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Day 562: New Orleans Pumps Faulty, Not New Orleanians

To all the mooks out there who tell New Orleans to “stop looking for free handouts and stop blaming the federal government for all its problems,” to the patronizers who advise us “to look to our local government,” to the federal government who will not waive our 10% and to the president who stated that the government had written the check for the recovery of our city, open your ears to this:

Corps Placed Faulty Pumps in New Orleans

The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush’s promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The 2006 hurricane season turned out to be mild, and the new pumps were never pressed into action. But the Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly.

… The drainage-canal pumps were custom-designed and built under a $26.6 million contract awarded after competitive bidding to Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla. It was founded in 1926 and supplies flood-control and irrigation pumps all over the world.

And what do we have here, Mr. Penguin?

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It also appears that the Corps doesn’t do thorough background checks before frittering away your tax dollars.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved.

This went on while the Corps commander acknowledged that it was his agency’s failure that led to the levee and floodwall collapses and “the Corps has paid MWI $4.5 million for six additional pumps and will use them to troubleshoot the defective ones.” Again, when I questioned him back in September 2006 about City Hall’s cooperation/collaboration with the Corps, Mayor Ray Nagin told me that he meets with Corps leadership in New Orleans on a weekly basis, but ultimately “the Corps will continue its work with little to no oversight and has no accountability to Ray Nagin, the mayor of the city of New Orleans, and his people.” Are our hands tied on this one? Yes. So, don’t yell at us, help us unseat and replace the charlatans who keep us from being safe.

Back at the quilting circle, Meemaw Blanco puts on her rose-colored glasses and assures us that Louisiana is ready for the 2007 hurricane season:

“We will be prepared for that June 1 date (when hurricane season opens),” she said. “We will be ready.” … Blanco said that if the state is spared and others need help, “we stand ready to come to the aid of our neighbors.”

All I can say now is WTF? with that sinking feeling that I’m talking into an absurdist canvas of uncharted proportions.

Update: For the text of the Corps memoranda, please visit Matt McBride’s Fix The Pumps. Now!

Related: Scout Prime’s Some People Should Know Better

9 comments… add one
  • GentillyGirl March 13, 2007, 4:04 PM

    Ya’s beat me to this one Maitri.

    Guess all of the venom I wanted to use for this revelation can now be reserved to whatever travesty unfolds tomorrow. *rolls eyes*

  • Sophmom March 13, 2007, 4:56 PM

    I wish I could say it was unbelievable but, honestly, it’s just more business as usual. It’s my understanding that it won’t take a hurricane for New Orleans to need those pumps, and that just too much heavy rainfall could do it. I’m sorry, Maitri.

  • Slate March 13, 2007, 5:03 PM

    Has J. David Eller ever been seen having drinks with Meffert?

    The whole (expletive deleted as it’s not Ashley’s blog)bunch of them should be held criminally liable.

  • Carmen March 13, 2007, 7:39 PM

    Don’t forget about Dan Packer if you’re going to be looking at collusions. There’s a hinky link somewhere in this Jengalike structure of corruption, but I haven’t got it quite right yet.

    Most of what ‘officials’ are reported as saying in the news is really just public negotiation; that’s the corporate political system, including investor clues. The whole point of volunteer activists like the brilliant McBride – who’s been working the pump issue furiously for a year – is to upend the backdoor dealbrokering and restore democracy. (Whether the blogger realizes that or not isn’t always a dominant concern.) The newsmedia catches up at a certain point.

    But that’s why it’s not expedient (Upaya) to get so fussed up about the ‘handouts and blame’ pundits. Either they know it’s public negotiation, or they don’t. If they don’t know it, they’re irrelevant. If they do, there’s no point just lobbing back: you have to hear them, to listen and negotiate. There are greater sins and lesser sins, and people do get that.

    You people are doing good work cleaning up this town, and yes, you are “talking into an absurdist canvas of uncharted proportions.” Why that should engender a sinking feeling, I have no idea.

  • Maitri March 13, 2007, 8:31 PM

    Carmen, I understand what you’re trying to say about negotiating with people whose main form of correspondence/dialogue is via (a certain form of) newsspeak, but:

    a) how do I know who gets it and who doesn’t?,
    b) how to converse in a language I don’t speak?, and
    c) I don’t have any time to do anything more than lob back in the most logical way I know how when this city may flood again this hurricane season and no one thinks this is a federal emergency that warrants immediate reaction, resources and action from the folks in charge.

    Why is the awareness of talking into the nonsense preceded by a sinking feeling? It’s the hesitant beginning of acknowledging that logic and proof aren’t widely accepted in this society anymore, most voters want to say something … anything … based on their prejudices alone, and that if I connect two dots on the canvas with a straight line, someone will retort with Beware of the night poodles!

    P.S. I’d like to think my Upaya is Maitri, probably better known to you as Metta, to some living beings. *smile*

  • Carmen March 15, 2007, 12:44 PM

    I’m not sure “main form” is correct, it’s like a glacier with 90% below the surface. Which is how you know whether or not a dialogue is going to be fruitful: look at the agenda of the poster. There’s pack commonality of publicspeak in all factions: you can see it in the local blogging community, in the federal talking points which get disseminated to national media outlets, in the similar conde nast style publications. You, Maitri, in your Metta-phase and regardless of time limitations, know instinctively who is parrying and who is parroting. How? By whether or not they listen. Is it their own thought, or are they swept by a wave? I’m just as wary of the Huffington Post extremists as the Rovians. Tourette’s in public discourse is pretty obvious in its dysfunctionality.

    How do you not converse in a common language, when man is bounded by the simplest tethers: eating, sleeping, screwing, waste elimination? Isn’t this your essential argument as to why others ought consider the rebuilding of New Orleans ‘worthy’, because we are all in the same base position on this planet and need to recognize that profound sense of brotherhood? There’s nothing wrong with logical rebuttal. There’s some need to counter large wave attacks. But for efficiency’s sake, we first have to eliminate the emotionality of it and secondly have to address the negotiation aspects. That will move the process forward instead of relegating it to mere bickering. Futility is what some want to engender; the sense of powerlessness amongst the masses creates the need for a “strong leader” or “decider” to rise to power.

    Before McBride began blogging, he did a series of public education lectures, occasionally getting deeply frustrated at attendance measures or by people who decided to be awesome and not attend after informing him they would. But look where he’s gotten by just not taking no for an answer, and not serving himself. But if, in absurdist lingo, I equate McBride to Jason Bourne or Gadbois to Frida Kahlo, am I saying something or am I deflecting? Of *course* most people want to say something: the nature of life is to express self or other. “Beware of the night poodles” may be the most profound statement you are able to hear at your level of thought, PRECISELY FOR ITS SEEMING ABSURDITY. Alice In Wonderland was a moving political manifesto.

    The non-futility of absurdist comi-tragedy is the freedom of investment of the individual mind. Instead of pack running, a planted field sprouts according to conditions affecting each respective plant. It’s trusting the masses with some sense of themselves (My sheep hear My voice) and even trusting that weeds cannot choke the vineyard nor affect the harvest because of the wise overseers (perhaps like you, in your field) who root out the freestanding threat but only trim the one entwined with the fruit, that nothing be wasted in its time.

    To me, that’s not a sinking feeling but a glorious one. The hope of mankind, in its absurdist way, has sprung from New Orleans, and why would anyone working on the side of good fret one moment about that?

  • EJ March 17, 2007, 4:34 AM

    “logic and proof aren’t widely accepted in this society anymore”

    I’m afraid you hit the nail on the head with that one, Maitri. I wonder if they were ever accepted. sigh…

  • liprap March 17, 2007, 7:19 AM

    As long as logic and proof implicate someone or lots of someones, there will be obfuscation and outright lies. That has been the way of human beans since our beginnings, it seems…

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