Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Who will rebuild New Orleans?
One of my biggest fears in this Katrina disaster is that the new "Great Migration" would mean a permanent washing away -- a "cleansing" of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities of their poorest residents, so that luxury hotels and condos could take their place (as a new friend from Mississippi, who lost everything in Katrina, told me, "walk a few blocks from Canal Street, and you're in the hood. Walk a few blocks from the French Quarter, and you're in the hood....")

My hope has been that many New Orleans (and other cities') evacuees will want to go home and rebuild their city and their lives (although who could blame those who just want to start over somewhere new, where they're not in the projects, living literally at the bottom of the bowl.) What seems most likely is that the big contractors will rush in, followed right behind by the cheap foreign laborers the president is pushing though his guest worker program (and maybe some of those Mexican troops, who knows... that's a joke...) The city would be rebuilt, corporate style (think loud, gaudy Times Square today), and lose much of what made it New Orelans.

But today there's this glimmer of hope from the indispensible Times-Picayune:
Officials with Louisiana’s community and technical colleges have announced an aggressive program to get job training to individuals displaced and unemployed due to Hurricane Katrina so that they can take advantage of upcoming rebuilding efforts in the New Orleans area.

Within the next week, individuals located in shelters across the state will be able to take advantage of free, on-site job training in fields such as carpentry, plumbing and hazardous waste removal. Those trades, and a host of others, are expected to see employment booms once the rebuilding of the New Orleans area begins, said Jim Henderson, the senior vice-president of workforce development and training for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Henderson said the officials with the state’s technical and community colleges have already been assessing the job training and educational levels of individuals located in state shelters in preparation for the new educational program. The state is now attempting to either enroll those individuals in existing facilities in their areas, or create new facilities at or near shelters, Henderson said. Training facilities may be established at the Avondale shipyard, mobile computer labs and adult education centers, he said.
Translation: don't send in the cheap labor from Mexico, Mr. President. Let New Orleansians rebuild New Orleans. Let's just hope that city and state officials fight for fair wages, despite the president and the Washington GOP's wage-crushing presidential directive suspending Davis-Bacon. And of course, we know that cronyism is far from dead in the disaster zone. Otherwise, why would the folks at Halliburton be smiling?

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posted by JReid @ 2:43 AM  
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