Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Barry: SLFPA nominating commitee has "betrayed the public trust"

Not really surprised. Would have been nice to see them make Jindal say no, though.  Here's the gist from Bob Marshall's live-blog of the meeting.
To repeat, an effort to renominate John Barry, the leader of the suit against the oil and gas industry, failed on a 4-4 vote. This was preceded by some committee members openly acknowledging threats by Gov. Jindal to veto his nomination because of that suit.

The New Orleans nominees are Billy Marchal, who worked for the Flood Protection Alliance, a nongovernmental group based in New Orleans and was member of Gov. Jindal's transition advisory committee on flood protection and coastal preservation.

The second name - they just send two - is lawyer Lambert J Hassinger, who currently is chairman of the Non Flood Protection Asset Management Authority.
As you can also see from that link, Barry disagreed with the decision. 
After Hurricane Katrina, the people of Louisiana demanded a levee board made up of professionals instead of political appointees. 94% of the people in Orleans Parish demanded that change. They created a nominating committee and trusted them to carry out that charge. Today, several members of the committee betrayed that trust. I hate to use the word “betray” but that’s what they did. Politics dominated the process and dictated the outcome. Several committee members explicitly announced that politics was dictating their vote. Perhaps the clearest sign of just how deeply politics dominated their thinking was their failure to nominate Tor Tornqvist, one of the leading coastal scientists in the world. Their not nominating him disappoints me more than their not nominating me.
Tornqvist is the chair of the Tulane geology department and has a long list of environmental science bonafides. This site describes some of the coastal research projects he heads there.

The board chose, instead, to nominate Billy Marchal who was, as The Lens points out, a member of Jindal's transition team. Marchal has some other interesting political and business associations. Here is his bio page describing his position with the Trust for Public Land.

Mr. Marchal, a New Orleans native, holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech and a Masters of Business Administration from Tulane University. He served in the U.S. Navy as Electrical Officer on the guided missile cruiser USS ALBANY (CG-10).

Following Katrina, Mr. Marchal worked full time on the Drainage and Flood Control committee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission formulating plans and generating new ideas to enhance the safety of New Orleans and the surrounding parishes.  This effort has included bring together the Corps of Engineers, Sewerage and Water Board, engineering firms, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and other environmental groups to help develop a consensus of the best way to proceed for both the short and long term.

Drawing on the success of the BNOBC planning, Mr. Marchal organized the Southeastern Louisiana Recovery Committee consisting of two dedicated citizens and one senor elected official from each of the parishes of the region, experts on coastal restoration and staffers from congressional offices.  The purpose was to identify water-related projects and iron out any differences among the parishes before the projects were forwarded up the line to state officials, La. congressional delegation, and Corps of Engineers.

Mr. Marchal served as the Executive Director of the Flood Protection Alliance, a group of civic, business, and environmental leaders working behind the scenes to insure timely, robust flood protection for the metropolitan New Orleans area by coordinating, facilitating, and sometimes instigating.  Mr. Marchal was appointed to Governor-elect Jindal's Transition Advisory Committee for Flood Protection and Coastal Preservation. 

Mr. Marchal sits on the Executive Committee of the Horizon Initiative, the NGO that spearheaded the effort to form the public-private partnership for economic development in New Orleans.  He chairs its Infrastructure Committee which includes over forty private sector members of water related businesses and representatives of the Sewerage & Water Board, City planning dept., City hazard mitigation dept., La. DEQ, Tulane, UNO, Loyola, LSU AgCenter, GNO Inc., and Rand. Corp., to name a few.
In other words, the "apolitical" nominating committee passed on an imminently qualified pure academic for someone whose qualifications rest as heavily on his political connections as they do on his technical background.

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