Author Archives: Kodjo

Protecting wetlands that protect oil revenues

The Washington crowd cannot even get this right.

“in the last two years [2004-2005], we have spent more to rebuild Iraq’s wetlands than Louisiana’s” (for those who aren’t sure, a large amount of oil is regularly pulled out of the gulf of Louisiana’s shoreline, shipped through New Orleans’ port system, and processed locally along Mississippi between the sea and Baton Rouge).

Quote is from John Barry and Newt Gingrich, Time magazine, 6 March 2006, reproduced here

C’est levee

Who should pay for recovering from Katrina?

Many think the
US government should not go too far in subsidising private choices to
live below the height of the sea.

My own view is that the
federal government is responsible for the enormous damage sustained by
the New Orleans area. The Army Corps of Engineers was grossly
negligent in designing levees it was required to build and warranted
would protect New Orleans from a storm just like Katrina.[1] As a result of that
negligence, several hundred thousand people suffered very substantial
harm.[2]
(Disclosure: This is my 12th year in New Orleans. While our property
is not in the flood plain, it was flooded, though being raised, our
home was not.)

Unfortunately, the Federal government will not
compensate residents of New Orleans beyond a fraction of the costs
caused by the levee breaches.[3]

For decades, over half a million people[4]
have invested their lives and livelihoods in the New Orleans
area. They did so in no small part based on the assurance provided by
the levee system mandated by Congress and designed, built and overseen
by the Army Corps of Engineers.[5]

The levees of New Orleans were breached[6]
by waters the Congressional standard, and the Army Corps of Engineers’
own standards, should have contained. In the case of the 17th Street
and London Street canals, Katrina generated a storm surge well within
their design specifications.[7]
However, both these canals suffered catastrophic breaks, flooding the
bulk of the “crescent” of the Orleans Parish (the land between its
western boundary and the Industrial Canal)[8]
and a large swathe of neighboring Metairie (flood
map
from the Times-Picayune, 9 December 2005). The breaches were
not caused by water over-topping the levees, but by egregious design
flaws.[9]
The foundation soils of the levees were not properly accounted for,[10]
a conclusion supported by a study from the Army Corps of Engineers.[11]

Continue reading

White House secrecy

“The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.” Eric Lipton, White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers, New York Times, 25 January 2006

What is with these guys that everything is some kind of state secret?

(This posting from Kodjo also appeared on Catallaxy)

Bush & the truth

“It may be hard for you to see, but from when I first came here to today, New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to come to visit.” New York Times, 13 January 2006

Apparently King George on his motorcade trip down the freeway learned more about it than we do living in it, but then he is a greater man than mere subjects like us.

Just to give a picture: Most stores are closed here at 6. The postal service delivers every other day, but only to 20% of the city. The bulk of the city does not have electricity or gas. The city’s population is no more than 25% of what it was. Garbage collection is erratic. Even in the 20% of the city that did not flood I estimate over 1/3 of the stop lights still do not work. The Army Corpses of Ingénues has now admitted the levees won’t be built back to the standards that were supposed to be in place, but were not, until well after the hurricane seasons begins.

I could go on, but perhaps I should defer to our great wartime leader.

Are Republicans hiding what they did post-Katrina?

[Brock has kindly allowed me to occasionally guest on his blog on the topic of New Orleans post-Katrina. My views, of course, are not Brock’s, as his comments will no doubt indicate from time to time. Kodjo]

The Republican dominated House committee investigating the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina quickly requested and received virtually everything written from the Democratic governor of the state Louisiana. This information was made public on December 2nd.[1]

In contrast, the White House is stonewalling[2] and the House committee has, to date, not pressed the issue. Similarly, little information has been supplied by the Republican governors of Alabama and Mississippi.[3]

The House committee has finally decided to subpoena the Pentagon, who “said it had lost the committee-issued request for memos, e-mail messages and other documents related to the military’s response to the worst natural disaster in U.S. history”.[4] Don’t worry. They run a good war.

[1] Bill Walsh and Laura Maggi, Blanco defends actions in storm, She releases blizzard of papers depicting her decisive, frustrated, Times-Picayune, Saturday, December 03, 2005

[2] David E. Rosenbaum, Fight in House for White House Files on Katrina, New York Times, December 8, 2005

[3] Bill Walsh, Demo wants Bush team subpoenas, He seeks a timeline of post-storm actions, Times-Picayune, Wednesday, December 14, 2005

[4] Bill Walsh, Katrina panel subpoenas Rumsfeld, Pentagon says it lost document request, The Times-Picayune, Thursday, December 14, 2005

[This spiel was originally posted on Catallaxy, where I occasionally appear as the token liberal.]