I’m not so sure the heads of the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation would appreciate being compared to Machiavelli. The 15th century Italian philosopher is renowned for his treatise urging leadership through the ruthless exercise of raw political power. It was Machiavelli who coined the expression “never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis,” which has lately been touted by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
But in the past few days, the leaders of the environmental movement in the United States have spoken with one voice, urging the president and Congress to use the crisis of the BP oil spill as an opportunity to direct funding for the restoration of Louisiana’s crumbling coastline. With billions of clean-up money on the balance sheet, environmental leaders have called on the Obama administration to create a $5 billion BP escrow account as well as direct the millions in proceeds from BP’s Clean Water Act violations to fund the existing, but as-yet unfunded plans for coastal restoration.
The Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Plan, developed by the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, focuses on restoration of the wetlands below New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi River and in Barataria Bay through freshwater diversions through the levees and barrier island restoration.
It’s been nearly five years since Hurricane Katrina graphically demonstrated the vital need for the restoration of our degraded wetlands to protect Louisiana’s coastal communities. Five years ago, coastal scientists gave the state a 10 year deadline before the wetlands loss became so severe that we would reach the point of no return. Plans were written while the state’s congressional delegation worked and pleaded for federal funding that has never materialized. Now, with the crisis of the oil spill bringing Louisiana’s plight once again to the national stage, and now, with the potential of billions in damages going into federal coffers, the opportunity ripens.
It is also an opportunity for White House to show that the pledges to rebuild Louisiana’s coast are not just rhetoric. It may take the ruthless exercise of raw political power to earmark this funding for coastal restoration in Louisiana, especially in a time when every state is begging for funding in the uncertain economy.
As Emanuel quipped back in 2008 to the New York Times, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.’’ For Louisiana, this is as important as it gets. It’s time.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.