What Cities Must Learn From Hurricane Katrina
The level of personal responsibility taken by politicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been dismal. There is a long list of specific things state governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin failed to do before and during the crisis. (Check out the Google news search for "Louisiana Governor" for a broad, non partisan view.)
The American Society of Civil Engineers has recently given America's infrastructure a 'D' grade and estimated that $1.6 trillion needs to be spent over the next five years to fix the most serious problems. 13,000 highway fatalities every year can be attributed to poor highway maintenance, and more than 3,500 dams maintained by states and local governments are deemed "unsafe" - and the number is rising.
Irresponsible politicians point fingers. Responsible politicians take action.
The issue is lack of local leadership, something I've blogged about here and here. New Orlean's beleaguered police force is doing a yeoman's job under tremendous pressure, but like other police forces nationwide, they need more. There will always be budget shortfalls. It is up to local governments, who know their own communities best, to exercise greater stewardship: over their tax base, educating their citizenry, and protecting the interests of their constituencies.