Fwd: [CHEF MENTEUR] Death of an American City?
ifoufo at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 12 18:48:17 EST 2005
i don't do something like this often, but please
indulge me because this is from an official friend of
ours and it's something that bothers me every single
day like nothing's ever bothered me before.
> Subject: [CHEF MENTEUR] Death of an American City?
> Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 12:17:41 -0500
> [...apologies for the non-show related mass
> emailing, but this story is far more important than
> some band playing somewhere some night...]
> The story has dropped off the radar for most people,
> but New Orleans is not coming back (at least not
> quickly enough, even if parts of the city now have
> power and the streets have been cleared) and not
> getting the vital aid and protection that was
> promised. Many people who were supportive during the
> immediate aftermath do not realize what dire shape
> the city is still in, and that the city's cultural,
> economic and physical survival depends on people
> putting pressure on the government to rebuild the
> levees and help fund an economic and residential
> We can bail out multibillion dollar corporations and
> third world countries, why not one of our own
> cities? It is sickening.
> Meanwhile the uninformed and the right-wing continue
> to spread lies about New Orleans: that we're
> spending levee money on Mardi Gras, that the levees
> failed through no fault of the Army Corps of
> Engineers, that there is no connection between
> global warming and hurricanes, that New Orleans is
> so corrupt that it's impossible to get money
> directed to effective projects, and the worst lie of
> all, perhaps, that the city has already come back
> and doesn't need help as desperately as before.
> All you have to do is take a drive through the Lower
> 9th Ward (which is so destroyed, it looks with no
> exaggeration, like an atomic bomb has dropped on it)
> and many other devastated areas in New Orleans, and
> see for yourself a city that continues to lie in
> ruins, the majority of its population still in
> exile, shops closing down weeks after trying to
> revive themselves, the City completely bankrupted by
> the disaster and able to only make slight gestures
> at recovery.
> Perhaps most disgustingly, New Orleans is being
> asked to justify its existence by some of the right
> wing talking heads. As if any city in Texas or
> California or New York would ever be. Anyone with
> even part of a heart that has ever spent any time in
> New Orleans knows why it must be preserved. But
> others argue to allow a city that is almost an
> entire historic zone, without question the most
> interesting and unique city in the country,
> birthplace of Jazz and one of the most important
> ports, to simply wither and die. What they resent, I
> am guessing is not the flood dangers, but the
> uniqueness and freedom that exists in New Orleans.
> New Orleans does not conform to the ideological
> blueprint that the current Administration and
> Congress have and they see this as an opportunity.
> Please if you have any civic influence at all--as
> theoretically as a citizen in a democracy we all
> do--let your government know that New Orleans needs
> the help of the entire country before it's too late.
> chef menteur
> "DEATH OF AN AMERICAN CITY"
> THE NEW YORK TIMES
> Published: December 11, 2005
> We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a
> conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is
> willing to move back or honest paralysis over
> difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a
> major American city will die, leaving nothing but a
> few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.
> We said this wouldn't happen. President Bush said it
> wouldn't happen. He stood in Jackson Square and
> said, "There is no way to imagine America without
> New Orleans." But it has been over three months
> since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in
> complete shambles.
> There are many unanswered questions that will take
> years to work out, but one is make-or-break and
> needs to be dealt with immediately. It all boils
> down to the levee system. People will clear garbage,
> live in tents, work their fingers to the bone to
> reclaim homes and lives, but not if they don't
> believe they will be protected by more than patches
> to the same old system that failed during the deadly
> storm. Homeowners, businesses and insurance
> companies all need a commitment before they will
> stake their futures on the city.
> At this moment the reconstruction is a rudderless
> ship. There is no effective leadership that we can
> identify. How many people could even name the
> president's liaison for the reconstruction effort,
> Donald Powell? Lawmakers need to understand that for
> New Orleans the words "pending in Congress" are a
> death warrant requiring no signature.
> The rumbling from Washington that the proposed cost
> of better levees is too much has grown louder.
> Pretending we are going to do the necessary work
> eventually, while stalling until the next hurricane
> season is upon us, is dishonest and cowardly. Unless
> some clear, quick commitments are made, the
> displaced will have no choice but to sink roots in
> the alien communities where they landed.
> The price tag for protection against a Category 5
> hurricane, which would involve not just stronger and
> higher levees but also new drainage canals and
> environmental restoration, would very likely run to
> well over $32 billion. That is a lot of money. But
> that starting point represents just 1.2 percent of
> this year's estimated $2.6 trillion in federal
> spending, which actually overstates the case, since
> the cost would be spread over many years. And it is
> barely one-third the cost of the $95 billion in tax
> cuts passed just last week by the House of
> Total allocations for the wars in Iraq and
> Afghanistan and the war on terror have topped $300
> billion. All that money has been appropriated as the
> cost of protecting the nation from terrorist
> attacks. But what was the worst possible case we
> fought to prevent?
> Losing a major American city.
> "We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and
> better," President Bush said that night in
> September. Our feeling, strongly, is that he was
> right and should keep to his word. We in New York
> remember well what it was like for the country to
> rally around our city in a desperate hour. New York
> survived and has flourished. New Orleans can too.
> Of course, New Orleans's local and state officials
> must do their part as well, and demonstrate the
> political and practical will to rebuild the city
> efficiently and responsibly. They must, as quickly
> as possible, produce a comprehensive plan for
> putting New Orleans back together. Which schools
> will be rebuilt and which will be absorbed? Which
> neighborhoods will be shored up? Where will the
> roads go? What about electricity and water lines? So
> far, local and state officials have been derelict at
> producing anything that comes close to a coherent
> plan. That is unacceptable.
> The city must rise to the occasion. But it will not
> have that opportunity without the levees, and only
> the office of the president is strong enough to goad
> Congress to take swift action. Only his voice is
> loud enough to call people home and convince them
> that commitments will be met.
> Maybe America does not want to rebuild New Orleans.
> Maybe we have decided that the deficits are too
> large and the money too scarce, and that it is
> better just to look the other way until the city
> withers and disappears. If that is truly the case,
> then it is incumbent on President Bush and Congress
> to admit it, and organize a real plan to help the
> dislocated residents resettle into new homes. The
> communities that opened their hearts to the Katrina
> refugees need to know that their short-term act of
> charity has turned into a permanent commitment.
> If the rest of the nation has decided it is too
> expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance
> at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell
> them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly
> stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts
> for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell
> them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild
> one of its great cities.
> Our nation would then look like a feeble giant
> indeed. But whether we admit it or not, this is our
> choice to make. We decide whether New Orleans lives
> or dies.
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