Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ice Age on Video

Extreme Cruelty Part II

So, here are a number of videos well worth your watching that illuminate what I've written in my previous post entitled, "The Ice Age". Watch the videos in order and you'll be well-educated.

Save Public Housing in New Orleans


This led to the protest we heard about but here is mostly raw footage:

New Orleans City Council Shuts Down Public Housing Debate


Two of them you see in the above video then appear in an interview with Amy Goodman:

Tasered Citizens Debate on Democracy Now


Tasered Citizens Debate on Democracy Now Part 2


What is the cause of all this, you ask? Well, I discovered a villain we can put our finger on. Apparently, from the first video, we see California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, touring the public housing and being astounded at how well those structures held up. She later introduces a bill that sweeps past the House and is blocked by one man in the Senate:

"The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act guarantees the redevelopment of the New Orleans public housing projects into mixed income communities and the return of thousands of working class families to the city, supporters say.

Despite overwhelming support, the bill was killed in committee by Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie."

This rep is deeply concerned about the cycle of poverty but apparently not too concerned about his party's cyclical penchant for hypocrisy. You see, he ran on a pro-marriage, pro-family ticket, all self-righteous and stuff and, well, you know what happened. His name was found on a madam's phone line for solicitation of sexual services from a prostitute. <> And from the Louisiana Speaks Newsletter:

"The biggest obstacle is Sen. David Vitter," said James Perry, president of the Louisiana Housing Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit groups that has been lobbying for passage of the measure. "He sees the bill as a win for Sen. [Mary] Landrieu should it be passed, and he doesn't want to allow her that win . . . . But political experts say the senatorial flap is not unexpected, given Louisiana's rough-and-tumble politics and Vitter and Landrieu's chilly relationship. Landrieu is up for re-election next year and has emerged as the GOP's top target among incumbent senators, in part because of the state's rightward shift in recent elections."

Ah. So Pittsburgh is not the only City where politicians toy with the quality of Black peoples' lives for their own political benefit.

"Asked whether he was trying to deny Landrieu the ability to take home victory in a re-election year, Vitter responded, "My motivation is we shouldn't rebuild the same housing that was there. We're trying to express clearly what our reservations are."

No one was asking to rebuild but to renovate what was still standing and livable while there is still a tremendous housing shortage and a crisis.

When asked about his specific objections, [Vitter's] aides point to an opinion piece last month in the New Orleans Times-Picayune in which he laid out general opposition, saying it would halt a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plan to raze four housing complexes.

Uh, yeah, because there's a housing shortage following government neglect (not listening to the Army Corp of Engineers), a natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina) and more government neglect (Hurricane Bush after the levees broke).

Even Barack Obama weighed in, by writing a letter to George Bush asking to stop the demolition. We're all supportive of public housing reform and mixed income housing but, as logic would dictate:

"No public housing should be demolished until HUD can point to an equivalent number of replacement units in the near vicinity," Obama said.

But, irony of all ironies, racism and classism comes with a price---the working poor can't find any place to live affordably, so the working poor can't work properly. Therefore, the middle and upperclass residents and tourists in New Orleans have no one to serve them. Ahhh, justice!:

"The shortage of affordable workforce housing really is straining our economic recovery," said Barbara Johnson, chief operating officer for Greater New Orleans Inc. "It's a combination of housing and worker shortage. One is related to the other. You have employers that are not able to fill contracts, work orders, take on new contracts."

All of a sudden, razing public housing has a double edged sword, eh? The whole idea of the lazy, good-for-nothing, crime-ridden population that actually made up what we call 'the working poor' are shown their worth via their absence:

"When you go to the hospital, who's going to take care of you? When you go to the dry cleaners, who's going to greet you?" said Jan Robert, executive director of the St. Tammany Healthcare Alliance, who has struggled with labor shortages. "All we talk about is entry-level workers -- where we get them, where we find them and how we find them housing."

So, it appears that what public housing advocates should do is sue the City and State and, in between time, engage in continuous Days of Absence.

Thank you, Ted Shine!

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