Thursday, January 05, 2006
The New Gulf Coast Mafia
The passage of the bill has become increasingly important to Louisiana because the state lost out to the greater political power of Mississippi last month when Congress passed a $29 billion aid package for the Gulf states region. The package gave Mississippi about five times as much per household in housing aid as Louisiana received - a testimony to the clout of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and Senator Thad Cochran, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Yeah, you read that right. Mississippi got five times as much aid per household as Louisiana.
Not surprising. Haley is a man of some influence.
As posted here at the end of September from a September NYT article, Mr. Barbour and his friends have been cashing in on the distress of their neighbors since days after Hurricane Katrina struck.
AshBritt, which has won the biggest share of those no-bid contracts, is being paid about $15 per cubic yard to collect and process debris, federal officials said. It is also being reimbursed for costs if it has to dispose of material in landfills.
[E]xperts have questioned AshBritt's fees. "Let me put it to you this way: If $15 was my best price, I would rebid it," said Mike Carroll, a municipal official in Orlando, Fla., with experience in hurricane cleanup.
According to Senate filings, AshBritt paid about $40,000 in the first half of 2005 to Barbour Griffith & Rogers, the Washington lobbying firm co-founded by Governor Barbour..."
Maybe Mr. Barbour was feeling a bit guilty about soaking his own people, but I'm sure carrying away most of the only real new money in the $29 billion aid packge will assuage his conscience.
Having the appropriations committee chair doesn't hurt, either.
Forget the Marcellos. There is a new Gulf Coast Mafia. It's Haley and Jeb and all their bunch. Why drag President-in-Waiting and royal brother Jeb Bush into this? Well, as we reported way back on Sept. 20, FEMA treated the people of Florida differently after their hurricane experience of 2004. But then, that's family, you know. That's blood. You've gotta take care of your own.
Explain to me again why these people are going around suggesting Louisiana is too corrupt to be entrusted with its own rebuilding?
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