By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |
The New Orleans landscape is dotted with signs boasting about “our recovery in progress,” an effort by former Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration to tout his successes. His successor is taking that idea even further, seeking proposals to spend tax dollars to photograph and videotape the recovery so the word can be spread far and wide.
Without a continuation of post-Katrina grants for education, health care and improving the criminal justice system, New Orleans risks losing gains made since the storm, says a report released Wednesday on the state of New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Index at Five, a project of the Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, presents a broadly optimistic overview of the city’s evolution over the last five years, describing “key reforms” that carry the potential to “transform the city and region.” But even as the report records indicators of the region’s emerging growth, such as higher rates of entrepreneurship, declining blight and improving schools, authors caution that unless money is secured to maintain programs funded by an estimated $42 billion in federal funds that have flowed since the storm, progress will stagnate.
Though Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration initially was vague on whether it would continue to have an Office of Environmental Affairs during the nation’s largest oil disaster, the position has now been filled. Charles Allen, formerly at Tulane University in the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, started running the office two weeks ago.