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Bring New Orleans Back releases rebuilding blueprint

Some details in "New Orleans Residents Show Anger at Forum". The "blueprints" are in the 34 Meg PowerPoint file available here. Basically, there would be a moratorium on building permits. And, residents would have to prove that their specific neighborhood could come back. If they couldn't do that, the neighborhood would be razed and the property owners would be given some percentage of their equity in the property. Listen to the NewsHour version in this RealAudio link.

WaPo on NO's history of poverty and corruption

From this:

Huge stretches of the city are fallow: no power, no water, no sewer system, no life. Half the city workforce has been laid off, not a single public school is open, and the police department is being run by an acting chief after its former head quit. Mayor C. Ray Nagin is forced to hold town hall meetings in Baton Rouge, 70 miles away.
The litany of problems faced by New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is unmatched by any other U.S. city in recent history. Billions of dollars in public and private funds are going to be spent on rebuilding New Orleans, but those efforts could be undermined by forces that have long beset the city -- a tradition of corruption and dysfunction and a weak economy that clouded New Orleans's future years before the rains began in August.
"Always broke. Worst school system in the state. Highest crime rate in the nation. Shrinking population. All the corporations have moved out," said Bernie Pinsonat, a political analyst in Baton Rouge. "Any poll I do, the rest of Louisiana thinks, 'New Orleans is a deep, dark hole, and no matter how much money we send, it doesn't seem to get better.' "
...The blue-ribbon commission he appointed to help with reconstruction is rife with internal squabbles, some of them racial, and with fears it could be reduced to irrelevancy because of the state government's own commission and the recent appointment of Donald E. Powell, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., to oversee federal relief work. "We're kind of a work in process," Nagin said during a recent interview...
...In a recent Louisiana State University poll of 419 business executives, corruption was ranked among the worst aspects of doing business in Louisiana. Investors and managers elsewhere are reluctant to come "because they don't want to pay the corruption tax," said Rafael C. Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
"We've seen every type of corruption imaginable," said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, whose office indicted 44 public officials in the past fiscal year alone. He pointed to skimming, bribery and shakedowns across a spectrum of government employment: judges, police, teachers, administrators and traffic court workers...

Dueling commissions; will NO get its share of money?

Nagin implores residents to return, rebuild

Gov. Kathleen Blanco's top adviser on rebuilding Louisiana after this year's hurricanes said Monday that Blanco and the commission she appointed to oversee recovery planning "will continue to make sure the state's most important city is front and center in the recovery process."
Andy Kopplin, formerly Blanco's chief of staff and now director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, addressed a meeting of Mayor Ray Nagin's parallel recovery agency, the Bring New Orleans Back Commission.
Kopplin said the state authority has no more important task than helping to bring back "one of the great cities of the world" and promised that the state's infrastructure will be rebuilt "from east to west," placing New Orleans in prime position for early reconstruction work.
But when developer Joseph Canizaro, a member of Nagin's commission, asked whether Blanco would be willing to give the city one-third of the $150 million she hopes to tap this year from the state's rainy-day fund, Kopplin said the administration would be willing to discuss the issue but suggested that chances of winning approval by two-thirds of each legislative house are questionable when the state faces a huge budget deficit...

Design, planning pros to meet; Blanco's, Nagin's dueling commissions

From Her Waning Fortunes:

...The good news for Blanco is that her Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is getting some legs after just three weeks of existence. This week several hundred leading design and planning professionals will meet with local leaders (by invitation only) for a three-day Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference at the Marriott Hotel. The goal is to "develop a body of principles that will guide Louisiana's long-range recovery efforts." The conference is being presented by the American Institute of Architects along with the American Planning Association at the request of LRA. Blanco will deliver an opening address, and then the work will begin.
The conference is not designed to come up with a final plan, but rather to get things moving in that direction. Another conference, this one sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, convened last week in California to discuss some of the same issues. That conference was attended by several members of Mayor Ray Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission -- further underscoring a perceived rift between Nagin and Blanco...

Nagin's first townhall meeting

Mayor's meeting a forum for questions and anger

Whether in search of information or group therapy, hundreds of people crowded into a Canal Street hotel ballroom Wednesday for the first of what are billed as weekly town hall meetings Mayor Ray Nagin will hold to update the public and hear their concerns.
The session was supposed to start at 2 p.m., but it was past 2:30 before Nagin, clad in a New Orleans Saints sweatshirt, walked in to a chorus of catcalls about the delay. "You were late for Katrina, too," one man shouted.
Responding with a smile, Nagin told the crowd, "We are going to rebuild this city. We are going to do it together."
... Asked whether the city will condemn many flooded buildings, Nagin promised that no buildings will be demolished without the owner's consent unless they are deemed structurally unsound. Of 50,000 buildings inspected so far, he said, only 1,000 have been found to be unsound.
As he has done several times lately, he promised, "We will rebuild the Lower 9th Ward and New Orleans East, and in a way very similar to what was there before, but better."
... Criticized for what one speaker depicted as the city's inadequate evacuation and shelter plans before Katrina, Nagin defended his record, saying that 1.5 million people were evacuated from the New Orleans area. He said the city will re-evaluate its plans for evacuating and sheltering people, but he told the crowd, "If another Katrina is coming, run!"
The mayor also had to contend with a political jab toward the end of the almost three-hour session. Although he told a speaker he did not wish to address strictly political issues, he was stung when the speaker dubbed his Bring New Orleans Back Commission a "re-election commission."
"Man, I am so far not thinking about re-election," Nagin shot back. "You want the job, man? Maybe we can work something out."

AP: Bush visits, eats high on hog, sleeps well

Do you think there could be the slightest bit of bias in the AP report "Bush dines, stays in French Quarter"?

President Bush got a taste of some of New Orleans' finest Monday, dining in the French Quarter and staying at a luxury hotel to showcase progress in the hurricane-battered city even as much of it remains in ruins.

He met with Nagin, and:

Upon arrival, Bush also met with political leaders and law enforcement officials from Plaquemines Parish, a major seafood producer and home for oil refinineries southeast of New Orleans that took a double hit from Katrina and then Hurricane Rita a month later.

I know what it means to have your hand out, but I'm not sure what this means:

"The American people have their arms out," Bush told the officials, according to White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy.
The two-day trip -- Bush's eighth to the storm zone and fifth to New Orleans since Katrina struck on August 29 -- marked the president's public return to the hurricane recovery.
It was nearly two weeks ago, during a September 27 visit to towns in Louisiana and Texas slammed by Rita, that he last held an event devoted to the storms.


The president's trip continues Tuesday, when Bush is pitching in at a site in Covington, Louisiana, just north of New Orleans, where the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity is building new homes for storm victims.
That stop allows the president to focus on an issue he said last week was a less-than-stellar piece of the federal government's continuing response to Katrina -- temporary housing for the hundreds of thousands of homeless.
Bush has said everyone being housed in shelters should be in apartments, trailers or, in some cases, hotels by mid-October as they look for permanent housing.

Before the visit, "New Orleans mayor seeks Bush's help" had a bit more:

"I'm going to talk to him about what it's going to take to keep this city going over the next three months and ask him to support us in the short term," Nagin told reporters after meeting with his 17-member "Bring Back New Orleans" commission at the city's Sheraton Hotel...
Bush will be joined at dinner by members of Nagin's commission. During a nearly four-hour meeting on Monday, the commission discussed efforts to help residents return to New Orleans and received updates on everything from garbage removal to electricity and the water supply.

Is the "Bring New Orleans Back" commission a blast from the past?

The NYT article "Panel on New Orleans' Rebirth Is Named, and Gets to Work" discusses the "Bring New Orleans Back" commission convened by Mayor Ray Nagin to help rebuild that city. It has 17 members; only the are listed in the article:
~ Scott Cowen (Pres., Tulane University)
~ Joseph C. Canizaro (Businessman; close ties to White House)
~ Donald T. Bollinger Jr. (ditto)
~ David White (business executive; often described as the mayor's closest confidant)
~ Wynton Marsalis (yes, a musician)
~ Barbara Major (much more below)
~ Daniel F. Packer (chief executive of the now-bankrupt New Orleans subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation)
~ Alden J. McDonald Jr. (who for 33 years has run the Liberty Bank and Trust Company)
~ Maurice L. Lagarde (New Orleans native, who runs the Delta region for the hospital giant HCA)
Regarding Major, she's already complaining that the panel was split evenly - by design - between black and white instead of, say, 70% black:

"I think some people don't understand that an equal number of black and white isn't the same as equity," said Barbara Major, who was named one of the commission's two co-chairs. "But I tell you what, I give them credit - at least it's 50-50."
Ms. Major is the executive director of St. Thomas Health Services, a medical clinic in New Orleans that served city residents regardless of an ability to pay.
"We need the white business community at the table," said Ms. Major, who is black and wondered aloud if she were more scared than honored by her selection...
...Though Ms. Major said she was displeased that the commission did not accurately reflect the racial makeup of New Orleans, she also said that now was not the time to debate its composition. "The question is what happens to the city while we're busy fighting over the makeup of this commission," she said. "With what everyone's been through, I'm not going to be assuming anything about anyone until we start working together."

Her resume is here. She helps communities "de-institutionalize racism". She "formerly served as the chair of the community driven St. Thomas/Irish Channel Consortium, a nationally acclaimed model for holistic community and institutional transformation." And, she teaches "anti-racism".
(Via this)
UPDATE: The full list is here. It points out that Mel Lagarde and Barbara Major are co-Chairs. The names not mentioned above are:
# Kim Boyle
# Cesar Burgos
# Archbishop Alfred Hughes
# Reverend Fred Luter
# Anthony Patton
# Jimmy Reiss
# Gary Solomon
# Oliver Thomas

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