With no rain in sight either. My sprinklers have received quite a workout of late. Since I have a few minutes here are some news links I’ve been squirreling away. First up is our own Gene Taylor appears in several places today in the news. First up is an article from the Journal of South Mississippi Business on HR 1264 which contains extensive quotes from Brian Martin of Gene’s staff. The article was evidently written before Janet Napolitano’s letter in oopposition to Barney Frank was released.
“The current system that we have, the private insurance company or the Mississippi wind pool covers the wind. The federal government covers the flood, but it is sold by the private company. In the case of Katrina, the flood insurance program allowed the adjuster for the insurance company to go out and handle the flood claim and the wind claim. Well, there is an inherent conflict of interest when the insurance company is deciding if it is flooding that the tax payers are going to pay for or if it is wind damage that my company is going to pay for.”
After Katrina, Martin said, many of the insurance companies paid the flood insurance right away but left the wind claim open and basically forced people to litigate.
It continues to haunt the Coast.
“It is a huge issue and it has really hindered development across the board on residential construction,” said John Ruble, a member of the Home Builders Association of the Mississippi Coast. “A lot of people qualify for the note, but when they figure their taxes, the ad valorem taxes and the insurance, particularly the wind insurance, the numbers are no longer manageable.”
Ruble said that not having affordable wind coverage hurts low and middle income people the most. He said that some companies will write wind coverage for people with expensive homes who also write auto and other insurance with the same carrier, but people with less expensive homes often are unable to find affordable wind insurance.
“This not only affects residential construction but also commercial construction,” Ruble said. “If you ride up and down the beach, you do not see strip centers going in along Eisenhower Drive or where you used to see these strip centers where you have traffic count because by the time they build the building and try to insure it, what they have to charge by the square foot to amortize the building, the tenants cannot afford it because they can’t afford the insurance on it.”
I also found Gene in the news, this time in Politico. (h/t Alan Lange):
Democratic opposition to a controversial climate change bill has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fishing for votes in the most unfriendly of waters: the House Republican caucus.
Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey met with 11 moderate House Republicans on Thursday, hoping to pick up enough votes to get the bill passed by the middle of next month.
“Generally, they only talk to us when they need something,” said Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, who told Pelosi that he feared the bill would raise costs in his coal-dependent district.
Members, aides and journalists crowded outside Pelosi’s offices Thursday as a revolving door of key lawmakers ducked in and out of meetings between votes. Soon after the Republicans exited, House Agricultural Committee Chairman Collin Peterson lumbered into the speaker’s office to discuss his concerns about the climate bill. Peterson and other moderate Democrats are threatening to marshal nearly 50 “no” votes unless changes are made to protect farmers and rural consumers.
“It’s just dumb idea on top of dumb idea, in my opinion,” bill opponent Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) said as he lingered outside Pelosi’s office. “I fail to see the merits of it.”
Opposition from Democrats like Taylor has led the speaker and her allies to entertain the possibility of new compromises, even some fiercely opposed by environmentalists, to attract bipartisan support.
All I know is that seeing the so called “green groups” in action on multiperil insurance indicates these cats ain’t no friends of ours on the Mississippi Coast. I think this is a good time to remind everyone Speaker Pelosi would not exist without southern Democrats like Gene Taylor who hold the balance of power on many issues in the US House like the climate change bill.
Next up is our barrier islands and the $490MM down payment that has now landed on the Prez’s desk for signature. Bets will soon be opened on which member of Haley’s extended family will end up with the contract. Michael Newsome of the Sun Herald has the story:
With Obama’s signature, Mississippi would get $439 million toward fixing Hurricane Katrina’s heavy damage to the barrier islands, which weaken the effects of hurricanes that threaten Mississippi’s coastline. The work, which is expected to cost $1 billion total, was recommended in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study…….
The bill also contains an extension of FEMA disaster-housing case management for the state until March 2010, as some, mostly elderly and disabled Katrina victims, still need help finding homes.
After Katrina, much of the local emergency communication infrastructure was down and in other cases, those who came from outside the area often weren’t using equipment compatible with what locals had, leaving them disconnected. But the bill also contains $100 million that would allow the state to finish a $177 million “Mississippi Wireless Interoperability Network” for emergency communications.
There’s also $49 million to repair the now-vacant Army ammunition plant at Stennis Space Center, which was built in the 1980s but closed by the Army after only a few years. During the 2005 round of the federal Base Realignment and Closure commission, it was recommended the plant be given to NASA, but Hurricane Katrina damaged it and it hadn’t been occupied for several years. The work could cost $114 million.
Next up is another Journal of South Mississippi Business article on the Port of Gulfport and the work being funded by the $570MM of HUD money once slated for housing programs:
MDA’s Youngblood chose to further clear up a general misconception over the past few months. “Since the fall of 2005, the port recovery has always been on the list of 17 state recovery projects.” (The Journal has learned that, in fact, the original port request had already been approved by the outgoing secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in late 2008.)
Now, three agencies — the governor’s office, the development authority and the state port — are currently in agreement over the figure of $570 million for port recovery.
Barbour still has the authority to make changes in the totals, but Turner said the $570 million now looks “like the way it will go.”
Recovery first, expansion later
Meanwhile, Port Director Donald Allee sized up the impact picture for the State Port at Gulfport:
Q: What will the initial $570 million potentially mean toward future development after the recovery work is finished?
A: Recovery and rebuilding our base structures at a safer height will become the springboard for our future expansion program. The recovery plan now calls for a port elevation of 25 feet above sea level as opposed to its current 10-plus feet. An elevated port would stand up to Katrina-like storm surge that NOAA has estimated at 22.5 feet. An elevated port will also help protect the city of Gulfport.
Q: Is the port now going west or south?
A: Our revised restoration strategy calls for a more southerly developed terminal rather than westerly. This plan is a direct result of a community outreach (aiming the redevelopment of the port away from the beach and residential areas in west Gulfport and more southerly toward the Gulf.)
Q: How much time will elapse between recovery efforts and actual expansion?
A: On our present timetable, completing the recovery process will launch our expansion phase over the next decade. Expansion means building basic foundations well equipped to encourage marine operators and investors as the economic worth of the port expands. For example, heavier traffic will occur as the shipping industry moves toward bigger containerized vessels.
Next up is a complete change of pace. The Shed, a barbecue restaurant that I previously profiled on slabbed has gained a great deal of positive pub by advancing in the cooking competition put on by Live with Regis and Kelly and Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. The best thing is we now have their pulled pork and sauce recipes courtesy of the Sun Herald. It is a good bit different from the rub recipe I normally use but is certainly worth a try. If the mood strikes me I’ll do a post on the cooking of the butt, but since I have acquired the Weber of my dreams post Katrina I think I’ll retire my old flower pot smoker.
On a more serious note, a family from my old neighborhood in Waveland that is not quiet finished with their house is being evicted from their cottage by MEMA. Marcus Street is unusual in that the V Zone is the part of the street farthest from the beach. Given the family’s circumstances I hope some accomodation can be made for them until the permanent place is ready. As always on these type stories the reader comments are mostly ignorant and clueless to the realities of post Katrina recovery. JR Welsh has the story for the Sun Herald:
Lemoine and Huff have been rebuilding their Marcus Street home for the second time in recent years. A 2000 fire destroyed the residence and they painstakingly rebuilt it themselves, moving back in during 2005. “We were there seven months,” Lemoine said, and Katrina destroyed the home again.
Lemoine, a roofer and tradesman, has been rebuilding the home once again, piece by piece. He has done most of the work himself, with some assistance from volunteers. The structure is essentially completed and he is now awaiting electrical and air conditioning work. Had FEMA given them until November, he said, they could have completed the project.