The Emergency Authority is empowered to "commandeer or utilize any private property it finds necessary to cope with the local disaster emergency." It is also empowered "to direct and compel the evacuation of any and all persons from any part of the city." In other words, they've empowered themselves to arrest you or confiscate your personal property without cause. Do they really need to do this? This isn't to say that our public safety officers shouldn't direct and assist the public as to the best way to keep safe during an emergency. It's fine for the police to set up barricades, or for the mayor to recommend an evacuation. But they don't need any special power to get cooperation from the public. The fact that they automatically assume they do speaks to the hard authoritarian bent of municipal governments in the 21st Century.
There's some other questionable stuff in there. For some reason, the Emergency Authority has to the power to "limit the sale, dispensing, or transporting of alcoholic beverages." Which is weird since many of us would consider those a critical necessity in these situations. Thankfully, the current Authority appears to agree with us about that.
“Go get a drink. Watch it on TV,” said Collin Arnold, the city’s director of homeland security. “If you’re in line of sight of this, you’re too close.”The part of the declaration that most interests us, though, is the part where the EA is empowered "to suspend the provisions of any regulatory ordinance prescribing the procedures for conduct of local business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any local agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any ordinance, rule or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency."
What that means is they can rush a whole bunch of no-bid contracts into effect. According to WWLTV, even those expedited negotiations haven't gone smoothly.
NEW ORLEANS — Danger and uncertainty surrounding the demolition of two massive and unstable cranes inside the Hard Rock Hotel collapse site has delayed the risky operation for a second day in a row.Now maybe it's a stretch to think either Kailas or the contractors would be so crass as to use the "ticking clock" of a collapsing crane as bargaining leverage. I would have been at least a skeptical of that. But then I read that LaToya says of the negotiations, "This work has not contributed to delays or diverted from the stated priority of keeping the public safe during this trying time," which sounds to me like it has definitely contributed to the delay.
But financial issues may have also played a role, at least in causing the first delay, which pushed back the implosion first planned for Friday afternoon to Saturday.
The developer of the ill-fated hotel project, a group led by Mohan Kailas, did not pay the $5 million demolition price until Saturday morning. The demolition team, a joint venture between D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, N.C., and Lemoine Disaster Recovery of Lafayette, required full payment into a trust prior to the demolition, according to public records requested by WWL-TV.
Also, hey, look who is here!
Sanford said Lemoine, a disaster consulting firm that was purchased earlier this year by former Shaw Group founder Jim Bernhard’s Bernhard Capital Partners, is a part of the demolition team. On its website Lemoine touts its “ethical working relationship with the State of Louisiana and parish and government agencies.”Bernhard's "ethical working relationship" with state, local and federal government in under emergency conditions is well documented. The Shaw Group picked up a $100 million deal with the Corps of Engineers to "de-water" the city after Katrina.
Those contracts were awarded without competition under rules that allow agencies to bypass normal procedures during an emergency. Several went to companies that have been major financial supporters of the Bush administration. One firm, Shaw Group Inc., of Baton Rouge, is on the client list of lobbyist and former FEMA director Joe M. Allbaugh, though he has said he does not get involved with contracts.
Shaw also came under criticism for having received favors from the Jindal Administration's dispersal of post-Katrina hazard mitigation contracts. Shaw also took advantage of an emergency declaration to help Jindal build his infamous "sand berms to nowhere" after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
The berm project has been a boon to Louisiana industry: although many of the dredging companies working on the project have out-of-state headquarters, all have a major presence in Louisiana. The Shaw Group, the lead contractor on the project, is based in Baton Rouge and has been one of Mr. Jindal’s leading campaign contributors over the years.Most recently, Bernhard's relationship with state government extends to a deal with the Edwards administration to privatize energy systems in state buildings. Although his companies have frequently contributed to Republicans, Bernhard is a registered Democrat. Clearly he's willing to support any elected person in a position to help him out. This year he "supported" Edwards by allowing himself to be talked out of running against him.
Bernhard Energy Solutions partnered with the HVAC company Johnson Controls at the request of the Edwards administration after both firms submitted proposals to the state. Bernhard Energy Solutions is one of several companies controlled by Bernhard Capital Partners, a private equity firm run by former Shaw Group chief executive and Democratic Party official Jim Bernhard, who was floated as a potential candidate for governor before ruling it out last year.Threatening the Governor's job may not be your traditional emergency management situation but obviously, he takes that pretty seriously. In any case, Bernhard does appear to know his business.