September 06, 2005

Nagin Rolls Over on Blanco

(h/t: LGF)

I have made it quite clear that I hold New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in almost complete contempt for his failure to follow the New Orleans hurricane evacuation plan prior to Hurricane Katrina's arrival, but he has performed at least one useful role since he left 100,000 of his poorest citizens to die: he exposed Governor Kathleen Blanco as the incompetent, self-serving hack many held her to be:

From CNN:

S. O'BRIEN: There are people who say your evacuation plan, obviously in hindsight, was disastrous.


S. O'BRIEN: Your evacuation plan before -- when you put people into the Superdome. It wasn't thought out. You got 20,000 people in there. And that you bear the brunt of the blame for some of this, a large chunk of it.

NAGIN: Look, I'll take whatever responsibility that I have to take. But let me ask you this question: When you have a city of 500,000 people, and you have a category 5 storm bearing down on you, and you have the best you've ever done is evacuate 60 percent of the people out of the city, and you have never issued a mandatory evacuation in the city's history, a city that is a couple of hundred years old, I did that. I elevated the level of distress to the citizens.

And I don't know what else I could do, other than to tell them that it's a mandatory evacuation. And if they stayed, make sure you have a frigging ax in your home, where you can bust out the roof just in case the water starts flowing.

And as a last resort, once this thing is above a category 3, there are no buildings in this city to withstand a category 3, a category 4 or a category 5 storm, other than the Superdome. That's where we sent people as a shelter of last resort. When that filled up, we sent them to the Convention Center. Now, you tell me what else we could have done.

S. O'BRIEN: What has Secretary Chertoff promised you? What has Donald Rumsfeld given you and promised you?

NAGIN: Look, I've gotten promises to -- I can't stand anymore promises. I don't want to hear anymore promises. I want to see stuff done. And that's why I'm so happy that the president came down here, because I think they were feeding him a line of bull also. And they were telling him things weren't as bad as it was.

He came down and saw it, and he put a general on the field. His name is General Honore. And when he hit the field, we started to see action.

And what the state was doing, I don't frigging know. But I tell you, I am pissed. It wasn't adequate.

And then, the president and the governor sat down. We were in Air Force One. I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two have to get in sync. If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die.'

S. O'BRIEN: What date was this? When did you say that? When did you say...

NAGIN: Whenever air Force One was here.


NAGIN: And this was after I called him on the telephone two days earlier. And I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two need to get together on the same page, because of the lack of coordination, people are dying in my city.'

S. O'BRIEN: That's two days ago.

NAGIN: They both shook -- I don't know the exact date. They both shook their head and said yes. I said, 'Great.' I said, 'Everybody in this room is getting ready to leave.' There was senators and his cabinet people, you name it, they were there. Generals. I said, 'Everybody right now, we're leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.'

S. O'BRIEN: And was that done?

NAGIN: The president looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, "No, you guys stay here. We're going to another section of the plane, and we're going to make a decision."

He called me in that office after that. And he said, "Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor." I said -- and I don't remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

S. O'BRIEN: You're telling me the president told you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?


S. O'BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?

NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the -- I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.

S. O'BRIEN: And the governor said no.

NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died. [emphasis added]

In other words, Nagin is placing the blame for at least some of the unnecessary deaths squarely upon the head of an indecisive, posssibly incompetent Governor Kathleen Blanco. Based upon this article, Bush is still having problems getting a useful response from a governor who seems more intent on covering her own butt than saving the lives of her citizens.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 6, 2005 01:42 AM | TrackBack

I think after you read 'Katrina's Timeline' posted at American Daughter in light of the transcript, you'll want to amend your assessment to read, ‘squarely upon the heads of two possibly criminal but certainly indecisive and impossibly incompetent officials, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.’

Posted by: Eg at September 6, 2005 03:58 AM

As a Louisiana native and former resident of New Orleans, I have got to tell you folks, THIS is Louisiana politics at it's very best...

And it's NOT just Nagin and Blanco, it's gone on forever... Back to the days of Huey P. Long that I am personally aware of...

EVERY Democrat administration that has EVER ruled Louisiana has RAPED Louisiana... And when I say *RULED* Louisiana, I am speaking in the literal sense of the word...

Louisiana has voted in Dems almost in perpetuity.. And just so you know, I am NOT a Dem, I left Louisiana years ago, over BS just such as this, not of this magnitude but similar... And the folks of Louisiana will keep on putting the Dems and the crooks BACK into office as long as they run FOR office...

Ya doubt that?? See if you can get Edwin Edwards OUT of prison and run him for Governor again... He'd win in a landslide...

When it comes to politics and corruption and FAILURE of that *machine*, Louisiana gets exactly what it deserves...

Posted by: TexasFred at September 6, 2005 08:14 AM

No doubt the local officials have a lot to answer in the wake of this storm. But, the whole country gets a big fat F-. FOUR years after 9/11 we should be a lot more organized to react to a disaster, be it natural or not. Where was the chain of command after the storm, but more iportantly BEFORE it? All levels of government have dropped the ball on this one. I suggest we have regional command centers that are prepared for disasters of this magnitude at all times. These should alredy be in place in this age of terrorism. That blunder falls solely on the federal government.

Posted by: John at September 6, 2005 10:37 AM

I suggest we have regional command centers that are prepared for disasters of this magnitude at all times.

Yes, because what we really need when goverment has been proven to fail is MORE GOVERNMENT.

Posted by: * at September 6, 2005 11:07 AM

The problem with the regional command center notion is that if they're close enough to respond immediately to any situation they're caught in the disaster, too. They're victims and need rescuing themselves. Look at the first responders in New Orleans. They're cracking up or off looking after their own families. If they're far enough away, there's a delay in response. That's just how things are.

What this reveals is that we really could use a revision to the process whereby the president could secure a court order to override the governor of a state in the case of an emergency of the sort that happened in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at September 6, 2005 01:46 PM

In responce to the above comment on the politics of Louisiana, do you realize that it likely has changed? With the death of NO and the movement of people to other state, likely to stay, the political power base of the state shifted. NO was the bastion of Democratic votes to the point that nothing could be done in the state without the express will of that city. That is likely gone now forever. Certainly it will mean a movement to the right for the state and hopefully a change in the corruption (not the elimination).

Posted by: David Caskey at September 6, 2005 03:19 PM

Who is in command after the President calls for a State of Emergency?

28 Aug 2005:
President Bush called for a State of Emergency in Louisiana and mandatory evacuation.

Blanco and Nagin called for a state of Emergency and manditory evacuation of New Orleans.

Who is in charge?

Did President Bush Choke on another pretzel?

Posted by: Donald at September 6, 2005 05:43 PM

Don't know much about the Constitution and the separation of powers do you, little liberal?

Bush declared a State of Emergency so that affected states could start getting federal assistance, but State governors have to voluntarily cede control of the National Guard to federal authorities before they can be used in a law enforcement role.

Blanco, TO THIS DAY, refuses to grant federal control over some aspects of disaster relief, and has fumbled and delayed every step of the way, as Nagin's comment show.

Yes, there is choking going on, little liberal. New Orleans is choking on the bodies of it's citizens.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at September 6, 2005 06:08 PM

Blanco, TO THIS DAY, refuses to grant federal control over some aspects of disaster relief, and has fumbled and delayed every step of the way, as Nagin's comment show. -Confederate Yankee

But FEMA had the power to turn away supplies and people trying to help from day one? Sounds like either they either broke the law to turn away help that dying people needed, or they were in control and denied the help. Which was it, Big Conservative?

Posted by: someone at September 6, 2005 06:48 PM

Which is it, false premise number one, or false premise number two?

But you know, you are right. I explicitly remember FEMA setting up claymores at checkpoints and gunning down people trying to break up Chimpy McHalliburton's Nautical Carnival of Death.

Or maybe FEMA might have been trying to control access so that untrained but well-intentioned civilians wouldn't go wandering into a disaster zone and thus run the risk of becoming victims themselves.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at September 6, 2005 07:23 PM

Wow, CY, you obviously spent enough time in Yankee-land to develop a Yankee temperment. Having been born and raised in Connecticut, I can spot that attribute very easily. Buy the way, it was justified and well spoken (written).

Dave, please, let's leave the lawyers out of this. Do you possibly see the president getting a court order (in time to be effective) with the ACLU alive and well? He'd have to start today to get a court order to evacuate NO in Aug of 2007, and that would be iffy.

I wonder if Blanco has any adult children that are potty trained? What could she possibly have to consider that would require 24 hours before accepting the president's offer for federal assistance? It shouldn't have taken 24 nanoseconds to make that decision! And these poeple want to run the country?

Posted by: ohn Yetter, CW5, USA (Retired) at September 6, 2005 09:15 PM

I am not a democrat nor a republican. But I am a leader, a woman and a B.A.B. at that. However, I must say, it is obvious that this woman, Blanco, is completely incompetant and when the state of Louisiana needed a leader she was missing in action. No offense to American women, but I personally wouldn't vote for one, or at least I haven't seen one being able to take charge and take a leadership role (with exception to perhaps women like Elenor Roosevelt). And please don't site Hillary Clinton who I could spit out like a sunflower seed shell and who only got her position riding on the coat tails of her husband and is completely using this tragedy to further her political goals, basically not a B.A.B., just a P.O.S. WHERE WAS AND WHERE IS BLANCO? Some women, not many, can lead, not Blanco--put her back in the kitchen. She's the head of state? Who in the heck voted her in? The same people who let this happen to their state.

Posted by: MoniQue at September 7, 2005 10:17 PM

Gov. Blanco is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the good people of Louisiana. When they needed leadership they received political incompetence, non-response and hand wringing, when a real leader was needed.
It is a mystery as to how this creature could be elected to position of Governor, when in a crisis she fails in almost every test of leadership.
The blame game is underway and, there is a full court press to deflect responsibility for this disaster away from this hack, but it is doomed to failure.
She should throw herself and her administration on the mercy of the people of Louisiana and apologize for her utter failure to protect her constituents from danger.
Way too little too late Ms. Blanco, shame on you.

Posted by: Jim at September 9, 2005 12:21 AM

As a native and resident of Louisiana, I can say without a doubt that this is the most embarrassing fiasco I've ever seen from a state in this great nation. Most of the people I shared this with agreed with me. There are a large number of us who would like to see real governmental reform in this state, but the chances are slim to none. Louisiana radio talkshow host Moon Griffon refers to these politicians as the "good old boy (and girl I might add) network". The whole state is a fiefdom governed by clever, but stupid and lazy politicians. That is the biggest shame I know of in this great nation. To really scrutinize the candidates would be a start. And to get rid of the open primary would certainly help.

Posted by: david at September 13, 2005 10:44 PM