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While our public officials were ringing bells and laying wreaths yesterday, hundreds of people were marching in San Jose. They were commemorating Katrina just like we were doing here, but they were also calling for a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. They want something like the WPA, putting Gulf Coast residents to work rebuilding the Gulf Coast. It seems to be gaining traction in California. I think the idea has merit, but it’s totally contrary to where our nation has gone politically. What do you think?

Published inKatrinaNew OrleansPolitix


  1. Garvey Garvey

    Well, it’s not so much about where we’ve gone politically as much as it is about trusting the govt. Every program like this is just another opportunity for graft and corruption, waste and ineptitude. The vast majority of the people in this world are not nearly as honest as you and your readers are (or as smart, caring, etc.).

  2. Scott Scott

    It’s worked for all the constrution workers from Atlanta and elsewhere. It worked for all the Mexicans in Houston. It’s worked for all the big corporations with ties to the Bush Administration.

    So why not have a jobs program for locals.

    On the other hand, how much non-single family residential work is left ? I’m sure there’s still some public facilities that need work: police stations, fire stations, schools. What else could be federally funded ?

  3. Mike Mike

    Why not? When I read about all the carpetbagged construction contracts and the outsourced council review of assessments, I ask myself: If it worked in the thirties, maybe it is an idea whose time has come. It would also have an effect on our crime rate. The best small business we have going is not tourism. And certainly not the port. Maybe it is time we diversify

  4. Garvey Garvey

    Atlanta and Houston are not, and never will be, New Orleans. Just because something “worked” there does not mean it is generalizeable to Louisiana.

  5. Jon Nelson Jon Nelson

    I’m hearing a lot of cynicism about government here. I would maintain that this is (in part) fed by the corporate agenda. Corporations seek to destroy or take over the functions of government by claiming to be more efficient and less corrupt than government. In fact, they are legitimizing inefficiency and corruption by calling them profits. Massive public works projects are needed all over this country. I sometimes find it hard to believe that this is the same country that built Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. Right now, we are losing two wars, both started on false pretexts. I’m beginning to fear that the only reason for those wars is to funnel money from government to a few corporations. Would I rather see my money spent on a massive public works project? Hell yes.

  6. Garvey Garvey

    It’s possible to be anti-statist and anti-collectivist (i.e., without being pro-corporate-agenda). Regardless, what part of N.O. or LA government screams, “effective and efficient with a proven track record of responsible stewardship”?


    I thought so.

    Not everything is a neocon conspiracy.

  7. tug tug

    I believe that there are many public facilities that need work. Many fire stations and police stations remain unrepaired at this point. Librairies, court complexes, federally-funded medical complexes. Moreover, much of the WPA work went into national parks, I believe, such as the trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the associated camps and connected trails. Imagine bringing that kind of labor to work on the wetlands or the national parks in the region…

    I agree that our local leaders do not inspire confidence and that it is hard to view anything occurring in the Bush administration as NOT being part of a massive effort to funnel money to a few corporations. Nonetheless, it seems to me that we desperately need something to change in the way things are going at this point. And I, perhaps over-idealistically, believe that citizen groups can provide oversight to a project like this…

    I also believe that an excess of skepticism can immobilize us. If you do not believe that any federal action can be taken to improve things, and you do not believe it is possible to change the local attitudes and behaviors, then what improvement in our situation is possible? Criticism is necessary but there is also a need for constructive and imaginative solutions. This suggestion may be one such a solution.

  8. My name is Scott Myers-Lipton, and I am a professor at San Jose State University, and I was at the San Jose march, where 300 students, Katrina survivors, and community members called for a modern-day Works Progress Administration (WPA).

    It was incredibly powerful to have the students and Katrina survivors together with one clear message–and that is for immediate federal action to create 100,000 living wage jobs for the Gulf residents to rebuild their own communities.

    If you want to help bring survivor and students together, to struggle for this federal action, contact us at (510) 508-5382 or We have over 40 colleges pushing for the GCCWP, and we have been working closely with LA ACORN and All Congregations Together (ACT) in New Orleans.

    We luck forward to working together.

    best, scott ml

    Scott Myers-Lipton, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor,
    Sociology Department
    Community Change Concentration
    San Jose State University
    (510) 508-5382

  9. Frank Schiavo Frank Schiavo

    I am also full of cynics bile when it comes to this city, but something , small maybe, but something, reminds me that large chunks of what work has been done here in the last two years has not been Federal funded so much as civic funded–with hard work & volunteers from little churches, clubs and communities all across the country and locals who DO care enough to make a difference. Maybe some locals would not want to be a part of a new WPA type experimental program here [and shame on them for it], but maybe it is time for it again, if just to see if it can succeed in spite of corperate graft, federal ennui and the local govt. incompetence. Besides if it takes even a little bit of money away from the Haley Barbers, Haliburtons, and Thomases out there, it is worth it.

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