'Filled with Questions'
The state of New Orleans three years post-Katrina is the subject of a special edition of City Limits Investigates, a magazine published by City Futures Inc., a New York-based nonprofit devoted to "rethinking, reframing and improving urban policies in New York and, by extension, other cities throughout America." Because of the story's relevance to New Orleans, the special edition of the subscription-based magazine is available free online (www.citylimits.org/neworleans).
The cover story, by former New Orleans journalist Mike Longman and CLI investigations editor Jarrett Murphy, retraces the city's initial struggles to write a plan after the storm as well as the social, political and economic struggles that persist today. "[F]or all that seems back to normal, at least 150,000 New Orleanians displaced by the storm have not returned to their city," the article notes. "They are believed to be overwhelmingly although not exclusively black and poor. And with population regrowth slowing in the past year, there is a growing feeling that those who are coming back to New Orleans have already arrived."
Citing efforts by individuals and grassroots groups to pick themselves and their city back up, the article notes, "These uncoordinated, autonomous acts of survival are the face of redevelopment in New Orleans to date. New Orleans is coming back. But no one knows what kind of city will arrive when the comeback is complete ." The article also examines the votes of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain on recovery issues in Congress and the flow on post-Katrina relief funds to Louisiana. Several sections of the lengthy report cover the LSU/VA Hospital proposal and its impact on the historic Mid-City neighborhood where it would be located as well as other "local" issues that have significant national implications.
The magazine's Katrina issue represents "a departure for us as our focus shifts from New York to another great American city," wrote CLI publisher Andy Breslau in the magazine's opening pages. "We felt the third anniversary of Katrina could not pass without our taking a close look at the current state of affairs in the Crescent City." Breslau concludes his introduction with a comment that New Orleanians will no doubt embrace: "New Orleans is a city filled with questions questions we all have a stake in answering." DuBos
League Reaches Out
The New Orleans League of Women Voters recently completed its online Election Guide (www.lwvno.org), complete with basic candidate information compiled in a nonpartisan fashion. It contains unedited biographies of candidates and their answers to specific questions from the League. Links to each candidate's Web site are also provided. All of the information on the site relates to regional and state races in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The League will conduct voter registration drives at various sites throughout the metro area every Saturday through Oct. 4. The group also will co-sponsor various public debates, commencing with an Orleans Parish School Board forum at 6 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Dixon Hall on the Tulane University campus. Alford
Coastal Leader Louis Buatt has been plucked from the Department of Environmental Quality to run the state Office of Coastal Restoration and Management, an agency charged with protecting, maintaining and restoring wetlands. Located within the Department of Natural Resources, the office regulates how the coastal zone is used and oversees an engineering division. Prior to taking over the office as assistant DNR secretary, Buatt had logged more than 14 years of public service as general counsel for DEQ and as an attorney for the state office of environmental assessment. DNR Secretary Scott Angelle says the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal has framed coastal erosion as an environmental problem, and Buatt's background reflects that mindset. "I believe Lou is perfectly suited with his years of environmental experience to play a major role in reversing this problem as a member of the coastal team," Angelle says. During an interview last week, Buatt wouldn't go into detail about possible operational changes, but he says he's exploring ideas to improve permitting, management and other areas. "We will be looking hard to make the process more efficient, more effective and more predictable," he says. Buatt replaces Dave Frugé, who was the acting assistant secretary before taking a post at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Alford
Seems Like Old Times
Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco supports U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu "without hesitation," according to a story last week in the Alexandria Town Talk. The predictability of one Democrat supporting another was greatly overshadowed, however, by Blanco's published suggestion that GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy "should stay home and concentrate on being state treasurer" rather than challenging Landrieu this fall. The Town Talk reporter did not treat the statement as a direct quote in the story, but it was attributed to Blanco. That was enough for Kennedy communications director Leonardo Alcivar to fire off this response: "John Kennedy stood up to Kathleen Blanco on everything from wasteful spending to her anemic hurricane recovery plans the very recovery plans that were praised by Mary Landrieu. Voters know the failed Blanco-Landrieu legacy almost ran Louisiana into the ground. Taking potshots against John Kennedy will do nothing to change that."
Although there was no official "Blanco-Landrieu" recovery plan in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Kennedy's campaign team still pounced at the opportunity to link Landrieu with Blanco. When asked about the exchange, Scott Schneider, Landrieu's press secretary, dredged up Kennedy's unsuccessful attempt in 2003 to become governor, a contest the treasurer dropped out of following a slow start. Blanco eventually won that race. "Somebody needs to remind Mr. Kennedy that he is running for U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu, not for governor," Schneider says. "He quit that race five years ago." The exchange wasn't the first time Blanco and Kennedy have traded barbs. When Blanco was governor and Kennedy was still a Democrat the treasurer opposed her at nearly every turn, particularly on fiscal matters. Alford