Friday, February 17, 2006


Cash makes us all friendlier, for now

BY James Gill

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin praised Gov. Kathleen Blanco for her "leadership," Blanco was in awe of Katrina recovery coordinator Donald Powell's achievements, and everyone agreed that President Bush is just about the bee's knees.

How that money will be spent has yet to be determined, but it seems that Nagin's "Failed Levees Homeowner Recovery Program," announced a few days ago, might serve as a blueprint. It envisages buyouts and renovation grants for owners of flooded houses.

Nagin and four metro-area parish presidents were at the White House pushing his idea last weekend.

Once again, Nagin and Blanco were not working in tandem. One of the parish presidents, Benny Rousselle of Plaquemines, said Blanco had not been available to give her views on the plan. Andy Kopplin, executive director of Blanco's Louisiana Recovery Authority, said he hadn't been briefed.

Kopplin said that state officials had been in their own negotiations with Powell for further aid. One member of Blanco's authority, Sean Reilly, joined Joe Canizaro of Nagin's rival rebuilding commission at the White House meeting, however.

Amid all that gushing when the $4.2 billion was announced a few days later, it was almost impossible to imagine that any of these jubilant politicians could stab another in the back. But not quite.

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