The New York Times is our premier newspaper. When it comes out with a completely biased story -- as you say, not an editorial where it is acceptable for the writer to have a personal opinion -- then we can criticize.
The purpose of Edwards' trips and speeches was to advocate for the poor. ACORN is the #1 member organization that actively works to improve the lives of low-income families.
I guarantee, with ACORN, there are NO perks, fancy hotel rooms, limos or catering.
May 3, California Speaker Pro Tempore Sally Lieber of the California Assembly will introduce joint legislation in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. The Missouri legislature introduced a similar resolution in February.
Here's California's draft resolution:
WHEREAS, Hurricane Katrina damaged over 200,000 Gulf Coast homes; and
WHEREAS, Hurricane Katrina destroyed schools, hospitals, roads, community centers, bridges, parks, and forest lands; and
WHEREAS, the federal government's response to this unprecedented disaster has been ineffective and weak; and
WHEREAS, 101,000 Louisianans have applied for aid to rebuild their homes, and several thousand people have received grant assistance; and
WHEREAS, during the Great Depression, when the United States faced a crisis, our country created 800,000 jobs in two weeks, and more than 4 million jobs in two months; and
WHEREAS, Public workers in projects such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression built or repaired 2,500 hospitals, 6,000 schools, 13,000 playgrounds, and built the Golden Gate Bridge; and
WHEREAS, the neglect of the Gulf Coast after the impact of Hurricane Katrina is a tragedy that requires the attention of every American, regardless of party affiliation or state residence; now therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature supports the passage of federal legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, a national effort to create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their communities; and be it further
Resolved, That a WPA-like project for the Gulf Coast will rebuild homes and shattered lives, and will restore faith in our federal government; and be it further
Resolved, that the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States and President of the United States urging their support in passing this federal legislation.
Leaders stand united behind recovery plan
Blueprint addresses fears of abandonment
Friday, March 30, 2007
By Michelle Krupa
After more than a year of infighting about how to orchestrate and finance New Orleans' massive recovery effort, city leaders coalesced Thursday around Mayor Ray Nagin's blueprint for spending $1.1 billion in public money to spur private investment in 17 target zones as the first phase of a decades-long effort to rebuild the entire city.
Flanked by community leaders and elected officials, Nagin and his recovery chief, Ed Blakely, pitched the plan -- the most definitive ever offered by his administration -- as a sure strategy for success. It would use public dollars to encourage entrepreneurs and developers to invest in key business corridors, with more than $300 million going toward loans, grants and other incentives.
Nagin said the plan already has the backing of City Council members, neighborhood activists, state officials and the local business community. It still needs formal approval from the City Planning Commission and the council.
In addition to breathing life into the city's sluggish recovery, Blakely said he hopes the proposal will serve as the basis of a formal master plan, which he recommends be codified into law to protect it from the whims of present and future political leaders. In the end, the 15-year rebuilding initiative will stretch far beyond Nagin's term, and likely his successor's.
Federal recovery chief Donald Powell said Thursday that he supports the plan in theory, though he had not reviewed it in detail.
"Any time that you can incentivize the private sector to participate in a recovery, I think it's good," he said. "The private sector will be an important and key sector in the rebuilding of New Orleans."
Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, said the city's proposal fits the bill his agency's board has been touting.
"The investments they're planning to make are consistent with the vision that thousands of New Orleanians helped to develop," he said, referring to the recently completed Unified New Orleans Plan.
The proposed target zones also were received warmly by council members, who could have the plan on their agenda as soon as May.
Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis said Blakely's plan will go a long way toward clearing up lingering "questions and doubts and fears" about the future of her crippled district. Willard-Lewis represents eastern New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward, which are slated to receive the two largest lump-sum investments.
"I think we achieved a consensus today," she said, adding that naming the two hard-hit neighborhoods as target zones "reverses all of the previous discussions of green space and wastelands and toxic soil."
She said the plan now on the table represents "what sound planning principles and science and community input can deliver at the end of the day."
Ready to turn dirt
Councilman James Carter, who represents mostly unflooded areas, including the French Quarter, Algiers, Bywater and Faubourg Marigny, called the plan "a good first step."
"You got to start somewhere," he said, adding that he hopes the plan will progress in a timely fashion.
Councilwoman Stacy Head said she is pleased with Blakely's "focused and realistic approach" to recovery and his swift action. The renowned disaster expert, who lobbied for the position, has been on job just three months. Council President Oliver Thomas agreed.
"Look, if he's going to be our czar, then we need to trust him," Thomas said. "If he makes a mistake, then we need to deal with that at that time. But right now I trust the guy. He's got all the credentials in the world. We just need to start turning some dirt."
Vanessa Gueringer, chairwoman of Lower 9th Ward chapter of the community activist group ACORN, had trouble containing her excitement when she saw the blueprint for her ruined area. While vowing to keep the city honest about its proposal, Gueringer said she believes the plan will quell simmering concerns that politicians intend to abandon her neighborhood.
"This is awesome," she said, adding that she planned to spend all day on the phone sharing the news with her neighbors still displaced in Houston and Atlanta. "It says to the Lower 9th Ward: You can come home!"
'The people's plan'
Blakely said selection of the zones grew out of a "scientific" evaluation of resettlement patterns, coupled with the results of painstaking planning work completed in recent months by residents, including those still displaced, and professional consultants.
"This is not my plan," Blakely said. "This is not the city's plan. It's the people's plan. And it will work."
Nagin, who has been criticized for hampering the recovery by failing to identify neighborhoods that would be first in line for public investment, cut directly to the question of timing during a morning news conference at City Hall.
"Now, there may be a question about: Why now?" Nagin said, referring to the fact that it is 19 months after Hurricane Katrina. "It's because we're ready. Why now? It's because we have clarity on where the dollars are going to come from, which is the fuel that will drive us to higher heights."
Despite Nagin's indication that the money for the initiative is in hand, a bevy of questions remain unanswered about how the city will pay for the rebuilding effort. Though the mayor's plan identifies five financing streams, including federal grant money and a city bond issue approved by voters before Katrina, some options appear less than certain.
For instance, the biggest chunk of the city's investment -- $342 million -- would come from a federal appropriation intended to cover 10 percent of all FEMA-backed reconstruction projects in the city. Local officials have lobbied for a waiver of the 10 percent "match," which in theory would unlock that cash for discretionary use. The White House has threatened to veto such a waiver.
Powell unequivocally repeated that stand Thursday. "There's no current plans to waive the 10 percent match," he said.
Also unclear is how the bulk of the budget, assuming it all materializes, would be allocated. Nagin's plan calls for $742.2 million -- about 60 percent of the total -- to be spent citywide, a nod to residents who find themselves outside the zones, most of which will stretch about four blocks or a quarter-mile in every direction from a main intersection.
Blakely said Thursday that "blight removal" would be a major focus of the citywide spending, though he did not give a dollar figure. He mentioned the proposed "Lot Next Door" program, which would give homeowners adjacent to abandoned or blighted properties first crack at buying them. That program still must be approved by the City Council.
Tony Faciane, Nagin's deputy executive assistant for housing and neighborhood development, said some of the money will go toward enhancing a post-Katrina anti-blight enforcement effort dubbed "The Good Neighbor" program, focused on house-by-house inspections and court sanctions for property owners who fail to gut, clean and board up their buildings. However, he said no budget or timeline had been worked out yet for the added investment.
"Our inspectors will target those areas," Faciane said of the target zones. "They're going to prioritize administrative hearings in those areas, to stabilize them."
A "partial list" of citywide projects provided by City Hall shows that the money also would finance some capital projects, such as improving neighborhood parks, streets and traffic signals. Also on the docket are programs to support rent-to-own housing, neighborhood retail incentives and historic preservation incentives.
None of the items includes an explanation or a price tag.
Blakely said the remaining 40 percent of the $1.1 billion would go to the 17 target zones, 14 of them located west of the Industrial Canal.
The largest sum -- $145 million -- would go to the two hardest-hit areas: the Lower 9th Ward and a section of eastern New Orleans surrounding the former Lake Forest Plaza shopping center. Another $170.9 million would be spread in areas that need a minor boost to enhance recovery, such as the downtown section of Canal Street and the Freret Street market, and the rest spent in places that require thorough redevelopment, such as the commercial stretch of Harrison Avenue in Lakeview.
'A stronger city'
Several exhibition boards displayed Thursday in the City Hall lobby showed colorful zoning maps and artist renderings of the target-zone plans. But most of the illustrations offered only a bird's-eye view, with street names and proposed developments too tiny to discern. Only some of the zones were represented.
Blakely said all zones share a common theme that harks back to the city's earliest days.
"They're all centers for the old markets on which the city was built in the first place," he said. "So every one of these has a shopping center anchor or some other anchor around which the city was built.
"This also creates the opportunities for us to do the kind of clustering around civic assets -- building around these places so we can make this a stronger city in the end," Blakely said.
Pressed by two reporters for further details about what the areas might look like, however, the recovery chief took offense.
"I have a very clear idea" of how the zones will develop, he said. "Developers make a lot of money by getting those clear ideas early and getting the jump in the game. And that shouldn't happen in the newspaper. You're a newspaper reporter, not a developer."
Nagin, meanwhile, demurred in the face of reporters' requests for a rough timeline and a rundown of the kinds of projects that might sprout in the zones.
"I don't want to get into specific dates and specific projects with you guys because I know what you do with that: You come back later and you talk about the things that we haven't done," the mayor said.
Former Mayor Marc Morial, speaking in general about recovery efforts during an appearance in Baton Rouge, said specifics are precisely what recovery leaders must provide, particularly if they are proposing a phased-in recovery that gives higher priority to certain areas of the city.
Morial, who now serves as president of the National Urban League, said residents from lower-priority neighborhoods must be convinced that officials also have their interests at heart.
"My sense is that people want to trust (Blakely), but they want to see some action," said Morial, who participated Thursday in a symposium at the Southern University Law Center. "If Ed Blakely says X action is going to happen July 1, and it does, then that trust will start to build."
Speaking to meeting participants, Morial said all recovery plans must hold to the principle that "every individual has the right to return," a mantra he has repeated since the storm.
Willard-Lewis, whose sprawling district includes dozens of neighborhoods not featured in the plan, said she will continue to lobby for areas outside the zones.
"We have to be mindful that this is Phase One," she said. "This is the first car. There will be others."
Though he declined to set firm dates, Blakely said he intends to have a financing package in place by June, some cash in hand by summer and "cranes on the skyline" by September. Shifting course from last month, when he announced that one 17-acre zone would serve as the pilot project, Blakely said Thursday that residents should expect the whole program to launch at once.
"There isn't a pecking order," he said. "This is all No. 1 stuff."
. . . . . . .
Staff writer Bill Barrow contributed to this report.
Michelle Krupa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3312. Frank Donze can be reached at email@example.com or (504) 826-3328.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's ex-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, testified last week that "during the run-up to the midterm elections," the A.G. told him Rove had "complained" that David Iglesias, the U.S.
attorney in New Mexico, and two other federal prosecutors, were not doing enough to prosecute voter fraud-a top GOP priority.
It was shortly after that, Sampson said, that Iglesias got added to the list of U.S. attorneys to be fired.
(Iglesias told NEWSWEEK he had been repeatedly pushed by New Mexico GOP officials to prosecute workers for ACORN, an activist group that was
registering voters in minority neighborhoods, but he found no cases worth bringing.) Justice was also forced to correct its earlier assertion
that Rove did not play "any role" in replacing the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.
Sampson's e-mails showed he had described the replacement as "important