Sunday, February 05, 2006
Rebuilding New Orleans: Competing Visions
In the wake of the State of the Union address, there was a flurry of activity which brought into sharper focus the competing visions on how to rebuild New Orleans and southeast Louisiana generally. There was a sharp negative reaction in Louisiana to the State of the Union because President Bush said so little about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He did not recognize those American citizens who died or those who had risked their lives to save thousands. He did not reaffirm his September pledge to rebuild New Orleans. Instead, he referred to the total amount of money that has been authorized by the federal government so far – $85 billion. In Louisiana, we are heartily sick of hearing this figure.
Katrina Index: Tracking Variables of Post-Katrina Reconstruction, Feb 2006
a few words from a former resident of new orleans.
it pains me to see what has happened to the city and the residents. the response of elected officials at all levels pains me even more.
my family and i had thought of going to new orleans for mardi gras, simply to show our support for the city and friends of ours who remain there. aside from the issue of lack of hotel rooms (most appear to be still tied up by FEMA), in speaking with these friends, i was told not to come. as much as they want mardi gras to go off and to reap whatever economic benefit it may bring to the city and region, i am told by them that there is very little to see in the city right now. the french quarter is back in business. most of the garden district is up and running. the problem is the lack of residents moving back due to the slow rebuilding process. as a result, few schools, few stores, and very few businesses outside of the traditional tourist areas are open, almost none into the evening.
the locals i have spoken to reflect the anger simmering below the surface in steve griffin's post. while they blame the mayor and the governor for their inept response in the planning and immediate aftermath of katrina, the overt anger at the bush administration is something i have not seen in quite a while. those i have spoken with offer the opinion that there is no plan to reconstruct the city; only photo ops for the president. as steve pointed out, it is one thing to make a speech, and talk about money authorized. it is another to actually have a plan, and put forward some tangible effort to rebuild. the locals do not believe there is any plan, and further believe that the only tangible efforts of the administration to date are to block any real plans, such as the baker plan, to do anything.
as for the locals, hang in there guys. we are with you. as for the politicos, it will be more than interesting to see how this translates in the polls over the next election cycle.
C'mon, Stephen, you don't really see the rebuilding of New Orleans as being this complicated, do you?
As long as Karl Rove heads up Bush's Gulf-coast rebuilding effort, nothing will happen in New Orleans that allows a deeply Democratic city to rise again.
It's that simple.
Rebuilding the city isn't that complicated, perhaps, but however politically necessary it is to make noises about doing it, it's a remarkably stupid thing to do. Remember that definition of insanity? "Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result."?
When it's politically necessary to make noises about doing something which is objectively stupid to do, not matching deeds to words is a quite common compromise. I'd personally rather the administration simply explain, publicly, why New Orleans should not be rebuilt, unless the people who want to live there are prepared to do it on their own nickle. I, of course, don't have to face the voters.
As much as I love Southeast Louisiana with all my heart, I do not share your point of view on the rebuilding effort.Post a Comment
The rest of the nation, via federal dollars, should not bear the cost of rebuilding private residence or business. The federal government has the obiligation to rebuild federally maintained infrastructure, and as such, this should be their priority. If Blanco and the goons in Baton Rouge want to skyrocket the state tax rate to help fund the private rebuilding effort, so be it. But the money to rebuild homes built in known flood zones should fall squarely on the homeowner. Private insurance exists to aid them (and there is a reason private insurance doesn't cover these regions--they are in the business of risk management, and they know when the threat of loss is too much to bear.)
FEMA's greatest failure (of many) is allowing its mission to be extended to realms it should have never been in the first place.