Monday, March 13, 2006

Texas, Mississippi and a Zero Sum Game

Despite platitudes about all the Gulf Coast States "being in this together" and the states all needing to work together to make sure that each state gets what it needs, it became obvious last week that the governors of Texas and Mississippi had decided that they were involved in a cutthroat, zero sum game. Haley Barbour even disputed the fact that Louisiana took significantly more damage than Missippi:

After the Senate hearing, Blanco’s Louisiana Recovery Authority released data, compiled by the federal Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding, showing the state bore the overwhelming brunt of housing damage classified as “major and severe,” at 67 percent.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour took issue with the numbers.

“I’ve seen figures that do not add up to that,” he told the committee.

I hate to say it, but after reading today's paper, I have to agree. HALEY BARBOUR WAS RIGHT:

The slide show, which is based on federally compiled disaster statistics, says that of all of the major flood damage to homes from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Louisiana suffered 77 percent. It says that a lone neighborhood in New Orleans, Gentilly, suffered more housing damage than the entire state of Texas.

Actually, I had thought that perhaps Louisiana had suffered more damage than Mississippi, but Mississippi had experienced more destruction. Apparently even that's not the case:

Louisiana’s disproportionate share of the devastation is even more dramatic when it comes to homes that FEMA classifies as severely damaged or destroyed——those considered practically demolished by the storms. Louisiana has more than five times the number of housing units that meet that description than the combined sum of the four neighboring states

Since Louisiana sure seems to have the facts on its side, it's good to see that somebody is taking the proper steps to make sure the facts get publicized:

Aware the numbers mean little unless the right people see them, a private foundation supporting the authority has hired former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., to open doors on Capitol Hill

Whoever heads that foundation has my gratitude, my vote for governor if he or she ever wants it.

Even though things seem to be looking much better for Louisiana, I would like to go back to one thing that Haley Barbour said to congress last week:

With the confidence of a man whose home-state senator chairs the key money committee, Barbour struck a calm tone telling the senators that he wasn’t asking for environmental restoration money because he hadn’t fully vetted the proposal yet.

WTF? Is that a reference to Louisiana's request for coastal restoration money? Is he trying to imply that Mississippi has somehow been more frugal because it doesn't the damaged marshes or oil spills of Louisiana? I don't begrudge Mississippi any of the money it needs for reconstruction. However, if Haley Barbour wants to turn this into dog-eat-dog game, I would remind the good people of Mississippi that their own lobbyist-in-chief

AshBritt earlier this year hired the lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which was founded by Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and paid the firm $40,000 to lobby the Army Corps and Congress, according to Senate records.

has played some part

AshBritt is hauling debris to temporary holding areas at the four dumps; eventually the federal government will again pay the contractor to move the rubble a few hundred yards to what the corps has designated a “final resting place” at each of the four sites. Contractors say the temporary dumping site is used to separate the debris before taking it to the permanent site.

What's more, the four landowners will be paid again per cubic yard, and Chris Lagarde, an environmental aide to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said paying multiple times to move the same piece of garbage is a waste.

in the high cost of Katrina reconstruction.

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