Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Protecting a Business During a Flood


A press release from Timothy M. Young, timothymyoung@hotmail.com:

A proposal entitled “Protecting a Business during a Flood”, has been developed that may be of interest to the businesses that are located within areas that are susceptible to flooding; such an area would include New Orleans. Including the title page, the table of contents and the cover letter, this proposal is approximately 18 pages.

The purpose of this proposal is to describe a structure that is to be placed at a business, which has a history of flooding; such flooding could be the result of a riverine flood, an estuarine flood or a coastal flood. This structure is to be used by the business prior to an event that might cause flooding (e.g. the failure of flood protection device, snowmelt or a storm surge).

The proposed structure is to serve as a source of protection for businesses, which are not limited to, building supply facilities that have outside material storage, automotive dealers and oil/fuel storage facilities that are in flood prone areas.

Please review the following webpage to learn more about obtaining this proposal:

http://www.webcosmo.com/listing/details.aspx?gId=1&dId=12&countryId=1&stateId=159&cityId=895&postId=320308

I would like to thank the New Orleans Bulletin for its willingness to share this message with you, and also your willingness to review this message.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hiatus in Publication ...

Our Egyptian trip (Luxor is pictured) was canceled due to the long aftermath from Susan's asthma attack.

We are also taking a brief hiatus from weekly publication, and entries now will be occasional. If you would prefer to receive these occasional entries by email, please let us know.

Thanks,
John

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Egyptian Etiquette ...

Were it not for illness in the family, we would be returning from Egypt tomorrow. (Pictured is King Tut) Here is some of what we learned in our research for the trip.

The following is adapted from Frommer’s Egypt Travel Guide:

Appropriate Attire -- To avoid harassment, women should wear skirts or trousers that reach below the knee, and sleeves that cover the shoulders. At beach resorts, clubs and very upscale restaurants, the dress code is much looser, and young, rich women can be seen in skimpy skirts and tube tops. In mosques, women are expected to cover their hair, and not expose any skin other than their hands, face and feet.

Men should always wear shirts that cover their shoulders and refrain from wearing shorts unless they're in a beach area. Both men and women should take their shoes off before entering a mosque. In general, it's a good idea to wear closed shoes if you expect to do a lot of walking, since Egyptian streets are often muddy, or strewn with garbage and broken glass.

Gestures -- The most useful gesture is placing your right hand over your heart, which expresses gratitude and humility, and is often used as a polite way of saying no. For example, it can be used if someone is insisting that you enter their shop for a cup of coffee, or trying to hand you a gift that you don't want to accept.

Holding your hand in mid air, palm down and tipping it back and forth means "so-so" or a "little bit."

Stretching your hand out with your palm facing out is a way to ward off evil, and is offensive if you do it in someone's face. If you want to indicate the number five, make sure your palm faces you.

It's impolite to show others the soles of your feet or shoes. If you're sitting with your legs crossed, always make sure your soles are facing down.

Avoiding Offense -- Egypt's complex behavioral code is all about maintaining honor, saving face and skirting touchy subjects.

The formality of relationships between the sexes is one of the most important differences you should be aware of. When greeting a member of the opposite sex, a handshake is sufficient, as only members of the same sex hug and kiss. Aggressive flirtation, whether it's eye contact or touching, should be kept to a minimum. Especially if you're a woman and engage in this kind of behavior, you'll be considered "loose," and your advances will be interpreted as an invitation for sex.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

FEMA Assistance in Seeking Grants …


From L’Observateur, Laplace:

Many Louisiana parishes have greatly benefitted from grant information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has its own funding and resource development team that specializes in finding possible grant opportunities for recovery projects throughout the state.

Great recovery work is being done by parish and municipal government agencies and by nonprofit organizations in Louisiana, said Jim Stark, director of Louisiana’s Transitional Recovery Office. In addition to providing FEMA Public Assistance funding, we are happy to help facilitate recovery efforts by providing both technical support and aid in the identification of potential non-FEMA sources of funding.

To date, FEMA has developed and maintains approximately two dozen databases, identifying funding programs by sector, including fire departments, affordable housing, libraries, schools, economic development, parks and parkways and a number of other entities. This information is available to the public upon request.
Many resource development professionals now rely on FEMA because it saves them a tremendous amount of time in terms of research.

When I found out that FEMA has someone who searches and sorts through grant announcements, then puts them in a database and sends them to Congressional and other government entities, I was thrilled, said Holly Sibley, staff assistant to U. S. Rep. Charles Boustany. The information I’ve received has been an enormous help when I’m assisting constituents who are trying to locate grants for specific programs.

Smaller agencies and organizations often lack resource development capacity to secure the additional funding that is needed to fully implement their recovery projects. FEMA’s funding and resource development team addresses this need and supports the recovery efforts of these entities as they work to secure grant funding.

Since FEMA programs like Public Assistance are supplemental in nature, the grant opportunities we find help fill in holes for improved or alternative projects, said Paul Bratton, a funding and resource development specialist with FEMA.

FEMA staff typically receives up to three or four dozen funding opportunity announcements a day, information that is readily available to anyone who has access to the Internet. Staff evaluates this information to determine whether certain funding opportunities can benefit Louisiana agencies or organizations. When such information is forwarded, all significant data is highlighted to facilitate quick reference by the potential grant applicants.

If a government official or representative of a nonprofit agency would like assistance from FEMA in obtaining information on potential funding opportunities, please send a detailed written request to Paul Bratton via e-mail at Paul.Bratton@dhs.gov. Paul is also available for one-on-one meetings or for presentations to small groups.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Charity Hospital Still Empty …


From an article by Rick Jervis and Brad Heath, USA TODAY:

Nearly 3½ years after the flood ended, Charity Hospital is still empty. Plans to replace the soaring Art Deco-era hospital with a new one are stalled. Instead, Charity has become perhaps the most notable symbol here of the languid pace of government efforts to rebuild or replace billions of dollars worth of public works wrecked when Katrina and Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. Among thousands of projects that still haven't moved forward, none has been as big or contentious as Charity.

The result, says Dr. Kevin Stephens, New Orleans' health director, is that the city lacks a hospital capable of handling the most severe trauma cases and isn't able to train enough new physicians. Without that, he says, the city will keep losing doctors, further straining its health care system.

"You have to train the medical students with the best equipment and latest techniques," Stephens says. "Or else the shortage is going to continue."

The sticking point over Charity's future is money. Louisiana wants $492 million in federal disaster aid, money it says it needs to replace Charity with a new $1.2 billion teaching hospital and medical complex; the state plans to pay for the rest. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says much of the damage to Charity was caused by years of neglect that disaster aid wasn't intended to fix. Its latest offer was $150 million.

Even that number may be inflated. FEMA engineers identified only about $99 million in storm-related damage to the hospital, which was in poor shape before it flooded. The government tacked on another $51 million, partly out of "a desire to accelerate the recovery of the health care system in New Orleans," according to an agency report. Federal law generally limits disaster aid in the government's Public Assistance program to specific repairs.

FEMA spokesman Bob Josephson says the additional money is for "disputed damages that could not be conclusively determined as disaster-related." The project is stuck until the funding stalemate ends, says Raymond Lamonica, general counsel for Louisiana State University, which operated Charity.

After Katrina, Charity's doctors worked out of tents. Then they saw patients in shopping centers. They're still in temporary quarters, working out of another hospital near Charity that was hurriedly reopened after Katrina.

The giant downtown hospital opened in 1939 and was a key provider of health care for the city's poor and uninsured. Even before it was waterlogged, Charity was in rough shape. Reports prepared for the state showed its roof leaked, and critical systems weren't up to code, requiring millions of dollars worth of repairs.

Today, the hospital on Tulane Avenue is ringed by an 8-foot-tall chain-link fence topped by barbed wire. Sections of plywood cover windows that have blown out.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obstacles Encountered by Inspector General ...


Some of the material in this article is extracted from stories by the Times-Picayune, Cerasoli resigns and temporary replacement named:

Building the inspector general's office proved far tougher than Cerasoli envisioned. And the challenges that remain -- even the basic work of clearly defining city agencies, budgets and policies -- are more daunting than a successor might suspect. After 17 months, Cerasoli said, the office still needs to double its staff and garner basic tools and access to records.

Still, Cerasoli's experience here has opened a valuable view into the inner workings of a mysterious municipal apparatus.

"On a difficulty scale of one-to-10, it's a 10. I would compare it to governments I've looked at in the developing world," said Cerasoli, who has given lectures about corruption in such Third World countries as Sierra Leone and Swaziland.

In New Orleans, he said, "information technology is in a terrible state. Getting access to information people regularly access in other places is a major problem. Public documents aren't being made public, if they exist at all.

"And I don't think the city government truly understands what the inspector general is supposed to do -- and might provide more resistance as it becomes more clear, " he said.

"Nothing's on the level in New Orleans,” he recalled telling one fellow inspector.

Though Cerasoli had fully expected the challenge of his career in New Orleans, he was in for a few shocks. The Nagin administration at first offered him a $250,000 budget -- a ludicrously low figure, he said. In Massachusetts, he had overseen a budget of $3 million and a staff of 49.

"But every one of those things was a big fight, " Cerasoli said. "And after we got the money, we couldn't spend it, because everything we bought had to go through the city's purchasing process."

Requests ranging from pencils to lease agreements took weeks or even months to snake through the Nagin administration's approval process. Inquiries often produced excuses: "The computers are down,” or "So-and-so is on vacation,” or "We can't find your paperwork."

"There was always that mysterious hand there, that made you wonder if somebody was trying to stop it,” Cerasoli said.

Just figuring out who runs what has proved an immense challenge, with a government splintered into scores of agencies, commissions and quasi-governmental nonprofit groups, some with separate dedicated tax-revenue streams, their own auditors and scant scrutiny.

So far, Cerasoli has put together a list of 140 such city entities, including such curiosities as the Delgado-Albania Plantation Commission. His inspectors found records of a New Orleans Planetarium Commission, created in 1986, but couldn't confirm whether it still exists, or ever did.

"One main goal has just been to simply identify the entity that is the city of New Orleans,” Cerasoli said. "Nobody can give you an organizational chart."

Leonard C. Odom (pictured) has been appointed to serve as interim inspector general, just hours after Cerasoli announced he is resigning. Before coming to New Orleans, Odom served as the assistant in charge of investigations in the Inspector General's Office of Washington, D.C.

He has served as president of the National Association of Inspectors General for the past two years.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cerasoli resigns ...


Some of the material in this article is extracted from stories by the Times-Picayune, Cerasoli resigns and temporary replacement named:

One more force for good has been beaten by the corrupt New Orleans governmental system. Last week we profiled Bob Cerasoli, the city’s first inspector general. We were excited that there was finally someone looking at questionable practices, employee incompetence and opportunities for abusing the trust of the New Orleans citizenry.

Cerasoli, the veteran Massachusetts investigator who navigated a maze of bureaucracy and politics to found the office, has resigned, ostensibly to reunite with his family and prepare for surgery to remove potentially dangerous growths. While these are certainly valid reasons for leaving, there is still the feeling that, even though he felt me was making a difference, the obstacles erected by the Ray Nagin (pictured) administration were too much to overcome.

For the city, the loss of Cerasoli will set back the arduous task of establishing an independent watchdog over City Hall. His hiring 17 months ago, and a subsequent City Charter change that solidified permanent financing for the office, were coups for a city long impervious to reform. Cerasoli agonized over the pressure to meet the lofty expectations of corruption-weary New Orleanians.

"I keep feeling this vicious guilt,” he said. "I've never given up on anything before in my life."

"It's just so hard, you know, the pressure,” he said, wiping away tears. "It's enormous. It's onerous. I get that all the time, people walking up to me on the street. . . . It's wonderful, seeing the rising expectations of the people here. But the last thing I want to be is the next 'last, best hope for New Orleans.'

"It's not about me. It's about building the office,” he said, repeating what has become a mantra even as he has become an unlikely celebrity in a job that in many places would be held by an anonymous functionary.

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