05 March 2007

Ray Nagin - Civic Pimp

Seems the Honorable Ray Nagin thinks only New Orleans had wind, rain and flooding:
New Orleans has filed a claim for $77 billion in damages against the US army corps of engineers for building levees incapable of withstanding Hurricane Katrina, leading to the devastation of large parts of the city.
Meanwhile, Don Surber does some Inconventient Math:

That works out to $158,869.67 for every one of the 484,674 people who lived in New Orleans as of the 2000 Census. But in the massive floods of 1993, levees broke up and down the Mississippi — and no one sued. They rebuilt. Total damage in 9 states was $15 billion. This guy wants $77 billion for one city? Nagin failed to evacuate his city in a timely and orderly manner. This is legal looting.

Only $1 billion of the $77 billion the city is seeking from the Army Corps of Engineers is for infrastructure damages it says it suffered because of levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina. The rest is for such things as the city’s tarnished image and tourist industry losses. Says Mayor Ray Nagin, “We got some advice from some attorneys to be aggressive with the number, and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Jeez louise - How much money has New Orelans/Louisiana gotten from US taxpayers for levees this century, and what have they really used it on?
In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

(H)undreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.

For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast.

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