You may be interested to know what, exactly, the editorial board of the Gannett-owned The Town Talk, the largest newspaper in Central Louisiana, thinks about your City and the work many of you have done to rebuild.

They don’t believe you’re worthy of a visit from the President of the United States:

Only one thing is wrong with the itinerary: The president and his entourage should not be going to New Orleans. They should head elsewhere — perhaps to Lake Charles, in Calcasieu Parish, or just south of that to Cameron Parish. If President Obama would like to see something uplifting — and share that with a nation that really needs some good news — he should steer Air Force One west of New Orleans and have a look around.

….

The post-hurricane difference is simple and striking: After Katrina, New Orleans held out its hands, looking for others to do the work. After Rita, Lake Charles and other hard-hit communities did not wait for the government to show up with a check. Instead, they picked up their chain saws and mosquito repellent and got busy. The recovery there and most everywhere outside of New Orleans is stunning by comparison. That is due to the nature of the people and their expectations, as individuals and as members of a community.

My first thought after reading this: Hateful. This is hateful.

Hurricane Katrina was the worst natural/man-made disaster in the history of the United States. Nearly 2,000 people lost their lives because of the storm. 80% of the City of New Orleans was underwater. Katrina caused over $100 billion worth of damages.

Katrina and Rita were completely different storms, and to suggest, in any way, that Lake Charles has “recovered” more effectively (from a completely different event) because they refused to “wait” for a hand-out from the government is absurd, hateful, and shamelessly reductionist. The levees didn’t fail in Lake Charles, because there isn’t a levee system in Lake Charles. People weren’t forced onto their rooftops in Lake Charles, because Lake Charles did not go underwater.

To the editorial board:

Tell that to the thousands and thousands of people who have worked incessantly to rebuild their homes, their businesses, and their neighborhoods.

Tell that to the people who have invested and risked everything they have- not “government” money, their money- to reclaim and rebuild.

If I could apologize on behalf of my hometown newspaper, the Gannett-owned The Town Talk, I would. But the truth is: They need to apologize for their myopia and their ignorance. They need to apologize for mistaking what happened in Lake Charles for what happened to the people of New Orleans. They need to apologize to the people victimized by Hurricane Katrina, people who lost everything they had, for implying that their community is not worthy of the President’s attention. They need to apologize for the mere implication that New Orleanians cared more for a “hand-out” than for the future of their City.

10 thoughts

  1. Okay, so if this editorial is coupled with the news of an interracial marriage license application being rejected in the state today, it’s safe to say Louisiana has greeted Obama’s visit by partying like it’s 1929 AND 1959.

    Staying classy… *head in hands*

  2. Damn right Lamar, this will be shared with my 10 years of New Orleans friends, current & former NOLA residents. Thanks so much for exposing this toxic, hateful, ignorant sludge to the sunshine.

    1. The President thinks Katrina did it.
      He said so many times, stressing it in his speech along with the amorphous “Breakdown of Government” (translate: Bush did it too).
      The President does not know, or he is in on the Lie.
      The President does not know the difference between a Man Made and a Natural Disaster.
      This of course was put into context by his plants who started the booing of Jindal –which he was Ready For watch the youtube of that scene– to the Tiny Tim God Bless Us All kid at the end who was picked by the White House though Melancon’s office (btw he didn’t pronounce his name correctly either, probably due his affectation of that faux southern accent like Elmer Gantry in Wise Blood only the way a Yankee thinks we talk down here in “Nawlins”) and did not have to do the Ticket Lottery with the other 1500 people there. The kid was also conveniently placed Stage Left, ready to go. I mean he is just a kid who wanted to meet the President, I really wonder if he came up with that question even.
      Obama played the Victim Card through the whole speech, but little Gary Colman was the Cinch of the Con.

      I hate to be such a prick about a President I not only voted for, but worked to elect and gave hard earned money to get elected.
      BUT, he used New Orleans on Oct 15th.
      He used it to hump Health Care, Financial Bailout, Immigration, more Health Care more Financial Bailout… oh he did get ONE QUESTION about the area: Charity, and he laughed at it.

      Now, where do we go from here? How do we deal with a Commander in Chief that cannot command the Corps of Engineers in New Orleans? He never once said even the Word engineering.

      There is a difference between Man Made Disaster (not inevitable and avoidable) and Natural Disaster (inevitable) is real.
      Just as with the Media Miss-Framing the cause of the Flood of Nola, this problem with the veracity of Obama’s use of Katrina Shorthand to cover for the Corps’ failures is, as Gregory Bateson coined it, a difference that makes a difference. Obama lied. Until he repudiates his Corps of Engineers this Lie will Stand. He has severely set back our efforts to keep the story straight. He did not keep the Faith.

      In a glowing tribute to a Republican predecessor, President Obama on Oct 16th praised President George H.W. Bush as an example of someone who eschewed “a life of comfort and privilege” and instead devoted himself to public service — inside government and out.
      Bwhahahahahahaaaa whew! Even Editilla can’t field that one!
      George H.W. Bush the Poor Community Activist! Hahahaha!
      I mean…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA… I hafta go peeeee!
      “There’s no place for partisanship when a great American city is under water,” Obama said. Riiiight, but there Was a place for it during his Tinkle-stop Tour(s) of New Orleans? Boo!
      Perhaps some of you are too young to remember this Nazi-blooded Aristocrat’s One Term in office.
      He lost re-election in no small measure due to his trickle-down barrel of voodoo dolls presidency, inaugurated with a speech written by Peggy Noonan known as 1000 Points of Light, a term previously reserved for the first 1000 souls a nation loses to War.
      Perchance we may be witnessing less Irony here than Prophecy?
      Hey Mr. President, IT’S THE LEVEES STUPID!

      And he should remember one other important thing…
      5-o Baby! Who’dat?

  3. As New Orleanian and still Katrina exile, I thank you so much for what you wrote here. This is one of the reasons that I, generally, refuse to buy the Town Talk. New Orleanians have done a lot to rebuild on our own. Yes, we needed help. We wouldn’t have needed as much help had the federal government done its job in the first place.

    Let’s make clear here: the levee failures were completely the fault of the federal government and the army Corp of Engineers. Locals have absolutely zero control over the conditions and building of the levees. The Army Corp of Engineers failure, incompetence, negligence, and outright malfeasance of duty is well documented. In one case, for example, it was learned that ACOE built one section of levees with old newspaper (I’d say here that even the ACOE, however, didn’t consider using copies of the Town Talk to do the job).

    To see more why this was as much a manmade disaster as a natural disaster visit the site levees.org. They document well why the ACOE is almost wholly to blame for what happened in New Orleans. Perhaps, instead of seeing New Orleanians as having a hand out, one could easily see where the Federal Government should be held to the “you broke it, you pay for it” standard.

    I am tired of people attacking the city of New Orleans. Particularly in this state. New Orleans accounts for more than half of this state’s tourism industry, and when you consider how many localities promote their proximity to New Orleans as a reason to visit their cities (even as far away as Shreveport), you begin to realize that nearly the whole state’s tourism industry relies on New Orleans.

    And then there’s commercial trade. One thing you hear a lot of since Katrina is that “New Orleans is located in the wrong place.” This couldn’t be more wrong. New Orleans the in an optimal location for commercial trade. It’s at a point where the Mississippi River is both wide and deep enough to handle the enormous river traffic for a major port. Almost the rest of the state’s ports are reliant on the Port of New Orleans because that’s where the big ships dock to unload cargo where it is then repackaged and placed on smaller ships to head further upriver in Baton Rouge and up the Red River. The Port of Alexandria would suffer for business if the Port of New Orleans wasn’t fully operable. Don’t believe me? Check this state’s port statistics when the Port of new Orleans was shut down due to Katrina. Look at what happened to the state’s finances when it ceased collecting taxes from the New Orleans area for about a month and a half while New Orleans was completely shutdown.

    I always hear people say that New Orleans brings this state down in various national rankings. But New Orleans has the highest concentration of business activity, and college graduates in the state. Poverty rates and violent crime rates are as high or higher in places like Rapides Parish as Orleans Parish. If New Orleans disappeared overnight, and this state would go under.

    Thanks,
    Robert

  4. Oh, and here is a Lake Charles TV website telling people in Lake Charles how to qualify for Federal Road Home dollars. I guess Lake Charles residents had their hand up as well.

  5. Here’s an article from an associate professor at Texas A&M on the economic importance of New Orleans:

    http://wiki.idebate.org/index.php/Argument:_New_Orleans_is_an_economically_essential_port_city

    The Port of New Orleans is 4th busiest in the world, and the busiest in the United States.
    The gross state product of Louisiana, of which New Orleans is prime contributor, is 1.2% of U.S. GDP.
    Total employment in the New Orleans -Metairie- Kenner MSA was 616,000 in 2004, including 510,000 private-sector workers.
    Maritime activity within the Port of New Orleans is responsible for more than 107,000 jobs, $2 billion in earnings, $13 billion in spending and $231 million in taxes in the state of Louisiana.
    Port of New Orleans handles about 145 million short tons (132 million tonnes) of cargo a year. It is a leading port for the movement of imported steel and is the nation’s top port for imported natural rubber.

  6. Sorry for harping on this. But we have a really good example of what happens when there is no New Orleans. Katrina gave us the chance to see that for ourselves. Economic growth for the nation when there was no New Orleans? 1.1% That was the slowest rate of growth for the nation in two years at that time. In fact, that was during a year in which the economy grew 3.5% . The economy rebounded in the next quarter but so did New Orleans area ports, and oil and gas industries (LOOP is useless without P.N.O.)

    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2006/01/gloomy_gdp_repo.html

  7. Sorry. Attacks on New Orleans set me off, this will be my last comment here. First a correction: LOOP is not dependent on PNO, don’t know why I thought that.

    And here is updated numbers on PNO’s impact on Louisiana:

    “Statewide Economic Impact. According to a 2004 study conducted by Martin Associates, maritime activity within the Port of New Orleans is responsible for 160,498 jobs, $8 billion in earnings, $17 billion in spending and $800 million in taxes statewide.”

    http://www.portno.com/pno_pages/about_overview.htm

    Now, I am going to watch college football (which is the only reason to voluntarily leave New Orleans for another part of the state. But LSU’s off today, so I’ll have to pray for a Tulane miracle over Houston).

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