Dutch treat
A group visiting New Orleans from The Netherlands this week will offer further evidence of the expertise the Dutch have amassed in dealing with the dangers of water. Hon. Karien van Gennip, The Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade, and a delegation of 13 Dutch water sector companies are scheduled to make a presentation to the Louisiana Recovery Authority Infrastructure Task Force on May 9. The following day, the group will be in New Orleans and will appear in a breakfast program at the World Trade Center.
With two-thirds of The Netherlands at or below sea-level, Dutch companies have built a massive and unique flood-protection system, and the country has been a leading innovator in development of water management policies. For more information on the May 10 program, call 504-529-1601.
Billions in the balance
More action could occur this week on Louisiana’s plea for money from Washington. The Senate voted last week to approve the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which included Louisiana’s request for $4.2 billion for housing and an additional $2.2 billion for levee reinforcement. The vote had state and local officials cheering, but they noted the importance of keeping our fingers crossed. Gov. Kathleen Blanco noted that “anything less than the $4.2 billion approved by both the Senate and the House” for rebuilding Louisiana housing would just not do.
“I would also ask the conferees to remember that according to President Bush and the Army Corps of Engineers, anything less than the $2.2 billion they requested to repair our levees will continue to leave us unprotected,” she said. Blanco punctuated the need by noting that hurricane season is less than 30 days away,
Candidates keep chattering
Watch for more barb-trading as the candidates in the May 20 runoff race pick up the pace this week. With less than two weeks left to score points with voters, the hopefuls will appear in various debates and may also begin to crank up their radio and television commercials.
WVUE-TV/Fox 8 will air a televised debate between Mayor Ray Nagin and his challenger, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, on May 11 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the District B Coordinating Council will hold a forum on Tuesday featuring Landrieu and Nagin, along with the runoff candidates for City Council District B (Stacy Head and incumbent Renee Gill Pratt) and Council At Large (Jackie Clarkson and Arnie Fielkow). The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ashe Cultural Center.
Bush-els of bucks
The heat is rising under efforts to get a deal signed between the New Orleans Saints and their first-round draft pick Reggie Bush. Local football fans have been ecstatic since word broke that the team had plucked the Heisman Trophy winner out of the NFL draft lineup. Now Bush’s agent, Joel Segal, is scrambling to iron out terms of the deal in time for Bush to make training camp. It’s too soon to guess at specifics, but sources say it’s unlikely that the money for Bush will top what the Houston Texans gave No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. Bush shouldn’t worry, though; Williams is getting a cool $54 million over five years.
Not the best of times
Frayed nerves may soon lead to more obvious distress signals in the Washington and New Orleans offices of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson. Observers speculate that Jefferson has to be thinking of stepping down as federal prosecutors close in on a possible indictment. The congressman’ fellow Democrats began to distance themselves from him last week after a Kentucky businessman pleaded guilty in federal court to paying more than $450,000 to a company controlled by Jefferson’s family in exchange for business favors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland last week called on the ethics committee to launch an investigation into the bribery allegations. Some observers say it’s just a matter of time before Jefferson is forced to resign.