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Some of you will remember Representative Richard Baker of Louisiana.  On September 10, 2005, days after Hurricane Katrina, while poor people were still waiting for any sort of rescue help, he infamously said of the Ninth Ward and other poor parts of New Orleans:

We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.

Predictably, HE'S BAAaack! >>>>>>

Todays New York Times has an article on legislation being offered by the same Richard Baker, titled "A Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans".  The "plan" will pay landowners 60% of their equity before Hurricane Katrina.  Not 60% of the land value; 60% of the equity.  It will pay 60% of the remaining loan to the mortgage holders.  It will turn around and sell the land to developers. "To finance these expenditures, the government would sell bonds and pay them off in part with the proceeds from the sale of land to developers"  In other words, we won't do the whole rip-off from the poor landowners; we'll bilk the taxpayers, too.  The developers, if you do the math, will end up paying something less than 60% of the pre-hurricane value of the land, and the taxpayers will pay the rest.  Sweet!

I was so angered by Baker's plan that I sent the following letter to the Times' editor (and the Public Editor).  It feels like we're all in Wonderland or 1984.  Reporters tell us that forced sale of land under duress at greatly reduced prices is "big-government" from a guy who has always been "as free-market as I (Baker) am".  Why, even Barney Franks likes it!  It must be fair!

Trouble is, the federal government has manipulated the situation, I believe deliberately and with much planning, such that the poor people of New Orleans can't afford to return, and they aren't being allowed to return in fact.  What else can they do?  They have to get on with their lives, now that they're being evicted from those government tents and motels and football stadiums.  And it may be the best deal they'll get, but it's a raw deal.

This is one that the Bushies and Rep. Baker must not win.

Here's the letter:

Adam Nossiter's Jan 5 article, "A Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans," presents another sterling example of credulous, incurious reporting on this government and the society it is creating.

Here we have Louisiana Rep. Richard Baker's plan, which will "buy out homeowners at no less than 60 percent of their equity before Hurricane Katrina" and offer lenders "up to 60 percent of what they are owed."  Next we learn that "(T)o finance these expenditures, the government would sell bonds and pay them off in part with the proceeds from the sale of land to developers."  

To summarize:  The government will pay well under 60 percent, probably more like 20 or 30 percent on average, of the real value of properties whose values were among the lowest in the country to begin with.  It will turn around and sell these properties, at a loss, to developers.  Presumably those developers will then do something with the land that will net them a handsome profit while excluding the poor, mostly black owners from returning to New Orleans.  Those developers will be receiving property sold under duress at huge losses and further subsidized by taxpayers, a category which likely does not include the developers.  Nowhere does Mr. Nossiter draw this conclusion.

This plan comes from the very same Richard Baker who was quoted, days after Hurricane Katrina (in the Washington Post of Sept 10, 2005):  "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."   Mr. Nossiter appears to be unaware of this quote; in any case he fails to mention it.  Perhaps the fact that a text search of the New York Times Online failed to turn up this quote is germane to his lack of awareness; evidently it was not "fit to print."  Perhaps he was also unaware that "cleaning up public housing" has been a code phrase for removing black people and making profits on their land for at least eight decades now.

Baker's plan is nothing less than another racist attempt by this monopoly Republican government to transfer wealth to the already-wealthy at the expense of the poor, who in this case lose everything.  If it is, as Mr. Nossiter represents it, the only remaining hope for federal aid to New Orleans, it is because the Bush Administration and their political cronies have manipulated the situation to this point, favoring their large political donors' interests.  Mr. Nossiter is reporting on the boldest, biggest urban land grab in the history of this country and does not see it for what it is.  An inquisitive reporter would check the FEC web site to see what developers contributed to Mr. Baker's and Mr. Bush's campaigns in the last election cycles.

I am appalled at the evident corruption and racism implicit in Baker's plan, and chagrined that Mr. Nossiter and his editor apparently have no inking of it.

I urge everyone to write your senators and congress critters and newspapers and whatever else to oppose this and get something real done to get people back on their feet in New Orleans.

Originally posted to Jim Hill on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sixty Percent? (4.00)
    I wonder where they get this number.  Generally, if the Government were to declare imminent domain, they would have to pay the full market value of the land.  Are they saying that the market value today is 60 percent of what it was before the Hurricane?  Does this negate the payments from Insuance companies?  This is an interesting subject.

    There are bagels in the fridge

    by Sychotic1 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:14:41 AM PST

    •  Imminent Domain? (none)
      im·mi·nent (ĭm'ə-nənt) adj.
      About to occur; impending: in imminent danger.

      I think you may mean Eminent Domain.

      •  Good point! (none)
        The horse has left the barn on this one, hasn't it?  Nothing imminent about it.
      •  Thanks for the spelling lesson (3.50)
        /not

        There are bagels in the fridge

        by Sychotic1 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:51:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are (4.00)
        more gentle ways to go about correcting someone. You know, something that comes across a little less know-it-all and a little more helpful, not to mention humble.
        •  unlike /your/ post, in other words (none)
          •  If you say so... (none)
            I think if you compare the original comment with my reply you'll see a difference between the two.

            If my comment seemed less than gentle, or know-it-all, or not humble, then perhaps I can work on that as well.

            •  yes, the original message was not (none)
              hostile or judgmental, merely factual.  Work on that beam in your eye.
              •  I never (none)
                said it was hostile or judgmental. Just that it was merely rude, factual or not.

                And considering the number of people that seem to agree with my comment, I think I feel just fine about my instincts on this one.

                Have a great weekend.

                •  Ahem. YOUR post was hostile and judgmental, (none)
                  unlike the post you responded to -- that's what I said, not what you said.  Your post was also rude, and ad hominem -- it was a slam at the poster, nothing more.  The post you responded to was simply informative, with no characterization at all of the person she or she responded to.  As for justifying your bad behavior because 5 other Kossacks out of tens of thousands gave you a 4, just as many gave a 4 to the person who wrote "Dude, chill / I think our English-major friend meant no harm by the spelling lesson".  Your "instincts" are obviously off when you complain that Scipio could have been "more helpful" when there's nothing that could be more helpful, when pointing out that "imminent" is the wrong term, than to both provide the dictionary definition of "imminent" and the correct term, with a link yet; Scipio went to considerable effort to be helpful, and in return got treated to your insults.  You say Scipio could be more humble, when s/he showed no indication of not being, as opposed to Sychotic1, who rudely and childishly slammed Scipio for providing information that could only be of help to Sychotic1 or anyone else reading who might make the same mistake.  And of course there's your arrogance in putting yourself up as Scipio's moral instructor.  That beam in your eye look smore like a whole tree.  But go ahead, deny it some more while saying that perhaps you can work it.
                  •  er, that should be 'work on it' (none)
                    Now, I certainly would not have had a problem if you had responded, a la Scipio, "I think you may mean 'work on it'".  That is the phrasing that Scipio used, for which you attacked him/her as being insufficiently gentle, helpful, or humble, and coming across like a "know-it-all".  Those criticisms would be more fitting for something like "'work it'?   What the hell is that?  Did your poor little brain misplace 'on'?" -- but of course Scipio didn't write anything like that.

                    I hope my comments might prove helpful to someone sincerely interested in working on their own lack of gentleness and humility and air of knowing it all (in particular, knowing what Scipio's intent or frame of mind was from his/her neutrally stated post).

                    •  Actually (none)
                      your comments are strangely defensive and surprisingly hostile for someone who doesn't even know the original commentor.

                      In any case, my point was that there are enough of us who thought it was rude for me to feel like my instincts are just fine.

                      Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't a group of others who had the exact opposite response. There were. My problem with you, in particular, is that you're acting like I'm some kind of lunatic for finding the "correction" a little rude. I'm not. Other people had the same response, and yet, some people found it totally appropriate. I suppose we can agree to disagree, but get off your high horse, you're no more right than I am, we just have a difference of opinion.

                      And as for my attack being ad hominem...please. Just because someone says something that is factually correct, doesn't mean they can't be told they were being rude. I think the comment and the "correction" was rude. Just because you think it wasn't, doesn't make me any less opinionated about it. So argue until your blue in the face if you'd like, I'm not going to change my mind about it.

    •  I haven't researched it (4.00)
      But I suspect they came up with a number they could "defend".  They'll float bonds to pay for some of it:

      "To finance these expenditures, the government would sell bonds and pay them off in part with the proceeds from the sale of land to developers."

      Don't know how the insurance payments will factor in, but I suspect they're betting most poor folks have no insurance and will jump at the 60% of equity.  

      Now.  Think about recent years, low mortgate rates, refinancing with tacking on credit card debt:  how much equity do most folks have in their houses at this point?

      •  I would be surprized if there were no provision (none)
        to grease the mortgage lenders and insurance companies as well as the developers.  

        As Gee Dubya says, Good for bidness!

        Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

        by groggy on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:25:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's 60% of Equity (4.00)
      Equity equals value above your Mortage and all other liens against the property.Most people don't have alot of equity and those who do were the ones who borrowed conservatively.

      This is another screw those who worked hard and played by the rules by Republicans.

      http://dumpjoe.com/

      by ctkeith on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:59:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If They Have Any Equity (4.00)
        the 60% of it they get will have to go to pay off the rest of the mortgage.  I am fairly certain the lenders are going to want more than the 60% the state will pay them.  After all, they will know what the owner is getting, and believe me, they'll want a piece of that too.  

        Embrace diversity. Not everyone is intelligent.

        by FLDemJax on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:27:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Equity =( Appraised value - mortgage balance) (none)
        And what do you suppose the appraised value is of these humble homes that were marinated in Mississippi mud and sewage for months?  

        I think that for the most part they're looking at freebies.

        Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

        by groggy on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:31:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, according to the NYT story (none)
          the equity would be PRE-hurricane value.  (The story provided no detail as to how that would be arrived at.)
        •  Not to mention the fact that the sale is... (4.00)
          ..under duress, because people who own those homes don't have jobs, aren't sure when the next levee breech will occur, aren't sure if there are toxics everywhere...and on and on.  The gummint is counting on the homeowners to grab at whatever they think they can get, and get on with their lives someplace else.

          There's no way you can accurately estimate the value of these properties until the city gets back on its feet.  What they ought to be doing is offering residents jobs rebuilding the community, rebuilding their homes, and offering whatever assistance that takes.  But no...

    •  where they got the number... (4.00)
      I wonder where they get this number.

      [snark]
      Perhaps Rep. Baker thinks African-Americans are still 3/5 of a person?
      [/snark]

      "If you want to trust somebody with your taxpayer dollars, you'd better elect a Democrat because the Republicans can't manage money." - Howard Dean

      by CA Pol Junkie on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:14:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  HAT TIP! (none)
        OMFG that is the best talking point EVER! 4'd!

        2006 Dem predictions: +2 Senate, +7 House, +5 Governorships, +2 State Legislatures

        by XStryker on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:08:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No doubt... this is a big F You (4.00)
          to Black America...

          and anyone who thinks the white mafioso developers don't get it...

          well, the jokes on you too.

          This whole thing is just sick.

          That anyone would exploit this tragedy... to try to steal land from African Americans...

          Republicans have no shame. None...

          No integrity.

          The Blacks that own this land... it's a rare f'ing thing in America... and goddamit, blacks better f'ing own it 10 years from now.

          Or I think we should burn whatever's there to the f'ing ground.

          U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

          by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:41:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the way things are going right now (none)
            insofar as the republican wealthy and corporations and developers are screwing the poor and disadvantaged over on a regular basis...  are laying the groundwork for a revolution.  historically speaking, when the gap between the wealthy and the poor widens, and the middle class disappears, then the poor get really pissed off and cut off some heads.  (french revolution!)  what will be america's bastille?  

            also, if you consider the slaves....  slavery existed almost since the inception of the colonial america.  but they were called indentured servants then.  and they had a system set up to allow for complaints by the 'servants'.  i saw a thing on the history channel.  and the slaves were willing to work within the system in place until the wealthy slowly shut it down.  that's when they had problems with running away and such.

            I wonder how long it will take before people have had enough.  Right now many feel they have a system and work within that system.  it's gonna take them feeling they have no system for anything to change at this point.

            •  Far be it from me... (none)
              Look.  As long as we simply demonize the Republicans we miss the point.  Right now they're the villains because they have the power, but Democrats historically have no monopoly on virtue.  

              Andrew Jackson, who forcibly expelled the Cherokee nation from Appalachia and brought on the Trail of Tears, was a Democrat (called himself a Democratic Republican), and might be considered the founder of the Democratic party.  He was a slaveholder.

              Do not forget that it was Democrats in the South who maitained the system of segregation after Reconstruction until the 1960's.  Senator Byrd, who is now a hero of the Revolution, filibustered against the Civil Rights act of 1964.  He now says he has reformed, and I believe him - I'm not trying to castigate him for it, just point the fact out.  (Strom Thurmond, that unrepentant asshole, was a Democrat until he split with the party on Civil Rights.)  Long before Republican lawyers and hired cops intimidated black voters in Florida, Democratic pols hired thugs to enforce poll taxes, literacy tests, and just plain beat people up if they were black and trying to vote.

              A look at the FEC site for any Democratic Congress critter will show corporate contributions there as well.  Dems are not perfect, they have no claim to universal virtue, and as a group they are as willing as Repugnicants to share the corporate largesse.  The fact, if it is one, that no Dems got money from Abramoff doesn't prove Dem virtue, it proves Repugnicant hubris:  they figured they'd just starve the Dems while they're down.  Politics is a blood sport, and both sides play it that way.

              I'm not criticizing Dems or praising Repugs - but I get the feeling from a lot of the comments on DailyKos that people see things in terms of good versus evil.  It's not that simple, and if we're not constantly aware of that, we'll just fall into the same behaviors that got us out of power in 1994 and 2000 all over again.  The party in power in this country nearly always does.

      •  Roger That!! (none)
        Let us harken back to

        the olden days and

        look away, look away,

        look away down South at
        Dixie man Rep. Richard Baker

        Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies. -- Groucho Marx

        by ornerydad on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 07:03:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That number is correct (4.00)
      My father lives in New Orleans, and our family is well-connected and involved in the "reconstruction process."  Believe me, it is like the Southern Bush Mafia there.  The politics and deals benefit the wealthy white people, and it is painfully obvious.  No one even questions it.  My Dad told me the exact same thing 2 weeks ago, although I did not understand exactly what it meant until now.  Anyone trying to return to their own house will be offered %60 of the equity and bought out.  Meaning, they get nothing or close to nothing and have no place to live.  I am so sad and heartbroken.  I hate this.  My parents are Republican, and will probably accept this b/c they are the ones who will benefit.  But, their maid who worked for them for over 20 years as a loyal employee, has not been able to return to her home and probably never will.  And, what enrages me, is that my parents seem to accept this.  This has to stop.  This is pure racist robbery.  At least my younger sister is working at ACORN, which is fighting this legislation and working on behalf of the evacuees to enable them to return to their homes and live there.  I have yet another huge conflict to deal with in my family and a lot of arguing to do. But, I cannot let Gloria disappear and abandon her.  It seems so easy to me to formulate a plan to allow the residents to return to their homes and help them fix up the homes or repair them.  Republican minds just don't work that way.
    •  Right, but under eminent domain... (none)
      ..they'd pay the CURRENT appraised value of the property, not the pre-Katrina value.

      But any way you slice it, if they use eminent domain, they're doing that they keep saying is a flagrant ABUSE of eminent domain:  buying up property for the benefit of private development interests.

      •  As best I can determine, (none)
        eminent domain is off the table.

        Section (e) 1:  "NO AUTHORITY TO EXERCISE EMINENT DOMAIN. --T he Corporation shall have no authority to acquire interests in property by eminent domain."

        That doesn't let Baker & al off the hook, it's just a single point of the legislation.

        •  Thanks for clarifying that... (none)
          So, we're back to this:  they're counting on a fire-sale mentality in which the property owners will grab what they can get.  If it were me, assuming I could afford it, I'd hang on to my property like grim death, and wait until the developers upped the ante.
          •  people are in a conundrum (none)
            because they may want to go home, but there is no way of knowing if and when that would be possible.  and the red cross tried to shut them down at the end of december, if i am not mistaken.  (the folks in housing paid for by red cross).  and i believe now it will be march that they get thrown out in the cold.  they are faced with having to figure out what they are going to do longterm with NO money, no nothing.  and they may be faced with putting down roots where they are instead of going home.  

            and the  developers are banking on that.  i think it's sick!  there are a lot of things they SHOULD be doing...  and it won't happen, because the people in a position to make the decisions about the gulf coast could care less about the people the hurricane dessimated.  they see dollar signs for themselves.  it's rather sickening!

            •  FEMA, not the Red Cross (none)
              It was FEMA that was planning to cut off housing vouchers in December.

              At one point the Red Cross was finding that a lot of hotels/motels/landlords were refusing people who had the Red Cross housing vouchers, because it takes them a little longer to pay out.

    •  are you sure about the full mkt value? (none)
      There may be a difference between federal and state-initiated claims though.  My brother in-law is having 70 acres of his land taken away in New Hampshire, to be used for an expansion of the Manchester airport.  Most of it is swampland.  Due to a contract that lasted 99 yrs between all past/current owners, the swampland could not be drained.  They value the land at $10,000/acre as swampland.  Interestingly, the contract is up.  If the state's going to take the land anyway, my bro in-law wants to drain it so he can get a valued price of $70,000/acre but the state won't let him, assumedly because they don't want to pay 7x the value of land they can get super cheap.

      How's that for a royal screw???

      If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

      by deep6 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:43:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Help! (4.00)
    blksista, where r u? We've obviously gotta keep a close eye on these bastards!!!  I still wanna know where the Hell those missing kids are!!

    Hey, Joe Scarborough, if u can do 57 shows on goddam Natalie Holloway, can't u just do 1 on these poor missing kids from NOLA???!!

    •  Getting ready to go to Cali (4.00)
      and not necessarily in the saddle, but packing.  In between, I have been reading.  Makes one want to retch.

      I highly recommend this diary.

      An untypical Negro...since 1954.

      by blksista on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:52:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  An aside about Scarborough (none)
      Last night, Scarborough lectured Dave Letterman (in absentia) on his show.  Very sanctimoniously, he tried to slap down Letterman for making claims about O'Reilly's show when he apparently hasn't seen it.  In effect, he defended O'Reilly.

      Scarborough seems to be on the right side of the issue about Katrina.  But I have little trust in the guy.  Hopefully, since he's made it a flagship issue he'll do something useful though, in this case.

      "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

      by joanneleon on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:03:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  lil trust? (none)
        I mean you don't trust a guy who cheated on his wife and that exact same person was later found DEAD IN IS OFFICE.

         This fucker should be in jail, not on TV.

        •  I've heard parts of that story (none)
          I don't know all the details.  It doesn't get much press - not nearly as much as any story about young women who worked for Democrats.

          "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

          by joanneleon on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:52:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Story (4.00)
            As noted in a special report in Americanpolitics.com despite the near orgiastic press frenzy surrounding the disappearance of Democrat Gary Condit gal pal Chandra Levy, barely a feather was ruffled on behalf of the real corpse found on the (Fort Walton)district office floor of Joe Scarborough on July 20th.

            Lori Klausutis was found dead in Scarborough's office, and the Reps in Fla actually bought a coroner, a guy who came from Colorado, to do the autopsy. This guy, it later turned out, lost his license to practice for essentially providing false conclusions for a price of cause of death elsewhere.It's also a matter of public record that he was suspended from his position as Medical Examiner in the State of Florida in July, 1999.

            Despite initial reports from the controversial coroner in the case, Dr. Michael Berkland,(Berkland's medical examiner license was revoked in Missouri for reporting false information) that Klausutis suffered seizures as a result of an auto accident years ago, the deceased woman's family denies this according to APJ writers Denis Wright and Chris George.

            Discrepancies between initial reports and the autopsy have raised suspicions (e.g. Originally Berkland reported no head trauma. The autopsy revealed a bruise on Klausutis' head), and can best be appreciated by reading the APJ piece in its entirety.

            But what truly should hit any conscious media/political observer over the head is the discrepancy between media reaction to the Levy case versus the Scarborough affair.

            Imagine that Scarborough, who shocked supporters by announcing his retirement from congress, and more shock by divorcing his wife, was a democrat. Is their any doubt that the Republican attack machine would have generated a feeding frenzy?

            Continuing the national debate---People for Change --*help us TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK*

            by MikeHickerson on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:29:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is bullshit... (4.00)
    If developers want the land... they can f'ing buy it at market value like any goddam person in the country has to.

    F Republicans. What is this? Communist china?

    Republicans like the free-market when it works such that they can rip off the poor...

    but as soon as average folk have something that Republicans are interested in... like temporarily uninhabitable real estate in New Orleans...

    whoahhhh... we can't have any capitalism here!

    This is critical.

    Screw the disaster capitalists... they can pay for the goddam land like anybody in the freaking country has to or else get f'ing lost.

    Period.

    Republican ideology is such bullshit. I don't even think there is such a thing. Republicanism=opportunism for the rich. And that's it. They don't believe in a goddam thing unless it suits them personally. Capitalism... the Constitution... they'll throw it all in the gutter to make a buck or consolidate power.

    U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

    by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:22:54 AM PST

    •  It's (4.00)
      socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.  I think if Adam Smith were alive today, he'd be a subversive radical.
    •  Well, but... (none)
      ...I have to wonder if the 60% on equity is actually a premium over present market value. The owner is welcome to take it or leave it, and presumably if this weren't an attractive offer they wouldn't take it.
      •  Unless their mortgage is due... (4.00)
        ..on a house no longer standing, while they're living in a motel room in Biloxi, unable to return to their hometown because it's 'unsafe'.

        In that case, what choice would people have but to take the money and suck it up?

        This is robber baron stuff.

      •  it's bullcrap... (4.00)
        as soon as the area gets targeted for development and the first mafioso sonofabitch developer plops down his blooducking anti-urban bullshit project... the value of that land will explode...

        and lordy knows we don't want any of that money going to black folks.

        that just wouldn't be white... i mean right... i mean Republican.

        U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

        by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:32:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly right.... (none)
          ..so all that's needed is for the property owners to band together, with some outside cash to keep people afloat for awhile, and HOLD OUT!  Those property values will rise, and rise fast.
          •  yup... (none)
            and quite frankly...

            in my opinion... every damn one of those people who are facing the problem of either selling their property or riding it out until the cleanup is through...

            every damn one of them shouldn't have to pay a cent until the cleanup is finished.

            if we were a real country... a real society... there'd be a freeze on the whole damn thing.

            and when its done... then... then the blacks who own that property could think about selling at current market rates or holding onto it.

            if we're going to socialize this process... exactly why are we socializing and subsidizing for the benefit of the developers rather than the current property owners?

            well... i think the answer is obvious. george bush and people like him ARE fucking racists... and they don't give a goddam what happens if the color of your skins aint GREEN.

            U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

            by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:03:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Benefitting developers... (4.00)
              Replying to your question:  "if we're going to socialize this process... exactly why are we socializing and subsidizing for the benefit of the developers rather than the current property owners?"

              We have had Corporate Socialism in this country since the New Deal.  John Maynard Keynes was trying to save capitalism from its internal contradictions.  No good deed goes unpunished:  they call him a socialist.

              The difference then was that government tried to stimulate markets by providing people with jobs so they could buy things and re-start the economy when it stalled.  Now, the Straussians and the Friedmanites have convinced everybody that you give the money to the guys who build the factories and they'll build more factories, generate more jobs, and then people will buy stuff.  (It's a re-statement of Sey's Law:  Supply generates its  own demand, or, if you build it, they will come.)  There's only one problem with that idea.  It doesn't always work.    The Great Depression was the proof.  The next depression will prove it again.

              Republicans in the last 20 years have become extremely adept at writing legislation that benefits corporations but looks on the surface like it benefits people, even the poor.  In the last five years, they've become even more adept at naming the bills:  "Clean Skies Initiative," "Healthy Forests," and on and on.  ("In order to save the forest from the forest fires, we have to cut it down.  Might as well do something useful with it.")

              •  I think you've got it (none)
                right when you say Straussians... it's easy to forget who these guys teachers/heroes are.

                what we're looking at here is year 2050: 10 billion people on the planet.

                That extra 4 billion... urban poor.

                Thus... you've got guys like Dick Cheney... like some stormtrooper out of an Ayn Rand novel... I think he's preparing.

                And I think right now we're just easing into a pretty significant suboceanic canyon that no one seems willing to admit exists...

                Well... i think the metaphor  continues and Dick Cheney is wearing scuba gear and trucking mad tanks of O2... and he's damn well going to make sure that "his type" of people are doing the same thing. And they feel justified... because they seem to be the only ones looking ahead... only ones who can afford to that is.

                Social Darwinism.

                I think that's why since the 1970's we've seen global corporatism so desperately push the new wealth into so few hands... I think that's why we've seen it so radicalized of late... time's getting short.

                Greenland's melting...

                by 2050, we'll each have half the organic acreage per person that we do today... or less.

                I wonder if we can invent our way out of what's coming...? Judging by some folks actions... I'm sceptical.

                Thanks mom and dad for this...

                Wonderful Life.

                Oh well... I guess you can't blame people for being... comfortable.

                Or can you?

                Maybe not...

                I suppose that's been the goal of evolution up until now... up until the point when we need to learn to know better.

                I think my generation is actually going to need to develop into an entirely new species... in order to survive.

                Homo-Buddhista... or something equally non-reproductive/minimal-energy. And I think we'll actually have to all GROW UP, ie become social beings rather than narcissistic childish wallydraigles... who read Ayn Rand and actually are simpleminded enough to say... "Sure! Sign me up!" (W stands for Wallydraigle, incidentally...)

                Yup, in 2050, we'll all be gay, Buddhist, and maybe more compact... so my fellow Americans don't have to take up my armrest and half my seat with their Whopper-enhanced girth...

                U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

                by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:59:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  No it is not (4.00)
        I have a friend from NOLA who has already bought a home there. They got a good deal from a homeowner who wanted out, it was about 30% below the pre-hurricane value.

        Of course it was habitable with minor work but values there are not as depressed as some believe.

        This land grab (theft) is being brought to us by the recent New London, CT SCOTUS ruling.

  •  Cripes (4.00)
    What a shithead.

    Locals are doing their best to stop him by developing a unified, comprehensive plan for the city.  There is finally some reason for optimism.  From the Times Picayune:

    A coalition of religious and civic leaders has begun to assemble quietly behind the scenes to build public support for a nearly finished post-Katrina blueprint for New Orleans, prepared to accept its flaws on the theory that the alternative is chaos and a quick slide into urban decay.

    Many members are specialists in social work, planning and other fields who have already contributed their expertise through subcommittees of Mayor Ray Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission. Few, however, are familiar with the blueprint as a whole.

    So, it's not a perfect plan, but it's the first sign of strong coalition-building that also involves the people we want doing the building.  And they know exactly what they're up against:

    The alternative is to leave New Orleans' future in the hands of state officials in Baton Rouge or to real estate speculators and unchecked market forces, Cowan [head of the city's Human Relations Commission] said at a formative meeting of almost two dozen leaders of nonprofit agencies Wednesday.

    And these people are doing their best to make sure that the city's black population - still scattered around the country - is not left out.  I say "doing their best," which is a far cry from perfect, but a helluva lot better than before:

    However, the overwhelming majority of the people involved in discussion so far are white. Part of that is because much of the city's black cultural, civic and religious leadership has been scattered. But in formative conversations with the clergy group, Cowan, the primary organizer of the initiative, also acknowledged that he wanted to exclude from discussions some community leaders he felt contributed to racial polarization.

    Representatives of the only two predominantly African-American nonprofit organizations at Wednesday's meeting expressed hope that they could rally behind the post-Katrina blueprint. But both made clear they need to examine it and be convinced that it treats all communities equitably.

    Edith Jones, president of the Urban League, said she was acutely aware that much of the city's black leadership, largely scattered to Texas and elsewhere, was significantly underrepresented in the development of the rebuilding blueprint.

    She preferred to commit to an orderly process to receive and debate the plan, rather than endorsing it wholeheartedly, she said.

    In the same way, Carol Bebelle, director of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, said she was both hopeful and committed to a public debate process with the plan at its center, but was not yet ready to endorse it, again because leaders of the city's black cultural, religious and other communities could not take a full role in its development.

    Moreover, the commission must confront widespread suspicion among displaced black New Orleanians that they are not welcomed back, she said.

    "Right now, there is a distrust," she said. "This is not like your mom or your dad trying to take care of your best interests while you happen not to be there. Folks don't feel that way. They feel like their absence is an opportunity for (other) people to put them out. That's far from trust."

    These are seriously encouraging signs, and I hope that the details are ironed out quickly enough, and broad support is gained quickly enough, to matter.  The last thing we need is shitheads like Baker making Important Decisions.

    •  I'm worried though (4.00)
      Pico, I know that you are following this from close up and I am at more of a distance, but as soon as Nagin's Bring Back New Orleans Group engaged the Urban Land Institute study, I went into a panic.

      ULI has a dreadful track history of putting forth the bright face of community redevelopment only to be working behind the scenes for the "land sharks".

      The initial ULI plan has the city abandoning efforts to clean up and allow reconstruction in several areas around NO calling them 'unreclaimable'.  My gut says that once residents have effectively been run off because the city services and utilities are being withheld, all of a sudden ULI's recommendation will change and the wealthy real estate developers will swarm in.

      I am further discouraged by ULI's appointment of former Pittsburgh mayor Tom Murphy as their NO point man.  He has butchered Pittsburgh's redevelopment efforts and is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's hitlist for bulldozing entire neighborhoods.  

      Is this the type of decision making or leadership we want for historical New Orleans?

      Even if Baker's bill doesn't make it through Congress, ULI has a backup plan that is very much the same in their recommendation for the creation of the Crescent City Rebuilding Corp.  It would be created by the Legislature having the power to do land banking, buy homes and property, purchase and restructure mortgages, finance redevelopment projects and issue bonds.  The end game is the same only benefitting the land sharks.

      Local leadership is the way to go, but it is going to have to be backed by two things:  redevelopment money for home owners and small business, and a commitment from the city to provide utilities and city services for all the neighborhoods.

      Can Nagin be pressured enough to drop the "abandonment plan"?

      Claws beat Skin Take Back America

      by polydactyl on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:53:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm back! (none)
      Pico, see my comment downthread for part of my take on the Baker Plan.
  •  I'm not sure this is such a bad thing (4.00)
    I had the same initial reaction you did, but on e reflection, I think he may be trying to do the right thing here. In an interview I heard with him, he's stated that he's doing this to stop land speculators who are currently down there snapping everything up at less than .10 on the dollar.

    think abut it this way:

    Currently if you own a home in NO, no matter what your pre-storm equity was, your investment is worth practically nothing now.   The same is true of the banks.  If they foreclose on your house they take possession of an unsaleable lot, that is worthless at best and an environmental liability at worst. If they repossess, the best than can hope for is to package them and sell them off as blocks to the first vulture that offers them a few pennies on the original dollar.

    Now if people sell to this created government Corporation they'll get 60% of the original value in cash.   They then have the first right of redemption on the lot (meaning they can buy it back from the Re-development corporation  at current market rate, not the old equity rate).  With the differential, this will leave most homeowners with more than enough cash to rebuild homes where they had them before, AND as a bonus, own them free and clear of the original liens which in the long run will put them in a better condition than when they started.

    I don't especially trust this guy's wingnut history either, but I can't find too many flaws in the plan as proposed.   It's possible that
    Reality gave him a serious wake-up call.

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:46:20 AM PST

    •  THE LAND is worth more to them than the equity (4.00)
      on the houses.

      Get a grip, the residents are going to be ripped off.  THE LAND is worth more now than ever, especially since they want to put condos or golf courses where shotgun houses are.  Condos that returnees probably couldn't afford.

      Of course, it only becomes valuable when black folks aren't living on it.  But it's valuable, period, no matter who is living on it.

      An untypical Negro...since 1954.

      by blksista on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:57:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  to some extent I agree with you (none)
        But there IS a way to fight that on a local level.  

        I haven't read anywhere that the redevelopment Company will be given Zoning authority.  If the Citizens of NO can fight to keep that in local hands, then they win the battle.

         To a developer, the land is only as valuable as the structure that can be built on it. If the The City and the Parish can keep control the zoning process, and the people can elect polticians who won't sell out to the developers, then the residents will have an honest chance to rebuild and keep ward 9 intact.

        If that happens and this offer becomes a good deal.   If not, then you are right they'll be screwed.

        Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

        by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:28:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Consolidation (none)
          To a developer lots increase dramatically by how many adjacent lots they can consolidate. Fourteen structures of X value are cheaper to build than 5 or 1.

          This is probably about putting chunks of land together quickly. If you start buying one at a time the market forces up the price quickly before you can finish.

          So even if zoning did not allow a large stucture, zoning must allow something, they will build whatever is allowed and profit by cheap land economies of scale.

          •  The one thing is (none)
            as I originally heard the plan, the original owner was granted a first right of redemption.  If that missing, then yes the plan changes dramatically.

            Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

            by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:08:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Exactamente... (none)
            ..and that means a few scattered holdouts can mess up the whole scheme.

            Of course, it might be good to keep a loaded shotgun handy, for that moment when the developer's representative makes you an offer you can't refuse.

      •  You're exactly right (none)
        They're working to increase the value purely by kicking out the poor.  Frankly, once speculators own it, the odds of the infrastructure being properly repaired will go up dramatically.

        compare to MS gulf coast where my family is.  some land values have jumped by about 50% since Katrina.  my aunt's place was for sale before the storm--she's smatly raised the price dramatically since, on the advice of her agent.  I was very worried about a buyout just like this for my parent's gutted beachfront condo, in fact it's one of the first things my dad and I talked about when discussing rebuilding:  that the govt would stage a forced buyout then redevelop the land, pricing out all of the current residents, all in the name of "highest best use".  before the storm new condos were already going for 3 times the cost of theirs, built in the 70s.  the older residents risked (in my opinion) basically being told they couldn't come back because wealthier residents were wanted.  And that sounds exactly like what's happening in N.O.

        fortunately that hasn't happened to my folks.  yet.  rebuilding is in progress,  local preservationists are demanding that as much as possible be put back like it was, even the mid-century buildings like theirs.

      •  I agree with you, and I think we need more figures (none)
        Also, I'd like to know what people from NO are thinking.

        I read the NY Times article carefully and think we need to know how this is going to work on in the details.   People who lived in NO for all their lives may have gotten some pretty good equity that is right now (a) lost and (b) if it had not been lost, would still not be a good property on the market.  60% is NOT GREAT, but it is better than ZERO.    

        Right now no one can be very sure New Orleans is going to become some super rich city.  Just last week the Houston Chronicle ran an editorial saying that the building that is going on near Galveston Island beaches is unconscionable and I wouldn't think NO would get a much better press.

        One thing that kept all these coastal communities going and building was the sense that we'd live through so many hurricanes, we really couldn't be beat.  I doubt many people feel that way now.  Of course, I could be wrong.  And it's all IMHO.

        IMPEACH

        -5.75; -7.44

        by JPete on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 04:20:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Having said all I've said (none)
      I have to agree:  this is probably the best deal under the circumstances.

      My problem is that I believe the current circumstance has been carefully manipulated by the administration from the day before the hurricane, or the day after, at the very latest.

      The president's comment to Brownie:  "You're doin' a great job, Brownie!"  It take on a whole new light from four months out.  Factor in Barbara Bush's comment that they probably never had it so good, and you start to wonder...

      But yeah.  In the current circumstances, which are unlikely to get better, this appears to be a generous offer.

    •  Who will the developers be? (4.00)
      Who will they pay off (or have they paid off) to get the land?  What kind of tax breaks will they get?  What kind of zoning will they demand? How long will this be a "government entity?" Who is on the Board or is proposed to be on the Board? It will be privatized. This is a plan made in heaven for crooks and liars.  Who will have oversight here?  What will the current market rate be?  

      I don't buy it's best -- it's best for people who know how to pay as little as possible to make as much as possible and have friends in high places.

      If we weren't bogged down in a horrendous failure of a war, bleeding money we need at home -- we could have helped these homeowners in ways that would help them - not the developers.    

      The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

      by xanthe on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:12:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In an ideal world (4.00)
        which of course means "had I been In charge" ;}

        I would have said that the best way to handle this would have been a New-Deal Style agency  that handled the reconstruction  and gave hiring preferences to displaced New Orleans residents
        (and possibly even a Habitat for Humanity style Sweat equity System to allow them to purchase the Re-built houses with  FHA style loans, and comped down-payments)

        But faced witht he reality on the ground SOMETHING has got to be done and soon.  The Banks are going to have to start foreclosing soon to resolve their own balance sheets and the houses they will be taking are virtually worthless.

        I had a chance to talk with a young man over the holidays who is doing construction work down there. His simple statment was "you can't believe how bad it is down there". When we talked he had a look in his eyes that I've previously only seen in combat veterans.   He told me that they are STILL finding bodies trapped in houses when they arrive for jobs (keep an eye on that offical death toll on the coming months) and he says the power and water is still not on in most of the city, and feral rats and pets are a major danger in a lot of the neighborhoods.  Before he started work, his company's medical plan paid for innoculations usually only given to people who go overseas into the worst of the third world countries.

        Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

        by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:43:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You have to forgive me (none)
          I'm from Cook County, Illinois.  Hence, my attitude about real estate.  

          It doesn't bode well -- but as we have a government that is not interested in its citizens, I see your view.  If we watch this -- we'll find out who will make money here -- watch the Board evolve --  

          The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

          by xanthe on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:05:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I used to live in Uptown (none)
            Went to law school there in fact, and had occasion to have an interesting coversation once with an ex-memeber of the Chicago "family" who was also a real-estate agent.  I share your cynicism in spades. In some ways Chicago is a progressive's dream, and yet even there the Mayor is not only corrupt but often a willing tool of developers (How any man could be the mayor of Chicago and say "get over it" when Marshall Fields changed its name is beyond me)

            But,  We have to Do SOMETHING.  Sooner or later the city of NO will be rebuilt,  the question is will it all be in the hands of land speculators who bought it up at .01 per dollar first

            Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

            by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:14:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You probably couldn't afford (none)
              Uptown now -- or let's say in the near future.  Six of one - half dozen of another.  But would I love to be proved wrong!

              The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

              by xanthe on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:54:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  property owners vs. renters (none)
          Is going to be the major factor here.  I don't have stats on the total number of renters in NO and other displaced areas, but I'd like to find that info.  I heard on Democracy Now! that landlords were evicting people who abandoned apartments to flee the storm.  Once the renters returned to see the condition of their units, landlords forcefully evicted (aka threw out the person's remaining items) them, even from units not heavily damaged by the hurricane.  Apparently this is increasingly occurring and there's naturally an increasing number of displaced renters whose habitable apartments and property would not be condemned and still liveable.  

          I'm sure a property owner who spent decades dealing with low-income renters, seeing his property in a shambles, not considering it worth the money to rebuild at this time, may think it a sweet deal to take what he can get for it from the govt and get out of the rental business altogether.  I can't imagine anyone would want to rent there any longer, considering the long-term environmental hazzards which will probably be learned of 2,3 5 yrs from now... for which landlords could potentially get sued, or would have to pay mega insurance to rent out a building as a multi-family unit.

          If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

          by deep6 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 04:01:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a sad situation (none)
            but price gouging has gone overboard, especially vis-a-vis rental properties.  Property owners know that apartments are hard to find, so they're demanding top dollar.  And that really sucks.

            One thing New Orleans has going for it, though: unlike most urban areas, the majority of people living in poor areas were homeowners, not renters (some 60% in the 9th ward, for example).  This is a good sign - or rather, not as a bad a sign as it could be.  We'll have to see how this plays out.

          •  they did a story on one of the channels (none)
            about the renting thing.  they had a lady living somewhere who wanted to go back to NO but couldn't find an apartment she could afford.  She had an apartment before, but the prices have skyrocketed, supposedly due to the fact that the landlords have to fix the places.... or perhaps because the red cross officials and contractors there can pay big bucks.  who wouldn't rather get more money from contractors than they could get from regular people.  it's disgusting!
    •  This is a very bad thing (none)
      You make an error in your post when you state that they'll get 60% of the original value back if they sell.  According to the original post, they will only get 60% of their equity.  That is a very big difference.  For instance, a low income borrower purchases a home 3 years ago for $100,000.  Since they are considered a "sub-prime" borrower, they have a high interest rate of say, 8%.  After 3 years of making principal and interest payments every month of about $730, they would have only paid down about $3000 of the principal balance on the loan.  Estimating a 3% appreciation of the home's value, their home would be worth about $109,000 and they would owe about $97,000 for a net equity of about $12,000, 60% of which would be about $7200, which is far less than the value of the land itself.
      •  Could you have gotten a mortgage 3 years (none)
        ago without flood insurance?  I can't think of a bank that would let someone do that in NO, but I certainly don't know for sure.  We bought a house in Houston in 91 and we had to be insured up to the hilt.  NOT, mind you, flood insurance, because our house is in the 100 year flood zone, but most of the houses we looked at were ones where you had to buy flood insurance.

        (The 100 year flood zone is looking less and less safe this near the Guld.)

        IMPEACH

        -5.75; -7.44

        by JPete on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 04:34:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  many had 'hurricane' insurance.... (none)
          i don't know about flood insurance, but i do know that the insurance companies seem to be splitting hairs right now to avoid having to pay insurance claims, so i bet it doesn't really matter at this point.  they might have a better case in court, but how long will it be dragged out and how much will the lawyers get even if they do get their money.
          •  yes, it can get caught in courts. I also remember (none)
            from a flood friends had in Houston that one can have insurance for damage from rain without having flood insurance.  And an insurance company may well argue that the damage was from a flood and not from rain.  Still, given its position, one might hope a lot of people would have flood insurance.

            IMPEACH

            -5.75; -7.44

            by JPete on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 06:45:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i agree ! (none)
              people should have flood insurance in addition to regular insurance.  i also think their should be clearer definitions of things such as 'hurricane' or 'flood' insurance... you catch my drift.  because in the wake of this disaster, i think the insurance companies are going to try to define these things in a manner in which they don't have to pay.  

              my sister had a tree fall on a neighbor's shed and fence and the insurance company said it was not insurable because the the tree was rotten inside, and obviously was the fault of my sister and her husband.  i gues sthey should have known it was rotten because it looked so tall and strong on the outside?  imagine if the neighbor decided to sue them for damage to their shed or fence!  as it was they paid through the nose to get the tree removed.

              i guess what i am saying is that the insurance company is going to play games if they can get away with it.  people pay their insurance, and think they  are ok if something happens, only to have the safety net pulled out from underneath them!  

              •  Yes. And apparently one needs to be very (none)
                careful about what you say to the adjusters.  I've heard of people getting basically nothing because they used "flood" rather than "rain damage"

                IMPEACH

                -5.75; -7.44

                by JPete on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 06:54:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  a very good point (none)
        it usually takes  a bunch of years before you are paying odd principle rather than interest.  BUT if you were one of those homeowners who were "Upside down" why not simply walk away from the deal?  Yes this will help the banks too, but that will make them willing to write loans in that area again, which right now is "radioactive" to lenders

        Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

        by Magorn on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:11:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  When this sort of thing is done in the Middle East (4.00)
    It creates generations of terrorists.

    Created several centuries of strife with the original residents of North America, too...who were referred to by similarly unkind names.

    All because offering fair value for land was unworthy of the good and honorable thieves who stole it, with the blessings of their government.

    Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

    by cskendrick on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:48:30 AM PST

    •  I don't know about that (4.00)
      Jews have been expelled, penniless, from countries all around the world, from Russia to Yemen to Egypt to Algeria to Syria, without becoming terrorists.

      But perhaps it's best if this thread isn't hijacked by other debates.

      •  Good call :) (none)

        Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

        by cskendrick on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:59:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  so have native americans and palestinians (4.00)
        Most native Americans and most Palestinians likewise suffered their expulsion without turning violence against innocent civilians or even against their civilian expropriators.

        On the other hand, in all three cases, some of those expelled did become 'terrorists' for lack of a better word.

        There is little difference between the actions of a few Jewish people during the creation of the Israeli state and the actions of a few Palestinians today in their zeal (interesting root word) to create a state.  

        Bombs, forced expulsions, harm and death intentionally inflicted on innocents and civilians -- those were among the tricks used by early Zionists.

      •  Actually... (4.00)
        Modern day terrorism was a creation of early Israelis. The methods used now against Israel by their enemies were once used (and some would say are still used) by the founders of the nation on others.
        •  Anarchists (4.00)
          Modern day terrorism was a creation of early Israelis.

          Modern-day terrorism got its start with the anarchists in Europe around the turn of the century, who assassinated public figures and set off bombs in public places in Barcelona to disrupt society and induce fear in the whole country.

          Perhaps when you were thinking about early Israelis, you were thinking about the Hebron Massacre of 1929, but that followed the anarchists by several decades so I wouldn't claim that the architects of those murders "created" terrorism.

          •  Nice reply. (none)
            Duly conceded.
          •  Asymetrical tactical warfare (4.00)
            Don't forget the Boston Tea Party.

            "I'm an insect who dreamed he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over..." - Charles E. Pogue, "The Fly".

            by edsdet on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:06:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  isn't it interesting.... (none)
              how differently we see the actions of our ancestors and the actions of people opposing us?  it's funny in National Treasure, when Nicolas Cage makes that comment about the founding fathers committing treason...

              A toast? Yeah. To high treason. That's what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and-Oh! Oh, my personal favorite-and had their entrails cut out and *burned!

      •  jews not terrorists? (none)
        i think the palestinians might beg to differ...

        and so might i...

        U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

        by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:13:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Jews" ? (4.00)
          I think you may just be overgeneralizing a bit here, in many ways. Here's one: there are several layers of distinctions between Jews, Israelis, and Zionists. Even though it is not accurate to say "Zionists are terrorists" (because only a minority of Zionists have committed or facilitated terrorist acts), it's just wrong, not to mention bigoted and insulting, to say "Jews are terrorists".

          In context, you were contrasting "Jews" with "Palestinians", and that's wrong too. You can compare Jews with Arabs (sister branches of the Semite root), Jews with Muslims (sister branches of the monotheistic root), and Israelis with Palestinians (two nationalities). But Jews versus Palestinians is like comparing apples with bicycles.

          Greg Shenaut

          •  We are all terrorists (none)
            at some time or another.  Israelis, Irish, American, English, Afrikaner, you name it, we've partaken in the unholy feast.

            "I'm an insect who dreamed he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over..." - Charles E. Pogue, "The Fly".

            by edsdet on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:11:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Jews are just as much terrorists (none)
            as Arabs, Americans, Christians...

            whatever...

            different groups for whatever reason commit terrorist acts.

            Americans do.

            Christians do.

            Jews do.

            Israelis do.

            I think one can compare Jews to Palestinians all they want... and I don't think the semantics are as important as you suggest.

            Israelis are Jewish. Not 100% true... but for my purposes... its Jews vs. Palestinians...

            because a lot of the problem isn't just Israeli jews... but moreso actually, American Jews.

            Jews are one of the most significant groups of terrorists on this planet... when you look at their numbers vs. the amount of covert violence they commit.

            That's just fact.

            Same with Americans really.

            And Chomsky wrote a book on it... sitting on my bookshelf... 'Rogue States.'

            U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

            by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:51:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (none)
              Gee, I have several comments.
              • You say that the equivocation you are making is close enough "for [your] purposes". What are your purposes?
              • You mention some statistics: the amount of covert violence committed by Jews in relation to their numbers. Maybe you could post some of these stats, with their source.
              • Next, you mention "covert violence", but terrorism is never covert, because what would be the point? For an act to produce terror, at a bare minimum it has to be overt. This may be a place where semantics actually can be important.
              • Finally, the concept of a "rogue state", whether as used by Clinton, Bush, or Chomsky, always has one important prerequisite: it has to be a state, a country. This is where all the talk about "state-sponsored terror" comes from: countries that are said to support terrorism. So, I find it unlikely to the point of absurdity that Chomsky claims in that book or any other that "Jews are terrorists", as you do, because "Jews" are not a state. Another semantic distinction, and one you may want to notice.
              Greg Shenaut
    •  But who are the real terrorists (none)
      The poor people, especially poor african amerians have been terrorized by the corporate terrorists in this region for a long time.    The rich selfish corporate terrorists don't care if they starve or suffer or die, as long as they can buy an extra rolex.  

      I did two diaries a few months ago (http://www.dailykos.com/... and http://www.dailykos.com/...)on how the evil racist corporate terrorists at Citigroup have both prior to Katrina and after Katrina delibertaley screwed over people in the region (especially African Americans impacted by Katrina).   Here is some of the evidence below.    

      CITI claims that they will defer all accounts for 90 days. Meaning no Finance charges, Late Fees, Overlimit Fees. As an employee we were informed of this.

      So of course, this information we passed on to their cardmembers for about a week. Telling them they have more important things to attend to.

      Low and be hold, the truth comes out. One week after the hurricane hit, CITI announced to their employees that they will only defer accounts for 30 days. They did say they will defer for a longer period of time, IF YOU ASK!!!! In this devastating time in our nation, how dare a company ask you to take time out of your already hectic life, to call in and request a deferment for a longer period of time.

      HAVE THE COURTESY TO JUST DEFER THE ACCOUNTS FOR 90 DAYS...."LIKE YOU SAID SO IN THE BEGINING"(from http://www.fuckcitibank.com).

      According to Innercity Press:"Damage caused by the hurricane itself is one thing; disparate treatment by government and corporations is something else. The Gulf Coast region is for example one of the most redlined by banks. The nation's largest bank, Citigroup, virtually withholds its normally-priced mortgages from the region. In 2004, over 70% of Citigroup's mortgages in Mississippi were over the Federal high-cost rate spread (3% over Treasury securities on a first lien, 5% on subordinate liens). Meanwhile, less than 10% of Citigroup's 2004 mortgage in Massachusetts were higher-cost. By race, over 75% of Citigroup's loans to African Americans in Louisiana were higher-cost, compared to under 40% of Citigroup's loans to whites"(http://www.innercitypress.org).  

      The corporate terrorists treat(aka murder) people by doing these things and then they wonder why they fight back.

      We have a new kind of terrorism on our hands:corporate terrorism.    

      Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

      by tri on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:54:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A quick point to make (4.00)
    What you are failing to realize is that this is actually a good thing.  The reason for the 60% is that if the govt. doesn't do that, guess what they'll get ... NOTHING!  Why, you might ask?  Because a lot of those people didn't have flood insurance.  You know what that means for their equity?  It means that the only equity they have is in the land itself, not their destroyed home, nothing.  They are going from having almost nothing, to being given the opportunity to have 60%.  While I might not think this plan is totally a great idea, I'd like you to think about the reasons more throughly.

    I'll show you conservative!

    by aaronsmiles on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:54:57 AM PST

    •  Not sure.... (4.00)
      At least before, the developers would have to work individually with the landowners.  If they want a big parcel, they would have to bid up the price to get a continuous piece.  This way, the government forces the small owners out and sets it up for the developers the way the developers want it.  

      I only see evil in this.  Developers will be out there looking for things to build whether the govt helps or not.  With the above plan, they are assured an easy ride.  

      I do not think developers need such perk.

      The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

      by sp0t on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:59:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On the other hand (none)
        You could have almost all the landowners sell, but then one holds out for whatever reason, the development drags out for years and the neighborhood remains dead for much longer than it needs to be.

        If these houses had an ounce of value right now I'd be there with you but I think this is a reasonable solution for an unprecedented disaster.

        •  I would rather.... (none)
          a landowner association of neighborhood size run such a negotiation than a disinterested (or alternatively interested) government, where developers would necessarily be looking at the height of value-addition to the land, and not a return to the neighborhood of what is rightfully theirs.

          The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

          by sp0t on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:11:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The more I think about this... (4.00)
        ...the people who are probably lobbying the hardest for this are the BANKS who stand to lose millions on non-performing debt from destroyed properties.

        Think of it this way.  As people above have said, the only thing of value, right now, is the LAND on which those houses stood.  Forget equity, that's all gone now.  So as a poor landowner, all I have to offset my mortgage debt is any proceeds I can make on the sale of my land.  That will certainly be for only pennies on the dollar, given the current conditons.  Now, of course, if entire neighborhoods ganged up and decided to sell all the land in blocks, they'd have some negotiating power with developers, but let's face it, that's not going to happen given that everyone's scattered all over the place.

        So, if the gov't didn't step in here, the banks would all foreclose on these poor people and be left with a lot of flooded land, which, while worth a lot to a developer, is very difficult for financial institutions to efficiently sell off and recoup some modicum of their investment.

        Translation: the banks were about to take a bath on all of this.  ANd, of course, so were all the landowners who would probably be forced into bankruptcy.

        So, this proposal is really just a taxpayer bail-out for the banks, as they get to recoup 60% of their investment, whereas the poor landowners only get 60% of their equity (and depending on the kinds of mortgages involved, may be very small, remember 60% of zero is still zero).  I'm sure the repugs probably wouldn't have even considered this measure at all if the banks weren't screaming bloody murder about the prospect of losing out big time.  As a corollary, they "tried to be fair" by paying the landowners their 60% too, but let's face it, that's just lipstick on a pig at this point.  Plus, given that the equity is probably only at most 10-20% of the pre-Katrina value, the lion's share of the 60% bailout goes to the banks, not the poeple.  So, let's call it what it really is, another taxpayer bailout of financial institutions.

        Of coure, the landowners salivating at the thought of putting up golf courses, casinos and luxury condos are going to make out like bandits, as someone pointed out the gov't will use its newfound bargaining power to virtually give this land away, thereby stiffing us taxpayers with the bill.   It would make more sense if the proposal specifically included language that mandated the gov't corporation negotiate with developers in good faith and try to maximize the proceeds from such sales to retire as much debt as possible, but cronyism being cronyism, you know that won't happen.

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

        by viget on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:24:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you've got it. (none)
          The question that stood out was why Baker?  Why is Baker of all people behind this?  

          The Times article sheds some light on Baker's loyalties:

          Mr. Baker has spent years toiling in arcane financial-services regulation. With the calm of a man used to consorting with bankers and poring over balance sheets, he lays it all out: tens of thousands of strapped homeowners, owing millions in mortgage payments on properties of dubious value, to multiple lending institutions.

          His effort is filled with paradoxes. Mr. Baker has devoted much of his Congressional career to reining in the quasi-governmental lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying they have too much power. Now, "as free market as I am," he said, he wants the government to take action in a way it never has before.

          Another oddity is that Mr. Baker is so invisible, even in his own district, that "most people in Baton Rouge wouldn't recognize him," said Wayne Parent, a political science professor at L.S.U. In a state that values flash in its politicians, "You don't hear much said about him," Mr. Parent said. Yet, Mr. Baker has suddenly stepped to the forefront of a Louisiana political class that has been notably bereft of ideas.

          His constituents might not know who he is, but private lenders in Southeast Louisiana obviously do.

          I guess "Live Free or Die" was just an expression.

          by Siminon on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 01:42:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just more Republican hypocrisy... (none)
            ....are you really surprised?  In the end, morals, values, political philosophies, those are just abstract principles you shamlessly whore out to get elected.  But you never bite the hand that feeds you.

            In Baker's case, that would be the big lending institutions who are poised to lose big time here.  While you are right in that this bailout is really just another bailout of Fannie Mae in disguise, let's face it, the megalenders couldn't make the obscene profits they do (and offer the incredibly risky products they do) without the clout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to back them up.  They need the FM's the way a heroin addict needs his daily fix.  Even if they are publically disparaging them through their bought-and-paid-for congresscritter mouthpiece.

            The key here is that Baker appeals to the conservative principles of his constituent base by saying he's all "free market" and what not and railing against gov't intervention whenever possible.  But at the same time, he's using that image to win deregulation concessions from the gov't from his real constituents, the banks.

            Now, when the banks need the gov't to bail 'em out, they're all too happy to have their puppet sing a different tune.

            As I've said before, here's the true definition of the phrase "free markets" as used by a Republican:

            A market is only "free" when I'm free to dictate the terms.

            And the corollary of that of course is the definition of regulation:

            A market is "regulated" when my political opponent regulates it, but not when I do.

            People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

            by viget on Tue Jan 10, 2006 at 02:18:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Florida? (none)
      I'm not well versed in disaster relief, and how residents are reimbursed via govt. flood insurance and other forms of disaster relief.

      What happened in Florida after hurricanes, when properties were wiped out?  

      Shouldn't New Orleans residents be treated similarly?

      I am very suspicious.  Boy, the insurance companies must be celebrating though, or at least salivating.  And the developers too.  Wonder if Halliburton is getting a piece of the action?

      "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

      by joanneleon on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:09:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What crap!!!! (4.00)
    Nice....  Let's say you have a small piece of land which is a wonderful spot but now is in an economically depressed area.  Since the neighborhood is not so attractive, your market value is relatively low.  

    But now, with the entire neighborhood wiped out, developers can buy at even less than former market value and build whatever they want?!

    What an easy way to screw ALL of the previous owners of their little share of the world!

    What a compassionate way to conserve....

    The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

    by sp0t on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:54:59 AM PST

    •  Read on (none)
      More about the program, those who sell for the 60% back to the developers have  the opportunity to buy back.  This isn't quite as simple as this diary would lead you to believe.  Starting off giving this guy's background and his quote, doesn't necessarily help focus on the issue.

      I'll show you conservative!

      by aaronsmiles on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:58:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lawrence Ferlinghetti once wrote (none)
        a book of one-act plays titled "Unfair Arguments with Existence".

        I argue unfairly with the powers that be whenever possible; it's the only way to have half a chance.

        The rub here is that yes, they'll have the opportunity to buy back, condos with less ground than they had, at five times the price.  The developers will walk off with the profit.  And don't, oh please don't, try to tell me the developers are in it for the altruistic satisfaction of helping po' black folks.

      •  Okay.... (none)
        I will grant you that the landowners do not have to sell (good....  It is a negotiating point in their favor).  

        But the idea of buying back value-added property may be way prohibitive to the original landowners.  The article does not specify what the buy back rate would be.  Do the original landowners get some sort of preference subsidy for their previous possession.  Or do they get the right to bid on the McMansion placed where their three roomer was.

        I admit I am extremely dubious of such a trumpetted panacia.  I see red in this....

        The Moral Majority - all those Christian conservatives left on Earth AFTER the Rapture....

        by sp0t on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:07:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Buyback (none)
        It's a false right (as I explain downthread).

        The land is offered back to the homeowners after it has been bundled with surrounding property (I'm still scratching my head at that, and I am a commercial real estate atty) and the homeowner would have to reimburse the govt for the money spent on repairing utilities, roads, etc.

  •  I think this may be a different sort of rip-off (none)
    I think that they'd be paying 60% of equity (i.e., equity in the land + building), and then selling it at the land value.

    My equity on my house is greater than the value of the underlying land, so I'd come out ahead on something like this, assuming my house was destroyed.

    If you have a relatively new mortgage, your equity would be lower, in some cases substantially lower, than the value of the land.  

    But then again, I live in Chicago, where land values are high because of the density of the urban area.  In any city that is less dense than Chicago (read the entire American mainland aside from a few zip codes in NY and SF), land values are a much smaller share of the value of developed land.

    I'd guess that for a great many of the owners, this is not a bad deal.

    Just saying.  You're right to point out the oddity, and there will be some people who'd get screwed if this happened.  

    And I'm not positive I understand it, so I could be completely wrong.

  •  my god, this is sick (4.00)
    what an easy way to turn a blue city into a red one.

    But why do they think "god" won't come back and "clean house" again?

    Social darwinism is sick.

    I re-did my website! See how pretty DailyGranola.com is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:57:43 AM PST

  •  The Ninth Ward is a swamp (4.00)
    it should be turned back to the river and wetlands. Long ago the poor and black folks were shoved out there into marginal lands.

    What needs to happen is a rebuilding plan that increases density with high-rise housing and smart planning and good transit on the higher parts of the city. Enough affordable housing must be built for every former resident who wants to come back to New Orleans.

    While we take up the fight for fair compensation, no one should argue for the repopulation of the ninth ward. That district, and a few others, need to be returned to wetlands.

    •  The Ninth Ward is no more swamp (none)
      than the rest of the city.  And how it flooded was entirely predictable: little at all along the river, and heavier flooding the further away from the river you go.  Again, just like the rest of the city.

      If we were going to argue for a restructuring of the city, we should be building everything close to the river, and leave whatever's farther away to its fate.  But we're not going to argue that, because - and this may surprise you - a lot of people are proud of the 9th ward, and they want to move back.  Is it possible to stabilize the area?  Depends: is it possible to stabilize New Orleans.  The answer to both questions is the same, regardless.

    •  Ninth Ward is a polluted swamp (none)
      That's not the point.  The point is, that once again, the people who have the least are paying to make rich people richer.

      That the buyout cost is being shared to some small extent by taxpayers does not mitigate the loss.

      The ideal solution would be, as you say, turn it back to swamp and river, but only on condition that people are compensated for their land and the multi-generational damage done to them.

      My point in writing this diary was not to advocate that everybody go home to the Ninth Ward and live happily ever after; just compensation is the goal.

    •  You May Be Right (none)
      Another option I've seen discussed is for NOLA to annex land on higher ground, serve it well w/transit, and make that into a new affordable housing/mixed use area so that returnees could have a decent living environment and the City wouldn't lose its residents/citizens.
  •  Time for some geurilla capitalism. (4.00)
    Suggestion:  Start a non-profit fund to buy distressed real estate in NO.  Solicit investors at Kos, MoveOn, DU, etc.  Nominal minimum investment, like $50 or something.

    Think we could raise enough to otubid the government on strategically located small plots?  Then we could put the screws to the developes when they need our plots to finish their big plans.

    I haven't got the financial toolbox to do this myself, but I've got about $500 I'll pony up.

    "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

    by Nineteen Kilo on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:11:25 PM PST

    •  I like it... (4.00)
      I'd give $20-$50 if such a program was initiated...

      Man I'd love to hold up a hotel project for about 6 months... drain those bastards dry... until they were crying to get their project off the ground...

      and then just watch as it all crumbled around them.

      Now that'd be just desserts for a Republican.

      U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

      by Lode Runner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:24:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Donate to ACORN (4.00)
      ACORN has been in existence for 30 years.  Its HQs is in NOLA.  It has its own Housing Corporation that has been in existence for years doing just this thing in economically depressed neighborhoods, in 80 cities around the country.  That Housing Corp. has been working behind the scenes to help 4 NOLA neighborhoods (all predominantly black):  Lower Ninth, NO East, Gentilly and Hollygrove.

      9000 New Orleanians were ACORN members before the storm hit.  Help 'em out.

  •  Landowner, tenant (4.00)
    Item, Landlords may accept this deal or may not.

    Item, tenants should make coalition with the landlords, the social workers, etc. rat now.

    Item the way to stop this grab is further to identify those realtors contractors and developers who will profit and name them, and find out how much each contributes to Baker, and the GOP, and publicize the answers here and at the WaPo, NYT, etc.

    Item the coalition must also pressure and help freshman Charlie Melancon D Louisiana 03 who is in a tight race now that Katrina has scattered his black and cajun democrats.  

    Item it will also be helpful to simultaneously publicize the class action litigation against the contractors responsible for underbuilding the levees.

    You go, Jim!

    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

    by marthature on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:15:59 PM PST

  •  It's a Wonderful Life (none)
    Reminds me of when old man Potter offers 40 cents on the dollar when there's a "run" on the bank. Where is Jimmy Stewart when you need him?

    When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

    by valleycat on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:21:53 PM PST

  •  Before we speculate (no pun intended) (4.00)
    I suggest we do something that our Congress might not take the time to do: read the legislation.

    http://www.baker.house.gov/...

    It is a 40-page pdf file. I am in commercial real estate, and I believe it is impossible to make a fair judgment on this issue until we know a lot of things. Such as:

    1. Cost of the levee reconstruction to U.S. taxpayers
    2. Cost of the land build-up to support construction and who will pay
    3. What price the developers would pay for the land
    4. Any real estate tax breaks that might be considered (i.e. making the area enterprise zones)

    This does not address the emotional distress of the citizens of New Orleans. That cost is incalculable, so I apologize to all hurricane victims this might offend. I am just positing as to whether this is going to be another big government bail-out on the backs of taxpayers.
    •  However big the bailout might be (4.00)
      on the backs of us po' overtaxed payers, it ain't gonna be as big as the Haliburton bailout now appearing in Iraq.

      1.  The cost of the levee reconstruction is irrelevant.  It will be borne no matter what, and will probably be higher if the poor people of New Orleans are not allowed back.

      2.  Ditto.

      3.  From the description in the NYT article, developers will pay the government LESS than the government will pay, and the gov. will pay 60% of pre-hurricane property value at a maximum.

      4.  Many people from New Orleans are saying "enterprise zone on my land over my dead body.

      But you're right.  The Baker proposal deserves more scrutiny than Nossiter gave it in the Times.
    •  Yes, legislation should be read but (4.00)
      the funding for all reconstruction must come from the bank accounts of the contractors who underbuilt the levees in the first place.  They are legally responsible.  

      funding can also come from FEMA, and from the Judas corporations that now offshore their taxes in tax triangle treaties, and from Halliburton, Bechtel, and their cronies who got their fucking industry shills elected as congressmembers in order to hand over the taxpayers' monies to them and their gangs.

      I dont want to hear one single word about who else should pay.  

      This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

      by marthature on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:46:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  levee (4.00)
      the NY Times stated that Cat 5 reconstruction on the levees would cost $40 billion or so. Then Bush Co. appropriated about 2 billion.

      A Cat 1 will wipe out these same neighborhoods next summer without out a real levee system , not some patch-up job.

  •  Let's see....most of the folks living in poor (none)
    sections of New Orleans were....

    renters.

    Weren't they?

    I have no idea how long the average homeowner in New Olreans owned their home, but I can venture to guess that there's a lot of real estate that's been owned for quite some time.  A 60% buy-out deal might not be so bad if you were renting it out anyway.

    The flies in the ointment will clearly be those who owned the places where they lived.  The flooded out areas were not confined to just the ninth ward.  Some of these areas were rather affluent.

    Frankly, I'm not endorsing any plan that doesn't involve Habitat for Humanity.  The goal should be not just fair compensation but, to the best of our ability, the restoration of an American city.

    •  Renting vs owning (4.00)
      I suspect the Ninth Ward may be like similar long time low income neighborhoods in other urban areas. Many residents may own their homes as a result of inheritance from previous generations, but likely with zero chance of being able to finance a new/replacement home on their own. Of course a 60% buy out deosn't move them real close to replacment home-ownership either; but even 100% of the combined land and home value as it was isn't going to turn into a home in most other parts of NO or another city.

      Practice absurdus interruptus - Support ePluribus Media.

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:24:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The majority of people (none)
      living in the ninth ward were homeowners.  Some 60%, if my memory serves (I'll find a link).
  •  Killing two birds with one evil stone (4.00)
    The Republican party turns Louisianna into a so-called 'Red State' by allowing New Orleans and the gulf coast to be reborn.... partially....  but only as an expensive 'planned community' that the majority of the middle class, working poor, and outright poor cannot afford to return to.

    They essentially get rid of a massive amount of people who don't vote for the GOP, and get to turn the city over to their big construction industry campaign contributors, and blame it all on the tragedy of mother nature.

    What Would Jesus Do?

    I'm pretty sure the answer is 'the opposite of what Republicans do'.

    Funny thing, George Orwell just called... he said that Big Brother's name is George.

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 01:20:42 PM PST

    •  What did Hitler do? (none)
      Didn't Hitler move people around based on race, before he started executing them?  

      Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

      by tri on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:14:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So did (4.00)
        Stalin, Andrew Jackson, and a host of other U. S. Presidents, not to mention the Army.

        Hitler got the idea from the United States' treatement of the Indians.  He "admired" it.

        •  Yeah! (none)
          Always wondered why the Dems gleefully celebrate Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners when Andrew was a bigoted butcher of our First Americans.
          •  And BTW, (none)
            Anybody catch George Will's latest sanctimonious rant today about Native names for school mascots and the NCAA??  Where the relationship is a respectful one, IMHO, as w/the Seminoles in Fla. and perhaps the Illini in Illinois, they should remain, but can we please get the Hell rid of the Cleveland Indians' hideous Chief Wahoo and, for God's Sake, the Washington REDSKINS!!???

            Grotesquerie to the max!  And a hat tip to Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt for keeping up this battle lo these many years, a real Profile in Courage and example of persistence, to be sure.  

            Also for explaining to me, many years ago, how runaway slaves in the South were warmly welcomed by various tribes, leading to the Black/Indian bloodlines we now have in NOLA and elsewhere.

          •  Andrew Jackson (none)
            I think it's because Andy created the spoils system of government.  The Dems loved it for a very long time - right up throught the 1990's, when the Repubs took out their Contract on America, with no little justification.

            Jackson was popular for taking on the Central Bank, and for forcibly removing the Cherokee nation from east of the Mississippi.  This was popular with whites, for it opened up cheap land for settlement.

  •  Just remembered this ... (4.00)
    perhaps this is not the largest of all land grabs.

    In Riviera Beach, FL they are going after 2,000 home to create a 400 acre super project.

    Largely poor and black. Black mayor, black politcal control.

    But maybe race has less to do with NOLA and Riviera Beach than does power vs. weak

    Nonetheless, this needs to stop. Something needs to be done about Kelo v. City of New London, this is a real issue to run on because it will probably require legislation to overturn SCOTUS.

    •  Maybe race (none)
      has less to do with it than class issues, but they tend to overlap pretty severely in this country.

      I don't know how many homes are under discussion in New Orleans, but it was a city of 450,000 before Katrina.  Could be 10,000 houses or more when all is said and done.

  •  One interesting consequence of this plan (none)
    is that it basically answers the "rebuild or turn into a park" question. It doesn't answer the related "raise the land or heighten the levees" question, but once the land is in the hands of the developers, it will be they who determine the answer to this.

    Greg Shenaut

    •  unfortunate answer (none)
      to "rebuild or turn into a park" though, huh?

      i don't understand why they want to go get in the way of nature again.....the original part of the city is (relatively speaking) fine; it's the recently-developed stuff that all got hammered.  if lakeview becomes wetlands, we'll all be better off.  plus, keeping the same amount of people in a smaller geographical footprint would yield less poverty, if my conjecture is to be believed.

      you can rearrange my face but you can't rearrange my mind -8.63,-7.28

      by mediaprisoner on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 03:05:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You Haver Made Some Majors Misrepresentations (none)
    Unless I read the original story incorrectly this plan is voluntary. Leaving out that detail makes the entire posting disingenuous.

    This plan would seem to me to give an option to get more money (based on the before disaster equity) than otherwise possible without it. If indeed my reading of the plan is correct and this is voluntary there is no downside to the owners. I believe that the original posting completely misses the point. There is no forced sale under this plan. There would be more "forced sales" without it.

    •  Voluntary (none)
      The article says that b/c the reporter is reading Baker's press releases rather than reading the fricken bill.  

      The back door methods (other than the express eminent domain provision that was in the original bill) that make it not so voluntary were still in the bill the last time I read it.

      Problem is:  even when the bill had the EXPRESS eminent domain provisions still included, Baker was going on NOLA radio saying that it was completely voluntary and that "if you don't want to talk to us, then don't, no one will make you sell".

       

    •  In a "free market" (none)
      that might be true.  ("There is no forced sale under this plan.")

      I argued above that conditions have been carefully engineered to make it difficult to impossible for residents to return to their homes and engage in rebuilding.  This has been done in the following ways:

      1.  During the disaster itself, those who did not evacuate received little or no rescue or assistance.  Those who have stayed on since the waters receded are being driven from their homes.  To what?  They have no money.

      2.  Those of the poor who were evacuated were taken hundreds of miles from their homes, and housed for several months at government expense.  That is expiring, and they are being turned out of hotels and offered tents, if that.  They may visit their homes for about an hour.  They have no ability to return home to live.

      3.  People who lived in New Orleans' poorer quarters (Ninth Ward, etc) have had no work, have no affordable place to stay in New Orleans to accept work.

      These conditions are exacerbated by the toxic stew spilled into the flooded areas from chemical plants.  Certainly this was not planned, but it contributes to the difficulty of the situation.

      In this situation, poor people cannot afford to keep their homes or redevelop them.  They will have to settle for the 60% of their equity pre-hurricane.  That's a number that may vary from 0% to 100% of the actual value of land and home.  For many, it may be very little money, certainly not adequate to go elsewhere and start over in any white, middle-class sense.  

      For most, the very situation they're in represents economic coercion to sell, and puts them in a weak negotiating position.  Sure, they could hire a lawyer and go fight for more and better; where will they get the money to do that after four months' of unemployment?

      Under such overall conditions, a "generous" offer may not actually be so generous.  Baker's comment during the disaster is telling:  "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

      I also said above, in one response, that this is likely to be the best they'll get, and in the circumstances it may appear to be generous.  The devil will certainly be in many details of this law, which is written by Real Estate Developer Richard Hugh Baker.

      "...cleaned up public housing..."  Real estate developer.  

      Things that make ya go "Hmmm."

      No, it's not proof of conspiracy.  It' circumstantial evidence of opportunism.  Now here's a quiz:  opportunism at whose expense?

      •  This and That (none)
        Certainly the whole thing is a tragedy. I am in the mortgage business and can explain, in general, what the common options are in these situations (although I confess that quite possibly the use of "these situations" may be begging the point that there is more than one instance such as this).

        Normally there are the following options for a home/land owner who has a mortgage:

        1) keep paying the mortgage and rebuild the property. Help may come from insurance and may come from government disaster relief loans.

        2) allow foreclosure. This seems to make sense for many who have no equity. I would guess that there are many folks who have mortgages whose balances are larger than the present value of what is left. The undersirable thing about foreclosure is that it makes getting another mortgage at a decent rate very difficult.

        3) a "short sale". A short sale is an agreement between the mortgage lender and the borrower to allow a Realtor to sell the property for whatever it will sell for and accept the market price (minus the Realtor commission) as payment in full for the mortgage. This necessitates sophistication on the part of the Realtor and on the part of the borrower/owner to get the lender to agree to wipe the mortgage off the credit report rather that report it as "settled for less than the amount owed."

        I have no problems with your describing the actions of those who do the work, take the risks and make money as "opportunism."

        In a sense one must unthread the desire to want everyone to come out of this with minimal damage from the reality of rebuilding the area. From my perspective (as a mortgage guy not an individual) the offer described is generous. It gives these folks another option. I see the oportunism which you find distasteless as not occuring at the expense of those who sell. Opportunism (or "opprtunity" has its risks). The folks who own these properties have been hit with a natural disaster. The disaster decreased the value of their property and that damage is done. The question is what to do from here. The hard question is ascertaining whether rebuilding the entire destroyed area makes economic sense.

  •  Yep, good ole HR 4100 (4.00)
    Baker first introduced this back in October.  You can track it here.

    http://www.govtrack.us/...

    Problem is, he has since gotten both Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson (along with the La. Repub delgation) to sign on as co-sponsors after purportedly "removing" the eminent domain language and other things these Dems didn't like.

    It's a difficult damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.  I say that as a native of SE La. who is now a real estate attorney, and whose first diary here on DKos back in Sept. predicted a federal government land grab that would, after "failed" reconstruction efforts, lead to the end result ulterior motive of handing over much La. land to BigEnergy for pennies on the dollar in order to build LNG facilities that no one wants in their backyards.

    I'm not quite so pessimistic as that now (at least for NOLA proper, but I still worry about LNG going up in St. Bernard Parish), but I still don't trust the bastard with this bill.  He has the knack for misrepresenting, for public consumption, some of the details.  Even the NYTimes has gone along with the meme of "no one  has to participate".  Well, reporters need to read the fricking bill instead of taking Baker at his word b/c there is wiggle room that gives the government a way through the back door.

    Not mentioned in the article -- and always glossed over -- are the barriers to the homeowner's buyback right (the right of first purchase/refusal, in real estate terms).  What they do not say is that the bill would require the homeowner to reimburse, as part of the buy back price, the government agency for the money spent on new utilities, roads, etc. that services the property.  And, how in the hell do you buy back a piece of land that has already been bundled with the rest of the block?  In other words, it has enough poison pills in there to make the buyback right a false right (in that it's not a real right if, for all practical purposes, you cannot exercise it).  

    I think the City of NOLA still plans to submit a similar proposal (creation of a quasi-governmental City or State agency) to the State of La., based on the Urban Land Institute's recommendations.  I trust the State the most to administer something like this (since it would have to apply to areas of the state other than just NOLA and it decreases the likelihood that the govt will try to keep it or flip all of it to developers).  Problem with doing that at the State level, though, is the ability to issue bonds to fund it, since the rating agencies downgraded La.'s bond rating due to its tax base being wiped out.

    Baker had much less success with the bill than the article portrays.  He couldn't even get it out of the SUBCOMMITTEE he chairs, must less to the floor for a vote.  Many Repubs do not want to touch it, and won't change their minds unless maybe they are strongarmed by the WH.  That has not come close to happening, which is why I have tentatively put away my tin foil hat about LNG terminals in NOLA.  (Much of Baker's motive is also driven by him wanting to bail out the mortgage lenders, not because he wants to bail out homeowners -- he just could not figure out a way of doing the former without at least appearing to give a shit about the latter.)

    What La. really needs is not Baker's bill, but the other main thing the La. delegation has been pursuing in Congress:  keeping its "Fair Share" of oil/gas tax revenue for oil/gas extracted off its coast out to the outer-continental shelf (OCS).  Texas keeps 100% of such revenue.  All other states that have federal lands within its borders keep at least 50%.  La. does not get shit, for reasones dating back to the 1950s.  If we got our "Fair Share" of 50%, that means $2-3 Billion a year in revenue for the state, which La. could bond out to acquire enough funds to rebuild itself.  

    When its all said and done, through the bonding mechanism (whether we get the oil/gas tax revenue or not), it will probably be foreign investment that "rebuilds" La. and not this country.  The US is owned by China, why not La.?  So, what benefit is there to being a State?  Some Louisianians would like to know.  The Times-Picayune printed a LTE about 2 months ago that asked France to buy us back.

    •  and where is Melancon on oil/gas? (none)
      he is in for a tough race, as I understand it.  I'd assume he will take a stand here. . or go down. No? Yes?  I don't savvy Louisiana politics.

      This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

      by marthature on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:16:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you mean... (none)
        ..on the "Fair Share" thing I mentioned?  All of the La. DC delegation is pushing it (and is why the Dems had to sell their soul to that devil Ted Stevens on ANWAR).  There is little that separates the interests of our DC delegation these days.  Each one of them is now acting positively like Dems (except for ANWAR or other places where they are being damn near blackmailed by Repubs who would withhold aid otherwise), as Repubs always do when its their State/District that hits the ditch.  :)  

        I believe Melancon will win in 2006 (despite what his opponent thinks).  He's done good for his constituents, will have the incumbency thing going for him when folks will be loathe to change horses during the Katrina recovery, and had a razor-thin win last time only because his opponent (Little Billy Tauzin) was trying to inherit the seat his Daddy held for 20 years.

        The exodus of blacks did not really affect Melancon (Orleans Parish is William Jefferson's district) and the white vote will split more on geographic lines (SW La vs. SE La) than it will on Repub vs. Dem lines b/c his Repub opponent, Craig Romero, is from SW La and Charlie is from SE La.  

        Although 2 hard-hit SE Parishes are in his district, they are 2 Parishes that voted in huge numbers for Tauzin last time (but I think Charlie will pick up a lot if those folks vote absentee).  And, his tallies will grow a lot in the other SE Parishes that voted for Tauzin last time b/c Charlie was competing with Tauzin for "hometown boy" status.  Romero is SW La (which is where Hurricane Rita displaced people), so Charlie is the hometown boy throughout SE La.

        So I predict a win for Charlie.  The race to worry about is William Jefferson, since practically his entire disctrict consisted of Orleans Parish, which is now very white.  It will depend on how many displaced New Orleanians vote absentee.

    •  My favorite (none)
      was when Baker couldn't get the bill out of sub-committee and someone asked about the White House support...(paraphrasing):  The President is a Real Estate guy...he's bound to go for it, but he has a lot on his plate right now.

      One of the other things that chaps me about 4100 and the ULI plan is that it is a real double-dip for the banks.  More and more insurers are giving the policy holder's checks directly to the mortgage holders leaving the homeowner with no funds for repairs.  Now with this "deal" the banks are being bailed out while the homeowner is only out from under their debt.  T'ain't fittin'

      And a big Amen from me for raising the O/G tax revenue issue...this is what we need to pound in Congress.  We could self-fund so much if we were getting a fair shake.  And while we are at it, we might as well shoot for off-shore boundary equity, too.  What is up with Florida and Texas getting 12 miles and we get a lousy 3 anyway?

      Claws beat Skin Take Back America

      by polydactyl on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:20:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Contradictions in the Theory (none)
        Your comment "More and more insurers are giving the policy holder's checks directly to the mortgage holders leaving the homeowner with no funds for repairs" illustrates one of those interesting neoliberal contradictions.  

        That behavior, not trusting the individual, runs directly counter to all neoliberal economic theory, which posits a atomistic economy made up of "rational actors" acting in their own self-interest.  If large institutions interfere with that, they betray a lack of trust in the very theory on which they depend for their continued existence.

        Or maybe you can't be a "rational actor" if you're poor or black, or both.  Hmm...

      •  mortgage lenders (none)
        Cuz if you got a mortgage, the lender is the 1st lienholder....and a lot of people only insure for the loan amount (instead of full replacement value) b/c that is all the lender requires to protect its full lien interest.

        A lot of homeowners never read their policy, and so they only find out when it is too late that it may cover only the original loan amount, and so much of their equity just disappears overnight.  

        (A homeowner should insure for full replacement value, but that value may take into account that, theoretically, the full land value does not lessen after a total loss to the structure....but that might not be the case given the particulars of the NOLA situation ("return to the wetlands"), or beachfront property that just disappears, and is certainly not the case for Lower Plaquemines Parish where land just disappeared.

    •  Huey Long (none)
      In the late 20's or early 30's Huey Long got a Separation Tax passed on oil and gas.  It funded a lot of the construction of roads and schools that he made happen.  The University of Louisiana became a major school on his watch.  All children - white and black - were supposed to have primary school educations, with books, on his watch.

      Huey Long was assassinated.

      In your post you said that the lack of O/G taxes went back to the 50's.  What happened?

      •  1950s... (none)
        I cannot remember exactly.  I heard the "correct" explanation early last month from a La. lawyer (via his radio call in) who studied the issue a while back and was trying to clear up the rumors.

        Back during the Huey Long-era (I think), Plaquemines Parish was controlled by a guy named Leander Perez.  (It's the area SE of NOLA, and is where the Miss. River drains into the Gulf.)  To hear folks tell it, he could have taught the Tammany Hall folks a thing or 2.  

        Now, rumor had it that Judge Perez refused to accept the percentage offered by the federal government back then because he wanted La. to get more.  La. ended up not getting shit.  

        So, everyone has blamed Judge Perez through the decades, as La. has tried and tried (at times more diligently than others, but never being successful) to get Congress to give us our fair share.

        BUT, the lawyer who recently explained it to WWL Radio said that Judge Perez is not to blame b/c, even if that old rumor is true, the federal law [I cannot remember the name] that was passed in the 1950s (under Truman, I think) that granted such revenue to certain states would have replaced any such prior deal.  I think the call-in lawyer said it has been amended over the years to add more states, etc., which is how he was involved, but La. always got the shaft.  I don't quite understand why, since we have had a few powerful legislators (Russell Long, John Breaux, Billy Tauzin).  

      •  Huey Long (none)
        BTW, I have always been and will always be a yellow dog Dem b/c I grew up in a household where Huey Long was considered to be the Second Coming of Christ.  

        That is true for many south Louisianans, which is why we have many blue pockets still in SE La. that are equally attributable to black and white voters.  (Catholic Cajuns who are smart enough to vote their wallets b/c that is what their Huey-Long-loving parents and grandparents taught them to do, and who, by and large, are nowhere near as racist as the non-Cajuns living on the "other side" of the Miss. River and whose laissez-faire attitude extends to gays.  And who dislike those "city slickers" in BR who "think their shit don't stink", while at the same time just loving anyone and everything that has to do with New Orleans.

        Despite the dire warnings of La. going deep "red" for Repubs., don't be too sure.  

    •  Excellent comment (none)
      and it clarifies a lot of questions I had: thank you!

      I think your tinfoil beliefs aren't too far from the mark, though.  Exhibit A: the likelihood that Murphy Oil will buy most of Meraux in an attempt to recupirate losses from their oil spill.  This will allow them to avoid a larger class-action law suit, but it will also make them the primary (if not only) landowner in Meraux.  Interesting to see where that goes...

      ACORN seems to be doing great work, and what we really need most is sharp and critical watchdogs in the community.  The kind that, say, brought down the Kenner housing auction debacle this past week.

      On a lighter note, this had me laughing my ass off.  In celebration of twelfth night:

      Bonck will appear as Queen MRE Antoinette, dressed in a blue tarp and labels from the ready-to-eat meals that were distributed to hungry residents after the storm.

      Ah, gotta love it.

      •  asdf (none)
        Damn I love New Orleans.  :)
      •  Murphy Oil... (none)
        Me, too.  Same for Lower Plaquemines.  Tearing up even more wetlands for new criss-crossing pipelines.  

        You said you had family in St. Bernard, right?

        St. Bernard landowners need to band together and hire an oil/gas/RE attorney, if possible, or find a pro bono do-gooder like me.  :) (I ain't licensed to practice in La., at any rate, and so I'm not doing legal stuff now.)  

        And then those that sell need to insist (the threat of a class action gives them the leverage) that the provisions of their particular conveyance instrument/Deed retains for them at least part of the mineral rights (as opposed to surface rights) and royalties upon any extraction of said minerals.  (In case the area would be used for new drilling, and not just to build refinery or distribution facilities.) Actually, I would start from the position of saying that they are willing to sell surface rights only (which really means a certain depth down, but keeps all ownership over the minerals).  

        In fact, for those who can afford to not sell but who won't rebuild b/c of environmental issues, another alternative is a Ground Lease to Murphy Oil (so the owner keeps ownership of everything) of, say, 50, 75 or 100 years, with annual rental payments (instead of a sales price) paid to the owner that increases over time, with those increases tied, e.g., to the gross revenue or net profits generated by any facility they build on the land.  I would like to see Murphy Oil's face if that were proposed.  :)  

        I believe Ground Leases are a far less common method for acquiring land on which to build a petrochemical plant than it is for, say, acquiring land on which to build a hotel, office building or shopping center (and the practice is lessening there, too), but it would sure give them something to think about.  

        Many people would be surprised to know that many cities in the US are the owners of certain parcels of land upon which office skyscrapers are built b/c the City merely leases the land to the owner of the building and collects rent for the land lease.  City owns the land; developer owns the building and rents the land.  When the lease ends in 75 (or however many) years and depending on what got negotiated into the Lease, ownership of the building reverts to the City (sometimes for a price), or building owner has to remove the building or they enter into a new lease.  

        •  Excellent advice, (none)
          considering that most people down that way think the options are sell, sue, or sell and sue.  No room for ambiguity there.

          Although I have to (grudgingly) defend Murphy on the oil spill.  There's a long story about what they did and when they did it, and to be honest, they weren't so much in the wrong in this case.  This comes from someone with a long grudge against Murphy - I grew up in Meraux, my dad worked for them, and... like I said, long story.  

          •  Edit (none)
            Actually, when a seller retains mineral rights, it's better in almost all instances to not retain ALL mineral rights....or even just a royalty percentage.  BECAUSE you want the new landowner to have the bulk of the interest in the minerals so that they have the incentive to extract them.  If they don't have that interest, they have no reason to drill.
  •  Some of us knew this was coming......... (none)
    There is a lot of interest coming from commercial developers about all this land that will be becoming available.  BushCo will be selling this land dirt cheap to oil and gas interests and to commercial developers.  The rich do indeed get richer.  Bastards!

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:27:20 PM PST

  •  Excerpts from the Baker Amendment (4.00)
    Just to further the discussion, here are some sections from the "Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 4100" (Thanks to highfive's post above for the link.)

    They spend about 12 pages describing the Louisiana Recovery Corporation, its directors (appointed by the President!), etc., before they get to the Mission Statement:

    Section 5 (a) MISSION.--The primary mission and purpose of the Corporation shall be the economic stabilization and redevelopment of areas within Louisiana that were devastated or significantly distressed by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

    The significant omission here, as far as I can see, is "the welfare of victims of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita or by the failure of levees or other civil engineering projects as a consequence of said hurricanes."  (That'd be my wording, were I a legislator, gods forbid...)

    Then they get right down to Economic Stabilization:

    Section 5 (b) ECONOMIC STABILIZATION.--In executing its economic stabilization mandate, the Corporation shall, after consultation with State and local officials and pursuant to agreement that eligible properties are not likely to be redeveloped without Corporation assistance, locate and acquire real property (commercial and residential) in such a manner and subject to such conditions that, upon the consummation of any acquisition of real property securing a mortgage loan -
      (1) the mortgagee's debt shall be considered paid in full by the mortgagor; and
      (2) all title and interest in the real property securing such mortgage loan passes to the Corporation.

    There are many ways to interpret this, but the wording leads to that last clause: "all title and interest in the real property securing such mortgage loan passes to the Corporation."

    Moving on to Redevelopment:

    (c) REDEVELOPMENT.--In executing its redevelopment mandate, the Corporation shall, after consultation with State and local officials, carry out the following activities:

      (1) Package for sale acquired real property in substantial tracts of land.
      (2) Make improvements to such tracts of land so as to make the land suitable for sale and development, including such basic improvements as the following:
        (A) Construction and reconstruction of neighborhood roads.
        (B) Repair or replacement of water and wastewater infrastructure.
        (C) Similar activities necessary to maximize the return on acquired real property.
      (3) Through a competitive bidding process, dispose of such acquired properties in a profitable manner.
      (4) In consultation with State and local officials, provide for the protection and preservation of historical and other sites of cultural significance in such a manner that promotes local heritage and interest.

    So the corporation will make improvements...

    Then there's how they determine Equity Position, a topic of some debate in these posts.  This'll clarify everything, as soon as we get the lawyers in here. :>)

    Section 6 (h) FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING EQUITY POSITION OF THE OWNER.--In making any determination concerning the equity position of an owner of property immediately before the area in which such property is located was devastated or significantly distressed by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita for purposes of subsections (b) and (c), the Corporation shall consider all of the following:
      (1) A pre-event appraisal in a verifiable loan record held by a federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or housing-related Government-sponsored enterprise.
      (2) The pre-event assessed value on record by a unit of local government that serves as the basis for determining property taxes.
      (3) The pre-event fair market value as would be determined under existing federal hazard mitigation programs as authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and the National Flood Insurance Act (such as the Hazard Mitigation Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, and the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program).
      (4) Any other valuation of the property under a methodology that the Corporation finds is statistically valid and in broad use.

    The devil is in the details, and in the unstated local politics and corruption, with which I am unfamiliar.  I'll leave that to those with local knowledge.

  •  Evil if there is such a thing... (none)
    The Republicans have been accused of deliberately scheming to make Louisiana a state that votes more Republican.  

    The Repubs are capable of such an effort.  Whether they are successful or not remains to be seen.

    In the 90s the Repubs opposed corrections to the US Census that would adjust for undercounts in urban areas that were Democratic.  This effort was successful.

    I don't think we can "misunderestimate" the lengths to which the Repubs will go to gain partisan advantage.

    Is this what America has come to mean?

    •  Don't look back! (none)
      We've always been this way.  The Dems stole the 1960  election for Jack Kennedy.  (He won the election by two cemeteries.)

      Tammany Hall, New York, 1880's through about 1910.

      Andrew Jackson - "To the victor belong the spoils."

      The Repubs are following a great all-American tradition which it is our job always to counter; they just have more sophisticated technology to steal the votes with, and they're more aggressive about intimidating minority voters (hordes of lawyers and cops) than anyone since the Old South Democrats (poll taxes, literacy tests, lynch mobs, etc).

  •  Where does the NYT get "60% of equity"? (none)
    Maybe I'm tired, but I see nowhere in this H.R. 4100 where it specifically states anything about a limit of "60% of equity". On lines 17-20 of page 22, I see a limit on payment of $500,000, but nothing else. Where did the NYT get this?
  •  Another Baker Quote (none)
    Mr. Baker gave a speech on Sept 7, in the House of Representatives, "Expressing Condolences of Nation to Victims of Hurricane Katrina".

    Talking about the tragedies in New Orleans, he said:

    The storm missed New Orleans. It destroyed Mississippi. What we are now seeing is the aftermath of a levee failure. And with all due respect to those who have seen flood waters come and go for many decades, no one could predict the breach of those levees. No one expected it to occur.

    Bush said the same thing.  In almost the same words.

    It's late.  I gotta take off my tinfoil hat.  I'm starting to suspect things I shouldn't even talk about...

  •  The TImes likes it this way (none)
    They have the same deal going on on 8th Ave where they are getting a big new building from Bruce Ratner via eminent domain and state and city development subsidies. Bill Keller et al should rot in hell.

    onnyturf.com - Political and Community Coverage of NYC

    by atomicBirdsong on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 12:23:00 AM PST

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