Louisianna - Politics as Usual and the Truth of Levee Funding

WP: Money Flowed to Questionable Projects - Mike Grunwald

"Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.

Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon."

Whether it's the now known story of misspending, incompetance, arrogance, or just plan stupidity, it's apparent now that the problems after Katrina began and ended within the borders of Louisianna - not Washington.

New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. From a city built below sea level (has anyone really talked about the stupidity of building a city 7 feet below sea level on the gulf of Mexico yet?), to a City Mayor, who knows more about Cable TV than about Leadership, to a Governor playing "Clueless", it was just a matter of time before something bad happened.

The "Bush done bad" argument is eating the dirt daily. As sadly they begin to pull bodies out of the muck people are going to be asking Mayor Nagin, "How many people did you let die because you didn't move them in the buses?".

They will be asking the Governor, "Why didn't you order the Red Cross into the Superdome?" - weren't you aware of what your own State Office of Emergency Management was up to denying them access?"

When the bodies rise from the mud, the questions won't be about what FEMA didn't do - everyone knows by now it wasn't their job to evacuate or to let the Red Cross in.

It will be about "Mr. Mayor, Ms. Governor, our City and State leadership, why didn't you do your job?

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