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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Is this what you want, Algiers?

UPDATE 12:15pm: Some info in the comments...

Once upon a Katrina time, Polimom’s lens was focused tightly on Algiers – the largely unflooded portion of Orleans Parish that lies across the river from Greater New Orleans. It’s been months since I’ve spoken directly to all those folks, and I don’t know how many of Polimom’s old friends still visit here regularly.

This morning, though, Polimom’s thinking hard about Algiers again – and I have a question:

Did Representatives Arnold and Tucker head off to Baton Rouge this week with your input regarding a unified levee board? Did you ask them to resist?

Polimom is not attacking Algiers; I'm sincerely concerned, because there's a lot at stake.

Polimom has a “here we go again” feeling in the pit of her stomach when she reads:

Levee board consolidation bill passes out of committee while Senators maintain its death

The legislation has been strongly opposed by some West Bank elected officials, who say their constituents are in a different flood basin and are better served by a separate board.

The legislative representatives are purportedly speaking for their constituents on the West Bank, which should mean that West Bank residents agree that their communities cannot be served by a unified levee board. Is that true?

Because this is not a small issue. People everywhere are watching to see whether Louisiana (generally) and the New Orleans area (specifically) can work together, or are doomed to be at cross-purposes forever. The New York Times spelled it out clearly this morning:

This week the State Legislature convened its second special session on Hurricane Katrina. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and the Legislature had a chance to reform the system at the special session in November, but the governor backed a weaker oversight measure that failed to pass.

That cannot happen again. This time they must overcome rivalries for the greater good. Storms do not pay attention to parish lines, and neither should the system to defend against them. While much of the blame for the failures of the defense system falls at the feet of the Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana should focus on what it can do to improve organization and accountability on its end.

If you’re still out there reading Polimom, Algiers, could you talk to me about this for a sec? Are your elected officials truly articulating your views on the unification of the levee boards?


  • At 10:18 AM, Blogger Nolatina said;

    No I didn't ask them to resist. I live in the Point so we fall under Orleasn Parish. I signed the petition for One Levee board. It makes sense to have One board. Do you know how to reach these guys?

  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger westrom said;

    and tucker:

  • At 12:14 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    Thanks, westrom. Been away from the computer for the morning...

    I've also had some comments via email.

    This can't sit on the back burner, folks. If you feel that the interests of New Orleans will be served by a divided stand, then by all means remain silent... BUT - if you have been assuming that Reps Tucker and Arnold were on-board with the levee board unification, you need to get in touch with them IMMEDIATELY to give them your feedback.

    You live there. You elected them. They represent YOU. Not Belle Chasse. Not Harvey.

    The latest info at NOLA.com is here, including this activity from Jim Tucker:

    "Meanwhile in the House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works, a second day of hearings on a stack of levee board bills ended with Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, throwing an unexpected wild card into the legislative mix.

    As a counter or fallback to Boasso's new bill, he introduced the same levee overhaul bill Boasso carried in the November special session that was famously killed by a procedural vote without a hearing in the House. That bill kept West Jefferson out of the regional consolidation, which coincides with Tucker's desire to keep the west bank separate from any east bank authority.

    Working in tandem with Tucker, Fontenot introduced the old Boasso bill in the Senate on Wednesday. Boasso was unaware of the developments.

    That left more than a dozen levee overhaul bills for the House committee to consider, some intended as competitors to the Boasso bill and others placed as a fallback in case Boasso's fails."

  • At 12:31 PM, Blogger Rebecca said;

    I too signed the One Levee board petition and believe it's the only way. Your new news, Poli, is disturbing and I thank you so much for saying "not Harvey, not Belle Chase." That's so important. Okay, so I'm one of the "via email" people. I'm thinking about what I said, what you said, what the paper said. And when all is SAID, something must be DONE. And I think that if this metro area, and if anyone thinks that's NOT what it is, they're wrong, has to work together on this or we're gonna be screwed in the end. No pun intended. ::::::grinning as I say that, I just couldn't resist:::::::

  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    Jeff Arnold main page

    Jim Tucker main page

  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Ray in New Orleans said;

    Under the old system he was still under Orleans Parish, so if they squash this, he's still going to be dominated by East bankers, but he's also going to have to deal with separate entities in West Jeff.

    I don't get what Tucker wants here. A separate unified levee board for the West Bank? Wouldn't that just be dominated by West Jeff authorities? Algiers just is not that damn big in the grand scheme of things.

    I mean, come on, people. Next time around are we gonna have armed incursions crossing the river trying to blow up the other guys levees to save our own, 1927-style?

  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    More from Tucker (as ever, from NOLA.com):

    That change was enough to land the governor's support, but it also increased the number of potential opponents.

    Among them is Rep. James Tucker, D-Algiers, author of a bill to consolidate West Bank levee districts into a standalone entity.

    Tucker predicted Boasso will cave to the opposition and ultimately accept a split between the east and west banks to garner enough support for at least some consolidation.

    "The process is one of compromise," Tucker said. "Walter's not a kamikaze."

    The title of the article that quote is from, tellingly, is "Pinata Politics".

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