Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NBC Nightly News Watch and my taxes

Last night on NBC, they ran the story linked in the title about the amount of money that actually gets to people who were hammered by Katrina. The Bush-Clinton Katrina fund is going to give money to Louisiana. Can that money be used to pay the FEMA bill (whatever the audit says we owe)? And then I want to understand this - the government which we pay for with our taxes, can't help pay for the destruction brought on by a hurricane but private financial contributions once they have been filtered through the process of philanthropy and have been reduced further because of salaries and expenses can? Sure there's a system.

I would love to see how my money is broken down into taxes. I mean, I get paid amount X. The government takes 33 percent or so. There are state income taxes - whatever percent that comes to (5?). Then there is city tax - at least here there is. 1 percent. Then I pay sales tax - 6 percent on the dollar. What is the tax on my phone, gas, cable, etc? Looks to me like I get to keep around 50% of my money. So if I make 50K every year, I actually get to spend 25K on what I want? The rest goes to government in some form or another. And there's not enough to fund every project that people come up with. Whatever happened to saving some for a rainy day (or a blustery, rainy, hurricany day in New Orleans that caused the levees to break)? How about a little fiscal responsibility after you clean up the mess you created in NOLA with the ineptitude of the Army Corps of Engineers. Thanks.

Looking forward to playing the State of the Union Drinking game tonight.

"We were not prepared for this."

William Lokey, chief of FEMA's operations branch, said this. No shit.

State Government does something right!

The headline says that the state intends to audit FEMA before paying money. After yesterday's story that the US LOST millions of dollars in Iraq, I say that this is a positive development. Unless it ends up that we owe more money. In that case, we can tell them we are sending the money but then leave it in the bank for a few days before sending back to the citizens of Louisiana in tax cuts since we can't identify any specific federal needs, the money hasn't been earmarked for a particular project, and things seem dangerous in Washington. Emails months later will reveal that we royally screwed up, but state officials will refuse to turn over documents relating to this case and since there is no accountability at any level of government, the issue will be dropped.


Canals have to drain the city. Looks like they are going to be fighting against themselves.

Both sides of the equation. They are only fixing the inflow problem. What about the fact that the city needs to drain because it's below sea level and water accumulates. Are they trying to avoid flooding or just minimize it? What if it's a slow moving rain drenching storm? Then what?

How about thinking through the problem and move the damn pumps out to the lake. Then you won't have 4 manmade sea level tidal estuaries (bayous) and the miles of levees (sic) on either side (which, of course, increases the chance of failure). If you eliminate 30 miles of inland levees, you may eliminate some of the potential problems of failure. It seems to me that one pumpstation/floodgate would be less likely to fail than 30 miles of shoddily constructed levees with "floodwalls" on top of them. But what do I know? I am just a Latin teacher. Not an engineer.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Joe is the man

I think Joe Liebermann (D-Conn) is my hero.

I need to read more about his comments on the 800,000 pages of documents that have been handed over to the Senate (but not, apparently, including the documents that pertain to the presidential response because he refuses to release them) to investigate the governments response to Katrina. While they were certainly overwhelmed, their response was nothing short of inept. And so was everyone else's. I hope that Joe reads every freaking page. There are lots of new a-holes to be ripped, I bet. I would love to get my hands on that report...

Terrorists bombed the World Trade Center. How much the people in charge knew about what was going to happen or how much they could have done to stop it is moot. Hurricane Katrina was predicted and predictable and the levees that the metropolitan New Orleans area depends on were subpar, substandard and ineffective. It is this blogger's opinion that the feds knew that. To know that you have put a major metropolitan area at significant risk is unconscionable, especially when you claim that the protection is in place. To add insult to injury, the feds, after the expected failure of said protection, call off rescue missions, leave help sitting around, and come a week too late. Was this all Mike Brown? Were the effects of Katrina that devastating? Apparently not since help was available. How can help be available and then not used when you have people around the world staring at reporters, actors, and citizens on their tvs.

So my question at the this point is really how much of this is really going to make a difference to New Orleans now? Is the government going to admit its response was so pathetic and apathetic that everyone will be entitled to a new home or cars or job or life?

At the end of the article, Bill Frist said that the Senate is going to pledge well over $100 billion. Well, we haven't accounted for the $85 billion.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On God, Nature, and Government

This morning on nola.com I read that the 172 miles of canals in New Orleans were designed to essentially fail despite any and all reassurance from governmental agencies. No one checked the previous works or investigated the history of the canal system in a long time. The failure spans centuries and several agencies. Do we blame them all or just the two most modern incarnations - the Army Corps of Engineers and the Orleans Levee Board? Seems like there is a lot of blame to be spread around.
But it had also become one of the most dangerous. The seeds for that failure had been sowed by the hubris of city planners who attempted to use the system to change the city’s ecosystem, by the wave of political entities created to help manage the system and by some simple engineering oversight.

God loves hubris. Nature loves weakness and inaction. And humans love beauracracy. All things tend toward entropy, right?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Voodoo Dolls

Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Voodoo Arena Football team, announced in September that the Voodoo will not be playing in the 2006 season. That I understand. But the last announcement was made in September. What is going on with the New Orleans Arena? When will the Hornets return? What about the world famous New Orleans Brass ECHL Hockey team? Will any of these distractions and attractions return to New Orleans?

UPDATE: I just checked NOLA.com which has an article which suggests that, in fact, the New Orleans Arena will host the Hornets for a 3 game stint beginning March 8. The major concern for the team is the attendance which the NBA and commissioner Stern think can not be supported by the current population of New Orleans. Understandably. Now, to find out what will happen to the Voodoo and Brass.

NBC News

I can't find the quotes or the exact story, but I was watching Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News on Wednesday. He is one of the good guys in the media in my opinion because he won't let the destruction of New Orleans just go away. He is doing his job. Apparently people are writing to NBC telling them that they are tired of the Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans story. His response to this people was great and essentially was "This is a big story. And the country is in danger of losing one of its major cities, so we are going to keep reporting on what happens. We read your letters, but you are wrong." Thanks, Mr. Williams. And keep up the good work.

On MSNBC.com, I found the transcript by Brian Williams and stole it out right:

I wrote the following for broadcast tonight. We have omitted the names from the e-mails, and they are just a representative sample of what we receive every day:

A necessary word about our coverage of the storm zone— specifically, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the City of New Orleans. Lately, a lot of viewers have felt the need to tell us what they think of our coverage, and we like that and we read them all. And while most of the e-mails we get are from folks wanting to thank us for our coverage, an increasing number do not.

Here are just a few from the past few days:

A viewer in Houston writes, “I was very saddened by the damage caused by the hurricane and certainly support the re-building of New Orleans... but can’t we give this a rest?”

Another viewer writes: “I’m getting just plain sick and tired of hearing the constant drumbeat about New Orleans...”

Still another is even more direct: “ENOUGH. We’re sick and tired of 'the long road back.'"

Again, that’s the minority view, but enough people feel that way to prompt us to say the following:

Our Katrina coverage started before Katrina arrived on shore. We were in the Superdome for the storm, and then watched what happened in New Orleans during that awful week. We have gone back many times, including this past Monday, and we’ve gone to Mississippi. We’ve covered the struggle in Florida and along the Texas coast, as we cover any event that causes human suffering.

Katrina is different. Katrina displaced 2 million Americans. It destroyed 350,000 homes. Not all the bodies have yet been found. It exposed cracks in our society, and it has us talking about race and class, and money and relief. It affected what we pay for gas, and may affect what we pay in taxes. It literally re-arranged the map of the Gulf Coast. There are many heroes, but no one villain.

Tonight, one of the great American cities is partially in ruins, and many of our fellow citizens are hurting and have nothing left. In some places, nothing’s been done yet.

And so, while we are reading the mail, we also have a job to do. And a big story to cover. Along with the news around the nation and the world each day, we intend to keep covering it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bush did what?

I am not investigated this completely or read all that I need to read about this situation, but I am confused by a couple of things that the executive branch has done in the last two days.

1. The President has refused the Baker Bill which would buyout homes that were destroyed at 60% of their Pre-Katrina value claiming that this bill is too expensive. Instead, he wants people to apply for 6 billion in grants. Have the people of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast not had to endure enough without having to deal with more federal paperwork and beauracracy? I don't ever think that dumping money on a problem solves it, but, Jesus, can't we eliminate some of the b.s. already?

2. The White House is refusing to turn over documents related to the federal response to the Post-Katrina disaster citing executive privilege. If there is nothing to fear, turn over the documents, Mr. President. Sure, your private conversations are privileged, but your response and the response of the government is a public issue. If you know something beyond anyone's worst nightmares was happening, and you did not act in a timely manner, you deserve to be vilified and/or impeached. I have read Marty Bahamonde's emails to Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown, and I can't believe that you didn't know what was going on. I can't believe that you, as leader of the Free World, did not see reports on the news of the dire situation at the Superdome and Convention Center. I can't believe that you came and told the people New Orleans that you would do what it takes to make things right. If you are that removed from the pulse of the nation, you should be removed from office.

I am glad that you were able to see the wonderfully beautiful parts of New Orleans, Mr. President. They are indeed looking good. Now, have your people take you to the Lower Ninth Ward (which looks almost like it did 5 months ago) or New Orleans East (which is beyond description) or anywhere in St. Bernard Parish (where houses had water over the roofs and an oil spill to destroy that which was not flooded). I am glad you came and talked. But stop the political maneuvering and double speak and start demanding things get fixed. And then provide for that with monetary support and positive guidance. Jerk.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Two Types of People

In New Orleans these days, there seems to be two kinds of people whom you can tell apart by looking at them. There are those who got flooded and those who didn't.

The people who got flooded understandably seem to desperate, lost, and confused. For the most part, they have lost much of their lives and there is little certainty in anything. Should we rebuild or move? Should we gut the house and repair it or raise it? Is the insurance coming or not? Should we sue the government or protest for better protection? Each accomplishment is daunting, exhausting, and major. The inner strength and resolve is beyond my comprehension. Just driving around and helping the few people that I was able to help may have broken me. You just get numb.

The people who did not get flooded look like the clown who is smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. The smile is vacant, and they know that luck is a strange creature. How close was Uptown to getting it? How many blocks of the city were left dry or untouched? What parts of Metairie and Kenner didn't get flooded? Do those elevation maps mean anything anymore? Magazine Street stirs, but it is uncomfortable stretching its legs. The "sliver by the river" indeed.

nola.com had a great article today about the levees on the lake versus the levees on the river. Clearly the construction was different, but interestingly the only part of the river levees that failed was the part that had the "I" floodwalls. Who saw that coming? A levee system that protects against the maximum possible hurricane is needed which we can probably all agree on (no matter the cost because if this happens again the cost will be even more astronomical.)

But, and as hard as it is to do for those who are dealing with their own loss and problems, people need to keep thinking about the future. The future of their own lives, their families, and their neighbors. I know I don't live there anymore, but I consider everyone in the New Orleans area my neighbor, brother, and friend. We need to think about each other. And we need to start thinking about how we can come back better and stronger and show the world that we know what we are doing.

People live in New Orleans for all kinds of reasons - some are better than others, but all are valid. The attitude, the music, the food, the people, the parties, career, whatever. It is so important that the world have a place like New Orleans. Why? Precisely that we are unique. We do things our own way, we call things different names than anyone else in the world, we eat food that no one considers food, we dance when the spirit moves us, and we live to love and love to live. Where else in the world can say all those things? (Not Easton, PA, that's for sure!) All the cultural nuances, the joie de vivre, and hope for the future are important. Remember them. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Stay strong, everyone. Please, I am begging you - don't let the FEMA and insurance and corps of engineers bastards get you down. The rest of the world needs you to succeed (if you don't buy into that, at least know that I need you to.)


Things started slowly. I got up early and had beignets in the Metairie Cafe du Monde. It was busier than I have ever seen it. But beignets are good food and it was worth the wait. I headed out to New Orleans East to see if anyone needed help. Just off Morrison Rd. I drove up and down the neighborhoods to see if anyone was working and needed a set of free hands for a few hours. I had a trunk full of water to give out and some money in my wallet for food or drink. I met David and his wife who had had their house gutted out last week. They looked beaten but determined. The rest of the neighborhood was completely deserted. The houses and cars were utterly destroyed as things were elsewhere in the city, but it just looked worse here for some reason. I don't know why.

I drove down by the Lakefront Airport (what a mess) and ran into some people who were cooking food. I gave them my water and money to go buy hamburgers with the direction that they must give the food away. There can be no charge. I didn't go back to check, but they were from Atlanta (Pam and Larry) and were trying to feed those who were working on their homes. I hope they did as I asked because to me it is really important that people help each other.

As I drove up Franklin, I turned into a neighborhood and asked a man if anyone needed help. His name was Richard. He told me someone down the block was working on his house, but there was no one there. We went to his house and just chatted. His grandson is playing basketball now in Longview, TX and had an article written about him in the paper. He was so proud. He had taken his insurance money and bought his house. No more mortgage. And he had gutted it and was waiting for his trailer so he could get to work. He took me in to show me. Nothing but the studs were left. He has great plans to move walls and make some new space. I am going back to help him in March. Why does this man not have a trailer? Why is there no power on in his neighborhood? He is one of the good guys, and he has a lot of fight left in him. He was drinking Budweiser tall boys which he said he knows is bad but "if he doesn't, there is all kinds of turmoil in my mind." I had one with him so we could keep talking.

I left there and drove through Lakeview. No one was working much because of the weather, but I did stop and talk to John. He was cleaning up some rotten plants from the backyard and cleaning his porch. He had moved to Madisonville and was going to keep his house as a rental. He has no plans to move back. His child has special needs, and his family can get better care for her across the lake. So it goes.

Rain was coming, and most people had quit their work by one o'clock. I headed home to help my mom with her house. She seems so content right now with things the way they are - no carpet, cabinets with no faces, raw sheetrock with spackle showing, lights out, dust everywhere, furniture in the wrong rooms stacked on top of itself. The house is livable - there are two functioning bathrooms, and the kitchen works. It's not the best way to live, but it is doable for a while. She has big plans and is just taking her time, I guess. It would drive me insane, but I think it may work better for her to deal with it in small pieces.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Today started slowly. On my way out to the rally, I stopped at PJs in the Clearview Shopping Center for a cup of iced coffee. My friend from yesterday called. She was sad and wanted her guitar and a computer. She really felt sad. I had offered her money yesterday which she refused. And she said she didn't want it today. But she missed her guitar. So since I have an extra guitar, I am bringing it in March, and I will see if I can round up a computer for her from school. I ran into one of my mom's friends who was chatting with one of her friends. I asked if she needed any help, but she is caught between having work done and getting her insurance money. They are fighting her tooth and nail all the way for every penny which to some extent is their unfortunate and thankless job. We then turned to evacuation day on August 28. She began to cry when she realized that she had lost all the pictures of her daughter. I feel bad, but I got the sense that this kind of breakdown occurs frequently.

Because of the crappy weather, I went to Target to get a raincoat and a poster for the rally.

I went to pick up my buddy to work today. He and his family packed their car and I went over to the Black and Gold Sports Shop. I picked up a New Orleans Voodoo hat (what is going on with them anyway?) and a green fleur de lis Saints shirt.

We had trouble parking for the rally on the levee, but got out there just after 11:30. (I thought it was starting at 11?) It seemed to be wrapping up. I think that it was an opportunity to get people who want to do something on TV. The somethings tend to be things that don't make much sense to me. One guy thinks the plan to rebuild New Orleans is flawed intrinsically and want it back just as it was - projects and crime and criminals and all. I think this is an opportunity to do something great, so I didn't care for his opinion. But I listened. He was recruiting people for his cause. I did see an old teacher acquaintance from my old school down here, so that was nice. Met up with Dillyberto and Oyster on the levee. I wish him and his family well. I don't know how they can endure it, but I hope they do. New Orleans needs people like him. After everyone left, we shucked oysters and grilled them up. The things you miss when you don't live here...

As the coals had burnt out,we decided we either needed to gut a house or drink beer. We choose to drive down to the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette via Magazine. Lots of traffic, lots of things back (like the Popeyes near Napoleon! Yeah!) I wanted to talk to some people at Aidan Gill about some stuff and maybe buy a t-shirt somewhere. I ended up buying some art of Wal-Mart shopping carts where they had been left by looters. Interesting stuff. Dillyberto bought me a Defend New Orleans shirt and I bought myself the "Make Levees, Not War"at Metro3. Great place. I also like the "Let's Mess With Texas" shirts.

We drove down Rampart St and to St. Claude. Down Franklin and right on North Robertson. Over the bridge and into utter and complete destruction. I have pictures that I will post at some point. Jesus. That place is f---ed up. People may want to come back there, but there is nothing to come back to. Seriously. Nothing at all there. You can see clear across debris for three blocks. Houses are in various stages of destruction, and I fear that little of it is manmade. The houses were tipped on their sides, on top of cars, collapsed roofs, in the streets, blocks from where they started. It's really beyond description, and all of this is after they have cleaned some of it up.

We drove down into St. Bernard Parish. Things were bad in Arabi, but we went through Chalmette past the Murphy Oil plant. Things didn't look so bad from Judge Perez, but when we turned into a neighborhood things changed quickly. I think my pictures will tell the story, but it was bad. There were some funny things written on houses, some sad, and some just confusing. But it looked like people had done work. Many people are not coming back ("Bye!" "For Sale As Is to Murphy Oil" "Not Returning") which is sad but understandable. Murphy Oil. Grr.

I have been trying to ask people how they deal with this stuff on a daily basis. The answer has been, so far, that they aren't. It's depressing and doesn't seem to be improving. Everytime it looks as if it is improving, someone else comes home, guts their house, and throws their debris in the street reminding everyone how screwed up things are.

Went to dinner (like 20 people) to La Thai in Metairie. Highly recommended. Almost a complete menu and everything is great.

Stories about the hurricane abounded. Shootings of looters. Bodies throwin in the river. 3200 people missing. Fires. Lack of trailers in Orleans Parish. What is happening with the levees? Is there evidence? Is MR-GO going to go?

Tomorrow I am going to New Orleans East...

Friday, January 20, 2006


As I was packing to leave for New Orleans last night, Mr. Clio called to say that he was in touch with someone who needed help getting her things out of the house she had been renting. This nice woman, who had been an art teacher at McDonogh 35, was in jovial spirits. Chris Rose has written of the bizarre things that make people laugh around New Orleans these days. As an artist, it was imperative that she make her garbage pretty and create art with the knickknacks and remnants of things that were once wonderful and beautiful. We decorated a tree with a box of moldy ribbons, made a doll out of some leftover lace, and built a tableaux out of old furniture and electronic devices that were also decorated in ribbon. She has been ill and was dressed to the nines for a house cleansing. As the day finally ended, she wanted to take pictures to show all her friends that she was, in fact, doing something with her house and her stuff. It was then that I actually got to see her face.

Not until the ride home did the entire situation hit me. We sat there and threw all the objets d'art and personal items and books and furniture that she had collected her entire life into the streeet to be collected by Waste Management and discarded forever. That is so weird. And I know that so many people are going through it that I can't imagine the sadness and anger. How this woman maintained an upbeat demeanor I will never know. It was moving in a sad, frustratingly infuriating way. Laughter, albeit nervous, can help you get through those tough times.

I did not distribute water to anyone. My new friend said that I should buy food and sandwiches and bring them where they are needed most. She did not need anything - she was staying with friends and all was good enough for her.

Tomorrow, we take to the levee. And we rally. And we demand that it be stronger, faster, and better than it was. (Actually, I have other thoughts about the drainage system in New Orleans that I want to air, but this may not be the proper post. I mean, they are sea level canals with nothing to stop the water coming back up them. Manmade bayous...)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Upcoming visit

This weekend, I am going to be visiting New Orleans again. I am upset by Mayor Nagin's comments yesterday that New Orleans will once again be "chocolate."
Speaking to a fraction of the crowd typically drawn to a holiday parade honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Monday predicted that displaced African-American residents will return to the rebuilt city and it "will be chocolate at the end of the day."
Is this really such a bad thing? I am not opposed to his idea, but I just don't like the way his sits with me for some reason. Maybe that's because I want to believe that New Orleans is a nice roux with a bunch of stuff thrown in to make some great flavor.

On this visit, I plan on doing some things to help my friends and neighbors. I will attend the rally on the levee at the Army Corps of Engineers building. I will drive around aimlessly and ask people if they need help. I will get dirty and moldy and clean and help rebuild. You know why? Because people need help. Money is nice. But money doesn't take down sheetrock. Money doesn't clean china or heirlooms or refrigerators. Money helps pay the bills on a non-usable piece of property. I get the feeling that people would rather have their houses and lives back to some kind of normal More than money can provide. So I am going to help people house by house. If you are in need of some help, let me know. I will be there Friday afternoon until Monday morning, ready, willing, and able to work.

UPDATE: Nagin apologized for his comment, according to CNN this afternoon. Still, I would rather him concentrate on getting things done instead of giving speeches. That's the problem with politicians - they "look" like they know what they are doing.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

View this

This video is interesting, but it doesn't show what happened during Rita.


I have read this article by Wade Rathke of ACORN. I plan on finding out more about ACORN, but I am getting the strong sense that there is no plan that can work because no one will compromise. FLASHBACK STORY: When I was in college, I had a roommate that I couldn't stand. Another friend had a roommate that he couldn't stand. When I suggested that perhaps we consider trading rooms and, therefore, roommates, I was met with universal anger. There was no compromising. No one wanted to give up their room no matter how miserable they were. As a result, I moved out never to return or talk to any of them. (Maybe I was rash and young, but don't miss the point.) If people don't start communicating (the "leaders" and businessmen and developer and residents) and compromising (agreeing that some things may need to change though others may not), then ill will will prevail. People will think there is some sort of conspiracy (as has already happened).

My advice to the" leaders" of New Orleans, the state, and the country:
Did you learn nothing from the Hurricane? Communicate. Don't just expect that people have a voice. Post actual bulletins in actual neighborhoods. Talk to people face to face. Drive through a ward with a bullhorn or speaker on top of a car. Who in the hardest hit neighborhoods has power? a working television? a working radio? a telephone? Get up, drive around, talk to people, tell them what is going on. Be a CIVIL person and be accountable to the people who elected you. Stop missing the boat on this. You send a bulldozed into a neighborhood full of people who haven't seen a "leader" in months, and you are asking for trouble. Go there. Allay fears. Comfort. Empathize. Make people understand what you are trying to do. Don't expect them to know.
My advice to the New Orleanians who are angry (rightfully):
Make your voice heard, but try to think about the big picture. Don't dismiss ideas without hearing them. I hope to god that it doesn't turn out that the levees were destroyed on purpose, but give the people in charge the benefit of the doubt. They need you to be strong. You won't like every decision that is made. You aren't supposed to. That's why those folks have to run for office every so often. If they do enough good in your eyes, vote for them again. If they don't, vote them out. But for the sake of the city, give them a listen. (I am with you on this point: the city council and mayor and the public officials that you have elected need to be making decisions about your city. Business men and developers who worship the dollar shoud not be deciding anything without YOUR approval.)

Now, everybody just play nice. Help each other . Rebuild our city, already. Start with the levees.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Letter to Congressman Dent

I wrote this letter to Congressman Dent, Senator Specter, and Senator Santorum today. Of course, the office is closed for "staff training" and then again on Monday for Martin Luther King, JR. Day. I hope he calls me before I head down to New Orleans next week.

Here is my letter:

Congressman Dent, Senator Santorum and Senator Specter,
While I understand that it is a long way from Pennsylvania, I am asking you to vote for any and all bills that help to rebuild New Orleans. Not only is New Orleans important to me (I was born, raised, and was able to convince my wife to marry me there this last summer), but it is also a vital area to the nation. Its port, its cultural importance, and its people are all crucial assets in the fabric of the United States. To lose this dynamic and vibrant and important city would be beyond words. I know that there are other issues - immigration, medicare, the war on terror - that need to be discussed and reviewed and decided upon. However, New Orleans is an issue that is beyond discussion and review. Americans of all colors, rich and poor, have lost their homes, livelihoods, hobbies, jobs, and friends. And America is in danger of losing an entire city.

I was there when the hurricane approached and evacuated with my mother. I returned in October to find that improvements and other promises have not been fulfilled. It is my understanding that these promises still have not been fulfilled. New Orleans needs levees. New Orleans needs financial assistance to rebuild infrastructure and schools and hospitals. New Orleans needs help in a bad way. I am asking for your help. Everyday that you wait is one day closer to the next hurricane.

I am always willing and able to talk about my hometown. I love it, and I can't believe that it is gone as I knew it. If you get a chance to see it, you should. For the most part, it has been devastated and defies description. Please help the people of this great country, of the great State of Louisiana, and of the great City of New Orleans forego the loss of a prized jewel.
Stephen Mitchell

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I am reading this article (referenced by Polimom). Whoa.

Regionalism? In New Orleans?

This could be the first step in something great. The rest of the state of Louisiana views the metro area (and New Orleans in particular) as a drain on all the rest of the state. Part of that is because of widespread incompetence and corruption. The fact that so much state money flows to an ineffective judicial system, a redundant policing system, and rampant crime does not make for a nice picture (this on top of the complete and utter failure of the independent New Orleans School Board for the last 30+ years). I think people would be much more inclined to respect a place and support an historical and cultural outpost if the money that was sent there was used to improve the image of the state instead of lining the pockets of political hacks and cronies.
So we didn't get a regional levee board yet. At least someone seems to be getting it. We are stronger together than as individuals. This works in terms of parishes, too. If we could just get the school board to follow along...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What happened

Read. Then you can tell me.
I wasn't there. I don't know, but this story seems to confirm the things I heard in the days after Katrina. It seems that the first stories we heard were true and everything after has been attempts to "fix" or "mend" the rumors that New Orleans was a dangerous place. That's no rumor. That's the truth. Remember?