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Did Blanco tell people to ignore Mike Brown's evacuation warnings?

This is easy enough for some to check, and hopefully someone will leave a comment. From the transcript of Michael Brown, former head of FEMA:

[REP. STEPHEN BUYER (R-IN)]: ...Three days before Katrina made landfall, you were on CNN telling people to get out of New Orleans. Is that true?
BROWN: I don't recall if it was CNN. I was just doing show after show getting that message out.
BUYER: But is it true that you were telling people in advance then to get out of New Orleans, advance of the governor and the mayor of New Orleans?
BROWN: As I recall my interviews, I basically said I didn't care what the governor -- or regardless of what the governor or mayor were saying, if I lived in New Orleans, I would be evacuating.
BUYER: Is it true that shortly after you were on television asking people of New Orleans to evacuate, the governor of Louisiana went on television to say to ignore what you had said, that this is strictly voluntary? Do you know whether or not that is true?
BROWN: The sequence of events as I recall them is that I was in the FEMA studio doing those interviews. I made that statement. I had been trying to reach the governor that morning, was told by my office that they had -- the operations center -- they had finally gotten a hold of her. So I talked to her either in the studio or the operations center and told her what I had said and, you know, Are you going to order mandatory evacuation?
And her response was that she didn't know yet. She was going to talk to the mayor and they were going to issue some sort of proclamation or statement.
BUYER: So you're not aware of whether the governor of Louisiana went on TV to tell her people of Louisiana to ignore what you had said?
BROWN: I don't know that she said ignore. I do know that she went on television and said, you know, I would encourage people to leave.

So, what is it?

Mike Brown: more military, Blanco/Nagin, Convention Center

Former FEMA head Mike Brown is scheduled to testify before Congress today about the response to Katrina, and he spoke to congressional aides about that yesterday.
The AP has miraculously obtained a copy of a memo written by a "Republican staffer" who attended that briefing: "Brown Still On FEMA Payroll". Let's be as cynical as possible, and look at this:

...Brown expressed regrets "that he did not start screaming for DoD (Department of Defense) involvement" sooner. The first substantial numbers of active-duty troops responding to the Gulf Coast were sent on Saturday, Sept. 3 - five days after the storm hit.

Do you think that might have something to do with "Military tells Bush they should take control after disaster"? Is this part of the widespread pitch to change Posse Comitatus?

...Brown took several shots at Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He said the two officials "sparred during the crisis and could not work together cooperatively."
He also described Blanco as "indecisive" and refusing to cede control of the Louisiana National Guard to federal authorities because "it would have undercut her image politically," according to the memo.
The document also criticized the conference calls with state and federal officials that Brown ran during the crisis, saying that no official notes were taken and that Brown "just assumed that agencies would follow up on taskings resulting from the calls."
Brown defended himself against charges that he learned from television that thousands of refugees gathered at the New Orleans convention center, where adequate food, water and other supplies were lacking and there was rampant violence.
He said that because the convention center was not a planned evacuation site, "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand," according to the memo.
Brown also admitted he did not ensure that Nagin had a secure communications system during the crisis.

Blanco names FEMA liaison

Kathleen Blanco needs all the help she can get, and she's named her chief of staff to handle some of the load:

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco today announced that she has asked her chief of staff, Andy Kopplin, to lead and coordinate the state´s long-term recovery efforts at her direction. Kopplin was assistant Chief of Staff under Steve Perry and took the top job after the departure of Perry. He was then selected to head the staff during the transition team and has maintained that position during the Blanco administration...
"Andy will be my voice to FEMA and other federal agencies, local governments, business and civic leaders, planners, foundation staff, and the many other citizens we plan to engage in this rebuilding process," said Governor Blanco. "He will direct the implementation of the state´s plan through my cabinet and will coordinate the advisory committees that I will appoint to give me guidance in this rebuilding process."

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Louisiana wants $40 billion; stuffed with pork

That alone should raise suspicions, but, as previously reported that's only part of what they want: Landrieu, Vitter want $250 billion.
WaPo offers "Louisiana Goes After Federal Billions":

Louisiana's congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about 10 times the annual Corps budget for the entire nation, or 16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane...
...The bill, unveiled last week, would create a powerful "Pelican Commission" controlled by Louisiana residents that would decide which Corps projects to fund, and ordered the commission to consider several controversial navigation projects that have nothing to do with flood protection. The Corps section of the Louisiana bill, which was supported by the entire state delegation, was based on recommendations from a "working group" dominated by lobbyists for ports, shipping firms, energy companies and other corporate interests...

I don't think they learned this from Bush, I'm sure it's more innate than that.

"This bill boggles the mind," said Steve Ellis, a water resources expert at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Brazen doesn't begin to describe it. The Louisiana delegation is using Katrina as an excuse to resurrect a laundry list of pork projects."
Aides to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) helped shape the bill. The governor yesterday asked for $31.7 billion in federal funds for her state's infrastructure, including $20 billion for hurricane protections -- which aides described as a down payment on the larger sum.

BTW, "Pelican" stands for "Protecting Essential Louisiana Infrastructure, Citizens and Nature". I wonder how much they paid to come up with that.

...The 440-page bill also includes $50 billion in open-ended grants for storm-ravaged communities and $13 billion for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, along with mortgage assistance, health care, substance abuse treatment and other services for hurricane victims. It also includes hefty payments to hospitals, ports, banks, shipbuilders, fishermen and schools, as well as $8 million for alligator farms, $35 million for seafood industry marketing, and $25 million for a sugar-cane research laboratory that had not been completed before Katrina...
...The coastal protection section may be the most contentious part of the bill, overturning a slew of Corps precedents, but Louisiana officials say that past practice has failed to protect their state. They say their communities do not have the money to pay the standard 30 percent local share for Corps hurricane protection, or the time to wait several years for standard Corps studies...
...Vitter and Landrieu tapped John M. Barry -- author of "Rising Tide," the definitive history of the 1927 flood -- to lead the working group on the Corps response to Katrina. Almost all the other members of the group were lobbyists from firms such as Patton Boggs, Adams & Reese, the Alpine Group, Dutko Worldwide, Van Scoyoc Associates, and a firm owned by former senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.). There was a lobbyist for the Port of New Orleans, a lobbyist for Verizon, and three lobbyists who were former aides to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska).
Internal notes from the working group obtained by The Washington Post suggest that hurricane protection was by no means its sole preoccupation. A list of "outstanding issues" from a Sept. 15 conference call mentioned the possibility of authorizing at least six unrelated navigation projects, and included questions such as "Are there other things we can do to boost our ports?" and -- perhaps a joke -- "How much can I bill my client?"
"My concern was that the focus was not on protecting Louisiana," said Ivor van Heerden, the deputy director of Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center and one of the few non-lobbyists on the working group...

Blanco channels Jimmy Carter, wants NGO for refugees

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco wants to create a one-stop-shopping organization to help the hurricane refugees. It would receive $2 billion per year and would provide all the information they needed, assistance getting public assistance, etc. etc.
She's contacted the Bush administration with her idea, but hasn't heard back yet.

The plan, released to reporters late Saturday, said Blanco would appoint a senior executive from the private sector to lead the group, along with an advisory board, whose members will help with management and fundraising.
Its staff would work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and other agencies to get help for refugees needing housing, health care, counseling, job training and other assistance, said Ann Williamson, head of Louisiana's Department of Social Services.

If Blanco weren't a complete incompetent, one might think that she thought this up in an attempt to maintain political and fiscal control over her former constituents. Leading me to ask, who thought up this idea for her?

"Levee Board chief got thousands in back pay"

I'll leave it to someone else to figure out if anything illegal was done in the following, but it shure sounds suspicious:

Less than a month before Hurricane Katrina wrecked the Orleans Levee Board's finances and left the levees it maintains in shambles, board President Jim Huey requested and got nearly $100,000 in back pay that the agency's hired legal advisers - one of whom is a relative of his wife - determined he was entitled to receive.
The payment for about $96,000, which was made without approval from the board or its staff attorney, came on the advice of Gerard Metzger and George Carmouche, two contract lawyers with close ties to Huey, who was originally appointed by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1992 and reappointed by Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco. Carmouche, of Baton Rouge, is a first cousin of Huey's wife, Becky Metzger of Metairie, and has been a close friend of Huey's since the two attended high school together at Holy Cross.
After cursory research, board officials indicated several months ago that Huey, who has no formal administrative duties, was not eligible for any compensation beyond the $75 per diem that board members can receive for each day they work on agency business.
State lawmakers also rejected the extra pay for Huey. In the waning hours of the Legislature's 2005 session, state Sen. Francis Heitmeier, a Huey ally, tried unsuccessfully to make Huey eligible for a $60,000 annual salary by inserting the pay provision into an unrelated piece of legislation...

UPDATE: Huey has resigned, and "AG Foti: fmr. Levee Board president Jim Huey broke law".

FEMA's buses: subcontractor farmed it out; massive confusion; Landstar to blame?

Remember "Blanco: where were the 500 FEMA-promised buses?" Well, "Offer of buses fell between the cracks" has the shocking details.
A Florida trucking logistics company called Landstar Express America had a contract with FEMA that was worth up to $100 million per year to provide buses for evacuation purposes.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, Landstar apparently contacted a company called Carey Limousine asking them about the availability of buses.
Landstar found Carey by looking at their website.
Landstar inquired about availability again on Monday Aug 29, but they waited until "the early hours of Aug. 30, roughly 18 hours after the storm hit" to order buses from Carey, according to their spokeswoman Sally Snead:

She said Landstar turned to her company for buses Sunday after learning from Carey's Internet site that it had a meetings and events division that touted its ability to move large groups of people. "They really found us on the Web site," Snead said.
A Landstar spokeswoman declined comment on how the company responded to the hurricane.
Messages left for a FEMA spokeswoman were not returned.

In turn, Carey contracted with Transportation Management Services of Vienna, VA, which got 300 buses together.
Meanwhile, the heads of the United Motorcoach Association and of the American Bus Association - which apparently control over 20,000 buses - had each been contacting FEMA offering to help:

The day the hurricane made landfall, Victor Parra, president of the United Motorcoach Association, called FEMA's Washington office "to let them know our members could help out."
Parra said FEMA responded the next day, referring him to an agency Web page labeled "Doing Business with FEMA" but containing no information on the hurricane relief effort...
Unable to contact FEMA directly, Pantuso, through contacts on Capitol Hill, learned of Carey International's role and called Snead.
Pantuso said Snead told him she meant to call earlier but didn't have a phone number.
Finally, sometime after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Pantuso and Parra had enough information to send an SOS to their members to help in the evacuation.
By the weekend, more than 1,000 buses were committed to ferrying stranded New Orleans residents to shelters in Houston and other cities...

But, wait, there's more of the same:

In a regulatory filing last week, Landstar Express said it has received government orders worth at least $125 million for Katrina-related work. It's not known how much of that total pertains to the bus evacuation.
Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.
[...Landstar and the others are now aware of each other and cooperating...]
Landstar's regulatory filing also said that because of Hurricane Katrina, the maximum annual value of its government contract for disaster relief services has been increased to $400 million...

A situation similar to the last could have happened under Clinton or other presidents, but I have a feeling that under Bush it's a bit more "pronounced."

Blanco channels Heloise: mark yourself with indelible ink

In the interests of fairness, I'm going to assume she was trying to be as ominous as possible in an attempt to do good and wasn't just being an idiot. Refering to those who are staying behind to ride out Hurricane Rita, she said:

"Perhaps they should write their Social Security numbers on their arms with indelible ink."

Of course, she might have gotten the idea somewhere else. From Sep. 6's "Magic Marker Strategy" (also here):

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.
"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.

Blanco wants nonpartisan probe

On Sep 21 Governor Kathleen Blanco sent a letter to George Bush requesting a non-partisan probe.

Frances Townsend took call from Blanco

According to this Sep. 12 entry:

...there was one phone call that Gov. Blanco made to the President and he wasn't available to take it - so it was fielded by White House National Security Advisor Frances Townsend...

Previously: "Bush advisor to investigate Bush administration response". The advisor in question is Townsend.
What they discussed in the call or other details are not known.


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