November 17, 2005


Power Shifting With Population in Post-Katrina Louisiana
: Evacuations to rural areas and other states decrease New Orleans' clout in the Legislature. (Ellen Barry, November 17, 2005, LA times)

In a committee room deep inside Louisiana's Capitol building this week, something unusual happened: A House panel rejected a funding proposal from the Department of Education, complaining that it was overly generous to New Orleans' public schools.

Rep. Charlie DeWitt, a conservative Democrat from the rural community of Lecompte, was downright gleeful afterward. Sending that budget back, he said, was "so much fun." [...]

Before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there was a familiar equilibrium in the Louisiana Legislature, whose hallway still is pocked with bullet holes from Huey P. Long's assassination. Black Democrats were key allies of Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and conservative rural lawmakers harbored age-old grievances about New Orleans' grip on political power.

Now, with the city's population dispersed — and no indication of whether, or when, most residents will return — some lawmakers hope they are witnessing a permanent reversal of fortunes, said Elliot Stonecipher, a political analyst based in Shreveport.

"Even good people are quietly sitting back, not lending their support to the rebuilding of New Orleans," Stonecipher said. "What you're seeing is a lot of people snickering and winking and nodding…. This is something they thought they would never see."

That "even good people" is just exquisite, no? If you pander to black voters it's a good thing. Pander to whites and it's a bad thing even if you're a good person.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2005 9:29 AM

Blanco's problem is that there's really nothing she can offer these people to move back to New Orleans under the current conditions. After Katrina, there is no rationale for rebuilding parts of the city that are below sea level, which in turn reduces the justification for committing other state and federal resources to the infrastructure needed for that population.

Posted by: John at November 17, 2005 11:11 AM
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