In my Google reader: Dodd, Vitter, NOLA…but where’s Katrina? Ladies??

In the last 24 hours, Presidential Candidate Sen. Dodd’s stance against retroactive immunity for telecom companies has the lefty set clamoring to shower him with some sweet, sweet electoral love.  Try as I may to capitalize on the comment ebullience and point out that Darling Dodd is also the co-sponsor of critical, long overdue, fairly progressive legislation to bring resources for affordable housing to the Gulf Coast, my pleas – and links – are ignored.  Damnit.

Then I see Cara over at The Curvature celebrating the Senate’s rejection of Bitter Vitter‘s (R-LA) proposal to deny government funds to any non-profit using private money to fund abortions.  Seriously, this guy is a piece of work.  I let Cara know as much and urged her to support S. 1668: the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act, the bill Dodd is co-sponsoring with Landrieu, the OTHER LA Senator, the bill that Vitter has publicly opposed using lies, mis-characterizations and ideological racist- and classist-language.  In actuality, he’s just trying to deny Landrieu a win for the region since the GOP thinks her seat is vulnerable.  (And I thought we got rid of the Puppet Master.)  As one of NOLA’s direct action public housing activists let Sen. “Family Values” Vitter know, “New Orleans needs housing, not brothels!” 

Meanwhile, Jen @ Feministing is attending the Why We Can’t Wait civil rights conference, where she had the honor of hearing Rev. Lois Dejean speak.  Rev. Dejean is a 71-year old activist and community leader from Gert Town in New Orleans, where prior to and since the storm she has been part of an environmental justice movement that has expanded to include a human rights framework for bringing her community home.  Rev. Dejean and allies met with the U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva in July 2006:

Despite efforts to defend its response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the United States failed to convince the U.N. body that it had done enough to protect the rights of the poor and people of color.

The 18-member panel which reviews compliance with a 40-year-old treaty that protects civil and political rights noted that it was concerned about testimony and evidence that suggest both blacks and poor people “were disadvantaged by the rescue and evacuation plans implemented when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States of America,.”

The body added that it is also concerned by evidence that supports claims that these groups “continue to be disadvantaged under the reconstruction plans.”

Oh, there in Jen’s post – there’s Katrina! Hi Katrina!! (Redstar squints and waves furiously.)

Oh, you’d better make the jump – I’m not done!

The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act is a small, overdue, and corrective step to try to reverse some of this discrimination in MS and LA.  It begins with one-to-one replacement of damaged affordable housing units; it provides permanent supportive vouchers for the elderly, disabled and homeless; it uses pre-storm credit ratings to protect households’ solvency and housing opportunities; it empowers local jurisdictions to package up and sell off swaths of blighted properties – abandoned by absentee landlords, for instance – to spur re-development; it mandates some portion of those developments be set aside for affordable homeownership; it transfers available HUD properties to local authorities for low-income homeownership opportunities; it provides funding for fair housing enforcement; and it increase governmental accountability, in part by removing the Housing Authority of New Orleans from HUD’s grotesque receivership and puts it under an independent judicial authority.  

This bill has over 100 organizational supporters around the country, incl. the National Organization for Women, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  This bill would help in getting people out of formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailers (yes, they’re still stuck there) and BRING THEM HOME.  Don’t you want them to go home?

As tired as you are of listening to me harp on this bill you think has nothing to do with you, that’s as tired as Rev. Dejean feels:

“I’m just tired. I’m extremely tired. I deserve the right to grow old, to finish growing old with things I want to do, not things that I got to do, like I got to get on it, I got to be, I got to—no.”

Amanda has a post up at Pandagon right now detailing the “‘stupid or evil?’ conundrum” that right-wingers confront in pursuing their anti-poor, anti-equality, anti-freedom, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-child (should I go on?) policies.  In case you couldn’t tell, it’s clear where Vitter sits on that see-saw.  But I’d venture to say that the rest of his GOP peers or constituents who fall in line with him are f***ing stupid. 

To take the case of New Orleans: This bill could do something about the 12,000 homeless people on the streets, the crime that populates the blighted and shuttered neighborhoods, the rents that are at 200% increases in some places.  It’s no fun worrying that you’ll be hit by a stray bullet, or have to step over and duck from a mentally ill homeless person, and face possible tax increases to pay for the eventual municipal cost due to a smaller population and a smaller tax base and the lasting cost of rebuilding your cities and towns.  High taxes, crime and wretched street life – these are not issues that win elections. They do not keep the tourist revenues coming in.  And despite our national tendency towards residential segregation, in New Orleans, at least, these social problems will not be confined to areas affluent whites and Creoles can avoid.  The physical design and cultural landscape of the city leaves room for a lot of problematic “spillover.” 

But hey, we don’t need more affordable housing, or housing for the low-income and homeless, or the workforce, or as a spur for widescale construction to stimulate the economy.  I hear Sen. Vitter’s got some great solutions (along with Sen. Shelby in AL, and, oh, don’t even get me started on MS).

Good thing the rest of us activists and concerned citizens are off the hook.  I’d hate to come across as stupid, evil, or gasp!! Apathetic! 

I mean, Katrina is so two years ago.


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