Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds Part II

I’m inserting this post under the Allstate Challenge because such a short effort should certainly not be the top item but I saw couple of stories in today’s Sun Herald that are well worth mentioning.

First stop is Jackson and news that $41MM plus dollars of Katrina recovery money is being spent well off the coast. Those who keep up with this sort of news well remember Governor Barbour’s ill conceived plan to use $25MM of Katrina funds to build a road for Toyota in Morth Mississippi. That scheme could not make it past the legislature though they have no say in this use of Katrina recovery funding. Here are some excerpts from today’s Sun Herald front page story:

Gov. Haley Barbour announced Tuesday the release of $41 million in Hurricane Katrina relief funds for projects in 39 counties and cities, but none were in South Mississippi. 

Since the storm, South Mississippi legislators and some community groups have criticized Barbour for federal Katrina relief spending, over which he has held much control.

The projects announced Tuesday include infrastructure, new construction, drainage and others on public property. The money Barbour released is part of $5.48 billion in Community Development Block Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for hurricane relief.

Barbour points out the storm did damage from Columbus to points southward, and that nearly 50 counties make up the Gulf Opportunity Zone, which is the area Congress designated for post-storm tax incentives.

“Hurricane Katrina truly impacted our whole state, and this funding will help key communities in South and central Mississippi rebuild vital public facilities which were damaged,” Barbour said…………

Projects ranging from $1.4 million to replace a storm-damaged fire station in Hattiesburg to $1.6 million for tearing down and rebuilding a county education building in Starkville were announced Tuesday.

South Mississippi Democrats have criticized Barbour’s use of federal Katrina relief money, including a decision to give $3.5 million in federal law enforcement Katrina relief funds to the city of Jackson and Hinds County to fight crime. 

They also opposed his plan to take more than $80 million from the Katrina reserve fund, which is money the state had set aside to pay Katrina-related expenses, but a federal rules change allowed the state to keep the money. The Katrina reserve funds were never used, so this year Barbour pushed to have it put in the state’s rainy day fund, which the Legislature agreed to do.

Sen. Debbie Dawkins, D-Pass Christian, said Tuesday she doesn’t believe hurricane recovery needs are being fully met. Dawkins wants funds to help the cities of Long Beach and Pass Christian stay afloat during the lean times caused by lack of post-Katrina tax revenue because so many homes and businesses were lost.

Next stop is Bay St Louis and the election to fill the two new City Council seats created by recent annexation. As I noted in my last Around the GO Zone post my old Pee Wee football coach Ray Kidd was running for the City Council. We congratulate Ray and Miss Jackie on his first ballot victory and wish him well as the new Ward 6 councilman.