Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Looking out for the little guy

Q: What’s the difference between a catfish and a civil trial lawyer?
A: One is a scum-sucking parasitic bottom-feeder and the other is a fish.
Corps of Engineers Sued Over Katrina

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Five people whose homes were flooded during Hurricane Katrina sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday, accusing the agency of ignoring repeated warnings that a navigation channel it built would turn into a "hurricane highway."

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Orleans and several prominent trial lawyers from Louisiana, Florida and California are backing it.

"Today, my friends, the second battle of New Orleans has begun," said Pierce O'Donnell, a Los Angeles lawyer, at a news conference outside federal court...

Here’s a surprise, since 1997 O’Donnell has contributed $49,500 to political campaigns. Guess how much went to Republicans. Enter his name here to find out.


Blogger jaime in metairie said...

What do contributions have to do with anything? For that matter in what way do political parties have anything to do this issue at all?

The US Army Corp and the Port of New Orleans had been warned about the MRGO time and time again. Hurricane Betsy was a wake up call and nothing was done to secure the channel. This time it was worse.

Katrina took out the gulf coast. The Army Corps took out New Orleans and that is a fact.

Between the MRGO and the design flaws on the canal levees you can account for ALL of the water in the city.

4/26/2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger ttlv said...

To ‘jaime in metairie’

What political party has controlled the state government in LA for lo these many decades? What political party has controlled NOLA government during that same timeframe? When the Corp of Engineers does its analysis and proposes its projects whom do you think has the final go/no-go decision for projects in a particular political jurisdiction? Where is the federal money spent on these projects and what contractors win the bids to do this work? Do you think that in a state with a long sordid history of political corruption and cronyism that political influence was not the key determinate in awarding multi-billion dollar government-funded government-run construction projects? How long have you lived in Metairie? If you just arrived, open some history books. If you’ve been there a while, open your eyes.

4/27/2006 9:59 AM  
Blogger jaime in metairie said...

As an FYI, I was born and bred in New Orleans - moved to Met about 10 years ago (thank goodness – the rest of my family and my husbands family are all displaced).

I’m sorry – what was that about history? What do you base your statements on? Not recent history for sure.
You might want to look a bit more closely yourself….

Foster (R) was Gov. before Blanco for 8 years. By all accounts, he made great strides in cleaning up corruption on the state level.

Nagin (D) was a life long republican before deciding to run for Mayor (also note that he gave quite a bit to GW's fund in his first White House run & endorsed the republican NOT Blanco in the last Gov. race - he is not exactly the DNC poster child). Nagin had done quite a bit of cleaning house around here starting from his first days in office. I can’t stand Blanco and think Nagin might have gone round the bend a bit since Katrina (who hasn’t around here) but I have never heard one thing about either of them that would suggest they are corrupt – at least that is a start.

I know all about the days of Edwards and Morial (and many, many others) – finally, we were taking steps and moving away from that garbage.

You should also note that as far as presidential elections go Louisiana is officially is a red state (2004 & 2000) and we have one of each in the senate (since Katrina they have really done a good job of working together).

Now, for the levee’s…

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sole authority over the design and construction of flood protection and water management. The Corps was responsible for project design and construction and local interests were responsible for maintenance. The only entity controlling federal flood money is the federal US Army Corps of Engineers. When construction projects on the levees are contracted out to local contractors, the MONEY IS CONTROLLED BY THE CORPS. Further, Corps officials say that “once they accept outside work, it becomes their own.”

Since 1965, the local levee boards have been removed from levee design and construction and they clearly were not responsible for checking the engineering calculations of the Corps. The role of the local levee boards was to levy taxes and use other sources of income to pay for maintaining the levees and to pay the 30% local share of the flood protection. Maintenance activities include cutting the grass and reporting visible problems to the Corps.

The levee boards had become a source of political patronage and money may have been wasted. Nevertheless, such waste or diversion appears irrelevant to the failure of the floodwalls. Dan Hitchings, director of the USACE Task Force Hope when asked if the levee boards had done anything wrong, he replied that they did nothing “that was significant.” Further, only experienced engineers with complete access to the Corps design specs and calculations would have been able to detect design flaws deep under the ground.

And on the MRGO…

For years, community leaders, activists, and scientists had warned the Corps that the MRGO was a hurricane highway that would funnel hurricane storm surges directly to New Orleans, and called for closing the outlet. In May 2005, the Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center validated these concerns. Hydrodynamic modeling showed that a "funnel" created by MRGO and the industrial canal would amplify storm surges by 20 to 40 percent. Experts now believe that this is precisely what happened. The initial flooding that overwhelmed St. Bernard Parish and the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and New Orleans East came from MRGO. The impacts were devastating. Only 52 of the 28,000 structures in St. Bernard Parish escaped unscathed from Katrina. In 1998, the St. Bernard Parish Council unanimously called for closing MRGO.

4/27/2006 4:12 PM  

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