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Old 07-13-2008, 02:52 AM   #1
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How Republicans have helped corporations recover from Katrina, but not citizens

This is an excellent story from a Bill Moyers journalist WILLIAM BRANGHAM about how the Bush administration and conservative congressmen and Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi have given millions to casinos and hotels for expansion on land and helped the rich immediately, while poor citizens have gotten very little or nothing. This is shocking.
Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS
It's only 15 minutes and it's brilliantly told.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:58 AM   #2
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It's shocking? I'm not surprised at all. Sad statement to make, but just honest.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:57 AM   #3
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That's always been the Republican way...give steaks to rich folks hoping the poor folks can have their bones. Ah the "great" Reagan and trickle down economics. Of course it doesn't take an idiot to see that you don't want to be at the bottom of the trickle...when I was at UConn the showers were all in one big room, the one on the left was first in line and had the most water pressure, and the drain was all the way down on the right with the weakest shower head. You think anybody used the one at the drain end?
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:16 PM   #4
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WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mississippi's governor Haley Barbour has received a lot of money to rebuild homes. Congress gave the state over $3 billion dollars specifically for housing. Federal rules required that half that money be given to lower income families.

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's good to hear people hammering isn't it.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But governor Barbour wanted to loosen those federal rules. He argued he could do a better job if Washington wouldn't tell him how to spend the money.

GOVERNOR BARBOUR: Let me just thank you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In his former life, Haley Barbour was one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the county. He was also chairman of the Republican National Committee, so he has friends in Washington. When Barbour asked for waivers of those federal rules, he got them.

ANNOUNCER: The Governor of the great state of Mississippi

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mississippi was the only state granted this kind of freedom with its recovery funds.

GOVERNOR BARBOUR 2007 State of the State speech: I especially appreciate and want to thank HUD Secretary Jackson who has not tried to substitute Washington's judgment for judgement of Mississippians about how best to rebuild and renew our state.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Steps Coalition argues that the governor has either excluded poor families from his recovery plans, or put them to the very back of the line. Here's what happened: Katrina hit in the summer of 2005. Eight months later, Phase I of the governor's housing grant program starts. Over a billion dollars goes out mostly to more affluent families. But it took more than a year after the storm for Phase II to begin - that's the program specifically targeted to lower income families. And to date, it's given out a lot less money. And now, two years on, not even half the people who've applied for Phase II have received grants.
Sounds to me like this is a failure on the part of the state governement. The state leadership determined that they wanted more control of the use of funds. This thread is full of such partisanism, it makes me laugh.

Is it disappointing, yes. However the very article points that the storm itself accelerated the trend for the region. New businesses were moving into the area, and housing was declining. The government (STATE) determined that this would be the opportunity to increase the rate at which new jobs were being created by using the funds to increase the business infrastructure first.

You can like it, hate it, disagree with it. It was a decision that was made. The people of Mississippi seam to think it was the correct decision. They reelected the governor.

If people do not hold elected officials accountable for decisions they disagree with, then, nothing changes.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:38 PM   #5
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FEMA trailers decrease; seen as sign state is recovering
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
By CHERIE WARD
A decline in FEMA travel trailers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a good indicator the state is recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday.

Only 3,690 trailers remain in the three coastal counties,which is below the 9,137 trailers pinpointed in January.

"As we move into this year's hurricane season," Barbour said, "I'm encouraged by these numbers, which show a significant number of Mississippians have moved out of their FEMA trailers and into safer, more livable housing alternatives."

The latest count shows there are 858 FEMA trailers being used in Jackson County, 1,943 in Harrison County and 889 in Hancock County, according to a news release from the governor's office.

"Our housing efforts are now moving from direct assistance with cash or a pre-constructed cottage to more complex and ambitious plans to construct literally tens of thousands of affordable rental homes," Barbour said. "This is going to be a complex and challenging effort, but it is part of the largest housing assistance effort ever undertaken by a single state, and it will leave the Gulf Coast with well more affordable housing stock than existed before Katrina."

Barbour told the Mississippi Press Association last week that all recovery projects should be under way by the end of the year.

"This is a critical year," Barbour said. "We've had a tremendous amount of good things happen. Record employment on the coast in the bottom six counties. The schools were all open within a few weeks. The big employers are back open. Things are starting to get more normal -- not normal, but we're getting there. We've got some big projects that are kind of like pigs in the python that we are trying to push through. ... We're going to keep the foot on the accelerator very hard for the rest of this year."

The Mississippi Development Authority has provided more than $1.6 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Program grants. More than 21,000 homeowners have received the federal funds, the governor's release states.

"When the Homeowners Assistance Program finishes servicing the remaining qualified applications this fall, we will have disbursed almost $2 billion in direct housing assistance to homeowners in our coastal counties," Barbour said. "And that doesn't count our remaining CDBG housing programs that are set to provide about 25,000 affordable housing units along the coast in the coming years."

The state has three other federally funded initiatives to replace or construct affordable housing and rental units in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has also provided more than 2,720 affordable houses to coastal residents.

FEMA trailers decrease; seen as sign state is recovering
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:52 PM   #6
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Barbour: 'Pigs in the python'
Major projects pushing through approvals process
By MICHAEL NEWSOM

BILOXI --Calling this a "critical year in recovery," Gov. Haley Barbour said Friday most of the state's remaining Hurricane Katrina projects need to be under construction by the end of 2008.

Barbour addressed the Mississippi Press Association convention and expressed urgency to get South Mississippi projects, including the extensive state port at Gulfport rebuilding and improvement project, as well as a massive $640 million post-Katrina water and sewer infrastructure task, under construction. He also said the state's housing plans, which would build or refurbish some 25,000 units, received approval from the federal government this week.

"This is going to be a critical year in recovery," Barbour said. "In my mind, virtually everything that is going to happen needs to be under construction by the end of this year."

The governor said much of the state's big post-Katrina projects are like "pigs in the python" and are now just being pushed through the cumbersome federal approvals process. The housing plan requires extensive environmental reviews, which can take up to a year to complete in some cases, he said.


"We're not being allowed to put in some units of housing that we have already got the money for if they are within 1,000 feet of an unprotected propane tank," Barbour said with astonishment.

Barbour also urged residents to prepare for hurricane season, which began June 1 but is about to move into the most active time, when the deadliest storms usually develop.

"No government is big enough to do everything for everybody in the time of a great disaster," Barbour said. "Self-help and self-preparedness is absolutely essential."

He urged anyone south of Jackson to heed warnings and evacuate when the orders come. He also recommended picking up hurricane-preparedness information from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

First-term Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann also addressed the journalists, covering issues including requiring voters to show identification at the polls, which is a big part of his early agenda. Hosemann said the measure would prevent fraud; he said poll workers in Wilkinson County recently saw the same person come in to vote three or four times in the same election.

The measure has so far failed in the Legislature, but Hosemann said the opposition, which has mostly come from senior Democrats, is mostly just political. Opponents say the measure could intimidate and disenfranchise some voters.

Yep it's all the republicans fault. It could not be the fact that they need to repair the sewars. It could not be the red tape. It could not be that the state of MI had other programs to rebuild the housing, that no amount of money could make it go faster due to red tape. It could not be that for the long term, things like sewage and jobs need to be there to sustain peoples lives. Nah....its a grand conspiracy.

How about that voting thing!!!! You want people to have legal identification to vote. Why is it that democrats always seem so opposed to such thing. Must be a conspiracy by the left to defraud the voters.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dreadsox View Post
The people of Mississippi seam to think it was the correct decision. They reelected the governor.
That's because his opposition was a holy-roller trial lawyer with no political experience who spent most of his time yammering about reinstating school prayer, and when he did address Barbour's Katrina-recovery strategy, focused on ranting about all the "Spanish people" stealing those (temporary) construction jobs down in Gulfport, and how Mississippi would supposedly have "record employment" if it weren't for them. (MS has the country's third highest unemployment rate, its lowest per capita income, and is in the bottom 10 if not the bottom 5 states for Hispanic population size, so besides being racist, this argument is economically ludicrous as well). Not that Barbour has a clean record on racially divisive politics either; I remember well his failed Senate campaign back in the '80s (a highlight, if only because it made national news, was his joking to an aide, in front of reporters, that if said aide didn't stop whining about all the 'coons' in the audience he'd have him reincarnated as a watermelon and put at their mercy). Of course, that was before Barbour spent 20 years running a lobbying firm in DC and came back all slick and campaign-savvy and well-connected. If I still lived in Mississippi, frankly I don't think I'd have been able to bring myself to vote for either of them.

Moyers' piece doesn't mention it, but the mayor of Gulfport was in on the gravy train too; the local paper, which won a Pulitzer for its Katrina-aftermath coverage, discovered that he'd managed to get hundreds of thousands in FEMA grant money to repair some of his own properties in Gulfport, even though he'd never lived in them (which makes it illegal) and had never submitted any of the required documents nor filled out any of the required paperwork.

You're certainly right about reviving the local economy being an essential part of any disaster recovery plan; on the other hand, $600 million for 1000 jobs is not exactly an impressive ROI, and port jobs tend not to go to low-income folks (almost 40% of Gulfport's population) anyway. As of the end of 2007, only 10% of Mississippi's Katrina relief money had gone towards *lower-income* housing grants; compare that with the usual federal requirement of 50%. Even Barbour's own initial plan had promised 23% would be allocated specifically for that purpose.

Well, I'm just ranting I guess...I wish the Steps people and all the other citizens' groups working for an equitable recovery process all the best; but knowing how corrupt and laden with kickbacks and slush funds Mississippi politics tend to be (and this definitely goes for MS Democrats too; it's just that Barbour has especially formidable connections), it's hard to feel optimistic about it. As has happened in NOLA, probably a lot of them will wind up simply moving away.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:02 PM   #8
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Again, if I understand the situation, the money is there and waiting and it was not until this past week things were approved on a federal level (assuming the article is correct).

Racisim knows no political party.

As the other article I quoted states, there are three other programs that are in operation that have been building housing. Moyers does not mention this fact, which may be all of the housing that could be built at the time. They could have appropriated 100% of the funding for more housing, restrictions and red tape would still be holding up the building of said houses.

Graft and corruption is a problem with ANY project. It is not just a MI thing. Big dig in Boston.

Finally, there were plenty of people according to the Boston papers who were using their FEMA money when they were located to the Boston area after Katrina, that were using the money to enjoy strippers at a local establishment. Just saying, that there is waste everywhere.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:08 PM   #9
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A question I would ask is which is more important: giving people back their homes and possessions but leaving them unemployed and without purchasing power, or giving them back their livelihood and leaving their health and safety compromised? Ideally you could strike through both of them at once and eliminate the dilemma, but is there really enough money available to restore both businesses and private lives to full function right away? Businesses can't work without employees, who can't work without health and hygiene and safety, which can't be obtained without some sort of homestead, which can't be obtained without money, which can't be obtained without working, which can't be done if there are no businesses to work at.

It's not a simple matter of 'spend money on the people' or 'spend money on the businesses', that dichotomous approach won't work, hasn't worked, and unless someone can (and does) set the state awash in flood of bureaucracy-free extra cash it just isn't something that 'gets fixed'.

The fact that the government wasn't willing to spend responsibly to fix the levees at the behest of the Army Corps of Engineers for the decade in advance of the disaster should probably be telling of how responsibly they were going to spend their money fixing it once it happened. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure and all that. The fact that FEMA still has any presence at all, and that they weren't laughed out of all spheres (humanitarian, business, political) is also telling. If noone else is willing to do the job, and people continue to endorse the worst possible candidate, I don't know if you can really expect miracles to gush forth.

The side of me that wants to be human and empathetic would really really liked to be surprised. I'm really not, though.
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dreadsox View Post
Again, if I understand the situation, the money is there and waiting and it was not until this past week things were approved on a federal level (assuming the article is correct).
I assume you're referring to this:
Quote:
He also said the state's housing plans, which would build or refurbish some 25,000 units, received approval from the federal government this week.
That's with reference to the Small Rental Assistance Program, which is one of the aforementioned "three other federally funded initiatives to replace or construct affordable housing and rental units in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina" (the other two are the Longterm Workforce Housing Program, which was approved by HUD last spring, and the Public Housing Program, which was approved in fall 2006). Those programs provide, respectively, incentives for investors to build low-income rental units (SRAP, worth $262 M) and middle-income housing (LWHP, worth $350 M), as well as funding for rebuilding the HUD-subsidized housing that already existed (PHP, worth $100 M). The actual Homeowners' Assistance Programs (Phases I, worth $1.9 billion, and II, worth $700 million), which were what the Moyers segment focused on, were approved in fall and winter 2006 respectively. The Economic Development Plan (not including the proposed Port Restoration Program) was approved in winter '06 as well; the Infrastructure Plan (sewers, roads etc.) was initially approved in fall '06, then they applied for and received an additional $600 million last year. As for the "more than 2,720 affordable houses" provided by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, those are only available for two years; they're just FEMA prefab 'cottages', as opposed to the FEMA trailers.

Since all that funding is doled out in the form of HUD grants, yes, individual projects within any one of those programs could get held up by problems encountered during the HUD-required environmental reviews, labor standard compliance checks, etc.; hence Barbour's comment:
Quote:
"We're not being allowed to put in some units of housing that we have already got the money for if they are within 1,000 feet of an unprotected propane tank," Barbour said with astonishment.
...but that's true of any HUD-financed project, and has nothing to do with whether the particular program funding it has been approved yet. It's just very hard to reconcile that there was no problem getting back up more than a dozen huge casinos (which, like ports, don't provide that many jobs--just lots of tax revenue) and as many huge new luxury condos by last summer, at the same time the Port Restoration Plan was being drawn up, but meanwhile so few of the already-allocated funds for lower income homeowners had been used? The Mississippi Development Authority already had $80 M of its own money set aside for Gulfport port expansion pre-Katrina, the state Port Commission received $90 M in insurance compensation for damage to Gulfport post-Katrina, and the port had only been worth $127 M pre-Katrina, so why do they need $600 M in federal emergency funds to expand it? Why couldn't they just use what they already had plus revenue bonds? That's what New Orleans did; they didn't ask FEMA to pick up the check for port expansion.
Quote:
Only 3,690 trailers remain in the three coastal counties,which is below the 9,137 trailers pinpointed in January.
That figure puzzles me because all the other recent Mississippi sources I could find (most recently among those, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger on June 26) said 5503 trailers and 2701 'cottages'. Maybe that's for the whole state?
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:38 AM   #11
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more compassionate response

Huffington Post Sept 15th

Washington Post reporter Barton Gelman's book on Dick Cheney is embargoed until Tuesday, although two excerpts have run in the Post on Sunday and Monday. But the publisher is keeping the rest of the book under wraps for a while.

Here is a gem from a still embargoed portion of the book (I obtained my copy through someone other than the publisher, and as such did not break their embargo): According to the book, Cheney turned down a request from President Bush to take charge of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, shortly after the Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005.

Gelman writes that Cheney simply turned down the President-- something then-presidential counselor Dan Bartlett apparently remains unhappy about until present day.

From the book:

Days after the storm had passed, when he finally returned from Washington from Crawford, Bush assembled his senior staff in the Oval Office. He was going to set up a cabinet-level task force, he said.

"I asked Dick if he'd be interested in spearheading this, "Bush announced, "Let's just say I didn't get the most positive response." Bush nodded ironically toward the vice president, putting on a show for the others: Card, Rove, Bartlett, Condi Rice. His expression, the tone of voice, had a hint of ege. Can you believe this guy?

Anyone who had face time with Bush said he was smarter than the public believed, and meaner. He spared Cheney the thunderbolts-- Rove got the worst of them, when Bush was in a mood to yell-- but now and then aides saw the president give Cheney the back of his hand.

"Will you at least go do a fact-finding trip for us?" Bush asked.

"That'll probably be the extent of it, Mr. President, unless you order otherwise," Cheney replied.
He was the Cheshire Cat inverted, only the smile dissolving, the rest of him still in the chair.

"As well as he knew the two of them, Bartlett had to fight an impulse to roll his eyes. Katrina was shaping up as a true catastrophe. New Orleans was four-fifths under water, and the Gulf Coast had suffered grievous losses of life and property. The leisurely pace of federal action was no doing a bit of good for Bush. "Cheney wanted nothing to do with it," Bartlett said. Looking back on that moment, the president's counselor remained of two minds:

Cheney was the Master of Disaster, one of the government's most capable emergency managers. "it would send a powerful signal of our level of concern" to put the Vice President in charge, Bartlett said. Eventually, though, Bartlett came to see Cheney's demurral "quite frankly as pretty good judgment." Cheney "doesn't do touchy-feely," Bartlett said, "Understanding what people's problems are and showing compassion-- that is an important part of the job of being the representative of he president... He was not going to go down there and hug babies."
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:59 AM   #12
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Frankly, I'm inclined to say that the entire hurricane vulnerable Gulf coast should have its insurability revoked, and the entire area should be restored to be the wetland buffer zone it once was and declared a national park. Galveston has been destroyed once before (1900) and it will be destroyed again, if not now, then later. And New Orleans, aside from the oldest section, which is built on higher ground, is flat out unsafe. If Hurricane Camille in 1969 wasn't enough of a warning, then Hurricane Katrina should have been, and Gustav should be seen as an indicator that they're always vulnerable.

It may be ego crushing, but more than one historical civilization had been forced to move their city to a different location, due to environmental changes. I just don't see how we can continue to afford to rebuild these continually destroyed locations anymore. This isn't terrorism, folks; we're never going to win against a hurricane.
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:42 PM   #13
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This isn't terrorism, folks; we're never going to win against a hurricane.
That sounds like communism to me, Ivan.
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