Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of New Orleans

I, and everyone else I've spoken to in New Orleans, were shocked by the president's State of the Union Address last night. There were some good parts, such as honoring Coretta Scott King, and making it a goal to "replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." But it wasn't until 40 minutes into the speech that he referenced the largest national disastor ever to hit this country:
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency - and stays at it until they are back on their feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris, repairing highways, and building stronger levees. We are providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child ... and job skills that bring upward mobility ... and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.

The President, like Congress, just don't get it. It is hard to get, I'll admit, and as time goes by the nation is getting "Katrina fatigue." But the first step is to come see New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in person. I think it is the least that Congress could do. To date only 55 representatives and 30 senators have visited New Orleans. And though Bush has been here several times, he has only been to the French Quarter, and Uptown, areas that didn't flood. Perhaps that's why he said on January 12th that "New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to visit." Many people down here believe that the government continues to ignore us on purpose, as a means by which to gentrify the city. It gets more difficult by the day to prove that this theory isn't accurate.

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