Friday, March 03, 2017

America was not great

It's only March 2017 but the T-P is already deep into something called "300 for 300." It's a nostalgia kind of like what they did when they spent a year remembering the 10th Katrinaversary. Only this time we are remembering the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city... which in a lot of ways is the reason we had a Katrinaversary in the first place so it's appropriate. 

Today they take us on a trip down segregation lane with separate but equal features on the history of the Pontchartrain and Lincoln Beach amusement parks. The times, they were bittersweet.
There's no way around the fact that Lincoln Beach, while separate, was far from equal to the white-only Pontchartrain Beach across town. That, after all, was the hallmark of America's segregation area. "We would drive by Pontchartrain Beach and marvel at the Zephyr roller coaster since Lincoln Beach's was much smaller," former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial told The Times-Picayune in 2014. To that extent, it was a cruel reminder of the status quo at the time. Still, for a decade Lincoln Beach was a place of fun, sun and family memories for countless New Orleanians -- even if those memories were often bittersweet.
The times, they were also toxic. 
Two in-ground pools were constructed in the park in the 1960s so patrons could still escape the heat when Lake Pontchartrain had a high pollutant count.
But thanks, in part, to the creation of EPA in 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Lake Pontchartrain basin and similar water systems nationwide have made slow but steady progress. For example, EPA helps support efforts of local government agencies and NGOs like the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation  to manage and monitor water quality. Recently, EPA's Urban Waters Partnership has helped create projects that ensure the lake's sustainability while enhancing public access and recreation opportunities.

But maybe that's all about to go away. President Trump's budget proposal announced this week proposes a 24 percent cut to EPA overall. During the campaign, Trump actually called for abolishing the department altogether. And the man he chose to head the agency has spent much of his career in government working to roll back its authority. 

It's all part of the plan to "Make America Great Again." But America has not been particularly great. And making it even the slightest bit more tolerable a place has always been and will always be a struggle. Perhaps if Tump's opposition in 2016 had been the least bit honest about this and not barked empty crap at voters about how "America has always been great," then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. Oh well. #BernieWouldaWon, though.

Anyway, as a companion to this morning's nostalgia pieces from the T-P, here's a look at what America's Great Cities were like before EPA. Presumably, Trump will make them that way again.

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