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Is the Orleans Levee Board doing its job? (Critics allege corruption, wasteful spending)
MSNBC ^ | 9/15/05 | Lisa Myers

Posted on 09/27/2005 8:50:05 PM PDT by Libloather

Is the Orleans Levee Board doing its job?
Critics allege corruption, charge the board with wasteful spending
By Lisa Myers & the NBC Investigative Unit
NBC News
Updated: 11:52 a.m. ET Sept. 15, 2005


Lisa Myers
Senior investigative correspondent

The unveiling of the Mardi Gras Fountain was celebrated this year in typical New Orleans style. The cost of $2.4 million was paid by the Orleans Levee Board, the state agency whose main job is to protect the levees surrounding New Orleans — the same levees that failed after Katrina hit.

"They misspent the money," says Billy Nungesser, a former top Republican official who was briefly president of the Levee Board. "Any dollar they wasted was a dollar that could have went in the levees."

Nungesser says he lost his job because he targeted wasteful spending.

"A cesspool of politics, that’s all it was," says Nungesser. "[Its purpose was to] provide jobs for people."

In fact, NBC News has uncovered a pattern of what critics call questionable spending practices by the Levee Board — a board which, at one point, was accused by a state inspector general of "a long-standing and continuing disregard of the public interest."

Beyond the fountain, there's the $15 million spent on two overpasses that helped gamblers get to Bally's riverboat casino. Critics tried and failed to put some of that money into flood protection.

There was also $45,000 for private investigators to dig up dirt on radio host and board critic Robert Namer.

"They hired a private eye for nine months to find something to make me look wacko, to make me look crazy or bad." says Namer. "They couldn’t find anything."

Namer sued and the board then spent another $45,000 to settle.

(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Louisiana
KEYWORDS: allege; blanco; board; charge; corruption; critics; job; levee; ll; nagin; new; orleans; spending; wasteful
As an example: of 11 construction projects now on the board's Web site, only two are related to flood control.

From the Orleans Levee District website - http://www.orleanslevee.com/Bids%20and%20Proposals%20-%20Engineering.htm -

Bids and Proposals
Engineering

Current Orleans Levee District Construction Projects:

Project No. Project Bid Package Location Deposit Amount Status

29710 Seabrook Bridge Fender System Improvements Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. $30.00 Pending Board Approval

61301 South Shore Harbor Marine Fuel Facility Orleans Levee District $15.00 Bids Opened, Under Evaluation

22807 Repair of Flood Gate W-30 (IHNC) Design Engineering, Inc. Bids Opened, Under Evaluation

79906 New Orleans Lakefront Airport Wedell Hangar Lead Abatement and Coating Improvements Shaw-Coastal, Inc. PreBid - May 3, 2:00PM Bid: May 20, 2:00PM

27830 Lakeshore Drive Improvements Plaza - Reach IV and V PreBid - May 4, 2:00PM Bid: May 20, 2:0PM

Upcoming Orleans Levee District Construction Projects:

Project No. Project Expected Advertise Date Budget

TBD New Orleans Lakefront Airport Fuel Farm Clean Tanks and Mechanical Improvements July 2005 $125,000

TBD Mississippi River Flood Gates Rehabilitation Sept 2005 $100,000

TBD New Orleans Lakefront Airport Taxiway Alpha Drainage Improvements Sept 2005 $150,000

TBD Orleans Marina Asphalt East Roadway Feb 2006 $75,000

TBD New Basin Canal Mariana Improvements Feb 2006 $200,000

TBD Orleans Marina Repaint Steel Walkways Upper Structure Apr 2006 $300,000

1 posted on 09/27/2005 8:50:05 PM PDT by Libloather
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To: Libloather
the NBC Investigative Unit

I can't read any further, there are tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

2 posted on 09/27/2005 8:52:52 PM PDT by msnimje (Hurricane KATRINA - An Example of Nature's Enforcement of Eminent Domain)
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To: Libloather

I worked for the Levee Board nearly two decades ago.

Political cronyism at its worst; and nothing appears to have changed. What the hell... this IS NOLA we are talking about. Pikers.


3 posted on 09/27/2005 8:53:28 PM PDT by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: Libloather; kcvl; prairiebreeze; mystery-ak; MJY1288
Hey Lisa ... why don't you ask you co-worker, Campbell Brown why her daddy was sent to jail??

I dare you
4 posted on 09/27/2005 8:55:22 PM PDT by Mo1
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To: Libloather
Beyond the fountain, there's the $15 million spent on two overpasses that helped gamblers get to Bally's riverboat casino

Doesn't the levee board OWN THIS CASINO??
The NBC "Investigative Unit" didn't uncover that or did they just not report it?

5 posted on 09/27/2005 8:56:37 PM PDT by msnimje (Hurricane KATRINA - An Example of Nature's Enforcement of Eminent Domain)
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To: Libloather

"In 239 miles of levees, 152 floodgates, and canals throughout this entire city, there was only two areas."

Yup...

Kinda like saying that 99.999% of the condom was intact, and there was only one small hole.

And, those 2 flood areas took out, what, 70% of the city?


6 posted on 09/27/2005 8:57:23 PM PDT by TWohlford
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To: Libloather

Is the Levee Board doing their job?? I would have to say the performance of the Levees in Katrina provides all the answer needed. Why bother posing the question when the answer is so self evident?


7 posted on 09/27/2005 8:59:31 PM PDT by drt1
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To: msnimje
"I assure you," says Levee Board President Jim Huey, "that you will find that all of our money was appropriately expended."

They are coming to get you Ma....

8 posted on 09/27/2005 9:21:02 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Libloather

This is New Orleans we're talking about! If there were no corruption or wasteful spending it wouldn't be New Orleans!


9 posted on 09/27/2005 9:24:29 PM PDT by billnaz (What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?)
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To: All
Image hosted by TinyPic.com

Hey! What' s the big deal? It's only momey.

10 posted on 09/27/2005 9:33:01 PM PDT by Old Seadog (Birthdays start out being fun. But too many of them will kill you..)
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To: Libloather

Is the Orleans Levee Board doing its job?
Critics allege corruption, charge the board with wasteful spending

In a related story, dog bites man. YAWN


11 posted on 09/27/2005 9:57:06 PM PDT by saganite (The poster formerly known as Arkie 2)
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To: Libloather

But ... but ... I thought it was Bush's job to take care of the Levees! I thought it was Bush's job, and that it's all Bush's fault!


12 posted on 09/27/2005 10:47:10 PM PDT by TexasGreg ("Democrats Piss Me Off")
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To: TWohlford
"In 239 miles of levees, 152 floodgates, and canals throughout this entire city, there was only two areas."

Reminds me of, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?"

13 posted on 09/27/2005 11:20:23 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Libloather

btt


14 posted on 09/28/2005 4:39:34 AM PDT by GailA (Glory be to GOD and his only son Jesus.)
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To: Libloather
The cost of $2.4 million was paid by the Orleans Levee Board, the state agency whose main job is to protect the levees surrounding New Orleans — the same levees that failed after Katrina hit...

And that's just the state board. How about the city levee boards?

15 posted on 09/28/2005 4:41:00 AM PDT by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: Libloather
When it comes time to dole out relief funds, I hope all of this info is taken into consideration.
16 posted on 09/28/2005 5:04:58 AM PDT by wolfcreek
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To: abb; caryatid; Ellesu

Ping!


17 posted on 10/25/2005 3:26:25 PM PDT by LA Woman3
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To: Libloather
http://www.mardigrasdigest.com/News/Articles/2005/newspage_0508.html

Mardi Gras Fountain rededicated to Mardi Gras Krewes, Clubs, Groups & City...

May 25th, 2005 New Orleans, LA. ..... With the fountain operating in the background and going through it's new electronic paces, an enthusiastic group of captains, city officials and state envoys rededicated the Mardi Gras Fountain to the krewes of the Metro area.

The totally redesigned, rebuilt, and reborn fountain was once again released to the general public to enjoy as the ribbon was cut by some of the very names that were instrumental in the initial building of the monument.

They had come from all across and around the city, some from other parts of the country, to be a part of the rededication. The Levee board pitched the big tent in the new promenade on the seawall that was constructed, and added for better viewing and for better control of erosion of the area, on the grounds. The area has undergone much improvement since the project started some one and a half years ago. More of those promenades will be built from the east to the west to better the erosion

Kings, Queens, captains, and state dignitaries, attended the function and ribbon cutting, and a special group of invited guests gathered to re-open one of the city's jewels to the Carnival industry. Under a tent, erected on one of the new lakefront plazas, the dedication lasted approximately 49 minutes in the 91 degree overcast day.

The ceremony was started with the National anthem as played by the brass quartet of the Louisiana Orchestra. a fine rendition that had the modest crowd of captains and guests, singing along as the last stanza was played, and cheering as the patriotic feeling of the song made all burst with the pride of the moment.

Master of ceremonies was Mr. Robert E. Smith Lupo, a member of the Levee board, which over saw the project. Mr. Lupo was quickly pointed out as the man who found the money to complete the project. "He fought for the project", said Jim , the current President of the Orleans Levee board

Special guest were representatives of Boy Scout troop # 23 and Girl Scout troop #303, Joseph Senaretti, Gina Senaretti, that led the crowd in the pledge of Allegiance, which was quickly followed by a blessing of the fountain by the Monsignor of one of the bayou parishes.

In attendance were steadfast & loyal members of the Clubs of Aquila, Zulu, Krewe of Little Rascals captain, and the newest little rascal. Also a member of Beau Brummell, a ball only carnival organization, King Arthur captain, along with the Original Illinois Club members and members of NOMTOC, Young Mens Illinois,

Surrounded by his supporters, the Treme Brass band, moves to take the gathered crowd of invitation only dignitaries to the new Fountain. After a very long slumber, the water jets of a completely new fountain system are now erupting as the completed Mardi Gras Fountain, located on Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans stirs again.

Spraying water columns about 50 feet straight up, the center group of 4 nozzles took center stage as the entire system of 27 jets were put through their impressive "bullet" routines and sequences designed by on site engineers to shake out and clear the system for final passage.

When combined with the new below water lighting system, this new fountain will be simply dazzling to any spectator watching it’s show. Each light pod consists of a group of 3 colors, purple, green, and gold, with 8 groups placed strategically to throw continual light on all the columns, if needed. A continuous circle of white lights completes the system.

Also in attendance was city councilman at large, Oliver M. Thomas, as well as several of the current Levee board members. After the ribbon cutting, the various captains, presidents and dignitaries, were led in a second line by the Treme Brass band, and the Jefferson Buzzards.

As the line begin to break up, the honored guests were seemingly pulled to their respective club crest and take a good look at the finished fountain.

Just as the visual side of the fountain is impressive, the electronics that control the system is equally state of the art. Originally, built in 1962, the old fountain was controlled by simple valves. Either the water was on or it was off, same with the lights.

The new system has a compelling command over the new jet spray nozzles. Actions, which are computer controlled, are measured in "changes per seconds." "A small program averages about 200 lines of code," says program system technician, Ronnie Nutter. "With this system you just write the code and you can have any number of routines. You simply plug in your laptop and download the program."

That’s not all, the new system can even sense when it’s just too windy to put on a show. It comes equipped with an electronic wind speed gauge that gives the system a continuous indication of wind speed. The system then decides at what level to force water through the jets or if too windy, to simply shut the jets down.

Even the improvements to the Plaza plant life and area gets high marks. Sod placed on the Plaza is a variant of a specialized grass designed to withstand the heavy spray of the lake when storms threaten the shoreline. Besides the fountain, improvements to the entire plaza area, had to include a new drainage system, lighting, benches and brick walkways and extensive paving and landscaping. The entire site had to be raised between 2½ and 3½ feet.

The plaza is a different place altogether, while the old plaza didn’t have the benches, or trees, the new one is lined with palm trees and two-sided benches that will allow visitors and tourists to view the lake and the fountain.

The main attraction to the fountain however, is the concrete tiles that encircle the fountain. Again here there are some subtle but significant changes. While the old tiles of the krewes sat in the grass, the new tiles will rest on concrete. There are also more of those tiles as well. Most of the 54 to 61 tiles murals that graced the fountain, feature Carnival groups, like Pete Fountains "Half Fast Walking Club", and krewes such as Comus, Momus, and Zulu. But the value in this display are the ball only organizations that never paraded, and don’t receive much attention by the public, but still contributed in a large way to the spirit. Groups such as Young Men Illinois, Norids, Dorians, Omardz, Moslem, Olympians, Les Marionettes, and Apollo.

While Tour buses did once graced the area and people did gather at the place to chat, they even use it as a landmark to meet, so It was some what well known, just not to African Americans. The fountain lights were even considered an attraction when they lit the water sprayed high in the air, by the fountains jet.

At its peak of popularity, large groups gathered, largely during the summer nights, to see the lightshow that the fountain lights would put on, as well as a 12-by-20-foot mural of Mardi Gras activities, that mural is now gone. Also on view were and still are, the ceramic tile plaques displaying the crests of Carnival krewes.

This area still serves the community and should be reconsidered by the Tourist Commission to be offered to revelers and tours once again, as a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city for tourists. However, care should be taken to be sure that this is done properly to preserve the ambience of the neighborhood.

The fountain is again able to make the city’s tribute to it’s core culture come alive. We hope others will now be able to see it during their visit to the Cresent City.

A souvenir poster was handed out after the ceremony of the fountain in it's present sparkling new condition.
18 posted on 10/25/2005 3:37:16 PM PDT by LA Woman3
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To: Mo1
... why don't you ask you co-worker, Campbell Brown why her daddy was sent to jail??

Oh, please ... don't leave us in suspense. Tell ALL!

[Brown is one of my least favorites.]

19 posted on 10/25/2005 3:38:38 PM PDT by caryatid (Moi j'vois pas quoi faire si tu reviens pas, be'be'... T'en revenir avec moi dans la Louisiane.)
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To: caryatid

Her father went to jail for lying to the FBI regarding a corruption charge in LA

He's a big wig in LA politics


20 posted on 10/25/2005 3:40:28 PM PDT by Mo1
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To: caryatid
http://www.crowleypostsignal.com/Jim.Brown.Justice.html

Jim Brown, the former Commissioner of Insurance was acquitted by a jury of the charges against him brought by the U. S. Attorney’s office in New Orleans. However he was convicted of lying to an FBI agent. That’s kind of an odd situation even for the federal judicial system in Louisiana.

Mr. Brown was elected to the Insurance Commissioner’s post by a large margin even after he was indicted by the federal government several months before his trial began. The people apparently didn’t believe he was guilty as charged and elected him despite the government’s attempt to discredit him by waiting to file the grand jury’s indictment just a few months before the election: a move many believe has happened in other cases too in an effort to influence elections in the state. -snip-
21 posted on 10/25/2005 4:14:11 PM PDT by LA Woman3
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To: All

22 posted on 10/25/2005 4:19:05 PM PDT by LA Woman3
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