Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the Bush administration were locked in a pitched political battle to shape public opinion about the response to Hurricane Katrina at the same time they were trying to manage the rescue operation, documents released late Friday by the governor's office show.In other words, it confirms what many bloggers were saying from the outset - that the state and local response was seriously flawed, and that the state and local officials sought to spin their way out of the mess by blaming the federal government.
E-mails turned over by the state to the congressional committees investigating the hurricane response show that the governor's senior staff was deeply involved in trying to preserve the governor's political standing and make sure that the White House was blamed for the slow pace of the initial response.
While many in the big national media outlets quickly focused on the national response, it is only more recently that serious inquiries into the disaster response have shown the full measure of incompetence and failures at the local level. Gov. Blanco continues to defend her actions, but that's a futile effort as more of her correspondence sees the light of day.
Meanwhile, the largest CYA operation in human history begins its slow march as the company that drove the sheet piles for the levees that failed claimed that it tried to warn the Army Corps of Engineers about the inadequate depth of the pilings but were rebuffed by the Corps.
Modjeski and Masters was the lead design firm for the project. In an e-mail written in response to a Times-Picayune article Wednesday that quoted members of a Louisiana State University engineering team investigating the failure as saying a basic engineering mistake led to the disaster, Conway said the shorter sheet piles were not recommended by his company.Go figure. No documents to support the contentions, and no corroborating evidence. I guess we'll have to sort this whole sordid mess out in the discovery phase of cases to be brought. Solomon's House has provided a new update on the levee investigation.
". . . we point out that the existence of a humus layer at the 17th Street Canal was known to us and the Corps of Engineers," Conway said in his e-mail. "It was reflected in the initial -35 sheet pile tip elevation for the east floodwall.
"The final sheet pile tip elevations shown on the contract plans were mandated by the Corps," he wrote. "Further, Modjeski and Masters was not employed for the field monitoring of the construction project in which the sheet piling was apparently not redriven, as required, to a final -17.05 tip elevation." Tip elevation is a measurement of how far the bottom of the pilings are below sea level. Conway produced no documents to support his contentions, and did not respond to requests for interviews.
And with all this going on, the Louisiana politicians who helped shape this mess want to delay elections. How unDemocratic. They want to delay the elections until they know that they can muster the votes to be reelected, even though there's little to support the reelection of anyone involved in the colossal failures by the state and local government in Louisiana and New Orleans in particular.
This posting is cross posted at the following: Wizbang, Sweetness and Light notes that a Sheehanacolyte may be running for NOLA mayor (just what they need), LA Political News Service, Perilocity
Also blogging the levee situation, the corruption of Louisiana politicians, and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast this weekend: Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated, Sarcastipundit, the Violence Worker, The Pagan Temple offers their own rebuilding plan, Les Jones notes that the levees were leaking even before Katrina hit, Crabapple Lane, Jacob McKee, Vatul wonders whether she could ever go home to NOLA and is counting the days since she evacuated (now 95).
Technorati: flood aid; hurricane katrina; katrina aid; hurricane rita; slidell; biloxi; gulfport; pascagoula; nagin; blanco; barbour; hurricane rita; hurricane wilma.