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New Orleans, La. -
NEW ORLEANS - A former board member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority says if it hadn't been for the lawsuit against oil companies, he'd still be on the board and the state wouldn't have pulled a half-million dollars.
Many say both moves smack of old-time Louisiana politics, and they worry about the impact on the board, which oversees the levees that failed during Katrina.
It was universally seen as a bold move.
Since the levee board sued oil companies for marsh damage nearly four months ago, board member John Barry has been removed, and many believe board President Tim doody is on his way out.
"We knew this would be a big political struggle, but I don't think we knew how big it would become," Doody said.
Now the levee authority must deal with a cut of a half-million dollars from the state.
"Any time you cross the governor, you're going to be put on the enemy's list, and they're going find a way to punish you," said UNO political analyst Ed Chervenak.
While the flood authority - which governs the eastbank from Kenner to Braithwaite - is taking a the cut, the flood authority from the westbank - which didn't sue big oil - hasn't lost a penny.
"Had we been more savvy politically, we might have done things a little differently," Doody said.
Governor's spokesman Kyle Plotkin calls those allegations "ridiculous." In fact, levee board members say the cuts weren't unexpected. Now the money must be taken from the budgets of levee boards in Orleans, East Jefferson and the Lake Borgne district, which covers St. Bernard.
"We were going to lose this funding now or later. Why now, and not later, I don't know," said Doody, even though the Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has been outspoken in its opposition to the lawsuit.
Fifty-one percent of the cuts, will be borne by the Orleans Levee District, but the impact may be the most severe on the Lake Borgne district, due to it's smaller budget and upcoming needs.
That district will soon have to maintain miles of levees and the Bayou Dupre control structure after the Army Corps turns them over.
"The bigger issue is whether the governor is putting politics over the protection of people, because these are the people who have the responsibility of maintaining the flood control system," Chervenak said.
Even though he opposes the lawsuit against the oil companies, Garret Graves, who chairs the Coastal Protection Authority, told our partners at The Lens that the decision to pull the funding had nothing to do with the suit. He said the money that was pulled was only intended as start-up money to help the new entities dealing with flood protection to get on their feet.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:07 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:07:52 GMT
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