Brief Update on MS Katrina Recovery and How to Get Involved

Cross-posted from my Katrina recovery blog.

The following is a summary of a recent conference call members of my church, St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene, ID, had concerning Katrina recovery efforts at Trinity Church in Pass Christian, MS and Camp Coast Care, the Episcopal relief operation in Mississippi. Read for an update on Pass Christian and information on getting involved with the recovery yourself. I have some photos of Trinity Church from when I visited it that I'll post later (I'd put them up now, but I'm not on my own computer and don't have access to them at the moment).

I was not on this call, but this message was forwarded to me:

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"Today's robust conversation on the conference call with other Trinity advocates identified several alternatives for future volunteers.

Chris Colby told of the wonderful progress in developing plans for the existing damaged church structure. It is to be refurbished to become the parish hall. A raised plaza is to be in front. And, a new worship space is to be built on the west side. That new facility is to be 6-8 feet above the ground to provide shaded parking under. Later, maybe next year, a third building is to be built for class rooms. Across the street to the east the city is planning to build both an elementary and a middle school. There will be a day care center and a full size gym. This concentration of children is encouraging to Jeremy, Trinity's youth director who is already developing plans for an expanded youth program. The outreach arm of the Billy Graham organization has donated funds and contractors to build a complete play ground in front of the Trinity church where about five acres of open space are available. One statistic observed by Chris Colby: If 50 houses per day were to be built it would take 10 years to replace the houses along the gulf coast that were taken away by Katrina. An interesting fact: Chris is looking for church pews that do not float to fill the rebuilt church. A chronic problem along the coast is a lack of contractors and that is the reason that volunteers are needed for homes. To donate, one can adopt a family through the Camp Coast Care operation. Pam, the Trinity secretary, is to move into her newly built home with donated furniture in March.

Places that really need volunteers:

Trinity youth program with Jeremy beginning in mid-June and lasting 6 weeks. He can be reached at 724-333-5966.

Join a work team to build houses through the existing Episcopal Camp Coast Care operation. See their web site which is very descriptive regarding volunteer requirements and other information.
Go to www.campcoastcare.com.

Join a work team with the Mennonites who are hard at work daily building homes along the coast.
Their number is, 228-452-1114."

Cross-posted from my Katrina recovery blog.

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Dartmouth Involvement with the Ongoing Katrina Struggle

Cross-posted from my Katrina recovery blog.

Most of my diaries are news on Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans and Mississippi, and reflections on my three months as a recovery intern last year with the Episcopal Church in New Orleans. I don't mean to toot my own horn on these issues, however, so today's post is about other Dartmouth involvement with Katrina recovery. Read the full entry not just for a list of Dartmouth activity in the region, but for reflections from another student currently spending three months in Biloxi, Mississippi. Visit http://waywardepiscopalian.blogspot.com for accompanying pictures.

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Cochran Makes Moves Toward 6th Term In Mississippi

Democrats hoping for an open U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi will apparently have to wait a few more election cycles. Incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran started a major fundraising drive with a fundraiser in Jackson Tuesday night and is expected to raise some $650,000.00 this week.

While not yet committing to a 2008 race Cochran indicated he was leaning heavily toward a race despite reports in recent months that he would like to retire. If Cochran had retired the Mississippi Democratic Party had a number of strong candidates who would have a good chance to return the seat to Democratic hands. They included former Gov. Ray Mabus, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Cong. Gene Taylor, former Cong. Ronnie Shows, former Sec. of Agriculture and Cong. Mike Espy, and others.

http://bluesunbelt.com/showDiary.do?diar yId=144

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Cochran Considering Retirement In Mississippi

In a front page story in Sunday's Clarion Ledger incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran indicated he is undecided on whether he will run for another term in 2008. In an interview with the state's largest newspaper Cochran, who is outgoing Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, indicated disappointment in being able to get only 2 bills passed in the current session because Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee was "slow to move them to the Senate floor". Cochran described the GOP decision to shift the burden of approving the budget to Democrats in January as "baseless" and indicated that he has a good working relationship with the incoming Appropriations Chairman Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

http://bluesunbelt.com/showDiary.do?diar yId=49

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Senate 2008: Can the Dems Make a Play at Mississippi?

Even as Democrats harbor serious concerns about being able to hold their lone remaining Senate seat in the deep South (that of Louisiana's Mary Landrieu), could it be that they actually have a chance to pick up a seat in the region come 2008? Over at the newly-launched Political Insider blog, Drew Pitt takes a bit of a stab at that question.

That brings us to [former Mississippi Attorney General] Mike Moore who has been the Democrats' dream candidate for some time. Moore almost stepped out of retirement and prior to Hurricane Katrina was in line to have challenged, and quite possibly defeated Trent Lott this year. Instead Moore wisely held back for the plum many Mississippi politicians have awaited, an open Senate seat.

With Lott cutting off senior Senator Thad Cochran's bids for leadership in the U.S. Senate; and the fact Cochran, who has served since 1978, is getting rather old; and because he is once more in the minority position, many believe Cochran will retire. This will clear the way for U.S. Congressman Chip Pickering to step up the ladder. U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor might love to run, but with Democrats controlling the House and a Chairmanship opening up for Taylor, its highly doubful. This clears the primary field for Moore to challenge Pickering. When you compare the two, Moore is the more adept debater, has a statewide organization, and speaks better on the stump than Pickering. One more thing, although the tobacco lobby might weigh in [because of Moore's leading role "in the landmark suit against the Tobacco Companies"], Moore would be able to easily outraise Pickering. Outraised and outgunned, and especially if the Democrats recapture the Governor's office in Jackson, Moore would be almost unbeatable. Add a prominent southern Democrat well liked by Mississippians, like Wes Clark to the national ticket and the Democrats will be rolling along like Old Man River.

I'm not quite as bullish as Pitt on Democratic chances in Mississippi -- particularly during a presidential year in which the state's voters will likely support the Republican atop the ticked by an overwhelming margin (Mississippi backed George W. Bush over John Kerry by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin in 2004, a closer spread than Alabama but a wider margin than every other neighboring state). That said, just about anything can happen in a race for an open Senate seat, even in the South, so there's little reason for the Democrats to overlook Mississippi should Sen. Cochran indeed opt to retire.

Looking at the dynamics of a potential Moore-Pickering race, which seems like a likely potential outcome of party primaries, Moore would come in with a number of strengths, not the least of which is his overwhelming favorability among the Mississippi electorate. Back in late-2005 when it looked possible that Moore and Pickering might square off for the seat that Lott flirted with vacating, Robert Novak (consider the source...) reported that "prominent Republicans" in Mississippi worried that Pickering "cannot defeat Moore."

More importantly, Moore is extremely popular. As best I can tell, the most recent public polling on Moore comes from an Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by The Clarion-Ledger and the Associated Press back in 2002 that found 65 percent of likely voters rated the then-Attorney General favorably while just 18 percent rated him unfavorably, giving him the highest favorable/unfavorable ratio of any politician in the state. While it is certainly possible, if not likely that Moore's name recognition level is lower than it was back in 2002 (he has been out of office since 2004), there is little reason to believe that he would not enter a race for Senate with similarly impressive favorable ratings.

Of course 2008 is still a long way off and there is no definite proof that Cochran will not defy the prognosticators by running for a sixth term. Cochran's $350,000 cash-on-hand does not scream, "I am running for reelection", but we have been fooled trying to read the tea leaves in FEC filings from the state before (or at least I have). That said, if this seat does open up, we should make every attempt to capitalize on the vacancy and try to elect a new Democratic Senator from the state of Mississippi -- if not Mike Moore than someone else.

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