Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ray Nagin, better than ever

Is it just me, or do others think that the best course of action for New Orleans is to just let it die?

NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Ray Nagin suspended the construction of FEMA trailer parks in the city after a confrontation between federal workers and homeowners who were outraged that a government trailer park was being built inside their gated community.

With an election three weeks away, Nagin sided with the residents of Lakewood Estates, a community of spacious homes in the city's Algiers section, and suspended the nearly completed trailer project there and similar projects elsewhere in New Orleans.

The Lakewood Estates trailer park was meant to house 34 single women and their children who were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, but area residents complained it was too close to their homes.


At 5:05 PM, Blogger jaime in metairie said...

Just like everything else said about New Orleans things are not quite what they appear to be.

This is the story.... as I understand it.

The Mayor's office came up with the original list of Trailer Park sites. The City Council flipped a lid. The Governor came down to MAKE them work it all out after they had already done so (that was kind of funny to listen to actually). A revised list was given to FEMA. This particular location, the HOPE site, should have been removed from the list but it was not.

The mistake was caught early and the Mayor contacted FEMA to tell them that it should not have been on the list and should not be built. FEMA said that to remove the site from the list they would need a letter from the Mayor. He sent the letter and soon after construction began.

He called to say they needed to stop - it was not an approved site. FEMA then said that they would need an alternative location to be selected. The Mayor and Councilwoman Clarkson got together, worked it out and told them that the larger, empty space across the street would be acceptable and was approved. The new site is just across the street but it does not back up directly to resident's yards. The wall that would have separated the yards and the trailers is only 4' tall and that was the source of the objections. Like one of the residents said "I could look into the trailers right from my shower". Across the street was fine with the residents but instead construction on the original HOPE site continued.

The homeowners association filed a lawsuit and the Judge asked that all work cease until he could decide the case on Monday. Construction continued. This weekend residents and members of the homeowners association went out there to protest and were assaulted and threatened by the construction company and it's security team. The police had to come out to settle things down.

The Mayor says (and I don't doubt it) that one of the policemen overheard a FEMA rep say that they wanted a personal call from the Mayor. Then they could call a press conference and say that it was just too hard to do business in New Orleans. Instead the Mayor called his press conference first.

He also said that in the middle of all of that FEMA realized they did not have the proper permits and would not be able to get them. They went down and misled and bullied their way into emergency permits. I think that made him mad as much as anything else.

They say they can't stop because they have already spent 1.3 million on the site (I don't doubt the amount but must say that it is ridiculous for what is actually being done). What is 1.3 million compared to the 300 or 400 million being wasted on trailers up in Arkansas? The city is still waiting for $250 million from FEMA - the mayor said they could deduct it from that.

Now Nagin has asked that everyone with FEMA that has been working with trailers in New Orleans be replaced. You know, that sounds like it is a bigger deal than it is. FEMA rotates its people out of here every 6 weeks so it is not like anyone ever gets a firm grasp of what they are doing before they are shipped on anyway.

He also wants all work on FEMA trailer parks halted and reevaluated before work can continue. Given the story above that makes sense.

He does not want the construction firm that was handling that site to do any further work in New Orleans. To me that makes sense as well.

Being in the area and dealing with FEMA on a regular basis I can tell you that this is just par for the course. Every parish president / mayor has had similar issues to deal with and it all fall's on deaf ears. My hope is that maybe taking a stand of some sort will make a difference.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger GP said...

Thanks for reading. You guys deserve better than Nagin, Blanco and the rest of those cats.
It's really inexcusable that nobody has taken charge. In a situation like this, I really don't think that a homeowner's association has the right to deny a temporary housing project. Nagin is too freaking worried about his election. He should have said, "I'm not running again. Not because I don't want to, but because the decisions I have to make over the next year will be so unpopular, I need to make them without any political consideration whatsoever."
Now, with this election coming up, you have all of the parties waiting to see who's going to be in charge. You can blame FEMA as much as you want. To make FEMA work, they need one person who tells them what to do. And there is no leader in NO right now.


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