The pumping stations themselves are huge, sturdy, blockhouse-type buildings. None sustained any major damage from the winds. In fact, I received some reports that area policemen, during the height of the hurricane, actually sought refuge inside a pumping station, recognizing it as the safest place around. Sure enough, they emerged completely unscathed, as was the expensive – but completely idle – pumping station (What Aaron Broussard Didn’t Tell Us)
As it turned out, there was a lot Aaron Broussard didn’t tell – and what he did tell often conflicted with what Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Walter Maestri told plaintiffs’ lawyers in a deposition taken for the “pump flood” case:
“Maestri said he wrote two versions of the Doomsday Plan: one in 1998, during Parish President Tim Coulon’s administration when Broussard was council chairman, and another in March 2005, a revision requested by Broussard through Tim Whitmer, his top aide who supervises department directors.
Discussions of the legal and technical aspects of the flooding of Jefferson Parish following Hurricane Katrina are best left to legal scholars and expert engineers. I am neither and a post on those aspects is a subject for another day. For lack of a better word, I’m a behaviorist – and it is from that perspective this post examines the event and those that followed.
Among the most basic of human needs are a sense of belonging and acceptance. If and how those needs are met is determined in large part by our environment; and, in some fashion, we’ve all learned that we will be more readily accepted if “when in Rome” we “do as the Romans do”.
Although half-a-world away, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, London’s Telegraph described the “Rome” that is home to Jefferson Parish:
Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: “One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment.” Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment – which is the kind of arithmetic the state’s deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.
It was in the context of this “kleptocratic” environment that some did their arithmetic before the storm; figured the flooding of Jefferson Parish would result in a massive money-making opportunity; and decided too much was at stake to rely on nature alone.
One early estimate of loss from the resulting flooding of the Parish was $3-5 billion. However, we’re only beginning to understand how much money there was to be made; but, more importantly, we’re also beginning to understand how.
Does your social network matter? My own opinion, as it relates to the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal is it fundamentally does as some very hard decisions must be made on whom to prosecute and for what crimes. Before I get into the details of some information I’ve been holding for several weeks now we must set up some very important concepts beginning with cognitive bias which is defined as distortions in the way people perceive reality, and in particular a subset known as Group-serving bias and one of that subset’s progeny, Ingroup bias:
Ingroup bias is the preferential treatment people give to those whom they perceive to be members of their own groups.
Experiments in psychology have shown that group members will award one another higher pay-offs even when the “group” they share seems random and arbitrary, such as having the same birthday, having the same final digit in their U.S. Social Security Number, or even being assigned to the same flip of a coin.