The Corps of Engineers, frankly, is an organization that would channelize the Colorado River in concrete if it felt doing so would provide "flood control." It is a holdover from the great Technocratic Era of the Engineer Uber Alles back in the '50s and early '60s -- the same era that tried to put I-310 in front of the French Quarter, by the way -- and its arrogance is historically limitless.
And it got that way by members of Congress in both branches, in both parties, mandating that this or that navigation project be put in their budget. Which makes me wonder: Throughout all the coverage both your paper and The Times-Picayune have done in excoriating the Corps for all the sins that resulted in the levee failures, I haven't seen one article or editorial that criticizes, in any meaningful way, your state's Washington delegation.
Someone wanted that MR-GO put where it was. Someone wanted a Port of Iberia study tucked into an Iraq appropriations bill. Someone wanted to make the Red River fully navigable from Shreveport on down. It wasn't the Corps commanding this from on high atop their Olympus, and it wasn't the Corps who put these projects in front of what appears to have been a crying need for overbuilt levees. Maybe in your rush to have every Louisiana politician portray a sense of unified purpose in getting the money to restore the coast and the levees, you are letting some very ravenous foxes watch over a henhouse.
Speaking of foxes and henhouses, I realize that Louisiana's needs from the Corps are overwhelming and necessary for a rebuilt NOLA. But I will humbly submit that if Iraq war appropriations can be debated in front of the whole House and Senate and subject to the pesky politicians therein, so can appropriations for something in which the science is constantly changing. Hiding items from full political debate is never a solution, no matter how distasteful Mike Pence-types and Heritage Foundation-types may seem.
Bradley J Schwartze
The Budget Bloat
While visiting Philadelphia for the 4th of July, I happened to read the Enquirer, Philadelphia's newspaper. The headline on the 2nd of July said Gov. Ed Rendell had signed the new state budget 2006-2007 for $26.1 billion." I could not believe it; that is almost to the penny the budget for Louisiana.
Pennsylvania is a state of 13 million; Louisiana may have 4 million, with the same budget. Pennsylvania has a number of major cities. In addition to Philadelphia, there is Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie and Harrisburg. Just in the Lancaster area, the population is about the same as New Orleans. We are looking at our state, with no health care, under-funded education, our universities in disarray, and we are spending the same as a state with over 200 universities and colleges, some of worldwide reputation.
I believe there are new baseball and football stadiums in Philadelphia as well as in Pittsburgh. No healthcare, no new industry, poor roads, and no realistic plan for recovery -- I guess that is what we should expect in Louisiana for the billions we are wasting.
You can find no better example of the disarray of this area than the simple fact that the lights on the interstate are on during the day and not at night. What exactly are we spending those billions on? Out of $26 billion can we just fix that? It costs us $26 billion for our state to be last in every single category in every single study.
A Good Lesson
In reference to your story "The New Paradigm" (July 18), thanks so much for this excellent article. It explained the charter school system and concept better than any article that I've seen. The new charter system gives us hope that we can break through the years of hopelessness in our public schools. Keep up the good work. Campbell Hutchinson Who's Thinking Long-term In reference to your story "Closing Act" (Commentary, July 11): It's distressing to read about the abdonment of the building (Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts). One thing that should not be overlooked if the new Jazz Park comes into being, which I don't recall reading in the publicity, is what affect will the new proposed theater have on existing theaters? I don't think long-range visions encompass all the consequences.