Thursday, December 31, 2009
He knew how difficult it would have been to work today anyway after being up all night worried sick about whether we're one of the hundreds who won't have a job by the end of next week.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Angela...now that's a person who could blow this wide open !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by FauxU December 28, 2009, 12:53AM
$1352 paid by the tax payer/political contributor and he gets back $4775. He's more reasonable at controlling the cost to the taxpayer when it comes to rewarding himself. At least he doesn't waste $10,000 in tax payer money to get only a $1000 in his pocket. He should get the good government award.It might not be above the IRS limits, but it is above the monetary limits set by the state ethics board for receiving gifts.
Posted by mayormustgo December 27, 2009, 7:38AM
Whatever happened to everyone pitching in and buying a tie as a gift. This stinks. All tax free gifts to their bosses, with money from taxpayer paid salaries. The citizens of Jefferson actually paid for these gifts. This gets worse every day. I wonder if someone did not pay, would they get canned immediately, or have all the rights and the delays given to Whitmer. . Just remember all this as you write your property tax check, or you pay for the short yellow light you got caught at. Jim Letten, please stop this, everyone else in the state just ignores it.
Posted by leveeliar December 27, 2009, 8:32AM
Same thing is happening in Plaquemines, at will employees need some protection from these criminals...
Posted by plaqer December 27, 2009, 8:52AM
Can Aaron Broussard spend campaign money legally for holiday gifts for his employees? I don't think so! The U.S. Attorney should look at the Aaron Broussard President Campaign Committee (run by attorney David Sherman) and the Tim Coulon Campaign Committree (run by Tim Whitmer and Tom Wilkerson). These campaign committees are used to laundry money and avoid taxes.Posted by crabstew December 27, 2009, 9:02AM
These are the same idiots that had no problem cutting from the budget, tenure pay that hourly employees receive at christmas time. To earn tenure pay you have to be with the parish two years, and from that point you would receive $25 for each year of service. This is given by check where TAXES are deducted. A ten year employee receives less than $200.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
The unsettling truth is that doctors have the highest rate of suicide of any profession. Every year, between 300 and 400 physicians take their own lives—roughly one a day. And, in sharp contrast to the general population, where male suicides outnumber female suicides four to one, the suicide rate among male and female doctors is the same. (Newsweek)Interestingly, it was written in April 2008 and not at all in response to the Ft. Hood incident yesterday. It reminded me of my thoughts from earlier today while listening to WWL talk radio. I guess because the gunman hadn't been deployed yet, it didn't occur to the callers or the host that occupational stress might have played a role -- at least not during the 45 mins. of the show that I heard.
There are obviously other factors involved (so do not go the hell off in my comments section about me being a "liberal/socialist" apologist for terrorists who hate America, or about Muslims, or tea bags, or big government, or whatever), but as a mental health professional, my first reaction was to wonder what stress military psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as civilian ones working for the VA, must be under. It's no secret that the soldiers returning from war have experienced serious psychiatric illnesses, and that the VA system is stretched very thin right now and, by extension, so are the doctors.
I wouldn't be surprised if being a doctor played a significant role in leading this psychiatrist to such a low point in his life. Physician suicide vs. going the hell off and killing others are two different things, but the two scenarios share some of the same causes.
Article on physician suicide:
they worry—not without reason—that if they admit to a mental-health problem they could lose respect, referrals, income and even their licenses...
...physicians are supposed to be the strong ones who care for the sick, not the sick ones who need to be cared for. "I did not want it to go on my medical record that I had been treated for depression," says Dr. Robert Lehmberg, 60, whose moving account of his struggle with the condition—and the stigma it carries.
Article on the Ft. Hood shooting:
The consensus at Walter Reed, Casscells said, was that Hasan was sent to Fort Hood for "a fresh start" after a difficult time at the medical center.
Hasan received a poor performance evaluation there, the Associated Press reported, quoting an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. While he was an intern, Hasan had some "difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision, according to Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time...
...The military will look at all this closely and decide if there is any mental or physical illness, whether this is just a lonely guy with a remote personality who got a bad officer evaluation report and lost the confidence of his peers...
...Our focus was on the doctors to dig deep and do all they can for these guys (troops) and to have one of our own do this is personally crushing.
Healthcare providers, especially doctors, are supposed to "push through it" and perform perfectly no matter what is going on, an expectation that's hard to argue with since they're responsible for human lives. Still, at a certain point and with enough pressure, something's gotta give.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
First, we've had nearly all of our state and Congressional politicians who themselves make their living off of "big government," say nothing to point out to the paranoid mobs trying to kill healthcare reform that the big scary "socialist" government is entirely run by fellow Americans and is not some strange other-worldly evil force trying to take away our rights. (When you get down to it, the government is run by the same people exerting their democratic right to bad mouth their democratic government. Otherwise, there would be no town hall meetings because what would be the point of trying to influence government policy if we had no control over it?)
Now we have school officials wasting their time -- and our money and our children's education -- trying to figure out how to accommodate parents who don't want the President to tell their children to stay in school and work hard. These are the very same parents, mind you, who send their children to school precisely so they can get an education and in doing so hopefully learn the value of hard work.
My 17-year-old son shared with me Thursday a letter distributed in school from Gayle Sloan, superintendent of St. Tammany Parish Schools. The letter explains that President Barack Obama will address schoolchildren nationwide next week, and that "he will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning."From Sen. Mary Landrieu, seemingly the last "Democrat" remaining in public office, to St. Tammany Parish Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan, it seems like no one we've put in charge of looking after our best interests has the leadership ability to do so. They'd rather take the easy way out and kowtow to the ignorant screams of those hellbent on screwing themselves out of what is in their and in their children's own best interests.
The letter also adds the following: "If you prefer for your child not to participate, please contact the school principal so that an alternate assignment can be provided outside the classroom." (Times Picayune Letter to the Editor, 9-4-2009)
When did REAL leadership stop including the very basic role of taking an unpopular stand every now and then? If our public officials aren't willing to point out foolishness, or at the very least, the holes in their constituents' logic, then there is no reason to believe that they possess the desire or even moral conviction to lead us in the right direction at all on any issue. These are not even hard stances to take. Saying there already are people (i.e., the insurances companies) standing between us and our doctors and that Republican presidents have given similar back-to-school addresses have nothing to do with whether you support the Democrats' and the President's policy agenda.
If our leaders cannot, or worse, are unwilling to bring reason and calm to chaos, why do we need them at all?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The group says 74 percent of those polled said they hope leaders continue with the changes they've made in the school system.(T-P 8/27/09)I really do hate to piss in anyone's cornflakes, especially since hope and satisfaction are rare in this town, and the opinion of voters DO reflect some truth, but this was not a survey of parents with children in these schools. So really, this is nice to know, but it's hardly solid evidence of how good our schools are.
That's when I wondered whether a survey of parents of schoolchildren would produce similar numbers. I went to the LA Dept. of Education website which has a plethora of performance data, but it's all test scores, and technology surveys, and every "accountability" measure you could think of -- except parent and student satisfaction surveys. At least not that I could find. Just to be sure, I called the Division of Standards, Assessments, and Accountability in Baton Rouge and asked the nice lady who answered if she knew of any state evaluations of parent and student satisfaction with their schools. She said not that she knew of.
That was by no means a thorough investigation (I do have a day job, people), but enough to indicate to me that this very important piece of information -- what the parents and students experiencing the changes in our schools think of them -- either doesn't exist or is nowhere as easy to find as LEAP scores and graduation rates.
I'm hoping someone tells me that I'm wrong and points me in the right direction.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
...Admitting You Have a Problem
As expected, I received some pushback from the previous post and would like to respond to the questions and criticism received. Most importantly, I mis-cited the report from which I drew the history of previous hurricane flooding in N.O. That info came from the Independent Levee Investigation Team (not IPET). I greatly appreciate Editilla of New Orleans Ladder for pointing out this huge error! Like the Corps engineers, I am also human and thus fallible.
Let me address the most significant criticisms.
There is no evidence, beyond unverified verbal accounts by Army Corps spokespersons, that local citizens "limited the scope of the first round of levees which failed so catastrophically" during Katrina.
I didn't speak to Army Corps spokespersons. This information, which is the extent of my evidence, was lifted directly from the ILIT report:
In 1960...the Corps plan opted to solve the drainage canal freeboard problem by installing tidal gates and pumps at the drainage canal outfalls along Lake Pontchartrain. This obviated the need for condemning all the homes built along the canal levees. The Corps soon found itself embroiled in a clash of cultures and goals with the levee districts, the S&WB, and the local citizenry, who flatly opposed the Corps' proposal.
...the Corps focus shifted to heightening the drainage canal levees using concrete walls, which was what the opposing groups desired. These walls were to be designed to withstand a Category 3 storm surge with 12 ft tides and 130 mph winds. (ILIT report, pp. 4-22 to 4-23)
We [Levees.org] stand by our assertion that allegations in a 3-page sworn affidavit by NOLA.com Founder Jon Donley thoroughly validate our suspicions of a deception campaign being waged by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps shouldn't be posing as individuals spouting off deceiving and incorrect information in online comment forums, but individual Corps employees should be able to spout off their personal views via any forum they choose. In my opinion, the way this issue about the Nola.com comments is playing out makes Levees.org look like it doesn't know how to handle criticism.
We hope to see both our supporters and critics at Rising Tide IV where we will sponsor the Early Riser Breakfast.
I do support Levees.org, which is why I care if some of the things they say is questionable. Often, the most helpful criticism comes from those who want to support and stand behind you.
[note: comment courtesy of Editilla~]This ILIT study lays a lot of blame in many places, but the cause of 80% of the flooding of New Orleans 8/29/05 is still indisputably the Corps of Engineers failure to get it right the first time --NOT Katrina storm surge. The ILIT study pretty much devastates that misnomer.
Umm, have ya read the ILIT report? The hurricane, of which a defining element is storm surge, is the FIRST in ILIT's list of what caused our levees to fail:[by Editilla~] Other perimeters of influence do not factor into the basic successful engineering of those flood walls and levees.
In the end, it is concluded that many things went wrong with the New Orleans flood protection system during Hurricane Katrina, and the resulting catastrophe had its roots in three main causes: (1) a major natural disaster (the Hurricane itself), (2) the poor performance of the flood protection system, due to localized engineering failures, questionable judgments, errors, etc. involved in the detailed design, construction, operation and maintenance of the system, and (3) more global "organizational" and institutional problems associated with the governmental and local organizations responsible for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding of the overall flood protection system. (ILIT, p. xix)
There is a reason hurricane storm surges are measured, recorded, studied, and feared: because they matter. If storm surge were not a factor, then levees and floodwalls would not be built according to how much storm surge and wave overtopping they could handle. Just because our floodwalls failed with 7ft as opposed to 14ft of storm surge does not mean surge was not a factor.
I mean, really, where exactly do people think all that fucking water that the levees did not hold back came from?
Basic successful engineering includes selection of types of structures as well as placement and maintenance of structures, both of which local government and citizens had some degree of control over:
The three drainage canals should not have been accessible to the storm surge. The USACE had tried for many years to obtain authorization to install floodgates at the north ends of the three drainage canals that could be closed to prevent storm surges from raising the water levels within the canals. That would have been the superior technical solution. Dysfunctional interaction between the local Levee Board (who were responsible for levees and floodwalls, etc.) and the local Water and Sewerage Board (who were responsible for pumping water from the city via the drainage canals) prevented the installation of these gates, however, and as a result many miles of the sides of these three canals had instead to be lined with levees and floodwalls. (ILIT, p. xxiii)
New Orleans officials were the ones who funded and built the outfall drainage canals despite being warned in the 1870's that they would direct storm surge right into the heart of the city, much like MRGO did. Until the 1950s, before the Corps became involved, it was the Orleans Levee Board who opted to raise these outfall canal levees again and again following each of the many overtoppings and breaches (listed in my previous post) that occurred during hurricanes. It was New Orleans officials who allowed homes to be built so close to those drainage canals, and once that occurred, do you really think the Corps faced any chance of constructing the wide, sturdy levees like the ones that have protected us from the Mississippi river since the 1850s? I understand that people don't want to have their homes torn down and forced to move. Hell, I wouldn't, but I also understand that we need to understand how we got to where we are today.
I'm not trying to reopen old wounds or rehash something that's been put to bed, like one person [i.e., Editilla~] insinuated about my motivations for writing my last post. This has been on my mind precisely because of the decisions we as New Orleanians are being asked to make once again and the coverage every Corps public meeting receives in the press. Also, my original post was not just about the Corps and floodwalls, it was about questioning the reluctance of our City Council to adopt higher elevations for rebuilding in a city that has been flooded 38 times -- THIRTY FRICKIN' EIGHT, people!! -- by Lake Pontchartrain. It was also about some people wanting to place pumps in City Park because they'd look too ugly by their lakefront houses, to hell with physical science and gravity and history which keep trying to tell us that that's just not a good idea no matter how you slice it. It was also about the continued lack of leadership in this City willing to face the hard truths and shepherd its citizens toward facing some tough truths when we need to. How can we expect the Corps and the feds to address their faults when we are insulted whenever asked to address our own community's faults?
By reading some of the dissenting comments, one would think I laid 100% of the blame at the foot of New Orleanians. I clearly said the Corps was to blame for the unacceptable design and failure of our flood protection, and I most certainly don't have a reputation of being a Corps sympathizer. What I would like to think I have a reputation for is pointing out facts, even the ugly ones; and the fact (unless the revered engineer and known Corps critic Robert Bea & his colleagues got it wrong in their ILIT report) is that many local officials and citizens prior to Katrina preferred the very system of outfall canals and floodwalls now in place. This does not mean we're stupid for living here. This does not mean the Corps did an excellent job of overseeing their design, maintenance, and construction because they didn't. It does not mean those walls didn't fail at half their design specifications. They did. It most certainly does not mean that people opting for the floodwalls should have seen the future and fully understood the implications of their decisions at that time. It just means what those words placed in that particular order are supposed to mean: that many people here preferred the Corps to build floodwalls instead of closing or reconfiguring the outfall canals, instead of the tidal gates and pumps at the mouth of the lake, and instead of giving up their homes.
So why even bring all this up? It's not an attempt to retell the Flood story in a manner that benefits the Corps, as one commenter [a.k.a. Editilla~] insinuated. It's an attempt to tell MORE of the story, beginning from the 1800s instead of starting halfway through (or even near the end of) the story at August 29, 2005. Sometimes life gives us the gift of past experience and hindsight, and we'd be doing ourselves and everyone who has to live with our decisions a giant disservice to not use that wisdom when we can. Those who do not understand history, or flat out deny it, are destined to repeat it...or at the very least act surprised when it occurs again.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
[I've been planning this one for a while, so set on down, grab a cup of coffee (or the vodka if you prefer to swing that way) 'cuz I gots a lot to say.]
When it comes to flood protection, too many of us haven't admitted this. Everyone in the world knows we have a bit of a drainage & elevation problem, but I'm asking how many of us in the N.O. area have been honest enough to outwardly admit that we have in fact exacerbated and even caused -- Oh yes I did say it -- our own flood protection problems. At the very least we ignore the obvious, even to the point of denial, and you only need to have watched one after-school special to know that people who are in denial are nowhere near to achieving recovery (no matter how blonde and popular you are, nor whether you're prom queen).
Ironically, it's the citizen group working to improve our flood protection system, Levees.org, that has added a lot of the fuel to this fire, first with what I saw on their FAQ and Factsheet pages and then by their founder's allegations that the Corps has been unfairly attacking her and all citizens by saying that we are partly to blame for the 2005 federal flood.
Well, we are. And it's high time we stop running from that sad, uncomfortable truth. I don't believe we are to blame for the shoddy workmanship done on the levees. However, we are not idle, innocent bystanders in all of this.
Let's start with Fact #1 on the levees.org Factsheet: "The flooding of New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish was an engineering disaster, not a natural disaster." Yes, the structures were poorly constructed, but the levee and canal wall failures did not happen on a clear, sunny day. They were overwhelmed by hurricane storm surge -- a.k.a. a natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina was a strong Category 3 storm as it passed New Orleans, true. We were led to believe that our flood protection structures should have withstood such a storm (or roughly, a 100 year storm), true. However, thanks to Katrina, we now know that the five-category Saffir-Simpson scale is an inadequate classification system. While New Orleans received Category 2 winds, perhaps stronger gusts, Katrina brought with her storm surge well beyond that even seen during Camille, the strongest Cat 5 we have ever seen in the U.S. with winds approaching 200 miles per hour.
Fact #2 on levees.org: "Responsibility for the design and construction of the flood protection in metro New Orleans belongs solely to the US Army Corps of Engineers..." Solely? Really? Then why the required public commenting wherein they are pressured to spare volleyball courts at the cost of weakening the better designed plans presented by the Corps? What about when people insisted on putting pumps even further south of the lake (i.e., in City Park) when it is clearly in our best interests to block lake surge from intruding that far into the city?
How are WE at fault? We must shoulder part of the blame because many people here keep failing to acknowledge two key facts of life: 1) we have always been and will continue to be vulnerable to the destruction wrought by hurricanes; and 2) man can never, and I mean NEVER, guarantee that anything he builds can withstand whatever Mother Nature may send our way. Yet, just this summer the news featured coverage of people relying on updated flood maps, which are already outdated by the way, to decide whether or not to raise their homes. Let's review. Many people whose homes flooded had no flood insurance before Katrina not because they couldn't afford it but because based on the presence of a flood protection system federal maps zoned their homes as being outside of a 100 year floodplain (i.e., insurance guy told you you don't need flood insurance). OK, fine, many people didn't really understand the statistics behind 100- and 500-year storms and the variables involved, but you should now. However, many people understood back then that their neighborhoods existed only because the levee system was extended to incorporate that area of the city. Levees.org even acknowledges this fact:
("...the water table was drastically lowered by the city’s drainage system and some areas settled several feet due to the consolidation of the underlying organic soils. After 1965, the US Army Corps built a system around a much larger geographic footprint that included previous marshland and swamp.")In the weeks after the storm, I remember pissed off residents blaming "the feds" who told us we were safe behind levees. Yet here we are, going right back to where we started, with the City Council (not the Corps) not approving flood maps because doing so would require people to elevate their homes several feet...Unless they wait a couple years for the levee system to be rebuilt and the next round of flood maps putting them outside 100-year floodplains once again so they can build their houses at or very near ground level.
For some, particularly in neighborhoods such as Lakeview, the maps show their risk has abated and if the city would adopt the FEMA maps, huge savings on flood-insurance premiums would follow. But those residents will have to wait. The City Council didn't want to adopt the maps and force others in areas where flood risk has increased, like the Lower 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly, to elevate now when adequate protection should be in place in a couple of years. (T-P, 6-18-09)
Levees.org FAQ: Haven't N.O. residents known for years that this could happen? "No, because the Corps assured the city’s residents that they were safe from a Standard Project Hurricane (roughly equivalent to a Cat 3 Storm). New Orleans residents did not know that the flood walls could rupture 4 feet below design specs or that the floodwalls were designed to collapse if water briefly overtopped them."
[The initial post incorrectly cited IPET as the reference document from which the following info was drawn. It was actually drawn from the ILIT report. Associated hyperlinks have also been corrected.]
Our collective sin is our repeated failure to learn from the sins of our fathers and from our own disaster ridden history. The Independent Levee Investigation Team (ILIT) issued a report on July 31, 2006, did a very good job of retelling this history as part of a nearly 700-page report on the failure of our flood protection system:
Floods Inundating "Backatown" via Lake Pontchartrain
(the following lifted directly from the ILIT report [except for my commentary in brackets; bold emphases are mine]
Hurricanes strike the Louisiana Coast with a mean frequency of two every three years (Kolb and Saucier, 1982). Since 1759, 172 hurricanes have struck southern Louisiana (Shallat, 2000). Of these, 38 have caused flooding in New Orleans, usually via Lake Pontchartrain. Some of the more notable events have included: 1812, 1831, 1860, 1893, 1915, 1940, 1947, 1965, 1969, and 2005. [ILIT report, pp. 4-9 to 4-11]
- "The Great Louisiana Hurricane" of August 9, 1812. It rolled over the barrier islands and drowned Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes and the area around Barataria Bay [pay attention too, Westbankers] under 15 feet of water. The parade ground at Fort St. Phillip was inundated by 8 feet of water and the shoreline along Lake Pontchartrain was similarly inundated, though this was far enough below the French Quarter to spare any flooding of the City.
- In June 1821 easterly winds surged off Lake Pontchartrain and pushed up Bayou St. John, flooding fishing villages and spilling into North Rampart Street until the winds abated and allowed the water to drain back into the lake. It was an ominous portent of things to come.
- On August 16, 1831 "The Great Barbados Hurricane" careened across the Caribbean, striking the Louisiana coast west of New Orleans. The area south of town was again inundated by storm surge, while a three foot surge entered the city from Lake Pontchartrain.
- Southeastern Louisiana suffered through three hurricanes during the summer and fall of 1860. On August 8th a fast moving hurricane swept 20 feet of water into Plaquemines Parish. The third hurricane struck on October 2nd making landfall west of New Orleans. It inundated Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Barataria, causing a significant storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain which destroyed 20 lakeside settlements, washing out a portion of the New Orleans and Jackson Great Northern Railroad. Surge from this storm overtopped the banks along the Old and New Basin drainage canals and a levee along Bayou St. John gave way, allowing the onrushing water to flood a broad area extending across the back side of New Orleans.
- In 1871 three hurricanes caused localized flooding, which proved difficult to drain. Flooding emanating from storm surges on Lake Pontchartrain during these storms overtopped the Hagen Avenue drainage canal between Bayou St. John and New Basin Canal [present day Lafitte Avenue] spilling flood waters into the Mid-City area. City Engineer W. H. Bell warned the city officials about the potential dangers posed by the drainage canals leading to Lake Pontchartrain, because the Mid-City area lay slightly below sea level.
- The record hurricane of October 2, 1893 passed south of New Orleans and generated winds of 100 mph and a storm surge of 13 feet, which drowned more than 2,000 people in Jefferson Parish, completely destroying the settlements on the barrier island of Cheniere Caminada. This represented the greatest loss of life ascribable to any natural disaster in the United States up until that time.
- In August 1900, a hurricane passed directly over Galveston, TX, demolishing that city and killing between 6,000 and 8,000 people, which remains the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Prior to impacting Galveston, that hurricane tracked westerly parallel to the Gulf Coast about 150 miles south of New Orleans. Its flood surges were noted along the Gulf Coast, including Lake Pontchartrain's south shore (Cline, 1926) [sounds kinda like Rita and Ike, don't it? We're vulnerable even if a storm just passes south of us on the way to Texas! Still hard for me to wrap my mind around this phenomenon.]
- Prior to Katrina's landfall in 2005, the most damaging hurricane to impact New Orleans was the Grand Isle Hurricane of September 29, 1915, a Category 4 event which produced winds as great as 140 miles per hour at Grand Isle. It slowed as it made landfall and eventually passed over Audubon Park, seriously damaging structures across New Orleans. Electrical power was knocked out, preventing the City's new pumps from functioning [sound familiar?]. The wave crest height on Lake Pontchartrain rose to 13 ft, easily overtopping 6-foot high shoreline levee, destroying the lakefront villages of Bucktown (at the end of 17th Street Canal), West End, Spanish Fort, and Lakeview (these lakeside settlements were swallowed up by the infilling of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline in 1928-31). The drainage canals were also overtopped, flooding the city behind Claiborne, leaving Mid-City and Canal Street under several feet of water. This storm overwhelmed the City's defenses so quickly that 275 people were killed, mostly in the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline zone.
- On September 19, 1947 an unnamed hurricane made landfall near the Chandeleur Islands [remember those?]A storm surge of 9.8ft reached Shell Beach on Lake Borgne. The runways at Moisant Airport were covered by 2 ft of water while Jefferson Parish was flooded to depths of 3+ ft. Sewage from an overwhelmed S&WB treatment plant stagnated in some of the drainage canals, producing sulfuric acid fumes that caused staining of lead-based paint on some of the homes in the Lakeview area, leaving them with unsightly black blotches [I've never heard this before]. 51 people drowned and New Orleans suffered more than $100 million in damages. City officials were unable to clear floodwaters through the drainage canals in the Lakeview, Gentilly, and Metairie neighborhoods for nearly two weeks. [hmm, I have this strange feeling of deja vu, like this has happened before]. This was the first significant hurricane to strike New Orleans which generated a large body of reliable storm surge data, which was subsequently used in design of flood protection works by the Corps of Engineers. The New Orleans Times-Picayune prepared a map that showed reported depths and locations of flooding in the 1947 hurricane.
A couple more important nuggets of history which some of us seem hellbent on repeating:
[In the 1870s!] New Orleans City Surveyor W.H. Bell warned of the potential dangers posed by the big outfall drainage canals. He told city officials to place pumping stations on the lakeshore, otherwise “heavy storms would result in water backup within the canals, culminating in overflow into the city.” This prophetic warning was ignored with catastrophic results during Hurricane Katrina. (p. 4-16)
By the time the Corps got involved [between 1955 & 1960], a dense network of single family residences abutted the drainage canals along their entire courses (the canals are 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 miles long). The encroachment of these homes adjacent to the canal embankments circumvented any possibility of using conventional methods to heighten the levees, which is usually accomplished by adding compacted earth on the land-side of the levees (Figure 4.23, which would require the condemnation and removal of hundreds of residences, which would be costly and time-consuming (not to mention unprecedented). (p. 4-22)
As far as I'm concerned, the previous point merits the most reflection. The feds and Corps did not build our homes right alongside outfall drainage canals. Those drained marshland pioneers may not have comprehended fully the implication of building their homes where they did. But now, we do. And we have to really think about what it means, not just to us personally but to the rest of the citizens who will be flooded from a breach of the floodwall in our backyards, when we object to the Corps appropriating 6 feet of our backyards to widen levee foundations or secure them from tree roots and whatnots that compromise the levees. WE are the ones with the power to tell the Corps how much land we are willing to cede to protect this great City, just like WE were the ones who limited the scope of the first round of levees which failed so catastrophically -- under the force of the Category 5 storm surge of a naturally occurring hurricane.
Let the hate mail begin!!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said the governor's office encouraged lawmakers to reject the session by returning their ballots, mailed out July 17, but did not say what form that effort took or how involved Jindal was in the process.That's our Governor...Mr. Transparency!
Friday, July 24, 2009
...followed by a detailed list of whose heads are going to roll.
The second line of the motto then reads: "We're making a difference for Louisiana." Well, ain't that the truth?
Friday, July 17, 2009
Dr. Richard Dalton, medical director for the state Office of Mental Health, cited planned expansion of the clinical staffs of the outpatient clinics and new treatment programs. "Our goal is to get our community services to the point so we can in the next two years discontinue the hospitalization of children, " he said. "That's not a fiscal goal. That's a clinical goal."
A clinical goal I bet the American Psychiatric Association would be tickled pink to hear and probably jealous they didn't think of that first!
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. After all, if state officials can keep repeating the same senseless shit, then surely the rest of us can keep responding with some good old common horse sense. I too wish we didn't need hospitals for either physical or psychiatric illness. Really, who WANTS to be hospitalized? (OK, there are a few people who like being hospitalized but that is, ironically, a psychiatric disorder.) Hell, I've been trying this new "optimism" thing lately, so I'm even willing to believe that we can discontinue psychiatric hospitalizations in two years. Still, wouldn't it be prudent to have the hospital as a backup option until we have more success with the all-outpatient, all-the-time thing?
Employees who provide NOAH outpatient services will transfer to two new clinics expected to open in August: one in Mid-City at 3801 Canal St., the other in Algiers at a location the state has yet to secure.Or at least have the outpatient services in place before closing the hospital?
In Reality, which is apparently nowhere near Baton Rouge geographically nor metaphorically, some human illnesses simply cannot be treated on an outpatient basis; but Dr. Dalton would have us believe that in 2 years, we will be able to drag a suicidal teenager down from the Crescent City Connection, give him or her a ride home and one of those nice, pretty business cards with an appointment date/time on the back, and sleep comfortably for the next night or two until we get a chance to see them in the clinic -- or whenever their parents are able to bring them by.
La dee dah...whenever is fine!
While we're at it, let's just go back to having all women deliver their babies at home and scheduling surgeries between haircuts at the barbershop! Who the fuck needs hospitals anymore? They're so antiquated.
Monday, July 13, 2009
On the days I'm feeling less generous and, quite frankly, just plain over the bullshit (most days), I think it nothing less than hypocritical for people like Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to chastise Judge Sotomayor for being prejudiced.
See minute 1:20 for a little background about Sen. Sessions.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The health care restorations include 67 positions at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, the Uptown mental hospital that Jindal had proposed to close in a cost-saving measure. But Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine said he will ask Jindal to veto that language, as the money for NOAH would be taken from dollars that are targeted for outpatient mental-health services in the New Orleans area.True to Times-Picayune form, they run a story that leaves more questions than it answers. How much money is being taken from which programs to keep NOAH open? If Jindal vetoes the language, does the legislation still call for transferring NOAH's beds to Mandeville or is there now no such provision, which would mean we're losing 35 psych beds -- period -- to hell with just relocating them?
Then again, maybe it really doesn't matter because Levine and Jindal have insisted on closing NOAH for months, New Orleans and her citizens and our pleas and evidence to support our need to maintain NOAH's services be damned. Our money is better spent on rescuing private golf courses.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The HIV/AIDS Atlas found that 80 percent of U.S. cases are clustered in 20 percent of counties...
A random sampling of the 20 percent of counties with the highest HIV rates include: Marin and San Francisco counties, Calif; Miami-Dade county, Fla; Bronx, Queens and New York (Manhattan) counties, New York City; Richland (Columbia), S.C.; Orleans (New Orleans), La; Butts, Clayton and Dekalb counties (Atlanta), Ga; New Haven and Hartford counties, Conn; Multnomah (Portland) Ore; and Denver (Denver) Colo.
Friday, May 15, 2009
My analysis of her electronic communications:
"Pisses me off 100 percent of the time. I have been shopping carefully, looking at the per serving cost of all items. This chick in front of me is buying pre made croissant and egg, canned soups, solft driinks, pre made beef pattie (who eats that???), pre made RICE KRISPYs!!! Precut sweet potatos (didn't know those existed) and is payong with a food stamp card. I am voting for the freak mccain and his trash bag vp. I am sick of it."
- First of all, this rant was written 6 days post-Gustav. Citizens evacuated via public transportation were still trying to get home, electricity was still lacking in a good number of areas, curfew was still in effect. She was stressed out I'm sure, but THIS set her off? And at the same time most public officials were trying to extend emergency food stamp benefits to practically everyone?
- Ms. Head assumes the food stamp user is not cost conscious. Does she know the woman's monthly food budget or how much money she had on her food stamp card?
- Apparently, food stamp users should be forced to buy the cheapest food in the store while simultaneously meeting Ms. Head's personal culinary standards of no pre-packaged foods.
- It seems Ms. Head would compromise her political philosophy in a second to either end food stamps or make food stamp recipients cook everything from scratch. (I guess I missed this particular pledge of the McCain-Palin platform.)
- Why is she so angry about this?
Does she ever talk TO people or just about them?
She comes across as a spoiled bully. She wants things the way SHE wants them, and more and more it seems like being confrontational is the only way she knows how to accomplish anything.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
It is one of the most dishonest opinion pieces I have ever read.
Levine tries to convince us that because the state spent millions expanding community health care services in N.O. that there is no longer as much of a need for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization (which strikes me as a point DHH wouldn't have to keep pushing if they really felt they were not REDUCING services in the N.O. area -- but that's just my crazy, bizarre opinion). True, assertive mental health services were expanded last year under Nicola's Law, according to this T-P article which also points out that there are little data to support the supposition that such services reduce the need for psychiatric hospitalization.
Such services are partly granted through various "waivers" which provide services like home health care aides who help families care for developmentally delayed individuals and those with severe behavioral and emotional problems. Something Levine conspicuously failed to mention, as he touted the hundreds of children and adults now served by last year's increase in mental health funding, is that there are many more on the waiting lists for these services. One family in our clinic has been waiting 5 years for their waiver (a VERY common wait time), yet DHH is cutting the meager funding for the waivers they provide (see page 14 of linked-to document) while simultaneously rejecting stimulus money to save healthcare from budget cuts. Another thing he left out, when saying "fewer than 15% of the referrals from the mental health Emergency Room at University Hospital are referred to NOAH," was the number of referrals that actually refers to. Also, that percentage has probably plummeted since the state already quietly closed an adult psychiatric unit housed at NOAH 2 months ago.
But back to the issue at hand: NOAH. Secretary Levine's reasoning that NOAH can be safely "moved" (DHH's euphemism) because there are more outpatient services now defies not only logic but also common sense for the same reason that having a primary physician in no way means one will never need hospitalization. Family physicians can no more treat heart attacks, strokes, and traumatic brain injury in their offices than can mental health providers treat psychiatric emergencies on comfortable office couches.
Levine insists: "Our proposal does not reduce the number of mental health beds." He forgot to add in New Orleans at the end of that sentence because when you add those 3 words to this new DHH mantra, it translates into: There will be ZERO publicly funded inpatient psychiatric hospital beds for children and adolescents by the time we get through screwing New Orleans, who by the way did not vote for Gov. Jindal...not that our decisions have anything to do with that fact. If you're a master of subtlety and reading between the lines, you might have picked up the slightly different meaning those 3 little words add.
Yup, I can spin with the best of 'em!
As for fraud, I am sad to say that Secretary Levine has intentionally tried to deceive us when he said: "less than 35 percent of the children treated at NOAH are even from New Orleans." There really is no excuse for trying to slide this piece of misleading info into the mix when just a few weeks ago Arnie Fielkow and Shelly Midura exposed DHH Deputy Secretary Sybil Richard for attempting the same act of deceipt at a city council Subcommittee on Mental Health meeting on March 27. Yes, 35% come from Orleans Parish, followed by another 40% or so from Jefferson Parish. I'm willing to bet the ones that also come from St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, Terrebonne, and Lafourche also would not appreciate an even longer drive than they already have to see their hospitalized children.
Honestly, I do not know why the state is putting the entire southshore in such dire straits. I'd ask them, but I doubt they'd tell me the truth anyway.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Jindal said, "The broken pieces in our mental healthcare system affect every Louisianian, but the problem is especially acute in New Orleans. New Orleans officials estimate that the annual suicide rate has more than tripled since Hurricane Katrina...and the World Health Organization estimates that tens of thousands of people in the storm-affect region today have a serious mental illness. We must take a comprehensive approach to address this crisis -- one that incorporates the needs of patients, law enforcement, and the community as a whole."
Said DHH Secretary Levine in the same March 24, 2008 press release:
"The combined impact of these bills and the Governor’s budget represents a sweeping transformation of our mental health system," said Levine. "The mental health system has been neglected, and while it won’t be fixed overnight, this is the kind of commitment one would expect of a reform-minded Governor."A February 15, 2008, DHH press release announced: "NOAH key to easing mental health crisis in New Orleans," and included this tidbit: “The occupancy rate at NOAH was 96 percent in 2007. These beds are almost always full. Opening up 20 new beds is critical to providing mental health services in the city because it will help to reduce waiting time for patients who require hospitalization.” Yet, just last week, Dr. Levine insisted that there is no dire need for psychiatric beds in New Orleans:
"I keep hearing, 'Where are we going to take these people?' " Levine said. "But the numbers we're seeing, the demand doesn't appear."
And in DHH's own words: "NOAH was the first public mental health inpatient facility to re-open after Katrina within New Orleans and remains at the forefront of providing these vital services to a population in great need. Prior to NOAH’s re-opening, people with mental illnesses were either not treated, were seen and discharged from hospital emergency rooms or were transferred to hospitals elsewhere in the state."
Yet, at the N.O. City Council Mental Health Subcommittee meeting on March 27, 2009, DHH Deputy Secretary Sybil Richard had the audacity to tell us that the proposal to move NOAH across the lake was something that would have been done anyway in the interest of patient care and was a decision not borne of Jindal's desire to rid the budget of anything non-revenue producing (i.e., services for a parish of Democrats who never have and never will donate to his campaign coffers.)
Monday, February 23, 2009
That said, it bothers me that some white people don't take some of these racial issues seriously. Although some white people don't see how race plays into some issues, when white politicians just dismiss the race issue as "unfounded," that adds fuel to the city's race problem as much as the black politicians who cry racism when there is none. It's akin to a doctor telling you that there's no physical cause of the back pain you've suffered for years and that it's really all in your head; but he's not the one experiencing the pain. I don't think the white councilmembers' actions were racially motivated, but that doesn't mean they get to ignore black citizens' suspicions. If I remember correctly, what Hedge-Morrell said was that some of her constituents viewed the issue as a racial one. Good politicians take their constituents' concerns seriously and don't just ignore them (something Mayor Nagin does all the time), which is an extremely patronizing and thing to do and infuriating to the person with the concerns.
Black politicians like Nagin are playing the same games that white politicians have long played in this state. White people in New Orleans have gotten rich off of back room deals for centuries, so you can't just chalk it up to paranoia when black citizens ask why is that white people want to create transparency now that black people have the power to enrich a few other black people -- along with alot of white people who still benefit from being politically connected (e.g., the Business Council of N.O.). Like Oyster said, these are tricky issues and you can't just blow them off without addressing them. As much as it sucks, white politicians have to tell us why their vote isn't racially motivated and they have to be convincing -- as convincing as I have to be that I'm not a thief when pulled over by the police or when I'm followed around the store by white salesclerks. This shit sucks, but you have to deal with it.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
One intriguing hint of what researchers led by Ray Friedman of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management calls the “Obama Effect” suggests that maybe, just maybe, Obama will do more for the scholastic achievement of African-Americans than anything since Brown v. Board of Education.Apparently, a mere four days into Obama's term, the recalcitrant Black-White test score gap may have all but disappeared:
The results varied according to when the students took the test. Before the convention and in early October, the performance gap was as wide as ever: white students got a median score of 12.1 compared to blacks’ 8.8 before the convention; the scores were 12.9 and 8.4, respectively, in early October. But just after Obama’s convention speech, and just after election day, “when Obama’s stereotype-defying accomplishments garnered national attention,” as the researchers put it, there was a remarkable effect. Among students who watched Obama’s speech, blacks’ and whites’ scores were statistically equal (10.3 vs. 12.1) after the acceptance speech and 9.8 vs. 11.1 after election day. The difference is considered statistically insignificant--that is, likely due to chance.If I didn't know any better, I'd immediately write off this study as containing a fatal flaw. But I do know better. I know that there is an extensive body of research experiments that supports the theory that a significant portion of the Black-White test score gap has to do with stereotype threat, as explained in this article.
As a scientist, I'm still not ready to gleefully embrace the results of this study. In fact, I can't wait to read it so I can pore over it for flaws and limitations (as we are brainwashed to do in grad school).
But dammit, living in this city and through this current turd of an economy, I'm takin' a li'l Hope wherevers I can find it.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I was so pleased to hear that you understand and are concerned about the link between dropping out of school and ending up in prison, and that you would like to address these problems.
Every year 14,000 high school students drop out of school. Every year we lock up about 14,000 people in our prisons. I don't think that's a coincidence. -Gov. Bobby Jindal on his initiatives to reduce Louisiana's dropout and recidivism rates. [Times Picayune, 1/4/09, p. A-13]I was not so pleased to read on the very same newspaper page your plans to stave off a projected $341 million budget shortfall by delaying the opening of a mental health crisis center in New Orleans and by canceling plans to add 6 inpatient beds to the N.O. Adolescent Hospital. You should be aware that a recent study shows that children in LA impacted by Hurricane Katrina currently suffer from physical and mental health problems at rates double that of homeless children in New York City.
NY Times 12/5/08:Governor, these are the children most likely to not finish high school and then end up in jail, and these are the very children that your budget cuts will hurt most. I think that the Obama administration and Congress would be hard-pressed to hand over $450 million for a new Charity hospital to a state that won't even spend $4.25 million to address the dire needs of its own citizens, needs which should have been addressed 3 years ago now.
...41 percent under age 4 had iron-deficiency anemia -- twice the rate for children in New York City's homeless shelters. Anemia, often attributable to poor nutrition, is associated with developmental problems and academic underachievement.
More than half of those ages 6 to 11 had a behavior or learning problem, yet in the East Baton Rouge School District children can wait for as long as two years to be tested for learning disabilities.
...many of the children of Hurricane Katrina are behind in school, acting out and suffering from extraordinarily high rates of illness and mental health problems. Their parents, many still anxious or depressed themselves, are struggling to keep the lights on and the refrigerator stocked.
Show us that you care about your citizens. Let us know whether a man of God would choose $385,040 in pay raises for 6 Cabinet members already making six figures a year over thousands of families who have nowhere else but you to turn to for survival. Six psychiatric inpatient beds at NOAH will cost $250,000.
Governor Jindal, do the right thing this time.
Friday, January 02, 2009
It's easy to get ticked off by the absurd aspects of Ms. Taylor's stupid vendetta: the fact that she moved there years after the sidewalk and home were already creatively painted (or so said the grieving mother today on WWL) or that Ms. Taylor's real problem is her own issues with her neighbor's "lifestyle." The Times Picayune website already has tons of comments about this story, most of which I actually agree with for once; but this one best articulated to where Ms. Taylor and all of us should really be directing our outrage [a little background: the city is threatening to fine the woman $100 per day until she paints the sidewalk gray]:
Amen, Hallelujah, and Thank You Jesus to that.
How about we fine Ray Nagin and Warren Riley $100 a day until they can get the murders under control?
Why not fine the Public Works Department $100 for all the damage done to our vehicles by some of the worst roads in the Western Hemisphere?
Driving around town, a visitor could easily mistake our infrastructure for that of Port-au-Prince.
This woman has filled the vacuum of lawlessness in this city with something of her own creation. Those complaining about the liberties she has taken with public property are under the delusion that this is still a place of law.
Both hope to hear from the president-elect, or his top health aides, so they can advocate for measures that put more emphasis on patient responsibility and free market solutions to Obama's campaign promise to provide coverage to more than 40 million uninsured Americans.Because that has been working so well for the American people? Honestly, do you know ANYONE who is pleased with the cost and quality of their health insurance or who isn't hassled by her health insurance provider when it really counts (i.e., other than a quick well visit to the doctor)? Do we really need to advocate for more emphasis on free market solutions? Isn't that what we already have? It sounds a lot like Nagin's repopulation plan.
Oh wait. That wasn't a plan at all. Just like this isn't a fucking plan either!!
As for patient responsibility, last I heard, the patients' responsibility to pay for medical treatments not covered by their expensive health insurance is a main cause of personal bankruptcy filings. But Congressmen, you're right. The American people need more bills. It's not like there's a mortgage crisis or rising unemployment or a financial market meltdown or anything!
Now for the piece de resistance:
But Cassidy also spoke about working across party lines to get affordable homeowners insurance to south Louisiana residents ...So, healthcare insurance...leave to the market forces. Homeowners insurance...too important to leave to the market forces? Huh? People not being able to afford healthcare insurance...no threat to the economy, but people not being able to afford homeowners insurance in Louisiana...threat to the whole national economy?
"If our workers can't afford to live near the refineries, pipelines and shipyards that serve the entire nation, then our whole national economy suffers, " Cassidy said.
Idiots, I tell you. Fucking idiots.
We're watching you, Congressmen. We're watching.
Hanging on for Dear Life: Katrina Survivors" Daily Struggle to Live
- The representative of the neighborhood "Lakeview" (an upper middle class mostly white neighborhood of NOLA) just told a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life. She told the story of 2 volunteers from Boston, a mother and a 9 year old daughter. After a week of working, the daughter turned to the mother and asked her when they would be returning to America. The lady representative broke down into tears and asked the senate panel the same question. When will we be returning to America?
- 2005 homeowners insurance: $1926... 2006 homeowners insurance: $2343... 2007 homeowners insurance bill: $4599
- That ain't shit. 2005 Farmers: $2400 / 2006 Farmers: $4000 / 2007 Farmers: $11,000
- "I hope the levees break again and kill you."
- The average cost for a 2,000-square-foot home has jumped, probably, to the $80,000 range just for foundation work