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Blanco creates Louisiana Recovery Authority

From the source:

The authority will focus on key state issues such as housing, jobs, transportation, healthcare and education... Governor Blanco tapped her point-person on recovery, Chief of Staff, Andy Kopplin to head the agency... The authority will also focus on issues such as infrastructure, economic and workforce development, family services and the environment...

Unlike other things of this sort, Blanco has provided them with a to-do list. Within a week they need to "identify a nationally recognized planning firm for the planning process" as well as "set benchmarks for contracting performance and local hiring by FEMA, GSA, and Corps of Engineers". There are also 30 and 100 day goals.

Governor Blanco also appointed a distinguished 24-member Board of Directors to oversee the authority and to direct short and long term recovery plans. As advisors to the Governor, the board will seek public input and will set benchmarks to gauge progress.
Dr. Norman Francis,Chairman ("long-time president of Xavier University and respected New Orleans leader")
Walter Isaacson,Vice-Chairman ("renowned journalist and author Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and former chairman of CNN")
Dale Atkins
Donna Brazile
Philip Burguières
Rene Cross
James Davison
Donna Fraiche
Tom Henning
Sibal Holt
Linda Johnson
John Landry
Laura Leach
Walter Leger, Jr.
Dr. Calvin Mackie
Mary Matalin
Sean Reilly
Virgil Robinson, Jr.
Dr. Mary Ella Sanders
Matt Stuller
Susan Taylor
David Voelker
Rod West

Brief bios for these worthies are provided here.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel unclear on concept of Americans rebuilding Gulf Coast

The article Many migrants flocking to Gulf Coast are exploited, advocates say from William E. Gibson and Ihosvani Rodriguez seems to have a bit of a blind spot.
Namely, it doesn't discuss the concept - shared no doubt by the vast majority of Americans - that those who were driven out of work by the storm should lead in the rebuilding, rather than those jobs being given to imported illegal aliens.

..."There's not any housing, even for the people who are from there," said Tirso Moreno, director of The Farmworker Association of Florida, who toured coastal Mississippi to assess working conditions. "Some labor contractors will bring our people up for two or three weeks of work and then leave them there. Sometimes they are paid too little and sometimes not at all. There's nothing they can do to fight it."
Seventeen migrant workers from Fort Pierce, Fla., learned Friday that two weeks of hard work does not always translate into promised pay.
The men had left construction jobs on promises of up to $150 a day.
"There's a lot of work here. We could go days without working in Florida but there's a lot of work here," said the group's leader, Michael Olvera, 36, as he waited for the van to take him and the others to where they were staying.
While Olvera and the others were promised large apartments and plenty of food, instead they were living on a Frisbee golf course, in small tents or out in the open without electricity or running water.
After two weeks of fixing roofs, carrying Sheetrock and doing everything else that comes with helping restore a storm-torn region, Rafael Jarra, the man who brought them from Fort Pierce in a blue van, paid them $300 each - one fifth of what they were expecting.
Jarra denied promising the men $150 a day and claimed there was not as much work as anticipated.
"They are angry that they have to live here," he said, pointing to the makeshift camp.

I'm absolutely positive that any day now the SFSS will start publishing articles discussing the best solution to this problem: employing those Americans and legal workers who were driven out of work by the storm. Any day now.
To help them along, write Gail Bulfin, their "reader editor": gbulfin *at* sun-sentinel.com

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...

Architects, planners on rebuilding the Gulf

From "Gulf Coast: A Vision to Revive, Not Repeat":

The work facing architects and urban planners who convened [in Biloxi] today at a battered resort is visible right outside the window. A beach strewn with uprooted trees and the detritus of ravaged buildings. Deserted streets lined by flooded empty houses. Hulking casino hotels gone dark.
Over the next several days, this group of some 200 professionals from around the country will struggle to come up with a comprehensive regional plan to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It's a design challenge on a grand scale, covering 11 communities in 3 Mississippi counties damaged by Hurricane Katrina...

Previously: Rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf: Architects Respond

"Gulf Coast job boom blooms in wake of Hurricane Katrina"

From this (also here):

The message is clear on storefront marquees, brightly colored banners and the handwritten signs merchants taped inside windows across this battered city: businesses reopening after Hurricane Katrina have a surplus of jobs and not enough workers to fill them...
Most of the people who've been able to return to New Orleans have been either wealthy or in the middle class, in part because their neighborhoods were damaged the least -- leaving a hole for business owners who depend on unskilled labor.
"The service industry and unskilled labor jobs are the ones really in demand and the people in that category have not come back," said John Trapani, a professor and vice dean at Tulane University's business school. "There will be a shortage of labor until population starts to return and who knows what percentage is going to return and when?"
The demand by service businesses for workers is set against a parallel demand for people to work in hurricane cleanup. Some employers have turned to immigrant workers from Central and South America to fill those jobs...

In 2TheAdvocate-speak, illegal aliens are "immigrant workers".

Rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf: Architects Respond

From Rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf: Architects Respond:

The Mississippi Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal aims for no less than an "economic renaissance for coastal Mississippi," said its chairman Jim Barksdale, a former president and CEO of Netscape. To help create a physical plan, state officials invited New Urbanist Andres Duany, FAIA, to lead a charrette last month in Biloxi, one of Hurricane Rita's hard-hit targets. Joining him were 100 members of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), including transportation planners, environmentalists, code writers, sociologists, and representatives of such large AE firms as SOM, HOK, HDR, and UDA. General teams will deal with regional issues, and 11 specialized teams will fan out to the three-county area's 11 municipalities, Duany said in an interview prior to the charrette.
The immediate goal will be to "get our codes and land-use planning online," said Leland Speed, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Speed voiced the hope that local residents would leave the charrettes "informed, optimistic, and clear about their rebuilding possibilities and directions." He said he also wanted to "offer tools for creating the kind of coast we want 20 years from now."
The CNU will proffer a kit of architectural parts, Duany said, including designs for temporary cottages and permanent mobile homes (with contractors offering to build models), a selection of locally compatible house plans from catalogs of working drawings, models of pedestrian-oriented strip developments, and sketches for new casinos that would allow "participation in street life." Design, he added, won't be imposed but "given the incentive of pre-permitting." Duany hopes landowners who choose not to rebuild will be allowed to merge their properties and sell to highrise condominium developers. He envisions "great waterfront avenues." Urban Design Associates, meanwhile is helping Mississippi Habitat for Humanity design sturdier houses in keeping with the coast's climate and culture.
A report to be published three weeks after the charrette will comprise a major portion of the commission's report to the governor, which is due by the end of the year...

NBC: "In New Orleans, the working class disappears"

Carl Quintanilla offers this short article on New Orleans' working class not coming back:

Despite the mayor's attempts to bring them home, New Orleans has become a closely-watched experiment in what happens when an entire income bracket disappears.
"If they can't bring back these people, you're going to see the city's infrastructure fall apart," says Dr. Robert Blendon of the Harvard University School of Public Health.
Some residents can't return because their neighborhoods, often poor, are still deserted and have no water or power.

Some - we aren't given even a guess as to how many - have found better opportunities elsewhere. Then, the NBC reporter makes another leap:

There are some workers who've moved in to satisfy demand. They're mostly Hispanic, raising a controversy on its own. Some of them line up to do the most menial of jobs, like clean up, and signs offer them $10 dollars an hour.

Is "Hispanic" the best description for these workers? How about "illegal aliens from Mexico"? Wouldn't that be a more truth-based description? Of course, if Quintanilla wants to make "Hispanic" equivalent to "illegal aliens from Mexico" he should say that. Alternatively, he should tell the truth.

New Orleans jobs and federal funding scandal

Will below-market illegal laborers, working in substandard or illegal conditions and working under federal government contracts, rebuild New Orleans? Will major, connected contractors pocket the difference between what they will pay those illegal aliens and what they would have paid Americans?

And, will both "liberals" and "conservatives" look the other way or even allow this to happen?

Will this become a major scandal revealing both Republican and Democratic corruption, or will the news media be able to sweep it under the rug?

FEMA to re-bid $400 million in contracts; NYT bias

Speaking before a Senate panel, David Paulison, acting head of FEMA, says they're going to get new bids on $400 million worth of contracts:

"It sure looks, with hindsight, that FEMA would have been in a much better position if it had had a lot of contracts in place that had been bid that were standby contracts to provide exactly the kind of services that FEMA rushed in to provide on a no-bid basis," Mr. Lieberman said. He said "taxpayers may have ended up paying more money" than they should have.

Partial good news, although:

Critics said they welcomed the decision to reconsider the deals, but questioned why the effort did not include some no-bid contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Now, let's take a look at New York Times bias:

The four contracts up for rebidding were awarded early last month to The Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La., Fluor Corporation of Aliso Viejo, Calif., Bechtel National of San Francisco and CH2M Hill of Denver. They have already won commitments from FEMA for a total of $125 million in work, identifying sites for trailers and mobile homes for Hurricane Katrina evacuees and then installing the housing across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Government watchdog groups have been raising questions from the moment these contracts were awarded. The Shaw Group's lobbyist is Joe M. Allbaugh, the former FEMA director and a friend of President Bush. Bechtel has ties to the Republican Party; George Shultz, the former secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, is on the corporation's board, and Riley P. Bechtel, the chairman and chief executive, served on President Bush's Export Council.

What they consistently forget to tell their readers is that the head of the Shaw Group used to head the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Disadvantaged business wins minor contract

Hey, let's counteract some bad publicity and try to look better! Hand me that $12 million over there:

BILOXI, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a small business contract worth up to $12 million to a small, disadvantaged Pascagoula business to install blue roofs for FEMA's Operation Blue Roof program on Mississippi homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The contract was awarded competitively Wednesday to S&M Associates of Pascagoula, a community extremely hard hit by Katrina. The company's president is Darron L. Miles.
"The Corps is pleased to have another small business, especially a small, disadvantaged enterprise, from a Katrina-ravaged area join our response team," said Michael Logue, public affairs officer for the Corps' Vicksburg District.

From this 10/5/05 press release:
www.mvd.usace.army.mil/hurricane/mvk/news/pascagoula_company_wins_blue_r...
See the earlier post "Is FEMA overpaying for roofing?"

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