Thursday, February 16, 2006

Has anyone come up with good reasons for opposing levee board consolidation? Like most people, I think, I've assumed that most of the opposition was led by people who benefited from the patronage associated with the various boards, and that they preyed on parochial fears and resentments to make their case.

However, I've been reluctant to get too worked up about it because I remember so many other cases where the overwhelming consensus opinion turned out to be wrong, or at least questionable--creation of DHS, expiration of the special counsel law, even NAFTA (I know public opinion was pretty well split, but "elite" opinion wasn't and it was obvious where that argument was going). I could go on, but in all of those cases, it wasn't hard to find well reasoned opposing arguments. Do such arguments even exist in the case of the levee boards?

The anti-consolidation argument I've heard most often is that the little guys -- the less populous parishes -- will get neglected by a massively centralized bureaucracy.
Editor B already hit the primary argument pretty much spot on. Most of "the money" is on the east bank and so most of the focus will be there as well...

And the "scientific" support for the argument is that the West Bank has different needs than the East. Unless the river levees break (on both sides), water from the west bank (e.g. a storm surge than came up through Barataria) will never cross the river and vice versa.

Granted, as a region, we are all connected but when a single "superboard" has an ordered list a priorities, Lake Pontchartain, MRGO, and the like are almost guaranteed to be at the top of that list - especially these days - to the detriment of the less "powerful" constituents.
That's the argument, but it sounds to me like it's just playing on local fears to protect local patronage. I haven't heard a convincing, or even plausible, argument that the levees in smaller parishes will be neglected and the people will be less safe.
Editor B and Grumpicus sound pretty convincing, I did say that remembering the rush to combine so much into DHS had be at least a little leery of levee board consolidation.

It does seem the "compromise" might actually be the best idea in this case. You don't have one massive central bureaucracy, but you cut back on the number of little fiefdoms.
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