bm279 Demolishing New Orleans, Post Gustav

It is no secret that the post Katrina rebuilding effort has been mismanaged, but now the city of New Orleans is taking that to a new level, post Gustav. My guest on this podcast is Karen Gadbois, who writes the blog squanderedheritage.com, focusing on housing and history in New Orleans. Together we look at the city’s accelerated policy of demolishing houses with minimal to no notice.

Among the topics we discuss:

  • The policy
  • Gustav as the excuse
  • Post Ike damage
  • The living museum that is NOLA
  • Grassroots action and organization
  • The role of bloggers
  • The other arguement, rationalizing the speedy demolitions
  • Demographic change and development plans
  • Wetlands resoration and the need for it
  • Entergy
  • Jail

Music:

Mof Def – Dollar Day
Dirty Dozen Brass Band – Whats going on?

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Still Mismanaged to a Criminal Level

I want arrest warrants issued for all US government officials, local and national, who have missed continuous chances to really initiate a true sustainable plan for the gulf coast in rebuilding and properly preparing the coast line for the storms that are inevitable. I suppose as its only a cat-2, the charge for mismanaging Gustav will only be criminal negligence and embezzling relief funds. But I want to see people brought to justice who have not fulfilled their promise as public servants. While we’re at it, we can issue long overdue murder and attempted murder warrants to all those who stood by before, during, and after Katrina only a couple of years ago. Being fired or shuffled from your cabinet position does not count as justice, a trial is still necessary.

Now we watch Gustav pass over the Gulf Coast, it isn’t Katrina in many ways, but the truth that Katrina confirmed, once again shines through — the money hasn’t gone where it should have, the recovery has still not been properly carried out. Levees in places like the West Bank aren’t finished, while others are simply too small.. and in either case, these are known facts. In other words, criminal acts where individuals have failed to do their essential jobs – planning, funding, and carrying out the work that is needed.

As I write this there are levees over topping and spilling over into neighborhoods around New Orleans. Authorities are quick to point out this damage is no problem and that in some cases the rebuilt levees are just barely managing to hold. All this from a category 2 hurricane and storm surge. What would happen with a category 3 or 4? Would the city’s flood protection system be able to handle such storms that will, of course, come eventually? No.

There’s money for political party conventions and sending everyone a check for a few hundred dollars. There’s even money somewhere in Louisiana, set aside for Katrina recovery and properly rebuilding infrastructure, but none of this money goes where it can do any good, towards preserving communities and saving lives.

The storms continue and the criminals, they carry on as if they’ve done nothing wrong.

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Remembering Stolen Lives in NOLA

One year ago this week I was in NOLA, heading down the Gulf Coast seeing how people were dealing with the damage and neglect of the Federal Flood.  Here’s an excerpt from one of the posts on the subject of housing in New Orleans,

It was probably my second day in New Orleans and I decided to go visit the common ground legal clinic. I had heard they were providing free legal advice and a mini computer lab for local residents who want to get informed about their rights and perhaps how to manage property issues that have emerged after Katrina. After some nice emailing with one of the spokespeople… I figured going there would be an interesting experience.

As usual I drove around in circles, distracted every five minutes by another neighborhood of abandoned or destroyed houses. Eventually I found the legal clinic on a very lovely and typical new orleans street with the nice trees growing in the middle island that people seem to refer to as neutral territory. A large house with a dry cleaners on the ground floor, as I pulled up I could already see lots of people hanging out using their computers… I knew I had come to the right place.

Fast forward an hour or so, I’m sitting on the front porch sharing a little plastic table with a pretty young lady on her laptop, both of us typing away franticly.

At some point I strike up a conversation. She’s a law student from Seattle… as are many of the volunteers at the legal clinic. They come down in waves whenever they can, and right now it was spring break. When I asked her what tasks she was working on, she held up a stack of photocopied newspaper pages.

“You see these… they look like classified ads don’t they? These are printed in the big local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, everyday. Thing is, they’re not classified ads, they notices of properties that are considered abandoned, warning people that they will be evicted from their property if they don’t do something about it.”

I looked at the tiny print and the neverending list of properties, each one representing a life, or probably a family. Looking up at the young law student, I asked if this was legal?

Read the full text here. The struggle continues.

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New Voices in NOLA

Common Ground MuralIt was one year ago that I was making my way to New Orleans. From there I travelled along the Gulf Coast, visiting communities and good friends, many who’s lives had been dramatically effected by the Federal Flood and hurricane Katrina.

Jay wrote to me a few weeks ago to say that he was heading there, to give some seminars or talks on videoblogging. More recently he sent me a message talking about how great it was to be there, and the good news: a new NOLA videoblog has launched.  Despite all the great voices, like Dambala, Morwen, and Ray, who write about the city’s issues on a regular basis, there has long been a lack of consitent video blogging on these topics.  Now, Citizen’s City Hall looks like a great contender to fill that void.

-Nice job Jay, and welcome CCH!

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