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March 30, 2006

New Orleans: The Disaster Continues Disasters  Politics

Republican ideologues believe government cannot solve problems, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who believe in government and who want government to succeed: those are the people who can govern well. Consider New Orleans. Bill Quigley:

In New Orleans, seven months after Katrina, senior citizens are living in their cars...Korean War veteran Paul Morris, 74, and his wife Yvonne, 66,...have been sleeping in their two-door sedan since January. They have been waiting that long for FEMA contractors to unlock the 240 square foot trailer in their yard and connect the power so they can sleep inside it in front of their devastated home.

This tale of lunacy does not begin to stop there.

Their 240 square foot trailer may well cost more than their house. While FEMA flat out refuses to say how much the government is paying for trailers, reliable estimates by the New York Times and others place the cost at over $60,000 each.

How could these tiny FEMA trailers cost so much?

Follow the money.

Circle B Enterprises of Georgia was awarded $287 million in contracts by FEMA for temporary housing. At the time, that was the seventh highest award of Katrina money in the country. According to the Washington Post, Circle B was not even being licensed to build homes in its own state of Georgia and filed for bankruptcy in 2003. The company does not even have a website.

Here is how it works. The original contractor takes their cut and subcontracts out the work of constructing the trailer to other companies. Once it is built, they subcontract out the transporting the trailers to yet other companies which pay drivers, gas, insurance and mileage. They then subcontract out the hookups of the trailers to other companies and keep taking cuts for their services. Usually none of the people who make the money are local workers.

With $60,000 many people could adequately repair their homes.

Why not just give the $60,000 directly to the elderly couple and let them fix up their home? Ask Congress. FEMA is not allowed to give grants of that much. Money for fixing up homes comes from somewhere else and people are still waiting for that to arrive.

While many corporations are making big money off of Katrina, Mr. and Mrs. Morris wait in their car.

Craziness continues in the area of the right to vote.

You would think that the nation that put on elections with satellite voting boxes for Iraqis and Afghanis and Haitians and many others would do the same for Katrina evacuees. Wrong. There is no satellite voting for the 230,000 citizens of New Orleans who are out of state. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Advancement Project, ACORN and the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund have all fought for satellite voting but Louisiana and the courts and the U.S. Justice Department have said no.

The rule of thumb around here is that the poorer you are, the further you have been displaced. African Americans are also much more likely to be poor and renters — the people who cannot yet come back to a city where rents have doubled. They are the ones bearing the burdens of no satellite voting.

The people already back are much more affluent than the pre-Katrina New Orleans. The city is also much whiter. Many of those already back in New Orleans are not so sure that all of New Orleans should be rebuilt. The consequence of that is not everyone will be allowed to return. Planners and politicians openly suggest turning poor neighborhoods into green spaces. No one yet has said they want to turn their own neighborhood into green space — only other people's neighborhoods — usually poor people's neighborhoods. Those who disagree are by and large not here.

New Orleans has not been majority white for decades, but it is quite possible that a majority of those who are able to vote in the upcoming election will be white. Thus the decisions about the future of New Orleans are poised to be made by those who have been able to get back and will exclude many of those still evacuated. Guess what type of plans they will have for New Orleans? [Emphasis added]

The majority party in Washington thinks their responsibility ends when they decide which political crony to reward with a contract. They have no interest in governing, no interest in managing. Their interest is in plundering the treasury and accumulating power. Banana Republicans.

What is happening in New Orleans is a disgraceful national failure. Every time we countenance such failure, we grow weaker as a nation. Morally weaker. And if there ever was a time when we needed all our strength to face the challenges ahead, this is that time.

Posted by Jonathan at March 30, 2006 11:05 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

When more than half the population of blacks are on welfare, not wanting employment, they don't or can't for fear of losing their free check, go back to where they lived until their rental increase is approved so they can return and get new apartments, furniture, and sit at home and not work.
Everyone had the opportunity to leave before the hurricane hit. Even walking with a backpack could have saved more lives, but instead, they stayed. That is their problem, they don't pay my bills or taxes, why should we take care of lazy people. Did you see any of them cleaning up the streets? NO, they waited for the bus out.
Get real-street people do not intend to change-that is their choice. ask anyone who works with them or shall I say who CONTINUALLY feeds them.

Posted by: Vivian at April 2, 2006 01:02 PM