Aug 30, 2010
Five years after Hurricane Katrina, what has been rebuilt?
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took some heat on this question when he spoke at a recent community meeting. Residents asked why they still had to travel miles outside their neighborhood to find any grocery store, any doctor, or any hospital. The mayor said communities “were promised more than there is money to do.”
What a lie! Plenty of money has been spent through the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005. Only none of it went for rebuilding in the hardest-hit areas like the Lower Ninth Ward.
Instead, disaster relief money has been lavished on oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico. Marathon Oil got one billion dollars for expanding a refinery and 120 million for an offshore tank storage facility. Exxon Mobil got 375 million to improve a Baton Rouge refinery and chemical plant. Money went to companies that construct offshore rigs or pipelines.
Other money went to real-estate developers who bought luxury condos near the University of Alabama football stadium. Or to owners of beachfront luxury homes in Mississippi.
If you add up all the tax-free bonds, tax credits and other benefits extended to big business throughout Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, the federal disaster relief package is enormous.
How dare Mayor Landrieu tell the people of New Orleans there isn’t money. Tens of billions of dollars were handed out. It’s only when the neighborhood in need is working class, and especially if it’s black and poor – then officials find they have “no money.”