You should all pick up a copy of Time Magazine this week. I call your attention to the cover where photo of the new storm floodwall in New Orleans carries this caption.
Two years after Katrina, this floodwall is all that stands between New Orleans and the next hurricane. It's pathetic. How a perfect storm of big money politics, shoddy engineering and environmental ignorance is setting up the city for another catastrophe.The author, Michael Grunwald, pulls no punches and blows away a number of myths, not the least of which was that Katrina was a horrendous Cat 5 storm at New Orleans.
The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2.You can read the entire story here.
When I think of the amount of effort that people like Susan King put into the recovery effort I just get sick. When I contrast the on the ground leadership of Malik Rahim to the mess described by Grunwald, I feel like crying. Such a missed opportunity and such empty promises where Bush's promise to rebuild was just another declaration of the end to major combat. It is worse than pathetic, the word Time used on their cover. It is criminal.
This is particularly important for us in this state and at this time. We are dealing with many of the same issues: failing levees that need major repair if not replacement, big money politics at every turn, politicians who care more for their own image or career than the welfare of the people that they represent. There is not a single plan for the future of the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta that meets the smell test. Sure, Núñez, Perata and Schwarzenegger promise to get things done. But they won't. Follow the money. When it comes time to do something, the money will be less than needed. It will get used on some legislator's pet project. There will be no accountability.
When the Green Party of California convenes it's general assembly in Riverside, perhaps there should be a moment of silence during which we can all think about the money that could have helped repair the levees in New Orleans but went instead to build a highway off-ramp to a riverboat casino. Then think about what we can be doing to make sure that it does not happen again, here, in this state, on our watch.
This is one issue that I will not let drop and I ask all of you to do the same.