Government & Politics
Audit says $700 million in Katrina aid may have been misspent – Associated Press | Federal investigators cannot find “conclusive evidence” that $700 million in federal aid for home elevations was used to raise houses after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
SW La. senators concerned about tax plan — American Press | As support for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax swap craters, legislators air their concerns. For example, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, said: “In my opinion, I think that this is something that should’ve been discussed, thought out (and) worked on for a minimum of one year.”
CCCD officials admit misleading public to get tolls extended in 1998 – 21StephenLeonard | Were promises of transportation infrastructure improvements for the West Bank used as political bait to secure votes for the Crescent City Connection in 1998? An opponent of of the tolls has posted this 2008 video clip of testimony before the Legislature, which shows a Crescent City Connection Division official claiming just that. (via @skooks)
Houston retreat billed as opportunity for Orleans Parish School Board to build relationships — The Lens
The organizers of the Orleans Parish School Board’s two-day retreat in Houston, which starts Thursday, say it’s an opportunity for board members to build relationships. But some people question why they have to travel so far for professional development. ...
The New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance will live-stream the retreat; The Lens will live-blog it. The retreat begins with a dinner presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday. Things get underway at 9 a.m. Friday.
Bill tying student performance to welfare benefits advancing in Legislature — Knoxville News Sentinel | “Legislation to cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school has cleared committees of both the House and Senate after being revised to give the parents several ways to avoid the reductions.” In related news, the state of Tennessee is taking over a failing school district in Memphis, much like Louisiana did in New Orleans with the Recovery School District.
La. House speaker talks of capping free college tuition program — Associated Press | Citing the rising costs of TOPS, the state’s free tuition program, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley suggests putting a cap on the program. “Kleckley says colleges need to be able to raise their tuition rates, but he says the state can’t afford to continue increasing TOPS program costs, which are estimated to reach $204 million next year.” (I’ll venture to say that that rising tuitions, combined with the prospect of students being shut out of TOPS, will not please Louisiana parents.)
Congress may require Army Corps to assume cost of Lake Borgne gates — The Lens
Under a bill approved by a Senate committee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would retain responsibility for two shipping gates in the Lake Borgne Surge Barrier when local agencies in June take charge of the $14 billion storm-protection system built since Hurricane Katrina.
Arkansas Oil Spill Sheds Light On Aging Pipeline System — WWNO | The article notes that more than half of the nation’s pipelines were built prior to 1970. Almost 300 spills from pipelines occur each year, but most of them are minor.
In fact, more than half of the nation’s pipelines were built before 1970. More than 2.5 million miles of pipelines run underground throughout the country. According to federal statistics, they have on average 280 significant spills a year. Most of these accidents aren’t big enough to make headlines. …
The National Transportation Safety Board director Debbie Hersman claims the system is safe, however, she says: “I will tell you 100 percent of the accidents that we’ve investigated were completely preventable. If companies invest in safety, we can get to zero accidents in the pipeline industry.”
Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid — The Monkey Cage | A blog discusses fascinating new research that correlates the names of hurricanes to the names of disaster relief donors:
People donate significantly more money to hurricanes that share their initials. So Roberts, Ralphs and Roses donated on average 260% more to the Hurricane Rita relief fund than did people without R initials. Also in 2005, people with K initials donated 150% more to the Katrina relief fund, and in 2004 people with I initials donated 100% more to the Ivan relief fund.
Should we consider changing the names of hurricanes based on this information?
Continuing live blog: Consent decree hearing on Orleans Parish Prison — The Lens | Criminal justice reporter Tom Gogola recaps yesterday’s testimony and previews today’s proceedings, which he’s now live-blogging.
Gusman’s lawyers will argue the city has some responsibility for conditions and activities identified in the lawsuit and addressed in the consent decree demands, and that it should remain a co-defendant even though the original lawsuit did not include the city. … Based on an email sent between Gusman’s lawyers and the U.S. Department of Justice in July, the city said Gusman is demanding an additional $22 million a year over five years to pay for the decree.
North Dakota: Two ProGun Bills Pending Governor’s Signature — NRA-ILA | A bill in the North Dakota legislature would prohibit governments from seizing citizens’ firearms during an emergency to avoid “what occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where law-abiding citizens were stripped of their lawfully owned firearms by overzealous government officials leaving them defenseless and unable to protect their families and property.”
Two AmeriCorps teams pulled from New Orleans following member’s death — Uptown Messenger | Marta Jewson reports on the fallout from a recent homicide: “Following the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old AmeriCorps member in west Carrollton on Monday, two teams of his co-workers have been withdrawn to their home base in Vicksburg, Miss., for counseling and support, agency officials confirmed Wednesday.”
Jean-Paul Villere: The face of blight — Uptown Messenger | Villere encourages real estate investors to acquire blighted properties.
The “G” Word — Hurricane Radio | Blogger Cousin Pat tackles gentrification, warning: “If you aren’t careful, you become one of these incoherent professional liberals who complain about how ‘white flight’ eroded the property tax base in your city, contributed to economic decline, deteriorated your housing stock, and wrecked the schools; who then turns around to gripe about how bad it is for the children of suburbia to move back into the city, participate in the economy, renovate houses, and raise property values.”