LG LANDRIEU ON REFORMING THE LEVEE BOARD SYSTEM -- 11/22/2005
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 22, 2005
LG LANDRIEU ON REFORMING THE LEVEE BOARD SYSTEM
BATON ROUGE, La. - Today, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu sent the following letter to members of the Louisiana State Legislature regarding proposals to reform the levee board system:
"As the current special session concludes, I think we all can agree that our work as policymakers and leaders in our state has only just begun. I believe that we are making progress in some vital areas during this session. However, I know that we have much more left to do to rebuild the economic and social infrastructure in our state.
"We have lost any traction we may have had in Washington DC as the nation moves on to other issues of the day. I say this not to assess blame or point fingers at anybody in Louisiana or Washington, DC; but only to acknowledge the reality of the day - it is our responsibility to rebuild Louisiana. Any help we ultimately get from Congress will only come after we have exhausted every possible resource, when we have a unified plan for the state, and when we have shown that we are making every effort to help ourselves.
"As I said in my presentation to the American Institute of Architects planning summit:
'We also acknowledge that prior to Katrina there was a lot that was wrong with our current state of affairs. We recognize that the structure of state and local government sometimes fostered turf mentality, parochialism and excluded rather than included. We know that if we are to turn our vision into a reality that we must address the organizational and performance deficiencies in Louisiana's government and business sectors.'
"I believe that we need to look at regional coordination that will result in consolidation of certain political systems and institutions. Reforming the levee board system was the right idea to start this process, and I believe the state missed an opportunity to accomplish this during this special session.
"Our goal should be a Coastal Protection system that gets us to a levee system that can withstand a Category 5 Hurricane and progress in Coastal Wetlands restoration. This will only work if we eliminate bureaucracies and streamline planning, communication and funding avenues at local, state and federal levels of government. We cannot start rebuilding our homes, our businesses and our communities until we address this issue, and in my opinion we have not made adequate progress. I hope that you will agree to further study this during the month of December and make this a priority during the January session.
"Both the administration bill and Senator Boasso's proposal for a unified regional board have good points and flaws that need further consideration. I am concerned that the House did not even give Senator Boasso's bill a committee hearing. Now, is not the time to stifle debate on matters of importance that will show the nation we are working together and making progress.
"There are two fundamental principles that need to be considered as you move forward to address this issue adequately in January:
"The regional approach suggested by Senator Boasso takes the important first step to eliminate parochial political battles that have sometimes existed at the local level when it comes to levee districts; however, it falls short by not adequately including the state executive branch of government. The Governor and applicable state agencies should be part of regional boards. I don't believe the answer is local or regional boards that report to a statewide board; that only creates potential for bureaucracy and political interference.
"It has been said often over the past months that the eyes of the nation are upon Louisiana. That is true, and we will only get help from Congress in this most vital area when we show that we are willing to reform our systems of dealing with this issue. We must bring a professional approach that rewards accountability, efficiency and is focused on the outcome we seek.
"Unfortunately, the legislature cannot reconsider this during the current session. However, by agreeing today that you are going to continue to work on this issue until we get it right you will send a message to the nation that we are serious about this issue and committed to a process that is streamlined and efficient.
"I know that inside the policies we debate and the laws you enact are solutions that will meet the challenges of the day. I also know that if we work together we will find these solutions and the people and communities we serve will be better. I am available and committed to working with you on this matter and any others that impact our ability to begin rebuilding Louisiana's communities.