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Obama: Rebuilding New Orleans Priority

From our favorite newspaper (for its name, anyway) the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Rebuilding New Orleans still a priority, Obama says

by Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert, The Times-Picayune
Saturday August 22, 2009

President Barack Obama said his administration remains focused on rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, that anything less "would be a betrayal of who we are as a country, " and that he plans to visit New Orleans by the end of the year.

"Well, keep in mind I’ve been in New Orleans multiple times, and I intend to be back in New Orleans before the year is out because I want to see first-hand where progress is being made, and where it is not, " Obama said.

The president, who last visited New Orleans 18 months ago, is not expected to come this week to mark the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the nation’s costliest disaster after the failure of federally built floodwalls…

"I think that Katrina was really a wake-up call for the country — about our need to fulfill our commitments to our fellow citizens, a recognition that there but for the grace of God go I, that all of us can fall prey to these kinds of natural disasters, " Obama said.

"I think to fail to follow through on that commitment would be a betrayal of who we are as a country. I also think that the Gulf region generally, but New Orleans specifically, has a unique place in America’s imagination and American life and that’s why it is so important now.

"Having said all of this, " the president continued, "I also think the rest of the country is going to be insistent at a time of great fiscal challenge that money in the Gulf region is spent wisely, that local officials are coordinating effectively, that there is transparency and accountability to these processes, that there is a minimum of politics involved in decision making.

"I think given that there are a lot of communities that are having hard times right now, I think people just want to make sure the money is not being wasted," Obama said. "And that is part of my responsibility as president, to make sure it isn’t."

Obama visited N.O. in February, 2008

As a senator, Obama visited New Orleans five times after Hurricane Katrina. His last visit was for a campaign speech at Tulane University on Feb. 7, 2008, two days before his victory in the Louisiana primary. In the speech, Obama laid out his vision for rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and, as the title of his speech indicated, for "rebuilding trust with New Orleans."

"I promise you that when I’m in the White House I will commit myself every day to keeping up Washington’s end of the bargain, " Obama told the Tulane audience. "This will be a priority of my presidency. And I will make it clear to members of my administration that their responsibilities don’t end in places like the 9th Ward, they begin in places like the 9th Ward."

In the recent White House interview, Obama said he believes he has kept faith with that pledge.

"You know, I really do, " the president said. "When we came in I immediately said to my top White House staff as well as Cabinet members who had responsibilities that I want to make sure we get the rebuilding of New Orleans right and the Gulf Coast region in general, but also that I want us to have the best, most effective hurricane response operation in place so that what happened four years ago never happens again and I think that we have put together an extraordinary team that has been focused on those directives."

Obama singled out the work of Craig Fugate, the new FEMA administrator, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, in shaking loose $1 billion in already appropriated reconstruction money, in moving people out of temporary housing, and in working with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, to create an arbitration panel to settle long-standing disputes, most likely beginning with how much the federal government owes Louisiana for the damage at Charity Hospital.

"Having said all this, are there still huge problems there? Absolutely, " the president said. "Are there still families that haven’t been able to rebuild or are there are still communities like the 9th Ward that are still ravaged by what happened four years ago. Absolutely. Are we going to have to do more? The answer is yes."

New Orleans could have been rebuilt using solid platinum toothpicks by now, after all this time and expense.

And it would probably have been cheaper.

It’s almost as if there is some kind of corruption going on down there.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Obama: Rebuilding New Orleans Priority”

  1. proreason says:

    It’s all about redisribution. Except this time, we will get to do it over and over and over.

    Hurricane Katrina spoke eloquently about the wisdom of building a major city on a floodplain in a Hurricane zone.

    Anybody living there today without the means to vacate quickly or with a significant portion of their earning capability and/or wealth tied to that location is a fool, pure and simple.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Below sea level …….. uh huh!!

      WE need to surround it in glass and make it the National Aquarium. Add a few Sea Monkeys, a little treasure chest and some saw grass.

      Chocolate Town will never be the same!!

    • Confucius says:

      Don’t people know that chocolate and water don’t mix?

  2. Confucius says:

    How can this be?

    You mean that Hollywood glitterati, Geraldo Riviera and more money than God haven’t yet fixed one city?

    • catie says:

      Really. Where’s Brad Pitt the Savior of New Orleans? His stupid flick supposedly raked in a lot of bucks this week. He should donate it all to NOLA.

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “I think given that there are a lot of communities that are having hard times right now, I think people just want to make sure the money is not being wasted,”

    Thank you, Mr Obvious. A non-sequitur of monumental proportions.

    “…that there is transparency and accountability to these processes”

    Now where have I heard that before?

    “”This will be a priority of my presidency.”


    Remember, kids, to always put on your “opposite hats” when listening to the president!

  4. Rusty Shackleford says:

    after the failure of federally built floodwalls…

    My god, still on that saw.

    It irks me that the truth never gets said. There were many engineers who told Washington and NO that the flood walls were only good up to a certain water level in a storm surge. They warned and warned and warned…and were ignored. Naturally, the storm of Katrina proved them right and then the politicians started pointing fingers.

    It really makes me ill.

  5. neocon mom says:

    Libs have taken what should have been a real-life version of “The Ant and The Grasshopper” and turned it on its head. The grasshopper is the victim and the ant is responsible for rebuilding its life, but a much nicer life than it ever had before. And nothing is expected from the grasshopper still.

  6. retire05 says:

    This pisses me off in so many ways, I don’t know how to express it.

    In May I was at a dinner with Governor Rick Perry. People asked him when Galveston Island, wiped out by Hurricane Ike, was going to start seeing some rebuilding. Perry got a kind of dark look on his face as he explained how Texas has spent its entire “rainy day” funds on cleaning up Galveston with the promise from the feds that federal disaster funds would be coming to compete the job. Perry went on to explain that he had just recently contacted both FEMA amd Napalitano and asked when Texas could expect the rest funds promised.

    Perry was told, flat out, no more funding. It seems that the administration has decided that there are other states that need the help worse since we were not really suffering high unemployment rates (around 6.7% at the time) and that we had a balanced budget. He laughted and told us that the next time a hurricane hits the Texas coast, we should all sit on our roofs and demand the government be responsible for us.

    Yeah, this article pisses me off.

  7. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Is there a cut off time frame on this whole Nawlins’/Katrina thing? If the city is still in disrepair four years later then it’s one of two things: 1. Ray Nagin and his staff don’t know what the hell they’re doing while pretending that they do. Or 2. Everybody is so used to playing the victim that they have no initiative to improve their lot in life, but would rather blame someone else. If you wait for the government to come and help you then you’ll be waiting a long time and be very disappointed.

    So, how much more will all this financial assistance put us further into a monstrous deficit?

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      The cutoff point was the day Blammo took office. That, for me, was the official end of ever having to apologize for being an Anglo-American.

      If the won had any testicles at all, he would say something like: “And citizens of New Orleans. It’s been tough, I know. But, the time has come, and those of you out there know who you are, to take a lesson from other natural disasters in this nation and get up off your collective asses and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. There is no more money. If you are willing to work hard, pull together and make that city wonderful, I’m all for it and I will send you all the help I can. But so far, all you’ve shown the people of the United States, your fellow citizens, is anger and selfishness about not getting what you think you are owed. Well, life is tough sometimes..and guess what? It’s tougher if you’re stupid”

      If Obama said something like that, and backed it up with action, I would vote for him over and over and over again.

      But see, that’s where my utopian world and the typical liberal’s differ. No victims, just responsibility. No hand outs, but a hand up. Now, to be fair, there are the elderly, the infirm and handicapped…but I’ll bet many of them aren’t sitting idly by and waiting. Indeed, it has been more often the case that those types of people are better at finding solutions than anything else. Why? Because they have to survive every freakin day. Every single moment is a reminder that they are faced with challenge. And they usually meet it head on and tackle it.

      So guess who I’m really talking to—

    • pdsand says:

      We’re talking about a group of people who were already “cradle to grave” welfare or prison. How they were in any way “victimized” by the hurricane I still haven’t figured out. They didn’t own their homes, they didn’t have a job to lose, and their welfare benefits/prison accomodations follow them wherever they go.
      To think that the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, delayed by the state of louisiana/city of new orleans official request for assistance, is really at the roots of why we have a democrat congress and democrat president is really sickening.

  8. curvyred says:

    Excuse me? Hasn’t there already been billions poured into New Orleans coffers? Where did all that money go?

    Explain to me why Kansas and the other states devastated by natural disasters are back in order – could it be the American spirit and lack of gubment dependancy?

    • catie says:

      Ding, Ding, Ding-we have a winner. I also wonder why MS & AL are doing well too without all the govt. handouts. It’s very odd that other parts of LA are back on track yet NOLA remains a hell hole. My cousin’s son lives in Houston. He said it has gotten terrible since the “refugees” came there. His wife is a teacher in what used to be a descent school system. As soon as he can find a job somewhere else, they’re out of there.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Catie, I was living in Houston the moment they arrived. Talk about a really bad movie. Homicide skyrocketed, violent crime too, thefts, break-ins, carjacking, etc.

      I make no apology in saying that they should stay in their own backyard and keep their own mess. Or, even better: I might have an ounce of respect for them (as a whole) if they would simply pull together and stop waiting for their entitlement check.

      As we used to say in the military, “S__t in one hand and wish in the other. See which one fills up first.”

    • Colonel1961 says:

      Curvy, it rings true around the gulf coast (Alabama and Mississippi) as well. They got together and cleaned their places up themselves. They weren’t waiting on anyone – good ol’ self-reliance. And, I guess ‘self-reliance’ will soon be a code phrase for anti-black, huh? Rusty, I agree with you 100% – sloth is a deadly sin and I’m tired of paying for it. Enough is enough.

  9. wirenut says:

    The Messiah’s own words ring true for once. Betrayal seems very fitting. Who would know better than he?

  10. pdsand says:

    My american history teacher told me in high school, and he was very right, that “victim” is for life. We all just need to get over it, because “rebuilding” is going to continue forever, whether it’s under socialist democrats, or whether it’s under “compassionate” republicans.
    And I lived in Biloxi before the hurricane and went to New Orleans frequently, and I can tell you, it wasn’t that nice to begin with. Our old joke in Georgia was that a tornado destroyed three counties in Alabama and caused $150 in damages. Well, in the case of the lower ninth ward, the flood probably didn’t really make things that much worse. The buildings went from; dilapidated, condemned and abandoned, to demolished. I can’t see how it makes that much of a difference.

    “the nation’s costliest disaster after the failure of federally built floodwalls…”

    And of course the propensity of the “levee boards” to spend their money on anything except levees.

    Does anyone remember “Imagine it clean”? It’s hard to believe that a city that needed something like this was in a condition that requires much “rebuilding”.


  11. artboyusa says:

    “Let’s go to New Orleans” said Mrs Artboy, a few years ago.

    “Let’s not” says me “Let’s go someplace decent” but I was overruled and off we went. What a dump! It was like landing in Port-Au-Prince. The place smelled of pee, there was garbage everywhere, the drinks were watered and even MacDonald’s needed armed security guards. Worst place I’ve ever been (in America anyway). They should have left it to the alligators, the goddam hellhole.

    • pdsand says:

      I’ll always remember the grocery store, I think a Winn-Dixie that was right along the little street that led from the exit off the I-10 to Canal street and the Vieux Carre, the thing had an honest to goodness security fence around it that rivaled a prison.
      I was foolish enough as a young A1C in tech school going home on Christmas Exodus to say to my girlfriend and the future Mrs. PDSand, ‘let’s take the train from New Orleans to Georgia, it’s the old crescent line that Lewis Grizzard wrote so much about.’ Wrong move, buddy, wrong move.

  12. artboyusa says:

    You said it, pd. Dirty, dangerous and expensive place. And those severed alligator heads they sell everywhere? What’s up with that?

  13. Rusty Shackleford says:

    From the AP:

    Hope, reality collide in post-Katrina New Orleans

    By BECKY BOHRER and PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writers Becky Bohrer And Peter Prengaman, Associated Press Writers – Wed Aug 26, 7:18 am ET

    NEW ORLEANS – Shelia Phillips doesn’t see the New Orleans that Mayor Ray Nagin talks about, the one on its way to having just as many people and a more diverse economy than it did before Hurricane Katrina. How could she?

    From the front porch of her house in the devastated Lower 9th Ward, it’s hard to see past the vegetation slowly swallowing the property across the way. Nearby homes are boarded up or still bear the fading tattoos left by search and rescue teams nearly four years ago. The fence around a playground a few blocks down is padlocked.

    “I just want to see people again,” she said recently, swatting bugs in the muggy heat.

    On paper, the city’s economy appears to be thriving, with relatively low unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. But in post-Katrina New Orleans, residents’ perceptions of their city’s recovery tends to depend on where they live, their vantage point of it. Swaths of some neighborhoods are sparsely populated, even desolate, and federal rebuilding dollars have provided much of the economic resilience.

    ——Rest of article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090826/ap_on_re_us/us_new_new_orleans

    ——Seems the writer has trouble not telling the real story, which if you read it completely, states that nobody wants to move back there who has moved away; The people who ARE moving there have never lived there before and that the people who stayed are still waiting for it to drop into their laps.

    Note to the military, do NOT recruit actively from New Orleans. You will get lazy, entitlement-minded people who won’t show any initiative.

    Also reading into it, the smarter ones moved away, never to return.

    I say, make one last final investment to pay for bulldozers, graders, dump trucks, etc and level the rest. Let it be the swamp it started out as and leave it at that.

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