Friday, June 23, 2006

News and Notes 

1. The National Geographic Explorer special "Drowning New Orleans" was outstandingly informative and graphically spectacular. I wish everyone could see it, because it covers a lot of territory in only an hour show. Also, there's some new video footage of the 17th St Canal breach that our Congresspeople in D.C. didn't want you to see .

Drowning New Orleans airs again Saturday evening and Wednesday. Check local listings, and don't miss it.

2. The importance of the American Library Association conference to New Orleans cannot be overstimated. Seriously. This is the first big convention since Katrina, and the business community and the local government are doing everything they can to ensure things go smoothly. The Director of UNO's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism said that the city was going to "get creative" in order to bring (enough) people back so that there would be no hotel/restaurant staff shortages during the ALA conference. Apparently, they're pulling out all the stops to make sure this convention goes off without a hitch, so that they can use it as a successful example to lure future conventions. I don't know if the latest crackdown on crime is related to the ALA convention coming, but I would suspect it factored into the decision-making at some point.

Perhaps Jeffrey from Library Chronicles will have something on this next week. I suspect he might have been involved in the preparations. An added bonus: the First Lady will make a speech at the conference! Yay.

3. Rep. Bobby Jindal's Oil Royalty-sharing bill got out of committee and will get a vote in the House of Representatives. Fair Oil/Gas royalties for Louisiana is an issue of paramount importance, because with those added monies the state could fund Category 5 Flood protection and Coastal Restoration on its own. A recent T-P article explains:


Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, said the [House Committee] deal preserves most of the provisions of his revenue-sharing legislation. He said it would provide Louisiana with $10 billion during the first 10 years after the legislation is enacted, $28 billion over 20 years and eventually $2 billion a year.

But the bill faces major obstacles, including opposition from lawmakers who don't want oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida, California, the Carolinas and Virginia. And the Bush administration has said the loss of federal revenue under the Jindal proposal would carry excessive short and long-term costs.

Remember, LA voters will be able to amend the state constitution this November so that all royalty revenues will be strictly designated for levees and coastal restoration. It's about a $40 billion dollar project, but if Louisana gets the royalty payments it deserves, it will be able to self-finance the endeavour.

So, when the Bush administration claims the proposal is "excessive" in its "costs", it is basically saying that funding for Category 5 flood protection for South Louisiana is too expensive, because that's how Louisiana will spend its royalties.

However, the Louisiana delegation may be able to form a bi-partisan coalition that will pass the bill, despite the White House working behind the scenes to neuter or kill it. I just hope the ever-optimistic Jindal has a handle on what it takes to oppose this White House. They unceremoniously rolled Rep. Richard Baker under the bus in January after basically blowing sunshine up his butt for months. I wonder if they will do the same with rising GOP star Bobby Jindal.

I'll also point out again that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has already committed to Cat 5 Levees for New Orleans. It would seem he understands that enabling Louisiana to finance its own flood protection would be a wise "investment"-- not merely an excessive "cost" that will widen the "budget deficit". However, this issue doesn't break down neatly along party lines. (For example, environmentalists are worried that it will encourage states to open their coasts to more drilling. And Bushies are worried-- suddenly-- about the budget deficit.) So the bill will either pass or fail with a weird bipartisan coalition. I hope the LA delegation can "make it work".

4. If it's not Fires in Resort towns, it's either unsound dikes in Florida, repeated flooding in Houston, or growing earthquake risk in SoCal. How can we possibly ask cabdrivers in Detroit to support these cities?!

(Hat tip to my pal Medium Jim, who properly introduced me to New Orleans fifteen years ago.)

5. Indeed.

6. Attendance required.
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3 Comments:

I have indeed been involved in one big ALA project... and do expect to have more when normal life resumes.. probably Wednessday or Thursday. The convention has been an opportunity for NOPL to once again ask for and recieve all sorts of free stuff. Now... if they can only figure out how to get us staff....

By Blogger jeffrey, at 3:52 PM  

Bush's hyporcrisy is incredible.

Sharing the offshore royalties is less money going into the federal government. Try telling him and his minions that eliminating the estate tax "costs" too much and see what they say.

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