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11/16: Kenyon stops collecting bodies; history of their involvement

As of mid-November, the number of recoveries had dwindled to a one or two a week, and Kenyon International Emergency Services' contract to do collections ended around that time.
The backstory is in this story from 11/16:

Kenyon... first arrived in the storm-ravaged region Sept. 7 as a short-term contractor for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Six days later the company signed a contract with the state after nearly pulling out of Louisiana entirely because of what a top executive characterized as government "roadblocks" that thwarted recovery teams' ability to maintain professional standards.
The deal was sealed amid cries from Gov. Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, that too few people were handling the dead, some of whose bodies lay exposed in the streets. FEMA policy prohibited tens of thousands of National Guard troops and municipal police officers on the ground at the time from touching the bodies, except to tag them and report their locations to higher authorities.
Since mid-September, Johannessen said he has not fielded any complaints about Kenyon, which worked at the World Trade Center site in 2001 and retrieved the bodies of Australian citizens in Thailand after last year's tsunami. He said the state expects to be fully reimbursed by the federal government for the cost of Kenyon's contract.
The company collected more than 800 bodies, mostly from Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, and brought them to St. Gabriel, state officials said. As of Nov. 9, the tally of hurricane deaths had reached 1,056, with 883 bodies examined at St. Gabriel...

Brian Williams interviews George Bush

NBC's Brian Williams conducted a long interview with president Bush, and the section about Katrina has Bush:
- repeating his blame-taking for the weak federal response ("to the extent that the federal government was ineffective, I'm responsible")
- given the opportunity to blame Blanco, Nagin, or others, he said "we're beyond that"
- he was watching the TV reports from the Superdome...
- he "certainly hopes" that we won't lose New Orleans on his watch...
- Bush not only knows what the Ninth Ward is, he's familiar with the conspiracy theory about the government blowing up the levees...
- Bush has read about- or had someone tell him about - the blowing up of the levees that occured in the 20s...
And, there's this perhaps-not-entirely-accurate bit:

one of the things we've learned about the levees, Brian, is that they call the levees a certain category, but they weren't up to standards. And so we're now in the process of working with local folks to get the standards of the levees up to where they should have been prior to the storm and even better. And hopefully we'll have the capacity to announce that relatively quickly.

The levees and floodwalls might not have been designed correctly however.
Also:

I remember saying that, when I thanked those chopper drivers from the Coast Guard who performed brilliantly, they didn't lower those booms to pick up people saying, "What color skin do you have?" They said, "A fellow American's in jeopardy. And I'm going to do my best to rescue that person."

However, some far-lefties have speculated that shots fired at choppers were because they were being ignored because of triage.
Speaking about Brownie:

You know, Michael [Brown], resigned. And I, you know, I had worked with him during the four hurricanes that hit Florida. He got pretty good marks. And in this case, for whatever reason, the system overwhelmed the whole process. And Michael said, "I'm responsible." And he left.

Nagin pleads with residents to return

The AP offers "New Orleans Mayor Asks Residents to Return", which reports on Nagin visiting Atlanta to plead with residents to return. It includes this quote from a former resident:

"There is nowhere to buy food or get gas. It's chaotic... Bringing us back to living in poverty is not a new beginning. How can a city that's broke help New Orleans rebuild?"

And, it also includes this bit that, were the races reversed, would be considered racist. But, since they aren't, it's not racist, no, not at all:

Betty Gaynor says she is leaving Atlanta _ for Houston, not New Orleans. The 65-year-old chastised Nagin, who is from her neighborhood in the 6th Ward, for allowing Mardi Gras to be held this coming February.
"Why would he have Carnival? Carnival is mostly for the white folks," she muttered.

Under liberal rules, that's a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

Nagin wants housing aid

this:

The New Orleans mayor urged Congress on Thursday to provide aid to homeowners hurt by Hurricane Katrina, cautioning that thousands of poor Louisiana residents might not return otherwise.
"We're running out of time on individuals deciding whether to move back, when to move back ... and whether they're comfortable they have the resources to move back," Mayor Ray Nagin told the House Financial Services Committee.
"As we think about the redevelopment of New Orleans - a city of haves and have nots - we need to create an instrument to maintain home ownership in areas we need the most," he said, referring to numerous blighted areas.
The House committee is reviewing a bill to help property owners in areas of Louisiana hit by Katrina avoid massive defaults on home and business loans while working to rebuild communities.
The bill would create a federal entity, a Louisiana Recovery Corporation, that would purchase the property of willing sellers and pay off lenders through bond sales. Former owners would have first right to repurchase the lots after they've been restored.
Nagin said the bill would provide for restoration of blighted areas to benefit New Orleans residents, two-thirds of whom are poor and black. Since the Aug. 29 storm, the nearly 100,000 residents who returned have been mostly white and middle class.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., expressed concern about the impact of rebuilding efforts on the racial makeup of New Orleans. She cited news reports indicating that Nagin met with business leaders to discuss how to reduce the number of poor black residents.
Nagin, who is black, acknowledged some leaders had that sentiment, but said his focus was improving the overall economic situation for the city's residents...

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...

What did Amelia Davis say about Ray Nagin?

Amelia Davis, principal of Tri-Cities High School in East Point, GA, was suspended for 10 days for using what the Fulton County school board determined to be "inappropriate and inflammatory" language when speaking about Mayor Ray Nagin. She made the remarks on 9/9 before evacuee students, and she returned to work last week.
So, what did she say?

Davis, principal for seven years, has denied saying anything inappropriate.
But a tribunal of retired school system employees recommended the ten-day suspension. The panel determined Davis had demonstrated what it called "incompetence" and "willful neglect of duties."
School staff, including counselors, testified during the disciplinary hearing that she had used inappropriate language to describe New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and his handling of the hurricane that devastated the city.
The complaint accused Davis of using profanity...

That report, doesn't say what she said, and I couldn't find any additional information. Perhaps she was just speaking some politically incorrect truth? See this other case of a teacher who's suing because he was fired by the district. She complained about him and his wonderful views:

"It appears that the "By Any Means Necessary," promoting the "Black Panthers" views, and sending a message of defiance to our African-American students, Mr. Walker has crossed the line and is interfering with the administration's ability to provide a safe and secure learning environment that's conducive for educating our young people," Davis wrote.
Davis, who is African-American, could not be reached for comment Friday.
In documents obtained by the Journal-Constitution, she said Walker had inappropriately shared his performance evaluation with students, strayed from the curriculum he was hired to teach and used language in the classroom that "would lead one to believe that he is not sensitive to all ethnic subgroups" in his classes.
She noted he had been "angry since January," when she reprimanded him for openly wearing a "very large belt buckle that could easily be mistaken for a 'real' gun." And she criticized him for starting a club for black male students that the administration had not sanctioned.
Students and parents who supported Walker said he connected with students.
"He taught me more than the curriculum," Jashaan Jefferson said last spring. "He taught me life issues."

"President Bush, Mayor Nagin Meet To Discuss Rebuilding Efforts"

From this:

Mayor Ray Nagin was back in the nation's capital Thursday. This time he met with President George W. Bush about the lack of temporary housing in the Crescent City.
Nagin also discussed concerns over the levee protection system, who will pay for its reconstruction and how to create incentives to bring residents and businesses back to the city.
The mayor later said the nation can't afford to let the New Orleans metro area continue to suffer.
During the meeting, President Bush reassured Louisiana officials that the federal government will not forget its duty to help rebuild New Orleans from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Mayor Nagin told reporters that he is pleased by the level of federal support, but he's beginning to see some "Katrina fatigue" on Capitol Hill.

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...

Nagin to residents: Help Entergy get federal money

From 6 months for power, Nagin says:

Saying it might be six months before power is restored to all of eastern New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin urged a spillover audience of mostly displaced eastern New Orleans residents in Baton Rouge to join Entergy Corp.'s fight to get federal money to rebuild the severely damaged utilities system.
Entergy New Orleans, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, already has spent about $400 million restoring infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and the company needs about another $450 million to complete the task, Nagin said.
President Bush's $17 billion hurricane recovery proposal includes no money for Entergy's devastated utility infrastructure. Entergy executives have said a federal bailout is essential. Without one, Entergy will be forced to raise rates dramatically, a move some fear could stifle the city's economic recovery. And if the utility can't emerge from bankruptcy, the city might be forced to municipalize the service.
Nagin said he intends to ask members of Congress to help Entergy. There is a precedent for such action. Congress awarded $250 million in grants to Consolidated Edison, the New York utility that sustained damage in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He urged the New Orleans exiles at True Light Baptist Church in Baton Rouge to write or call their congressional representatives...

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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...

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