Thursday, January 05, 2006

The New Gulf Coast Mafia

In a piece from today's New York Times on Baton Rouge GOP Rep. Richard Baker's plan for housing aid in , is buried this interesting tidbit:
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 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 is too corrupt to be entrusted with its own rebuilding?

Louisiana is 'too corrupt' because it is too democratic in New Orleans.
Louisiana may have a history of "less than honorable" elected officials but in the light of the overall impact of hurricanes Katrina and would think that old time politics would be set aside in favor of a real recovery effort. Not so.....almost 22 months since Katrina and the close relationships that allowed the big companies like Shaw, Flour and James Lee Witt Associates to be the big winners still haunt the state. The James Lee Witt saga ia a total joke to the state and to anyone who has a modern day view of business. BTW....Witt is also an ex-FEMA Director.....His on site Deputy Mark Merritt has family business interest (Debris Company RMR) that clearly are conlflicts and both he and James Lee Witt have lied to the state regarding those issues......all of this and they have been paid in excess of $30 MILLION to provide oversight and management for the Public Assistance Program.....ONLY with the election of a new Gov will the state of Louisiana get back on track......and hopefully without all of the out of state consultants who take jobs away from Louisiana citizens.
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