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Blanco order keeps 100s out of available housing

From this:

Landlords in the New Orleans area say they have thousands of apartments that could be rented to meet the crying need for housing in the region, but executive orders by Gov. Kathleen Blanco are preventing them from taking the legal steps to free up the space.
The problem has become a hot-button issue in the business community, which is groping for housing options for employees and families willing to move back into the area.
Several apartment managers say they have waiting lists of hundreds of people seeking a place to live.
"Government officials continue to report on the housing shortage while failing to acknowledge the hundreds and hundreds of apartments that stand vacant or in need of repairs, yet remain inaccessible to landlords due to the governor's order," said Suzanne Rouse, a manager at Tonti Management, a Metairie firm.

Nagin defends gaming; "I see a state in crisis"; "not feeling very regional right now"; thousands still missing

From this:

A frustrated New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin warned Thursday that it would be in the state's best interest to help the Crescent City jump-start its Hurricane Katrina-riddled economy, saying the impact on the state -- if nothing is done -- will pale in comparison to the layoffs the city recently announced.
"You think 3,000 layoffs in New Orleans is a big deal. Just wait,'' Nagin, his sleeves rolled up, said during an evening meeting with The Advocate's editorial board. "I see a state in crisis.''
The mayor pointed out during the Baton Rouge meeting that New Orleans accounts for 35 percent of the state budget.
"This is not chump change,'' he said. "We're going to have to sell the financial realities of what has happened to this state. Four-day work weeks is not going to do it.''
Nagin, who spent a second straight day Thursday visiting New Orleanians in evacuation shelters, including those in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and other parts of the state, expressed frustration over inaction on the state's part and what he perceives as indifference to the city's post-Katrina plight...
...Nagin, asked if the city is considering filing for bankruptcy, said his administration is in the process of borrowing $50 million from Chase Bank and is looking for a consortium of banks to lend the city another $50 million to $100 million...
...The mayor said his much-criticized proposal last week to create a casino district in downtown New Orleans -- what he referred to Thursday as the "hype and glitter factor,'' would be a way to breath life into the ailing city economy...
...The devastated Lower 9th Ward, what he called "the most vulnerable area of the city,'' could face "mass demolitions'' if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot give the city and residents the "comfort'' that it can be protected from future levee breaks along the Industrial Canal. The Lower 9th contains the highest concentration of blighted property in the city, he said, a legacy of Hurricane Betsy. If the Lower 9th is rebuilt, it likely will contain of mix of raised residences, apartments and condominiums, and industry.
His relationships with Blanco and Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard are less than cozy.
"I've been trying to work with the governor. We have very different styles. I'm really at a loss for what else to do,'' the mayor said.
"There are some really hard feelings right now,'' he said of his feelings toward Broussard. Shortly after Katrina struck, New Orleans residents who had fled to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center tried to "walk to freedom'' by crossing the Crescent City Connection on foot to make it out of the flooded city, but law enforcement officials in Gretna -- which is in Jefferson Parish -- met them with guns and "attack dogs,'' he said.
"And they want me to talk about regionalism. I'm not feeling very regional right now,'' Nagin said.
His idea to create a charter school system of 20 schools that he, rather than the Orleans Parish School Board, would control was prompted by the extreme pressure that the board is under to open schools on the city's east bank...
Even with 60 percent of the 1,061 identified hurricane deaths being from New Orleans, there are still 4,000 to 7,000 missing New Orleanians...

Blanco blocks Nagin gambling plan

Mayor Ray Nagin's plan to build a Vegas-style section of New Orleans will not be a part of Louisiana's planned legislation:

Blanco's statement said she never believed that gambling should be the base on which to build the economy. Instead, she says people and businesses need federal tax credits and a stronger public education system to stimulate growth and reconstruction in New Orleans.
Nagin's proposal -- unveiled Friday -- already had received cool reception by many politicians. The plan calls for a large-scale gambling area in the city's central business district. Hotels that have more than 500 rooms would be able to add gambling.
But the proposal would require legislative approval and Harrah's Entertainment Incorporated, which runs a land-based casino in New Orleans, to give up its exclusive gambling rights.

More on the Pelican Commission, pork, and lobbyists

The LAT article "Lobbyists Shape Gulf Coast Rebuilding" has more on just how much say corporations got in Louisiana's rebuilding plan. Bear in mind, that article is about the state's plan, the one they want $250 billion for. See "Louisiana wants $40 billion; stuffed with pork" for previous coverage.
From the LAT:

..."I was basically shocked," said Ivor van Heerden, director of a hurricane public health research center at Louisiana State University. "What do lobbyists know about a plan for the reconstruction and restoration of Louisiana?"
Van Heerden is the first participant in any of the senators' working groups to provide such a detailed and scathing account of the process. He said he was shut out after he voiced his concerns.
The result, he said, was a lost opportunity "to come up with something innovative, something the people of Louisiana and the nation could really endorse."
Among the lobby-supported interests with a stake in the relief and recovery bill:
Energy utilities: Entergy Corp. and Cleco Corp...
...Supporters of a controversial industrial canal project for New Orleans: Among those on advisory panels were two officials of Jones Walker, a New Orleans-based firm that lobbies in Washington for the canal project...
...Highway advocates Among those on a transportation working group were lobbyists for highway projects seeking funds, including one from a firm headed by former Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.)...

NBC on the many Blanco mistakes

On Saturday, Lisa Myers had a segment on NBC News discussing Kathleen Blanco's various mistakes. A transcript is here:

Myers: "Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday."
...Myers: "She and the mayor waited until Sunday [Aug. 28] , only 20 hours before Katrina came ashore, to order a mandatory evacuation, the first of what disaster experts and Louisiana insiders say were serious mistakes by the governor."
...Myers: "A key criticism, the governor's slowness in requesting federal troops. She told the President she needed help, but it wasn't until Wednesday [Aug. 31] that she specifically asked for 40,000 troops. That day, in a whispered conversation with her staff caught on camera, the governor appears to second-guess herself."
Blanco: "I really need to call for the military."
Unidentified female aide: "Yes, you do. Yes, you do."
Blanco: "And I should have started that in the first call."
Myers: "Another key mistake, experts say, Blanco's lateness in getting the Louisiana National Guard, which she commands, on the streets to try to establish security."
...Myers: "And remember the chaos at the Convention Center? We now know there were at least 250 Guardsmen deployed in another part of that building. But they were engineers, not police, so they were not directed to help restore order or even to share their food and water."
Colonel Doug Mouton, Louisiana National Guard: "I think we would've hurt a lot of people if we'd tried to take that on."
Myers: "The governor would not say whether she made the decision not to use these troops, and tells NBC News that her state's response to Katrina was, quote, 'very well-planned' and 'executed with great precision and effectiveness.'"
Roy Fletcher, Louisiana Political Consultant: "How could any governor argue that they have done what they can do when people were left on an interstate without food and water for a week?"
Myers: "The governor has said she takes responsibility for what went wrong, but insists her biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials who told her help was on the way."

9/3: Blanco hires James Lee Witt

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Arkansan James Lee Witt, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bill Clinton, joined the Louisiana government Saturday to help direct the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Witt, who ran FEMA from 1993 to 2001, said he will stay as long as he as needed.
"He will sit at the table for me, and he will be my voice at the table," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said...
... Blanco said that, when she told Mike Brown, FEMA's current head, that she hoped to hire him, "he said, `That is absolutely the right thing to do. He will make a huge difference.'"
At the National Hurricane Conference in March, Witt said putting FEMA under the Homeland Security Department hurt its ability to deal with natural disasters.
On Saturday, he said, "Now's not the time to point blame at anyone."
Witt was head of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services when Clinton was Arkansas governor.

"New Orleans to lay off up to 3,000"

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday that New Orleans has to lay off as many as 3,000 workers [all or most "non-essential"], about 50% of its total payroll...
...State and local officials in Louisiana have complained their tax bases were wiped out and aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been arriving too slowly.
On Monday, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco urged President Bush and Congress to allow federal funding of city and county payrolls to keep vital services running.
"FEMA has been appropriated some $60 billion, and as far as we know there's still about $40 billion that's not specifically dedicated to certain expenditures," Blanco said. "FEMA could be allowed to use some of that money to float these local governments in the short term."

See also "Nagin: New Orleans now bankrupt".

Blanco sitting on $6 million for housing aid

Kathleen Blanco's Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation has received $6 million in donations so far. It was established on 9/2, but it hasn't disbursed any money. She's waiting to appoint a board to handle that:

The foundation's Web site says the fund was established "to help provide immediate assistance."
The governor's press secretary, Denise Bottcher, says the foundation actually is meant to meet more long-term needs...
Bottcher conceded that the use of the word "immediate" could be misinterpreted.

That word is also in bold. In their defense, earlier reports used the phrase "immediate and long term".

No tough questions for Blanco

From this:

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, blamed by the former leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin for many of the city's post-hurricane problems, was given no questions about her response to Hurricane Katrina when she appeared before a Senate committee to plead for more federal money.
She asked not to be questioned about it and the senators agreed.
Mrs. Blanco, a Democrat, was invited by the Senate Finance Committee to respond to charges by former FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, who the day before called Louisiana officials "dysfunctional" in handling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"Today, I came really to talk about job creation," she said.
Later, she told reporters, "The facts will speak for themselves. I will tell our story when the time is appropriate."

And, needless to say, those reporters let her off the hook.

Shays: Blanco, Nagin did a "pathetic job" preparing populace

Yesterday, Christopher Shays (R-CT) bashed Michael Brown. Now:

[He says] that while Brown made mistakes, so did others. "He can't be the scapegoat. First responders are local and state, and the governor and mayor did a pathetic job of preparing their people for this horrific storm," Shays said on NBC's "Today" show

Will he discuss Chertoff's and Bush's roles as well? Let's find out.


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