When The Saints Go Marching In

This anniversary, I'll flit around from event to event, commemorating because it is something we must do. This is the one time a year that the nation takes notice. It is incumbent upon us to jump up and down and wave our hands.

This city of New Orleans is a city of yes and no. Yes, we want you to visit because our economy depends on it. No, we are not okay.

I spend most of my time in the city of no. I rarely encourage people to visit. According to the NOPD crime maps, there have been 24 murders within a mile radius of my abode from January until July, a slice of the 136 murders committed in New Orleans so far this year. The violence is the hardest part of living in New Orleans.

Yet, I have to shrug that off this week. Get my head in the game. Take advantage of attention and offer you a sincere and heartfelt duplicity.

Yes, the city of New Orleans will be rebuilt.

We'll drain our life savings. We'll max out our credit cards. We'll work our jobs during the week and hit Home Depot during the weekends.

We will do so despite the failure of our insurers to pay our claims, despite the delays of the Road Home Program and its promise to "make us whole," despite the four hurricane seasons between us and 100-year flood protection.

New Orleans is a culture. The people are not given to migration. They will return to New Orleans. They are not better off somewhere else.

We've been blessed with the support of thousands of our fellow Americans who've given us aid, technical assistance, and who've traveled to our city to gut homes and build homes along side us.

New Orleans is a testament to the American ideal of rugged individualism. Our neighborhoods are our frontier. Each home that we reoccupy restores the strength of our neighborhoods and bring close the inevitability of our repopulation.

Anyone who pundits away on why or whether is only displaying their inability to comprehend the complexity of a catastrophe. A catastrophe is not going to be resolved by market forces. It requires human intervention. Government is human.

The question of why or whether is a hang-up of the market force fetishist. True Americans are not such depressing fatalists. It is a question of how, not why. Which is how so many of you have come to find yourselves in our city knee deep in mold pulling down wet sheetrock.

Brave New Films, the creators of the film, When the Saints Come Marching In, ask that you support Senator Chris Dodd's Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2007. I'll ask that you do the same. It reads like a wish list. A dream come true for those of us who have waded through the mire of policies that have held back the recovery of New Orleans.

Here are the thoughts of K.C. King, retired systems analyst for Boeing and Gentilly resident. Through The Citizen's Road Home Action Team, K.C. has lobbied for and obtains policy reforms to the Road Home Program, including a recently funded "In-Flight Review" of the program.

"The Gulf Coast Housing Act as proposed by Senator Chris Dodd and cosponsored six Senate Democrats answers virtually all of Louisiana's view of its needs for Congressional support for the state's Katrina/Rita related housing recovery needs. Most importantly it bolsters the Road Home Program's shortfall. In addition it provides needed flexibility in using the $1.2B FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to rebuild safer and stronger. Finally, the bill addresses many aspects of public and rental housing that are needed to facilitate the return of Louisiana's dispersed poor.

"The only concern is that there are no minority Senate cosponsors, not even Louisiana's Republican Senator, David Vitter. This raises the question of how the sponsors intend to provide the kind of non-partisan solution needed in the evenly divided Senate and how the plan to ensure that the president won't veto any legislation that can be passed. Louisiana needs realistic and feasible solutions, not partisan posturing that, in the end, doesn't work."

Yes, I want you to get behind this bill. No, I don't think it looks promising. No, we can't wait until 2009 for this support. Yes, we probably will.

Sign the petition and take action to make this bill a reality now.