Activist and NOLA blogger Karen Gadbois has a post up today related to a growing scandal in New Orleans. Now you may be thinking, oh another Katrina scandal, but I ask you ...Please Go read what Karen has to say and Look at the photos of Miss Dolores and you will see why this matters.
Now that you are back I'm going to ask a bit more. Below is a brief description of what this scandal involves but I really hope you will follow and read the links to the important work being done by these NOLA bloggers.
Last month irrregularities were first found by Gadbois in a program called the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership or NOAH. Blogger E at We Could Be Famous blog also began to look into this with a series of posts. (Link - scroll to bottom for first) Both bloggers have had numerous important posts on this and this week WWL took up the story. Jeffrey at Library Chronicles offers this primer on what is involved and has occurred:
Yesterday afternoon, the Mayor escalated the controversy over the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corporation (NOAH) by taking the extraordinary step of holding a press conference to angrily refute the content of the previous evening's WWLTV report which alleged that NOAH may have misused federal community development block grant funds.
The agency's mission is to gut and clean up blighted or flood damaged property belonging to senior and low-income residents. In the report, Lee Zurik takes a look at a list of homes NOAH had been charged with remediating. Zurik's findings are similar to Karen Gadbois' which reveal homes on the list that are owned by shadowy LLCs, or by absentee landlords, or by other city agencies, in other words, various entities other than "seniors and low income residents". Some of the properties on NOAH's the list were not touched. Others appear not to exist at all.
The irregularities first came to light when Karen noticed this house on the city's Imminent Health Threat Demolition list. A brand new sign advertised the fact that it had been gutted by NOAH... just in time to be demolished with a different pool of federal funds provided by FEMA. And so folks started asking questions. E over at We Could Be Famous immediately asked 1) Who are the contractors involved in doing the remediation work? and 2) Can we call them? The results were mixed...
There is much more and I hope you'll read the rest because though this may be a city run program it is using federal funds and thus involves all of us. Nagin may not want attention brought to this fearing it will hurt the city's recovery, which may well be one outcome, but what recovery is there in contractors apparently being paid and work not being done? What recovery was there for Miss Dolores? And how many others? If the Mayor didn't want our attention he should have paid more attention to his program. It is as Gadbois says--No Transparency, No Recovery. Nagin needs to stop complaining and offer that transparency.....Now.