Monday, March 20, 2006

Sanity in New Orleans

While checking for the latest news about New Orleans, I came across an excellent column by New Orleans resident Steve Sabludowsky:
Jesse Jackson will ... stage a rally in New Orleans on April 1 to claim that the elections set later that month are unlawful although they have been approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
Even worse, he has used rhetoric that the New Orleans election process is akin to a “literacy test.”
Jesse Jackson should leave New Orleans alone.
His presence will only polarize an already angry city. ...
Wow. Talk about speaking truth to power. Sabludowsky fisks the election demagoguery and then makes some excellent points about the current situation in New Orleans:
Jackson should help those individuals in his rainbow coalition to understand issues such as FEMA maps, tenuous levees, real estate programs, lack of utilities, communications, jobs, education systems and whether it is wise to return, not whether they have a “right to return."
Injecting race in this election hurts much more than it helps.
New Orleans is a frail city. It needs help from everyone. It requires good schools
and little and no crime. It needs hard working people of all races and nationalities to play a constructive role so one day, social services can return. ...
New Orleans as a city cannot afford the poor and the needy. We are a city whose government has been chopped in half. ... We are a city that has no telecommunications infrastructure in place that is reliable.
We are a city that absolutely does not need any national or local leaders to throw race into the conversation.
Go read the whole thing.

When I blogged previously about Howard Dean's election demagoguery, I'd talked about the possibility that many Katrina evacuees might never return to New Orleans. But Sabludowsky points to something I hadn't even thought of: Many of the evacuees are children, mothers and the dependent elderly. If they returned to New Orleans now, they would only increase the social-services burden in a city that is barely scraping by as it is. Obviously, New Orleans needs money and able-bodied manpower to rebuild, but it doesn't have the infrastructure to take care of thousands of moms, kids and old folks.

What impressed me most about Sabludowsky's column is that I get the impression he is a liberal, but apparently not the kind of liberal who casts aside common sense in a desperate effort to turn every issue into an anti-Bush rant. He's definitely not happy with the federal response to Katrina, but at the same time he realizes that griping about past bungling by FEMA isn't going to help his city recover from the greatest U.S. natural disaster in recent memory.

One seldom hears that kind of common-sense liberalism in D.C., and in Washington -- where everybody seems to be obsessed with the partisan scorecard in the "permanent campaign" -- it's easy to forget such people exist. Somebody in Congress ought to get in touch with Sabludowsky and ask him to come testify at the next Katrina relief hearings.

-- McCAIN

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