I wasn’t living in New Orleans when the levees failed, I was one year in on my first time in San Francisco, watching it all unfold on television just like most people not in New Orleans…the anger is still clear, as is the disbelief.
Respect and remembering those who lost and those who struggled…still struggle. And a recognition of those who still have been unable to get home. I know someone out here in SF constantly torn between going back to a place that triggers so much trauma versus staying in a place that has never been home, no matter how much he tries to make it one…
Best to him, best to all, and may those still seeking resolution nine years later, find it.
Some of you out there are aware the moving days are upon me…just completed one move, literally down the street which helped pave the way for the big move, five weeks from today to New Orleans San Francisco. Originally, I wanted it to be New Orleans, but alas…you got yourself one fucked up governor down there and the only thing he likes better than giving no bid contracts to his campaign donors is to cut education and social services so…long story short…you got no jobs down there man! Not for a person like me…so I go to the one other place I enjoy so much and that would be San Francisco…
So, what does this mean for the Citizen…well…there gonna be somewhat of a pivot going on round here…
Now…never you fear, I got enough hatred of oil companies like BP and frankly any company who run roughshod over a populace with complicit politicians, government agencies, the courts…Looking at you Barbier and a bunch of asshole lawyers like Feinberg and the Plaintiff Steering Committee…
For example, if you haven’t seen this article yet, man…really, check it out:
Wait, what? You mean to tell me the people of the Gulf Coast got screwed again?
No way, say it ain’t so…
However…like I mentioned, there will be a pivot where I’ll also now be writing about some Bay Area stuff…like the coming fiscal and environmental tragedy called the America’s Cup…where you just know the city of San Francisco in general, and the people who can least afford it in specifics are all about to get financially hosed by a bunch of wealthy bastards on racing yachts…oh yeah, and then of course there’s San Francisco’s newly elected Sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi who is about to go to court on domestic violence charges…
Yeah, and I’ll be attempting to keep writing while I move cross-country, find a job, find an apartment..etc… Hell, I even had to go buy me a new smart phone for the task…
Oh, and by the way…want to know a huge similarity between California and New Orleans?
One big fucked up levee system courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers with a long legacy of mismanagement and shortcuts.
Anyways, wish me luck and I’ll see you back here tomorrow afternoon…
Anyways, so as I read on the New Orleans Ladder, Sandy Rosenthal from Levees.org goes to the Louisiana State Review Board to give her presentation regarding why the levee breaches should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places (uh…duh’) and they vote three yes’s, and six…no’s?
How could this be?
Sure sounds like these professional academics suffered a brain breach. Throughout our lives, very few historical events resonate with such magnitude where collectively, as a nation, the vast majority can point to a particular incident and tell you where they were: the Kennedy assassination, maybe the Space Shuttle Explosion, 9-11, the first time environmentalists sabotaged construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (wait, what?) and of course, Katrina.
Who the hell doesn’t remember the images from Katrina?
Myself, I was standing in my sixth floor apartment at Turk and Leavenworth in San Francisco, staring open mouthed at a television, horrified, sad and furious.
And anybody who’s paying attention to the story at all understands the flooding was caused by the Corps of Engineers faulty planning and construction, so then why in the hell would the Review Board say no?
Apparently, they would prefer their applications done in disaster shorthand…uncomplicated, and politically palatable…you know that kind of history. Hell, too often our country sustains itself with it…
9-11 happened because radical Islam envied our freedoms and way of life. Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and he did it all by himself. Ronald Reagan never raised taxes. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and of course there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Corexit is as safe as dish soap. That Gulf Coast cancer cluster – that could have been caused by anything!
And yes…the flooding of New Orleans happened because of Katrina.
Bullshit shorthand…politically expedient and culturally comfortable, and truth ain’t got nothing to do with any of it.
So when Levees.org presents an application filled with data, fact, soil types…etc, rather than being applauded for the thoroughness of the job they did, throughout the transcript of the presentation and meeting with the Review Board, one instead reads criticisms of how their application was too complicated, too confusing, too long…oh, and the application also might have suggested the Corps of Engineers were somehow at fault when the levees they built, uh…broke.
But, as reported by Levees.org, even though the board refused to approve the application, on December 29th…
“Ms. Breaux (the State Historic Preservation Officer) confirmed to Levees.org that she has sent the 39-page nomination – along with her letter of support and other documents pertinent to the breach sites’ eligibility – to the Corps of Engineer’s Federal Preservation Officer in Washington, DC.”
So at least the idea continues to move forward, just without the benefit of an endorsement by the Review Board.
And academically speaking, it’s got to be hard to be Board Chairwoman, Glenna Kramer, so I have taken it upon myself to offer up the text of a marker, text I think she would certainly approve of, and I doubt will offend anyone, unless they were to care at all about what happened in Louisiana at the breach site of the 17th Street Canal and the East side North breach site of the Industrial Canal, but anyways, here goes:
“At this site, on some date, something happened, which caused a lot of other things to happen, bad things, though none of these bad things came as a result of anyone’s fault because tragedies are sometimes like that, blameless. And so we remember the loss of life, of homes, of community and confidence we once shared that bad things such as the kind that happened here, wouldn’t ever actually happen, and will hopefully never happen again.”
I’m guessing the Corps of Engineers would also approve.
I know I said I’d be back on Monday, so I’m late, my bad… been doing some thinking this week about the website, reading the news, hanging out, taking a break…etc…and the one thing I can’t seem to get out of my head is this…
The number of people from Transocean, Halliburton and British Petroleum who have spent a day in jail as a result of the eleven people who died on the Deepwater Horizon is zero. Nobody either from the former MMS, nobody from any level of government who should have been watching developments on the rig, nobody.
The number of people from the financial industry who have spent a day in jail as a result of the 2008 recession and the ensuing financial destruction is zero. Nobody from Goldman Sachs, Citi, Wells Fargo, Wall Street, Lehman Brothers, the Lynch, etc…nor did any of the elected representatives who saw fit to decrease regulations or cut money from and/or turned the SEC into a revolving door agency for members from the same financial institutions previously mentioned…nobody went to jail, zero.
So who did go to jail?
Well, for starters…at last count, 3,362 Americans protesting the abuses of the banks, the financial industries and in no small indirect way the behavior of corporations like British Petroleum, their abuses, have gone to jail.
And I would argue this number is well on the low side…bad financial times leads indirectly or directly to desperate acts, both large and small, everything from petty crime to drunken driving, increased domestic violence to increased drug use…and on and on…how many people have wound up in jail who otherwise wouldn’t have as a result of the recession or the financial destruction that came with the oil spill?
Hard to say.
It would be understandable for an outside observer to suggest the rule of law in this country ends as soon as one reaches a certain plateau of wealth.
Ah, but what does any of this have to do with the site, and any upcoming changes? Well, the upcoming changes would be contained within the above paragraphs…
Understandably, I write about what is most on my mind, and my mind is mostly in a couple of places… Corporate malfeasance and their enablers, especially in regards to the oil spill and the corrupt financial industry, and all of their combined attacks on the American public…which is quite easily reflected in my affection for two cities…New Orleans, who suffered the breach of the levees and along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, the disaster of the oil spill, and San Francisco, where Bank of America began as one man with an outdoor table-top making small loans after the 1906 earthquake, and where the Koch brothers and their parasitical empire now creep from…
All of these aforementioned institutions and entities seem to be working their hardest to make each and every one of us at a dollar(s) short, to their own benefit….be they business or government.
So I guess one might say, the site will be officially expanding in its range of subject matter and upcoming, will be focused on two geographic locations…The Gulf Coast, specifically New Orleans and the Bay Area, specifically San Francisco.
Have a nice day.
Oh, and how ’bout them Saints? Next week…the Falcons…have I mentioned how much I hate Atlanta?
“The House of Representatives, led by anti-environmental Republicans, are sharpening their knives to gut key health and wildlife protections that could benefit millions of Americans,” Marty Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation at Earthjustice, said in a statement. “These are no small cuts; this is a complete butchering of environmental safeguards. Riders attached to the EPA spending bill decimate protections for air, water, lands and wildlife,” he continued. “Even before this bill reached the House floor for a full debate, Appropriations committee members attached 38 riders that shred our safety net for protecting against pollution in our air and water, saving imperiled wildlife, and protecting iconic places like the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.”
In its current form, the legislation would prevent the EPA from regulating a number of pollutants by gutting the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The bill would restrict EPA’s authority to regulate coal ash disposal, exempt the timber industry from pollutant discharge permit requirements, allows pesticide applicators to spray chemicals directly into waterways, cut off funding for EPA to implement limits on mercury and other air toxics from power plants, and restricts the scope of “Waters of the U.S.” protected by the Clean Water Act. The bill would also blocks EPA oversight of mountaintop removal mining.
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the committee drafted the bill to “reduce spending, create more certainty in the marketplace, and promote an economic environment conducive to job growth.”
Okay, so now reducing spending not only means defaulting the government, but destroying the environment and threatening the health of millions of Americans.
Creating certainty in the marketplace not only means holding the economy hostage, but ensuring each and every American gets an increase in pollutants.
Creating jobs not only means large tax breaks for the wealthy, but destroying governmental regulation so the wealthy can destroy your water supply.
The House of Representatives:
Cut – governmental regulations that help keep your air and water safe.
Cap – the average life expectancy of Americans by way of toxicity…old people are expensive.
Balance – the interests of corporate donors versus the interests of the financial industry…you know, so everybody wins.
Hmm, and with all this budget cutting and slashing stuff going on, wonder what that means for New Orleans levees and Louisiana coastal restoration?
It would appear a pattern is developing in this great land of ours. Simply put, we begin with a tragedy, then we have an investigation which discovers the governmental agencies designed to prevent such tragedies either fell down on the job or didn’t care, and even worse, the fail-safe for the agency that didn’t do their job is woefully unprepared to handle the mess created. Next, we get public and government anger, utter outrage about the aforementioned tragedy and congress types propose bills, make promises and issue guarantees that a tragedy like this will never happen again, and damnit, we mean it…never.
At least until next time.
What? What happened to the guarantees, the promises and the bills?
That was so last week man, have you talked to my lobbyist?
In a recent report, it was discovered (surprise) that the US Coast Guard was not prepared for a large deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was continually troubled by this lack of planning. Government and private sectors “demonstrated a serious deficiency… (in) preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.” The panel also found many of the Coast Guard staff members interviewed “acknowledged that they were unfamiliar” with the plans to combat such a spill, “even though they held prominent positions” in the command structure for the response. Much of this is blamed on the changes to the Coast Guard, post 9-11. As their responsibilities were diversified, the oil spill response plan atrophied which resulted in problems with coordination and communication. From the report: “While the response plan by BP, the well’s operator, was criticized as unrealistic in the report, the government’s plans were also found to be inadequate and incomplete.”
Okay, given…anyone paying attention to events last summer could have figured out that both BP, the Coast Guard and state officials were caught with their pants down on this one, but…what happens now? New drilling permits are being issued, ten in fact (no matter what Vitter says).
“Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard was reviewing the recommendations and had already begun making improvements. (The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to help bolster the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to major spills, a department official said.)”
Perhaps a complete change might be more in order? One suggestion might be to immediately discuss and begin planning how to keep politics and corporate self-interest out of the equation.
If not, one might someday read an oil spill version of the soon to be even more tragic story about developments occurring since the Massey Mine disaster, which also happened last April and killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.
If you don’t recall, there was outrage by Congress and the public that federal regulators didn’t have the power to close dozens of mines that had racked up thousands of safety and health violations (sound familiar?). At the time, both parties in Congress vowed swift action. They promised from their pulpits to fix this so no family will ever have to go through this kind of tragedy again.
A bill was proposed. It would have made it easier to shut down problem mines. It would have increased penalties for serious safety violations and offered greater protection for whistleblowers, and it took eight months for the bill to even reach the floor of Congress where two weeks ago, this bill was killed off, voted down by every single Republican and 27 Democrats.
In 2010, 48 coal miners died, the most since 55 were killed in 1992.
As retired miner, Fred Burgess said, whose stepson Ronald Mayor died in the Upper Big Branch explosion, “The miners should have a safer workplace, but the mine companies throw a lot of money around, they have lobbyists all over the place.”
Indeed, and to add insult to injury, it would appear lots of those lobbyists have been speaking to Rand Paul, who recently said in response to the MSHA’s (Mine Safety and Health Administration) new proposals which would reduce by half the amount of coal dust miner’s breathe, coal dust being the primary cause of black lung, “”Every regulation doesn’t save lives…There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled.”
Or in other words, “What he’s suggesting is to keep the cost of coal down we would jeopardize the health of coal miners,” said Stephen Sanders, director of the Appalachians Citizens’ Law Center.
Oh, and speaking of guarantees and promises, anybody remember a certain town called New Orleans and this little catastrophic failure they had a few years back, you know, where over a thousand people died when the levees broke, in several places?
Yeah, remember all those promises made back in 2005, to guarantee that would never happen again?
Well, it would appear those promises were equally hollow. The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for building and fixing the failed levees, well…they’re working on it…going on six years later. Which isn’t to say improvements haven’t been made. They have, but do those improvements match all those guarantees and promises President and Congress types threw around during the flood’s aftermath?
Anybody want to by the Crescent City Connection?
Really, I’m selling…
But, back to the Coast Guard and their report. Whereas it’s great they are working on “improvements” to their response, it might be nice to see exactly what they are working on, how they intend to coordinate federal, state and local officials, how they intend to keep financial self-interest and politics out, how their own staff will be trained on any new plans that are so coordinated to ensure each administrative and governmental level is on board, you know, so we don;t wind up with useless sand berms.
It would seem if oil companies have a right to drill out there in the Gulf, and they are…Gulf Coast residents have a right to know what will be done, and a guarantee that it will be done to respond to another spill…even after the anniversary news coverage comes and goes.
After all, coal miners still haven’t gotten protection from cost cutting mine owners.
New Orleans still hasn’t received the levees promised by Congress and the Corp of Engineers.
And now, Gulf Coast residents are waiting to see if that pattern continues or breaks, and they’d probably like to know which, before the next big spill.
Hell, I would…because if there is one thing I’d…uh…oh damn…
From the Times Picayune:
“A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy…”
I know it’s been awhile since I said hello. My bad, but things have been going pretty good so, thanks. I do have a request though and I’ve been thinking about it for a while now.
So, here goes:
Please, I’m begging you, please…can you back away from politics?
I don’t understand the choices you are making. I was raised in a Christian household by Christian parents, but they never let me in on your political predilections. They say that we are judged by the company we keep, well, do you really understand the political hues your friends are painting you with?
I wasn’t raised to perceive you in such terms; you were supposed to be compassionate, concerned for the poor, loving, but your political friends make you look like a mean-spirited, wealthy dick. I don’t think this is your intention, but I was also told you were infallible.
So, I’m confused.
Please help, and I understand the temptation to say, “I work in mysterious ways.” But please don’t do that. This is serious and people are starting to get the wrong idea: Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Christine Bachman, David Vitter, Glenn Beck…just to name a few, really, a few…there are a lot more, God. Some of them are even saying you told them to run.
These people seem to blame all the problems of our country on the same people your son seemed to represent, remember the allegory about the rich man, the camel and the needle?
Did you change your mind?
When did you start to hate Mexicans, Muslims and poor people so much, or is that just your political friends…see? That’s why I worry, it’s getting harder to separate you from them cause they keep talking about you all the time, like you talk only to them now.
What’s going on?
And even if you don’t answer, or let me know or give me a sign or something, thanks for the Super Bowl last year. Sincerely, that was really cool, and could you make the Army Corps of Engineers do New Orleans right this time? There’s a lot of people in that town who count on them and you…so, thanks.