WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that he misspoke when he suggested in a Senate speech that damage from Superstorm Sandy was worse than that inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In a short statement released by his office, the Nevada Democrat said he "simply misspoke" in comments Friday criticizing House Republicans for delaying legislative action to provide financial relief to areas of the Northeast hit by Sandy last October.
Reid said the government had responded within days to help the people of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana after the onslaught of Katrina, but "we are now past two months with the people of New York."
He said the people of New Orleans "were hurt, but nothing in comparison to what's happened to the people in New England." He noted that nearly a million people had lost their homes because of Superstorm Sandy.
Reid and other Democrats were upset when House Republicans decided against acting on Senate legislation to provide disaster relief for Sandy before the congressional session ended last week. On Friday House GOP leaders, after being criticized by fellow Republicans for delaying the disaster aid vote, pushed through a bill approving $9.7 billion to help pay flood insurance claims. The House next week is to take up a broader $51 billion package of aid.
Reid's remarks on Friday drew a sharp response from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who said in a statement that "sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents."
Vitter cited figures from the National Hurricane Center that Katrina caused 1,833 deaths and more than $108 billion in damage, compared to Sandy which led to an estimated 131 deaths and $65 billion in damage.
Reid, in his statement Monday, said he was "proud to have been an advocate for disaster victims in the face of Republican foot-dragging," and that he had worked with Louisiana's Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu, to ensure that the people of the Gulf Coast had the resources they need to fully recover.
Landrieu put out a statement agreeing that Reid "misspoke and has clarified his statement." She said Reid has been a strong advocate for the Gulf Coast's recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita and she was confident of his continued support for those hit both by the 2005 hurricanes and Sandy.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.