Report from Louisiana: Heads Are Rolling in NOLA

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Report from Louisiana: Heads Are Rolling in NOLA

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – In the wake of last week’s flood­ing in New Orleans and the epic fall­out of blame that has del­uged us in the media, it is worth not­ing that the mayor of the city, Mitch Lan­drieu, has taken no blame what­so­ever for the dis­as­ter that left many city res­i­dents and busi­nesses all wet.

Sat­ur­day, August 5, New Orleans took on large amounts of rain­fall in a short period – in some areas up to nine inches of rain – more than city pumps could keep up with:

New Orleans is prone to large rain­fall events dur­ing the spring and through­out hur­ri­cane sea­son. The city sits below sea level and is pro­tected by a com­plex sys­tem of drainage pumps oper­ated by the Sew­er­age and Water Board. After Hur­ri­cane Kat­rina bat­tered New Orleans in 2005, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment sent bil­lions of dol­lars to New Orleans for improved flood pro­tec­tion, bet­ter drainage sys­tems and enhanced lev­ees. In the after­math of the flood Sat­ur­day, there needs to be an account­ing of how all of those dol­lars have been spent.

After the dis­as­ter, through the week, the blame game heated up. Heads rolled. Peo­ple were fired or resigned. Lan­drieu tried to stay unscathed.

It’s impor­tant to note that Mitch wasn’t even in the city. He was at a con­fer­ence in Aspen, CO for the pur­pose of beef­ing up his pres­i­den­tial cre­den­tials. He didn’t address the peo­ple of the city for two days:

[When the flood­ing began], Lan­drieu was attend­ing a “secu­rity con­fer­ence” at the Aspen Insti­tute and did not bother to address the peo­ple of New Orleans until two days after the storm.

In effect, Lan­drieu placed his Aspen Insti­tute con­fer­ence above the cit­i­zens of New Orleans. Any true leader would have taken the next flight back to New Orleans to direct the city government’s response to the flood. Instead, Mitch Lan­drieu hid behind his admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials and when they failed to meet expec­ta­tions, he blamed them, fired them and tried to con­vey to the cit­i­zens a false image of engaged leadership.

As it turns out, after a series of false num­bers, 16 of the city’s pumps were offline or under­go­ing main­te­nance when the storm hit. Six­teen pumps not work­ing dur­ing hur­ri­cane season.

As of Sat­ur­day, seven days after the storm, Lan­drieu has still not reviewed Water & Sew­er­age Board log to assess the problem:

I have not looked at the logs per­son­ally,” Lan­drieu said dur­ing a Sat­ur­day morn­ing press con­fer­ence called to give an update on the sta­tus of a tur­bine that gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity for many of the city’s pumps.

The Times-​Picayune is call­ing for Landrieu’s head:

Lan­drieu must carry a lion’s share of respon­si­bil­ity here. He appointed pub­lic works direc­tor Mark Jerni­gan, who appar­ently never got around to using $3 mil­lion ear­marked for catch basin repair and main­te­nance. The mayor also maneu­vered Cedric Grant into his role of exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Sew­er­age & Water Board as a way to over­haul an agency that has been described “as a den for contract-​peddling and sweet­heart deals for those with the right connections.”

And while Lan­drieu claims he had no idea things were this bad, his own peo­ple cry foul:

But the mayor’s ver­sion took a hit late Thurs­day (Aug. 10) when Sew­er­age & Water Board pres­i­dent pro-​tem Scott Jacobs announced his res­ig­na­tion and crit­i­cized Lan­drieu for blam­ing employ­ees when the mayor was well aware of all the prob­lems before the storms hit.

If the pub­lic is angry with any­one, Jacobs said it should be at the Lan­drieu admin­is­tra­tion “for not say­ing years ago, ‘You are at risk.’ This is not the first time we’ve had tur­bines down. This time, we got caught.”

Per­haps this will be the event that finally forces Landrieu’s sup­port­ers to see him for the career politi­cian that he is and shut down Landrieu’s pres­i­den­tial aspirations.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  In the wake of last week’s flooding in New Orleans and the epic fallout of blame that has deluged us in the media, it is worth noting that the mayor of the city, Mitch Landrieu, has taken no blame whatsoever for the disaster that left many city residents and businesses all wet.

Saturday, August 5, New Orleans took on large amounts of rainfall in a short period – in some areas up to nine inches of rain – more than city pumps could keep up with:

New Orleans is prone to large rainfall events during the spring and throughout hurricane season. The city sits below sea level and is protected by a complex system of drainage pumps operated by the Sewerage and Water Board. After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, the federal government sent billions of dollars to New Orleans for improved flood protection, better drainage systems and enhanced levees. In the aftermath of the flood Saturday, there needs to be an accounting of how all of those dollars have been spent.

After the disaster, through the week, the blame game heated up. Heads rolled. People were fired or resigned.  Landrieu tried to stay unscathed.

It’s important to note that Mitch wasn’t even in the city. He was at a conference in Aspen, CO for the purpose of beefing up his presidential credentials.   He didn’t address the people of the city for two days:

[When the flooding began], Landrieu was attending a “security conference” at the Aspen Institute and did not bother to address the people of New Orleans until two days after the storm.

In effect, Landrieu placed his Aspen Institute conference above the citizens of New Orleans. Any true leader would have taken the next flight back to New Orleans to direct the city government’s response to the flood. Instead, Mitch Landrieu hid behind his administration officials and when they failed to meet expectations, he blamed them, fired them and tried to convey to the citizens a false image of engaged leadership.

As it turns out, after a series of false numbers, 16 of the city’s pumps were offline or undergoing maintenance when the storm hit.  Sixteen pumps not working during hurricane season.

As of Saturday, seven days after the storm, Landrieu has still not reviewed Water & Sewerage Board log to assess the problem:

“I have not looked at the logs personally,” Landrieu said during a Saturday morning press conference called to give an update on the status of a turbine that generates electricity for many of the city’s pumps.

The Times-Picayune is calling for Landrieu’s head:

Landrieu must carry a lion’s share of responsibility here. He appointed public works director Mark Jernigan, who apparently never got around to using $3 million earmarked for catch basin repair and maintenance. The mayor also maneuvered Cedric Grant into his role of executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board as a way to overhaul an agency that has been described “as a den for contract-peddling and sweetheart deals for those with the right connections.”

And while Landrieu claims he had no idea things were this bad, his own people cry foul:

But the mayor’s version took a hit late Thursday (Aug. 10) when Sewerage & Water Board president pro-tem Scott Jacobs announced his resignation and criticized Landrieu for blaming employees when the mayor was well aware of all the problems before the storms hit.

If the public is angry with anyone, Jacobs said it should be at the Landrieu administration “for not saying years ago, ‘You are at risk.’ This is not the first time we’ve had turbines down. This time, we got caught.”

Perhaps this will be the event that finally forces Landrieu’s supporters to see him for the career politician that he is and shut down Landrieu’s presidential aspirations.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.