Today’s Times Picayune had an important, breakthrough story about the New Orleans levee system.
It’s not pretty, but it does contain a seed of hope.
As is often the case, there was more left out of the story than what was included.
The Picayune reported that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) just issued a report that criticizes the Army Corps of Engineers and states that the Corps needs to honestly state the actual status and vulnerabilities of the levee system.
The message comes from the ASCE’s “External Review Panel.”
What the Picayune doesn’t say is that it was the ASCE itself that received over $1,000,000 in fees to rubber stamp the Corps largely fraudulent post-levee failure analysis.
So, did the ASCE feel pangs of guilt and voluntarily choose to re-visit the fraud they helped the Corps perpetuate on the public?
As longtime readers of FoodMusicJustice know, the ASCE was forced to come clean by a video created and posted to YouTube by levees.org several months ago.
The video presents the simple fact that the post-levee failure analysis was conducted by the Corps itself and that the ASCE was lavishly compensated to put their endorsement on the Corp’s report.
The ASCE found the video so offensive that they threatened to sue levees.org and the school that participated in the production.
This turned out to be a bad idea for the ASCE.
The Picayune put the story on the front page and suddenly one of the many deep, dark secrets of New Orleans – the fact that the post-levee failure analysis was a blatant fraud – became common knowledge.
It was this chain of events that forced the to brining in an “External Review Panel” to re-visit their own work. In masterful bureaucratic style, they managed to change the story from their own complicity in the fraud to a written public scolding of the Corps work and public statements.
Will any of this help and make a real difference?
It’s hard to say, but in situations like this, truth is better than its opposite.
Note: FoodMusicJustice started working with levees.org in December of 2006.
Our first advice to the group, after encouraging them to streamline their home page, was to make aggressive use of Internet video.
Sandy Rosenthal, founder of levees.org, has executed on this advice brilliantly.
The organization’s site has a great deal of useful video material on it now including two public service announcements.
Thanks to long time subscribers who’ve participated in our YouTube publicity campaigns.
Here’s the video that helped put the story about the levee cover up to the front page of today’s paper.