Mere weeks after the levee breaches during Katrina – while New Orleans was still underwater – a small group of business-people had a plan crafted and ready. Using full-page newspaper ads and paid-media releases, the group quickly convinced a traumatized populace that it needed “levee board reform.”
In the chaotic environment of February 2006 – years before levee investigators concluded that the US Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for the flooding – the Louisiana legislature approved this reform followed by the passage of a Constitutional Amendment by voters in September of that same year. And it turns out that the two new authorities, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority (SLFPA) East and West, have no authority to oversee or directly influence the Corps.
However, the SLFPA East and West do control how more than $60 million of taxpayer money gets spent every year.*
The “levee board reform” took control of who gets to award lucrative contracts out of the governor’s hands and gave it to a small group of people. This small group is the SLFPA Nominating Committee and they have their positions for life. There are no term limits.
And this committee – at the end of the day – controls who is appointed to spend upward of $60 million of taxpayer dollars annually. And are at least indirectly responsible for protecting multiple parishes from flooding.
This doesn’t sound like good governing to Levees.org. So we support Rep Patrick Connick’s HB266 that would require term limits for all members of the SLFPA Nominating Committee.