Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mardi Gras Index (not what you might think)

If you're on the mailing list for the Institute for Southern Studies you've probably already received Reconstruction Watch's Mardi Gras Index(pdf.): The State of New Orleans by the numbers.

The report states that:

HEALTH AND SAFETY concerns are keeping residents away — from rampant
mold, to pollution “hot spots” such as four city neighborhoods with 100
times accepted safe levels of arsenic. Regulators have offered no
clean-up plan — creating a public health threat compounded by the city’s
gutted health care system.

No argument on the second part; we need a clean-up plan. The report might be wrong about safety concerns--at least concerns about pollution-- keeping people away. People are staying away because of concerns about the levees; are they really staying away because of concerns about arsenic? I think that report overstates that part, I'm afraid that could end up being a major problem in the future.

I found pgs. 18-19, on reconstruction contracting, particularly interesting--mainly because the issue has been largely forgotten. The Picayune has had several excellent articles and editorials on the subject. From a recent Stephanie Grace column:

On top of that, there are expensive no-bid contracts and the wasteful layersubcontractingracts for countless federal contracts.

But I do think that somebody needs to connect the dots for the national media before "$85B is a lot" becomes "$100B is a lot." As a matter of fact, the whole issue of no-bid contracts/ sub-contracting seems to have become the elephant in the room (kudos to the T/P for keeping on it, most recently Monday).

When I first brought up my "Bush or the Republican leadership took its ball and went home theory"--once the contracting came under scrutiny, the administration lost its enthusiasm for rebuilding, I thought that I was stating the obvious. When nobody else picked it up, I wondered whether I was stating the too obvious, like an adolescent pointing out hypocrisywhetherather I was getting into tin foil hat territory.

Whatever the reasons, the problem remains. The fact that even Democrats in Louisiana and Mississippi have grown silent about it makes me wonder whether the tacit threat worked. At any rate, none of the no-bid contracts have been renegotiated. Which leads to another question: when will David Paulison be charged with perjury? If he wasn't under oath, when will he at least be forced to explain himself?

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