The Plan to Rebuild New Orleans Part I…The Controversy

From Scout:

To say the Plan to Bring Back New Orleans is controversial and problematic is an understatement. In this post I’ll lay out the controversy and the following post looks at the plan and apparent problems. Reaction at a meeting to unveil the plan also unveiled the controversy ….

The proposal also drew a pre-emptive Bronx cheer from City Council members, who held a news conference minutes before the unveiling to assail it.

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“We don’t want to wait four months,” said Jeb Bruneau, president of the Lakeview Civic Association. “We want to be able to go down to City Hall and get permits. We have the means to help ourselves, so don’t get in our way.”

Others called the plan a “land grab” cooked up by greedy developers. Carolyn Parker of the Lower 9th Ward warned the group that her home would be taken “over my dead body.” Rodney Craft, also of the 9th Ward, warned: “If you come to take our property, you better come ready.”

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Perceived as the driving force behind the proposal, Canizaro took much of the heat Wednesday. During roll call, scattered boos broke out when his name was announced. More than one speaker mentioned him by name.

“Mr. Joe Canizaro, I don’t know you, but I hate you,” eastern New Orleans resident Harvey Bender said. “You’ve been in the background trying to scheme to get our land.”

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Individual residents were not the only ones to attack the plan. In a news release, ACORN leaders said the four-month window was far too narrow for neighborhoods to prove their sustainability. Dorothy Stukes, spokeswoman for the agency’s Katrina Survivors Association, said: “They are just changing the rules around to justify a land grab.”

NAACP branch President Danatus King, meanwhile, suggested that the plan was designed to help “fat cats” and a “chosen few,” pointing in particular to sections of town that the land use panel described as “infill areas” where large commercial, industrial and residential development might occur.

Canizaro who chairs the urban land use panel is definitely a driving force behind The Plan. That he would be a lightning rod for disdain and mistrust of his motives is understandable given his history and background. (see yesterday’s post). In what is gearing up to be the greatest fight against City Hall in American history, the proverbial little guys (residents) must know they are at a clear disadvantage against the juiced Canizaro. In looking at the ability to get the money to implement the plan the Times Picayune notes that “Moreover, Joe Canizaro, the banker and developer who chairs the land-use panel, is a leading Bush fund-raiser with enviable access to the White House.” Obviously this is an advantage Canizaro brings to the table. Does it outweigh his liabilities? It’s a question that should be addressed.The option of removing Canizaro ought to be on the table. It’s an obvious starting point in moving the plan forward.