Help elect a Great Democrat in LA House District 94

I'm writing to seek your help in electing a great Democrat to a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Deborah Langhoff is a long-time Democratic activist who has worked in various local, state and national campaigns in New Orleans over the past decade -- including Howard Dean's, John Kerry's, Mitch Landrieu's and Karen Carter's. Since Katrina, Deborah has been a leading citizens' voice for a recovery process that is fair and accessible to all citizens of the city.

The seat she is seeking was vacated by the incumbent (a 32-year Republican veteran of the Louisiana House) in the hope of handing the seat off to his son via a low-turnout, special election.

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Paul Hodes on New Orleans

Crossposted from my Katrina recovery blog:

Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) is the new Congressman for NH-02, the district I vote in. He held a town hall meeting tonight at Dartmouth, then held a private meet and greet with the Dartmouth College Democrats. He is not running for President, but Congress still matters, so here's his take on Gulf Coast recovery issues.

At the meet and greet, I asked Rep. Hodes about New Orleans. He didn't know about the Road Home program, so I told him a little bit about that. I asked if he knew what Congress was planning to do to help New Orleans beyond waiving Stafford Act matching fund requirements. His answer was not a solid one, but it was encouraging. He said he did not know what specific moves Congress is considering, but that action will be taken. He said a lot of people were upset that Katrina was not included in the Speaker Pelosi's top priority "100 Hours" agenda, and that it has gotten lost, perhaps forgotten, amid higher profile issues like Iraq, but that the House will move on the issue as soon as possible.

I can't blame Rep. Hodes for not knowing more about the issue, or knowing what committees are doing what. He's only been in Congress for six weeks, so he's still learning about the system, and doesn't have much of a voice as a freshman. What encouraged me about his answer was this: while taking the next question, he looked to his assistant, pointed at me, pointed at his brain, made a pen-writing-on-paper motion, and mouthed the words "Road Home." After the meeting, the aid came over to get my contact information and said they'd be in touch with information.

Katrina might not be high on Rep. Hodes' list, but I was encouraged by his desire to get more information and get back to me on it. I don't think I saw him do that on any other issue. I like Rep. Hodes - I voted for him - and this is one more reason to smile.

Crossposted from my Katrina recovery blog.

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New Congressional Push for Katrina Recovery

Finally, some good political news for Katrina recovery efforts! House Democrats presented a plan today to waive a Stafford Act requirement that local and state governments pay matching funds for disaster relief, for governments affected by Hurricane Katrina. These funds were waived following 9/11 and Hurricane Andrew, and waiving them now will save the state of Louisiana $700 million. An additional $3.6 billion will in aid will be tacked on to an Iraq/Afghanistan spending bill. Kudos to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC). There's a good editorial in today's Boston Globe about the renewed push.

Unfortunately, the real problem with the federal response to Katrina isn't a lack of funding, it's a lack of oversight. As I wrote about earlier this month, the official homeowner grant program has $7.5 billion to distribute - but out of 101,000 applicants, only 632 have been paid as of February 12. The "Road Home" program has been in full operation since October - why so slow? Why so many errors? And of the $350 million for "alternative housing" that FEMA shelled out last month, why did Mississippi get $280.8 million to Louisiana's $74.5 million?

Hopefully increased oversight and accountability will accompany the increased funding. Senator Joe Liebermann's (I-CT) Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Rep. Barney Franks' (D-MA) House Financial Services Committee have both opened investigations into issues surrounding Katrina recovery. I say huzzah, it's a good start.

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Barack Obama: Lukewarm on New Orleans

(Third in a series, cross posted from my personal Katrina recovery blog.)

I saw presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at a town hall meeting in Durham, NH last night. I myself was not called on during the Q&A, but thankfully, another audience member did ask about New Orleans. Obama's answer was the best I've heard yet (meaning better than Edwards or Dodd), but that's not saying much. Overall, I give him a C+ on the issue - short on specifics, but containing some.

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John Edwards Speech at DNC Winter Meeting TODAY!

Washington, D.C.
February 2, 2007

Thank you.

We're all here together - but why are we here?

Why are we here?

We are here because somewhere in America an eight-year old girl goes to sleep hungry, a little girl who ought to be drawing pictures and learning multiplication cries herself to sleep, praying that her father, who has been out of work for two years, will get a job again. It doesn't have to be that way.

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