Skip to comments.NOLA levee board used funds to build a casino?
Posted on 09/03/2005 9:01:47 AM PDT by janetjanet998
one of the talking heads on Fox just said that...did i hear that right?
Details at 6. NOT
Heads will roll if this is true.
You absolutely heard right. A casino, private jet and other frivolous spending
any linkS on the net?
Heirs question levee board's efforts
By Amanda Furness
May 21, 2001
It's not just the money. Really. For Stanley Riley and his uncle Harry Jones, their long-lasting battle with the Orleans Levee District has become a running commentary on race relations in Louisiana. I hate to say that it's a racial issue, cause then everyone will say it's always about race, but it truly is," Riley said. He and Jones, along with over two hundred others from Plaquemines Parish, have been battling the levee board for the monies and property they are owed as heirs of Bohemia Spillway's original landowners since 1984, when the Louisiana Legislature initially ordered the levee board to return those properties.
The story itself is complicated. Here is a brief but real breakdown on the spillway's history: In 1923, 220 landowners - sixty percent of whom were African-American - in a small town called Ostrica were approached by the state and offered small amounts of money for the land they owned, farmed and depended on. The state needed the land in order to build a spillway that would help prevent flooding in areas that stretched as far north as New Orleans, representatives said. Those who refused to sell their land were told that failure to leave meant that they would soon find their homes floating away amidst the spillway waters. The bottom line? Get out or be pushed out.
In 1924, the state gave several oil companies permission to start drilling for natural resources; Shell Oil, Gulf Oil, Chevron and Bass Oil among them. In 1929, large amounts of oil had been discovered and tanks were put in place. The families whose lands had been expropriated - poor blacks and whites - received no monies from the richness that their property had yielded. In 1984, years after the fact, the legislature ordered the return of the land to it's rightful owners. Senators Lynn Dean and Paulette Irons are two current legislators who have worked to insure that the heirs of Ostrica residents be provided with not only deeds and surveys for the lands their families lost, but also with the revenues that have been accrued by the oil companies drilling those properties and from the Orleans Levee District itself. Several earlier senators, beginning in 1948, have attempted to pass bills which would close the spillway and return the land to it's rightful owners, though their attempts were defeated. By 1962, the lands had brought the levee board just over 15 million in mineral revenues, proving the spillway to be an asset worth fighting for.
It is a battle that wages on still today, despite the1984 amendment and the 1996 Circuit Court of Appeals final decision on the matter which stated that a total of 24 million - estimated mineral revenues from 1984 to the present - was due to Osrica heirs. Records show that over 45,000 claims were filed with the Department of Natural Resources by those who claimed to be heirs; that number has since been narrowed down to2,500. As of September of last year, 2.5 million had been paid out to those dubbed "legitimate" claimants. Riley said the board is "dragging it's feet" on the remaining payments.
"People think that the spillway issue is over, that we have been given our lands and money back, but it's just not so," he said. George Carmouche, attorney for the OLD, said that all claims under $10,000 have been paid out or appropriated for future payment in accordance with state law. Cash to cover the larger claims, he added, has been given over to the courts to be doled out. "That's a process that may take a while," Carmouche said, "but at some point the courts will release the money to people. We're still returning land, there are deeds still being processed. But the larger claimants have had their land returned and been receiving revenues, some since 1991. I'd wager a few of them have accrued millions of dollars in revenues already. This whole thing has cost the levee board a great deal of money that it didn't have, and we're still certifying claimants."
The OLD has repeatedly stated in the past that payment of the 24 mil - along with nearly 15 million in legal costs resulting from the spillway issue - could bankrupt the board; cutting into funding for it's police department and undermining efforts to privatize the Lakefront Airport. Using those concerns as fuel, the board continues to seek legislative help in covering those costs.
"They know better. The levee board spent 20 million on the casino...that was our money. Now they say they can't pay it all back cause it's going to break them? That's not our problem," Riley said. One of his biggest concerns, he added, is with the formula that the board has used to calculate the revenues due each heir. His problem? The formula is one that Riley said the board refuses to explain to heirs, stating that is too complicated to rehash. "We have been going to court, turned down, run around, but yet they want to give us this pittance. They gave us this sheet that shows how much we're each supposed to get, based on the revenues that our land has brought. 'This is how much you're supposed to get' they say, but when I asked them to show me how they got the figures, what they did to come up with what they have,they don't want to do it," Riley said. He added that the board had made both he and his uncle an offer of only a few hundred dollars, which they turned down.
Part of their reasoning for refusing to accept the board's offer, they said, is that they believe the figures stated on the revenue sheet don't accurately represent the revenues that the lands have brought in. Riley said though an amendment to the 1984 legislation ruled that the levee board must have each parcel of land surveyed and the results forwarded to the heirs, the board has refused to do that. Failure to comply with that statute - in Riley's eyes - means not only that the board has no way to know for certain how much each party is owed, but also that the OLD is blatantly breaking the law. Carmouche said that surveys were never ordered by law, though the 1997 amendment, House Bill 804 reads in part "relative to the Bohemia Spillway, to provide for legislative intent; to provide for the return of lands and certain lands and certain revenues derived therefrom; to provide for ownership of certain lands...to provide for certain actions to prove title; to provide for surveys of certain property."
"If they don't survey the land, how do they know what to give us? " Riley questioned. "I think it's a question of trying to take and keep the land of Afro-Americans in Plaquemines Parish. It's a few white families who've already gotten their money, one of them millions. We haven't had an attorney through this whole process, and they just want us to accept whatever they say and take whatever they give us."
Checking now. I heard the same interview you did on Fox a few minutes ago.
You heard right. Revolting isn't it? If those politician don't hang for this I hope they never have a peaceful nights rest for the remainder of their miserable lives.
We hear all about Enron, Halliburton, and Martha Stewart and these theives now have the gall to blame Bush.
I don't think anyone cares now about Cindy Sheehan and her bus tour and "place in history" or Jane Fonda and her bus tour & return to the '70's outrage...ETC! People will wonder why they are not using their time and "fame" to raise money for these victims. Regardless of the media trying to prop them up and "blame Bush" for everything on earth, they will all look foolish to most if they keep up this anti-war, bash-Bush tactic and don't do anything to help in the biggest crisis we've ever faced in the U.S.
But....but....President Bush should have known to step in and stop it, I thought Karl Rove was omnipotent. </sarcasm>
I bet some of those busses for the Sheehan tour could have been used to help evacuate the people in New Orleans before the storm hit.
|Mandatory evacuation ordered for New Orleans (Please keep this post - BUSH ORDERED EVACUATION!)
|Posted by TomGuy to cwb
On News/Activism 09/03/2005 10:10:00 AM CDT · 62 of 108
The plan sounded so good --- on paper.
Isn't that racist?
A former Wilmington physician writes from New Orleans Aug. 31, 2005 This is a dispatch from New Orleans from Dr. Greg Henderson, a pathologist who recently moved from Wilmington:
Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 p.m.. I wanted to update all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing limited internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.
Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson, Miss., and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.
Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today. Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast.
The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement.
This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of Styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.
The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests have unusual diseases. ... There are (Infectious Disease) physicians in at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have commandeered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.
Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreen's on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All under police escort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint. After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.
In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the French Quarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are imminent.
The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard. We hear jet fighters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.
In a sort of cliché way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care physician. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will take. And the horror of so many dead people .
PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THINK MAY BE INTERESTED IN A DISPATCH from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a marsh.
Greg Henderson --
Case in point: A bill seeking to add a member to Bossier Levee Board was amended to include a $48,000-per-year pay raise for the head of the New Orleans Levee Board, which is 300 miles away from Bossier. On top of this seemingly puzzling pay raise, the lucky head of the levee board happens to be, coincidentally, a political friend of the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Hmmm.
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