI was in for some big rewards for defeating Blanco in the form of fat new contracts from the Feds. Ya think?

Just another day on Wall Street?

The day after Kathleen Blanco's announcement that she wouldn't run for a second term, ICFI's stock jumped more than 15%. It's biggest jump ever. An all-time high. What exactly does that mean?

To me it seems that the ICFI insiders and stockholders figure that they will get a better deal under a new governor (are they betting on Jindal?) -- even though I don't think that Blanco has been particularly tough on them considering their dismal performance so far. Anyway, I don't believe that what's good for ICFI stockholders is good for Louisiana. New Orleans, beware.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh, THOSE pumps. . .

This really gives me confidence in the Corpse. I don't know why they didn't just hire Halliburton for the job.. But I guess that Jeb deserves a break too.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush's promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
. . . . . . . . .

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved.

Because of the trouble with the New Orleans pumps, the Corps has withheld 20 percent of the MWI contract, including an incentive of up to $4 million that the company could have collected if it delivered the equipment in time for the 2006 hurricane season.

The state panel on Katrina failures has slammed the Corps of Engineers HARD. This is likely to have a big effect on those thousands of lawsuits filed against the Corps last week.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Picayune interactive graphics explain Louisiana's land loss.

Maybe New Gingrich, Denny Hastert and Tom Tancredo (all critics of New Orleans during Katrina) would benefit by learning a little something about the horrendous loss of land which has already taken place in Louisiana, by looking at this wonderful site put together by the Times Picayune and Dan Swenson.

Then maybe they'll understand why we have only about 10 years to do something about it.

But they probably won't do wither one-- since they want to blame the victims and take the responsibility off the Republican Party, George Bush, and his Administration of the Federal Government.

Good news from ICFI for a change.

ICFI almost meets its projected goal for the month. Its stock soars in an otherwise down market.
Is the Road Home now an open road-- some investors seem to think so. We'll see.

It's silly season.

Beware of presidential candidates who hate N.O.
I knew there was more than one reason for hating Newt.