Friday, November 08, 2013

You know, for like, reasons

This happened to be the year that Bobby Jindal's Coastal Protection Authority happened to take $500,000 out of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority's budget.
The cut immediately raised suspicions that it was retaliation for the levee authority’s lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies over damage to coastal marshes. Gov. Bobby Jindal and and Garret Graves, head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, have condemned the lawsuit. The coastal authority has control over payments to levee boards.

Graves said the Legislature appropriates the funding to his office, not to the individual levee authorities, and his office has discretion on how it is spent. “This is not a requirement; rather the AG’s office has confirmed that it is permissive,” he said in an email.

He added his agency never promises levee boards or districts a specific amount of funding each year, but makes those decisions on an annual basis.
It just happened to be the same year that the SLFPA-East board filed a controversial lawsuit against the oil and gas industry. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Jindal's head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Garret Graves promised there would be political retribution.
"I don't see any scenario where this levee district doesn't get gutted -- or say reformed -- in the next legislative session."
And that's exactly what happened last month when Jindal made his appointments
Jindal had made clear that anyone who supported the suit would not be re-appointed to the nine-member Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.
The new members selected by Jindal are lawyer Lambert “Joe” Hassinger Jr. of New Orleans; Jeff Angers of Baton Rouge, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation and former executive director/CEO of the Coastal Conservation Association; and Kelly McHugh of Madisonville, president of a civil engineering and land surveying firm.

Hassinger replaces author and historian John Barry on the board.  Jindal said he would not reappoint Barry, criticizing him for his role in spearheading the SLFPA-E lawsuit against oil and gas companies, seeking money to repair damaged wetlands.  Barry’s term expired earlier this year but the lawsuit emerged over the summer.
So the today's action shouldn't come as too much a surprise.  It seems excessive, of course, not to mention reckless given the SFLPA-E's crucial mission.  But it's not unexpected. Everyone knows what's up by now.

For whatever reason, though, Graves wants to pretend otherwise. Here's what he told The Lens today.
But Graves said the cut was nothing more than part of routine budget decisions as his office struggles to spread limited funds to numerous levee boards across the coast.

“We’re putting a portion of the funds toward other priorities this year,” Graves said via email. “While we will be providing some assistance to the west board, we are also providing funds to the newly-formed Chenier Plain board. We have previously provided startup assistance to St. Mary and may be doing same to Iberia soon too. “
Meanwhile, a judge ruled today that we'll soon find out whether Graves has been emailing a different tune with oil and gas lobbyists.
The state Division of Administration has until Jan. 15 to hand over to a New Orleans environmental activist thousands of emails that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief coastal-protection adviser sent and received during an eight-month span, a judge ruled Friday in Baton Rouge.

Anne Rolfes, who filed a public records lawsuit against the division in September, suspects correspondence to and from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves from December to August could include discussions between Graves and the energy sector about a flood-protection board’s decision to file a huge lawsuit against dozens of oil and gas companies in July.
It won't change the Jindal administration's pattern of political retribution.  But at least it could blow up a little of the  the condescending denial. 

1 comment:

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