If there was one lesson of the post Katrina rebuilding process that some places had to learn the hard way is that FEMA and Uncle Sam should not be confused for Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a role reserved for the local taxpayers and in this case Taxpayers/Utility ratepayers in the City of Bay St Louis that are stuck repaying what FEMA has termed excessive to the tune of $62,925 in engineering fees, an amount which is not chump change in small town Mississippi. There are a few things that I noticed researching this topic and it is at this point I must acknowledge the contribution of Lana Noonan of the Hancock Alliance for Good Government to this post as she went up to the City Hall complex and read several years worth of minutes that adds a great deal of color. Before we get to any of that we first check in with Cassandra Favre at the Sea Coast Echo and her telling of Tuesday a week ago’s Council meeting:
The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to extend the $13 fee on utility billings through Dec. 31 to satisfy a payment to FEMA for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project.
Mayor Mike Favre told the council that MEMA owes the city about $168,000 for the Rutherford Pier project.
“We write the check back to them and they give it back to FEMA,” Favre said.
The city owes FEMA about $238,925, he said, for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project. That would leave the city owing $70,000, which is due by March 31, Favre said.
Favre said the second appeal to FEMA for engineering costs reimbursement was denied in December 2016.
According to the second appeal analysis from FEMA, “on Sept. 10, 2014, FEMA”s Region IV Regional Administrator denied the applicant’s request for an additional $171,499 for engineering design costs. The RA noted that the $171,499 awarded for engineering fees is considerably more than the suggested percentage normally allowed for engineering and design services of above-average complexity.”
Around this general time I got my first shower (cold) since the day before the storm hit. It wasn’t just a case of being funky since we had been in the storm surge so this event marked a major quality of life improvement. On the way back from Stone County we found the liquor store just inside the Harrison County line on Highway 49 was open and inside of five minutes we marked a second major quality of life improvement that day.
There were not many volunteers around at that point so I have no one to thank except by business partner for letting us use the shower and the nice folks at the liquor store for opening up without power in the sweltering heat along with Gram Grams for providing ground transportation.
In any event those of you that are reading from across the nation trying to figure out the last Katrina post and comments it isn’t that the folks here aren’t grateful for the outpouring of support but….
As the annual updates on Katrina recovery reached their fever pitch this weekend, Carbo was not alone. A NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune article titled “Things to do Saturday that have nothing to do with Katrina” had garnered more page views than a comprehensive listing of Katrina-related events.
Jim Ferly, who rode out the storm in 2005, opted to spend Saturday dodging the August heat and memorial events with an afternoon showing of the comedy “American Ultra” with his girlfriend.
Ferly said that his home in Uptown was undamaged by Katrina, but he has plenty of friends who lost houses and loved ones, things that are hard to forget even without the annual flurry of Katrina coverage.
And I for one am happy Obama did not come to the coast because we have too many filthy, lying politicians lurking about right now as it is.
That said I am getting inquiries about whether Slabbed would be marking the occasion that gave rise to the name of this internet community, which would be fitting and proper given the circumstances. OTOH I do not know anyone that has a desire to relive the Katrina experience because first it sucked and then life after it sucked even more though most everyone managed to muddled through.
In any event I’ll let reader comments serve as the guide on this. I’ll go ahead and mark AROD down as a yes because he emailed me wanting coverage.
The AP’s Jeff Amy nails it with his story on the City of Bay St Louis, which has now appeared statewide in the Clarion Ledger, the Hattiesburg American and the Sun Herald and nationwide in outlets like the Washington Times. Jeff is one of the proverbial smartest guys in the room and a seasoned business writer. Best of all he’s one of us, a Harahan guy made good that covered the post Katrina insurance battles for the Mobile Press Register. I always enjoy the chance to visit with him and I was lucky enough to have lunch with Jeff and AP Photographer Gerald Herbert last Monday here in the Bay.
I use the term the new normal because places like Bay St Louis and Waveland are fundamentally different places than they were on August 28, 2005 yet in many respects we haven’t changed much at all. Cities like Gulfport have done a very good job overall with the Urban blight that accompanied Katrina. Others not so much. Gerald Herbert captured the contrast and it was the photo that he took of the house around the corner from me that tells the tale of two cities:
It makes a heck of a contrast with the photos of the new Old Town Harbor that also appear with this story in other newspapers. Not more than a mile and a half from that Harbor, lots that once had houses on them are overgrown and derelict structures amazingly still stand nine full years after the storm. This despite a City Code department that is bursting at the seams with 6 positions that costs far more in salaries than the City takes in via associated permit and inspection fees. Something is clearly not right.
Low expectations come at a terrible cost in terms of money but more important and far more expensive is the opportunity cost of the foregone alternatives that most here accustomed to the new normal never perceive.
When you look at the City’s financial crisis through the lens of the politics of low expectations, what has happened since August 29, 2005 make tons more sense.
Peytavin noted there were too many questions concerning Broussard’s credibility to make the pretrial judgments. The judge twice noted in his three rulings that Broussard has given only one deposition.
Something tells me Darleen Jacobs’ people will not be the only ones making the trip to the Federal Pen in Butner North Carolina to depose the former Goatherder in Chief. If I may be so bold to suggest a full fleshing out of this evacuation to Mount Hermon Louisiana nonsense because that is exactly what Broussard and his doomsday plan are: complete nonsense.
My own considered opinion is Broussard intentionally flooded the Parish via abandonment of the pumps so he and his cronies could partake in some disaster crony capitalism that resulted from the flooding. At least that is what a preponderance of the evidence tells me. I’m proud Slabbed contributed to the knowledge base that is the Broussard Flood of 2005. Speaking of that knowledge base, these three archival posts from Nowdy are must reads on this topic: Continue reading “Doomsday for the former Goatherder in Chief?”
And a portion of her comment that struck a chord with me:
Very close to your story
What she is talking about is how Slabbed framed this story. Media bias, yes there is such a thing as cognitive bias is inherent to the human condition, is seen in how various stories are framed. Nowdy well remembers the story of Jamie Perdigao and his tie up with Team Letten and I am pleased to see some of our newer readers taking time to follow the links to that 2008 story from the posts I have brought up from the archives over the past few days. In my opinion it was one of the first public manifestations of problems at Team Letten though I’d be remiss not mentioning the good folks at Patterico’s Pontifications, who have done some excellent work on the topic. More on them in a second.
Back to the post title because I agree with Judge Engelhardt that the worst may be yet to come on this whole prosecutorial misconduct scandal. The persistent rumors of a third DoJ internet commenter proved true but there are also persistent rumors of certain problems at the FBI which bother me greatly. Those that followed Slabbed coverage of the River Birch Investigation real time remember that New Orleans FBI Special Agent In Charge Dave Welker retired in May, 2012. While I am certainly not suggesting Welker did anything wrong I firmly believe there is a backstory to the departure.
If it is true that adversity builds character and I think it is, then it should be no wonder Slabbed has managed to attract so many of them during the 5 plus years we’ve been going. Cheers to all my fellow Slabbers.