Today, both in The Town Talk and on his website, CenlaNews, Rapides Parish Police Juror Steve Coco is taking aim at Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy for allegedly not fulfilling a promise to use City capital funds and SPARC bond money to repair deficiencies along the Red River levees. Apparently, Coco is upset that disaster recovery funds may be used instead- funds that were initially assigned to Rapides Parish a few months after Hurricane Gustav.

To me, this speaks directly to Mr. Coco’s intellectual honesty and seriousness of purpose. Go ahead: Call me an attack dog, but the levee situation is the most critical issue facing Central Louisiana. The facts need to be laid bare.

First, as evidenced by numerous news reports and public statements, Mayor Roy has always remained adamant that the City could be a funder of last resort— that is, unless and until all other options have been exhausted. He and others have also made it abundantly clear that funding would first be sought from the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and they did just that. The L.R.A. granted Rapides Parish a waiver in order to allow for Gustav-related recovery funds to be used for levee repairs. It may surprise Juror Coco, but the L.R.A. recognized that spending money repairing our levees is directly related to disaster recovery and prevention.

A couple of subpoints:

a) Our regional Gustav allocation was based, in large part, on Community Development Block Grant criteria- which is a complicated way of saying that the main reason we were even given these funds is because of damage that occurred within the City of Alexandria. Ask the good people at the L.R.A.

b) Where was Juror Coco when City and Parish officials testified before the Louisiana Recovery Authority? For some reason, I can’t find him on the video or on the transcript.

But perhaps more importantly, despite what some expert “investigative” bloggers have published, our primary deficiencies are all outside of the city limits of Alexandria. Coco’s good friend Greg Aymond, for example, continues to myopically insist that the real problems are all on non-federal levees- those within the city’s system of bayous and canals, miraculously avoiding the fact that the federal levee deficiencies- those along the Red River and outside of the city limits- would define the way in which our flood plain map is redrawn.

It is such an obvious point that I still cannot believe anyone of sound mind could find disagreement.

Moreover, there is significant disagreement about the scale and the extent of those alleged deficiencies within the city; it is possible, if not probable, that correcting deficiencies on our federal levees would render everything else moot. Though if you believe in Coco or Aymond, I suppose, you may also be led to believe that this is all some grand conspiracy, first concocted when Jacques Roy was a teenager, and that anyone who says otherwise is a lying propagandist.

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