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Andy Kopplin on Tim Kusky

On Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcast the dire warnings of Prof. Tim Kusky. As described in that post, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Andy Kopplin, wrote a letter to CBS encouraging balance in their reporting. A copy of that letter is here.

60 Minutes: "New Orleans is Sinking"

On tonight's 60 Minutes, "natural disaster expert" Prof. Tim Kusky of the Earth Sciences Department at St. Louis University will advocate a "gradual pull-out from the city". He says that in 90 years:
"New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America surrounded by a 50 to 100-foot-tall levee system to protect the city... That's the projection, because we are losing land on the Mississippi Delta at a rate of 25 to 30 square miles per year. That's two acres per hour that are sinking below sea level..."
Kathleen Blanco's office wants CBS to hold off on the report:

Andy Kopplin, Blanco's chief for the governor's main panel dealing with the rebuilding effort, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, wrote CBS producers asking the network to reconsider.
"We are very concerned about the preview of your story on New Orleans' future posted on the '60 Minutes' Web site and hope it is not an accurate reflection of your work," Kopplin's letter said...
"We know of many scientists and engineers who have spent considerable parts of their careers becoming experts in addressing coastal land loss in Louisiana and who disagree fundamentally with Prof. Kusky's purported comments," Kopplin wrote.
The letter says, "I cannot request strongly enough that you delay the airing of your story and immediately get in contact with some of these scientists in order to provide your viewers with scientific objectivity as well as balance in your report."

A battle of the academics ensues:

... Kopplin's letter was attached to a letter from Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, strongly disputing Kusky's conclusions and raising questions about Kusky's credentials.
"Quick research reveals that Prof. Kusky's expertise is in ophiolites, rock sequences that formed on the oceanic edge of tectonic plates, in the Archean eon about 3 billion years ago," Boesch's letter states.
He criticized some of Kusky's writing as being no better than "an undergraduate paper" that he would give a low grade.

CBS News report on Bahamonde's testimony

This is an alleged transcript of the report CBS Nightly News did on Bahamonde's October 20 testimony. In case you care, the claim at the link is that NBC and ABC did not cover this:

BOB SCHIEFFER (CBS News anchor): Congress heard more shocking testimony today about FEMA's slow response to Hurricane Katrina. Only this time, FEMA was under fire from one of its own, someone who was in the thick of the disaster and says that he tried to get his superiors to do something about it, but, at one point, they were literally out to dinner. Here's [CBS News correspondent] Bob Orr.
ORR: Twelve hours before Katrina began battering New Orleans, the lone FEMA official inside the city e-mailed headquarters with a dire warning: "This is going to get ugly real fast." But Marty Bahamonde told Senate investigators today that message, like many others he sent during the crisis, was largely ignored.
[begin video clip of Bahamonde's October 20 testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs]
BAHAMONDE: And in my opinion, there was a systematic failure at all levels of government to fully comprehend the magnitude and the severity of the situation that was presenting itself on an hour-by-hour basis.
[end video clip]
ORR: When the first levee failed, Bahamonde frantically called FEMA boss Mike Brown, worried that floodwaters could keep FEMA trucks from reaching the city.
[begin video clip of Bahamonde's October 20 testimony]
BAHAMONDE: The only thing he said to me was, "Thank you, I'm now going to call the White House."
[end video clip]
ORR: Bahamonde, who spent two days himself in the squalid conditions of the Superdome, denied ever telling Brown the shelter of last resort was prepared for thousands of evacuees.
[begin video clip of Brown's September 27 testimony to the House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina]
BROWN: Marty later was able to communicate to me the information that, you know, they had plenty of food.
[end video clip]
[begin video clip of Bahamonde's October 20 testimony]
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Did you communicate to Michael Brown that there was plenty of food in the Superdome?
BAHAMONDE: I couldn't have been any more clear to him that food and water was a desperate situation at the Superdome.
[end video clip]
ORR: By Day Three, with people still being plucked from rooftops and health conditions deteriorating, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown with an even more urgent plea for help: "The situation is past critical. Estimates are many will die within hours. We are out of food and running out of water at the Dome." There was no response, but three hours later, Bahamonde got a copy of this note from Brown's press secretary: "It is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Restaurants are getting busy." Brown has yet to tell his story to the Senate, but when he does he'll face some tough new questions about the discrepancies and his role in the botched response to Katrina. Bob Orr, CBS News, Capitol Hill.

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