I wonder if local citizens will take advantage of the next voting opportunity to lash out against politicians with parochial interests? What am I talking about? Okay, let’s review:
- We’ve just had a disaster of bibical proportions.
- Most of the damage came from flooding that was caused by inadequate levees.
- Levee construction is an engineering problem
- The people who supervise levee construction should be engineers, not politicians
- The supervising body should have control of all levees in the area so that there is a complete solution, not a piecemeal one.
So, what happens in Louisiana? The Louisiana House of Representatives’ votes not to pass a bill that would consolidate control of our levee system under one regional board (incidentally, the state senate voted 37-0 in favor of this bill). A major force against the levee board consolidation effort was Rep Ken Odinet, a Democrat (and also, apparently, an engineer). According to the Times Picayune:
"Odinet and other opponents of [the consolidation] bill have said local authorities know better how to perform maintenance and make recommendations about flood control infrastructure, and that local boards can better ensure that the community is not short-changed."
These are code words for: "we like having local political control." Businesses have code words too, such as: "let’s relocate to Houston, Atlanta, or Orlando." Businesses didn’t like the political mayhem in Louisiana before Katrina hit, so why would they tolerate it now? I can’t believe I’m even bothering to point this out; it’s so obvious.
If you want to see which legislators voted for and against the Levee Consolidation bill click here. If you want to know the exact procedural method by which this bill died, here are the salient details as provided to me by my legislative insider.
"Due to the lateness in the special session (which must end today), this was a vote to suspend the rules to allow the bill to be referred to committee before its second reading. As a rule suspension, it required 2/3 of those present and voting. It failed to get even a majority, in a vote largely along partisan lines. Thus the bill was denied a timely hearing, effectively killing it. The bill would almost certainly have cleared committee, resulting in a vote on its merits on the House floor, because the Transportation Committee is heavily Republican."
So, what are we going to do about it?
P.S. I’m told that Representative Odinet’s legislative district covers the same territory as state senator (Walter Boasso) who authored the levee board consolidation bill. Odinet is a Democrat and Boasso is a Republican. You do the math.