Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

August 27, 2006

Poppy Z. Brite ways in…

Here’s Poppy’s Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe.

August 17, 2006

Corporate Greed and Bush’s FEMA Continue to Dance…

Filed under: FEMA,Gulf Coast,Katrina,Louisiana,New Orleans — Tags: , , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 9:04 pm

I went wandering over to CorpWatch to see what they have been working on lately, and was surprised (NOT!) to see their latest report on corporate greed and FEMA. After reading it, all I could see in my mind was an Axis of Evildoers dancing a jig. Giant corporations, the corrupt Administration and the duplicity of bungling FEMA were hand-in-hand moving in a circle around a large cauldron of water into which Louisiana slowly sank. This is VooDoo Economics.
Many of us know what’s going on with the monies for Katrina emergency contracts, bypassing local companies whenever possible by shoveling the funds to big corporate types knowing that most or those funds would vanish in the corporate maw. Very little would “trickle down” to the State or local level. Everything about New Orleans’ rescue would suddenly bog down as these companies aren’t that good at delivering on the contracts that are awarded by the Feds. Local companies are the way to go: they are part of the areas affected by a major disaster, they have family and friends there. They have a reason in doing the work they are hired for.

Here’s the link for the report: “Big, Easy Money”.

The author put it this way, “The devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast is tragic enough, but the scope of the corporate greed that followed, facilitated by government incompetence and complicity, is downright criminal,” .

We definitely aren’t a part of the U.S. anymore, at least to the PTB.

Sinn Fein!

August 9, 2006

The Long Strange, Resurrection of New Orleans

Fortune Magazine had a piece today concerning the rebuilding of the city. Most of these details we know, and maybe there’s some eye openers for us. The time that struck me was that the author lays almost all of the blame on the various levels of Guv’mit and not on the people of the affected area.


Yet it was here, late last year, that Frierson and several women of her acquaintance first planned to attack the powers that be. In this case the powers were the political establishments in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Washington, D.C. – establishments the women believed bore much of the responsibility both for the city’s collapse before Katrina last August 29 and for the paralytic pace of rebuilding.

Thin, blond, and blue-eyed, Frierson bears some resemblance, in her blazer and scarf, to a younger Nancy Reagan. For people who don’t live in New Orleans, her place in society might be summed up by her reputation as the city’s most successful residential real estate broker – the person to see about buying and selling its finest homes. Or one might note that at its annual Mint Julep Party the Junior League anointed Frierson the 2006 “Sustainer of the Year.”

In New Orleans terms, though, her elevated social status is best indicated by a single fact: Louis L. Frierson, her husband of 42 years, is a former Rex, the King of Carnival, the Monarch of Merriment, who headlines the grandiose private ball that officially closes Mardi Gras.

For years the city’s debs-and-dinner-parties set was proudly insular, its attention focused on its own affairs even as the city decayed. Corruption, inefficiency, and crime were the subject of ironic jokes over cocktails, not protests; the city’s disamenities were treated, all too often, as part of its storied charm. When New Orleans almost entirely missed the ’90s boom, it elicited little public dismay.

“We make a joke that’s not a joke,” says Elliott Stonecipher, a well-known political analyst in Shreveport. “Nobody in Louisiana knows what noblesse oblige is. New Orleans is a hotbed of civic apathy – the only city in the country where rich, powerful people don’t have their fingers in everything.”

And another-

It is wholly fitting that safeguarding New Orleans has fallen to its indigenous business class. But the lack of effective response by the political elite – and the lack of public concern about its inanition – is amazing.

Failing to rebuild a viable city would have consequences far beyond Louisiana. New Orleans’ two ports are, by tonnage, the nation’s biggest. They need to be – the region handles a third of the nation’s seafood and more than a quarter of its oil and natural gas. Some 4,000 oil and natural-gas platforms, linked by 33,000 miles of pipeline, spread out along the Louisiana coast. Among the facilities are the four largest refineries in the Western Hemisphere. Southern Louisiana is easily as important to the nation’s energy supply as the Persian Gulf.

And another-

Even as Louisiana politicians fulminated, LRA board member Sean Reilly met with Powell in January at his base in Amarillo. “We went to a luncheon place with a paper tablecloth,” says Reilly, a Baton Rouge executive who with his brother runs Lamar Advertising, the nation’s third-largest billboard firm.

Reilly was a former state legislator who had given up politics to concentrate on his business and his family. When Katrina hit, he jumped back in the fray. Reilly and Powell “pulled out pens and started drawing all over the table in terms of the numbers and categories of homeowners that needed to be covered and the philosophical choices that needed to be made.”

A central disagreement was the scope of federal responsibility. After providing aid for emergency services, the administration wanted to focus on the levee system, which Washington had long ago accepted as its purview, and on homeowners lacking flood insurance outside the officially designated floodplain – who had, at least in part, based their decision not to buy flood insurance on the grounds that the feds had stated their area was not at risk.

Most New Orleanians had a different view of Uncle Sam’s role. In a phrase heard again and again in the city, Katrina was a disaster made in Washington, not New Orleans. In most places water did not “overtop” the levees – the levees were broken by a storm surge they were supposed to withstand. In May a research team sponsored by the National Science Foundation and co-led by Robert Bea, a University of California at Berkeley engineering professor, concluded that these breaches, where the levees failed to meet design specifications, were responsible for four-fifths of the water that inundated greater New Orleans.

“The levees were designed incorrectly and built incorrectly,” Bea says. A former chief engineer for Shell, Bea designed scores of offshore oil platforms – “I’ve spent my whole professional life with hurricanes, so I’m kind of blunt about them.” Absent design and construction failures, he says, Katrina would have caused nothing more than “a few wet carpets and missing shingles.” (A forthcoming report by Louisiana State reaches a similar verdict.)

At the lunch with Powell, the LRA’s Reilly argued that “if you live behind a federally warranted levee and that levee fails, you shouldn’t be penalized if you don’t have flood insurance,” because the government has effectively promised householders that they won’t need insurance for those circumstances. Therefore, Washington had a moral obligation to all New Orleanians damaged by the flood, even the un- or underinsured.

We little folks here in New Orleans have some tough choices coming in the near future. This article lays it out pretty straight. The thing is: do we, the New Orleanians have it in us to fight back against those of our leaders that are in many ways ignoring our needs? I think we do.


August 7, 2006

From Facing South- Katrina: The Latest on the Failed Response

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,FEMA,Levees,New Orleans — Tags: , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 4:10 pm

Facing South is doing a series of reports on the response to Katrina’s effects on the Gulf Coast. Here’s and excerpt from today’s report:

Katrina: The latest on the failed response

The following continues our special coverage of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which will be marked on August 29, 2006.

“Volumes have been written on “what went wrong” in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina in August/September 2005. As we approach the one-year anniversary, there will be a host of retrospectives that try to capture the full story, of which much more is now known than came out after the storms.

For example, Wall Street Journal reporters Christopher Cooper and Robert Block, in their new book “Disaster,” give a thorough accounting of the information available and decisions made that led to federal inaction. One is that federal leaders ignored information being sent their way, as this excerpt from the book, which appeared on the WSJ website last week, reveals:

In the days after Katrina’s landfall, Secretary Chertoff, President Bush and others would justify the slow federal response by claiming that the breaching of the levees was “a second catastrophe” that occurred long after Katrina passed. But this simply wasn’t true. A subsequent investigation by the Army Corps of Engineers found that in some cases, breached levees began flooding New Orleans even before Katrina made landfall.

Indeed, news of the levee breaches came as early as 7:30 a.m. on the Monday Katrina hit, when the city’s disaster chief, Terry Ebbert, told Washington officials in a phone conversation that the storm “came up and breached the levee system in the canal,” according to Senate documents gathered afterward. A half hour later, the Transportation Security Administration made a written report directly to HSOC, confirming that the Industrial Canal levee adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward had been breached and that floodwaters “have already intruded on the first stories of some houses.” Fifteen minutes after that, the National Weather Service issued its own levee-breach warning, advising retreating residents to take an ax with them to their attics so they could chop their way out if the waters rose.

One also learns of a new character who has escaped much public scrutiny, but who likely bears more responsibility than anyone else in the slow response: Matthew Broderick, the director of the Homeland Security Operations Center.”

This moron ignored emails and phone calls most of Deluge Monday concerning conditions in New Orleans. He seemed to be relying on CNN reports showing people celebrating their surviving of the storm. This cannot stand: he is guilty of negligent homocide, period.
Where does the Administration find these idiots? (Oh yeah, start from the top down… Fuck!)


August 1, 2006

We are New Orleans

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,FEMA,New Orleans — Tags: , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 4:09 pm

I’m sick and tired of BNOB and the UNOP shit.

Our people know what to fuckin’ do about hurricanes. It ain’t freakin’ rocket science. This is all about companies sucking from the Federal teat.

All levels of gov’mit are complicit in this. We DON’T NEED this crap! We, New Orleanians know what to fucking do… it’s in our blood.

We are not a sesspool like Iraq, we are America, and god damn anyone that thinks different. We are owed for services provided for the Nation. And we don’t want your fucking Halliburton-type arrangements. Screw your business fuckin’ contracts, we are just folks. We will rebuild, and it ain’t going to be under your oversight. We are New Orleans.

I can’t create enough adjectives to describe you shits, but I will keep trying. FUCK YOU money-grubbers, we will rebuild, and I will stand on my porch and tell you all to “Fuck Off”. I’m sick and tired of you mother fuckers.

The monies that are coming are the first payment on OUR reparations. There will be others to come.

I stand for all of New Orleans.

July 15, 2006

Why can’t they get the story straight?

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,FEMA,Levees,Louisiana,New Orleans — Tags: , , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:33 pm

Okay, I’m confused as I read this article in today’s T-P :

The Road Home program will provide residents up to $150,000 to rebuild or sell houses severely damaged by the storms. Using Community Development Block Grants overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program will pay homeowners for repair costs above what was covered by insurance policies, FEMA grants and Small Business Administration loans. But while the program allows up to $150,000 per homeowner in additional money, the total payout — insurance plus the grant — cannot exceed the home’s pre-Katrina value.

Now my understanding was that the Block Grants were just that, GRANTS. An SBA loan is a loan. I understand subtracting insurance proceeds and FEMA grants from the $150K, but to deduct the amount of an SBA loan? This is a concept concocted by, as I see it, delusional minds.

So, Betty went to the State’s Road Home site to look at the FAQs. On page 8 we found the pertinant question:

How does receiving an SBA loan affect the amount affect the amount of assistance I will receive?

What you receive from the SBA has no impact on the value of assistance you receive from The Road Home. Based on your SBA loan agreement, however, assistance you receive from The Road Home may be required to be used to repay any SBA loans.

This makes perfect sense, but why am I reading something different in the T-P? This is exactly the problem that all of us have here in SE Louisiana: bad freakin’ data! This is so unfair considering all that each of us is going through post-Deluge. We have been waiting for months for this first phase of reparations to be distributed, and now we cannot get accurate information. This cannot stand.

New Orleanians need an accurate database. The City’s is worthless, and so is the State’s. We cannot rely on what our paper reports to us. What is needed is an outside source.

And we still need to obtain the rest of the reparations our citizens deserve for the wrong decisions of the ACOE and the Guvmit, period! Justice for New Orleans!

Sinn Fein!


July 14, 2006

But we knew this! FEMA scorecard for July 2006

Filed under: FEMA,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:06 pm

This is from the current issue of Mother Jones. (Seems like they aren’t too impressed by the Guvmit’s “progress” here in New Orleans.):

Still Cleaning Up After Katrina
Still doing a heckuva job for Katrina victims

July/August 2006 Issue

205,000 houses were severely damaged by last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes. As of May, 60% remained unoccupied.

Displaced families have moved an average of 3.5 times since the storms.

In March, the New York Times found that more than 1 in 10 New Orleans evacuees were homeless or had no permanent place to live.

Fewer than 35% of New Orleans’ 462,000 residents had returned to the city as of March. Only half are expected to return by September 2008.

State Farm and Allstate will no longer sell homeowners insurance in New Orleans.

Eight months after Katrina, fewer than 1 in 10 New Orleans businesses had reopened.

The Small Business Administration has rejected nearly 70% of the 2.4 million loan applications received from hurricane victims.

36 countries and international organizations donated $126 million to federal rebuilding efforts, half of which remained undistributed six months after Katrina.

FEMA spent $431 million on 11,000 trailer homes that were never used, $3 million for 4,000 unused cots, and $10 million to fix up 240 rooms in Alabama that housed only six people.

Carnival Cruise Lines got a six-month, $236 million contract to house evacuees on three of its ships, which sat half empty off the Gulf Coast for weeks.

The GAO found that there was insufficient oversight on 13 reconstruction contracts, including $100 million to Bechtel.

Experts predict there is a nearly 50% chance that a Category 3 or greater hurricane will hit the Gulf Coast this season.

On a scale of 1 to 10, FEMA director R. David Paulison gave the agency an 8 in terms of preparedness for this year’s hurricane season.

More than 100,000 families in Louisiana and Mississippi live in FEMA trailers that Paulison said “should not, or could not, ride out even a Category 1 storm.”


July 5, 2006

150 VA Nurses and Other Workers to Aid in Area Hospitals

Filed under: FEMA,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 8:18 pm

Now this is good news!

June 17, 2006

HUD to New Orleans Poor: “Go F(ind) Yourself (Housing)!”

Filed under: Community Planning,FEMA,New Orleans,Progressive News — Tags: , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 4:13 pm

Well, as I was looking for more info concerning HUD’s plans for the poor of our city, I ran across this piece on Common Dreams by Bill Quigley from today. Here’s some info we ain’t seen on NOLA.

Excerpt (Emphasis mine):

“As James Perry, Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Center says about the planned demolition of public housing, “If the model is River Gardens, it has failed miserably.” Despite HUD’s promise to demolish homes, the right of people to return to New Orleans is slowly being recognized as a human rights issue. According to international law, the victims of Katrina are “internally displaced persons” because they were displaced within their own country as a result of natural disaster. Principle 28 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement requires that the U.S. government recognize the human right of displaced people to return home. The US must “allow internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence. Such authorities shall facilitate the reintegration of returned or resettled internally displaced persons. Special efforts should be made to ensure the full participation of internally displaced persons in the planning and management of their return or resettlement and reintegration.” The US Human Rights Network and other human rights advocates are educating people of the Gulf Coast and the nation about how to advocate for human rights. HUD has effectively told the people of New Orleans to go find housing for themselves. New Orleans already has many, many people, including families, living in abandoned houses – houses without electricity or running water. New Orleans has recently been plagued with an increase in the number of fires. HUD’s actions will put more families into these abandoned houses. Families in houses with no electricity or water should be a national disgrace in the richest nation in the history of the world. But for HUD and others with political and economic power this is apparently not the case.”


May 31, 2006

Contractors rake it in as they clean it up

Filed under: Corps of Engineers,FEMA,New Orleans — Tags: , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 3:05 pm

Like DUH!

They call this news? (Note to self: Stop reading MSNBC)
“For companies in the disaster business, 2005 was a very good year. And if preseason predictions are correct, it could be the first in a series of profitable years for a rapidly growing industry that encompasses engineering firms, debris haulers and logistical specialists who rush in whenever disaster strikes… ”


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