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 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.