Sitting here watching the CBS 48 Hours Mystery program, "No Way Out," about the trial of the Manganos who failed to evacuate St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish where 35 elderly people drowned as a result. As I watched, memories of homes I helped gut in the parish back in 2006 came rushing back and all I could think was, "Still no way out for New Orleanians."
Council for the Manganos said that but for the failure of the levees, those 35 people would have survived this "man-made" disaster. All the deaths were attributed to the negligence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - never mind the Manganos' reckless decision not to evacuate though there were buses ready and waiting to help. He'd made the perfect argument and he knew it, the jury agreed. Mr. and Mrs. Mangano were absolved of all criminal responsibility for the horror of St. Rita's. No judicial way out for the victims' families.
Now, this past Wednesday, Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. dismissed the Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation. As it turns out, the U.S. government (read USACE) is "immune" from legal liability for the devastation in New Orleans. So, again - no way out. No governmental agency will ever be held responsible for what happened in New Orleans then, or for what is happening there now. As a country we should be ashamed.
ColorOfChange.org circulated an email just before the last round of debates asking members to vote for the Katrina question" (sorry, after I voted I deleted the email so I cannot provide you with the exact wording) to be asked of both the Democratic and Republican candidates during the debates. The idea was if enough people voted, the question about what will be done about New Orleans would get asked and hopefully answered by the presidential hopefuls. I didn't watch the Republican debate (already know how they felt about Katrina - the Shrub fly-over said it all for me) but I did watch the smarmy Democratic debate and I don't remember hearing "the Katrina question" mentioned - at all.
What happened to New Orleans forever changed me. And as we stand, knocking at the door of what is inarguably the most historic, democratic presidential run in history, I expect - no, I demand, that the candidate who gets my vote has been similarly changed, and even more, realizes the need to do something life-changing about it. Why? Because, New Orleans is a microcosm of the world in which we live. The rightness of the thing trumps everything else. All this bullshit about vote for Obama because he's Black or vote for Hillary because she's a woman means absolutely nothing to me. What they intend to do for New Orleans matters to me because in my mind, as New Orleans goes - so does the country. And the sooner we all realize that, the better off we will be. And if we don't, there will be no way out for any of us.