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Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard as he was interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press.
The interview was on Wed, 7 Sept (Day 10).
Meet the Press with Tim Russert is an NBC show.

Mr. Broussard's colorful language is fun to read ("give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot").  

But it's even more fun to see and hear him speak.  Here are the video feeds to a now-famous speech, followed by the transcript if you insist on just reading.

Broussard has done heroic work while struggling to get Federal assistance.  


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This articulate Parrish President will brief you on the work and accomplishments of his Emergency Management Office, his Sheriff, his own Parrish staff, the Levee Board and their authorized crews.  You will hear of local crews and National Guard working together with trucks and heavy equipment.  You may recall that Bush arrived on the St. Louis Airport tarmac Friday 2 Sept. and told Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) that she could have the National Guard forces Louisiana requested if she would sign over all command authority from her State to the Federal Government.  She replied to his face, "I need 24 hours to think about it," and in the end refused.  

To get an insight into Blanco's refusal and the nature of Federal-Local government affairs, simply  listen to this man's interview below,  and imagine putting Federal control between him and the National Guard trucks he used to repair 300 feet of breached levee on his own -- a breach  not cataloged by "the secretary" (of Homeland Security) and not authorized for work.  In the video at the end of the interview, Broussard turns to the story of his building manager:


The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us…


MR. RUSSERT:  And we are back.

Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you.  You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this last week.  What is your reaction?

MR. AARON BROUSSARD:  We have been abandoned by our own country.  Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.  I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here.  Why did it happen?  Who needs to be fired?  And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy.  We have months to go.  We have years to go.  And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.

It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.  It's so obvious.  FEMA needs more congressional funding.  It needs more presidential support.  It needs to be a Cabinet-level director.  It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America.  FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do.  It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives.  Forget about the property.  We can rebuild the property.  It's got to be able to come in and save lives.

[For convenience, here is the quote from President Bush's Director of the Office of Management and Budget:
Early in his presidency, George W Bush downgraded the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Such departments, the reasoning went, are for feeble folk looking for government handouts.   In the words of Bush's budget director Mitch Daniels in 2001: "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into an oversized entitlement programme . . . expectations of when the federal government should be involved, and the degree of involvement, may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level." ]

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...

MR. BROUSSARD:  You know, just some quick examples...

MR. RUSSERT:  Hold on.  Hold on, sir.  Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility?  Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?

MR. BROUSSARD:  Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming."  I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry.  The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the hoofs, and we're almost a week out.

Let me give you just three quick examples.  We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water.  FEMA turned them back.  They said we didn't need them.  This was a week ago.  FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish.  The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away."  When we got there with our trucks, they got a word.  "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."  Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines.  They cut them without notice.  Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines."  Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.

But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard.  I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach.  I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people.  It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.

MR. BROUSSARD:  I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.

MR. BROUSSARD:  ...that have worked 24/7.  They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses.  And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. [JIN: important insight here on how the mass media work, and what an "interview" really is.]   The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything.  His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son?  Is somebody coming?"  And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you.  Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday.  Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday.  Somebody's coming to get you on Friday."  And she drowned Friday night.  She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD:  Nobody's coming to get us.  Nobody's coming to get us.  The secretary has promised.  Everybody's promised.  They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences.  For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

MR. RUSSERT:  Just take a pause, Mr. President.  While you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Governor Barbour, can you bring our audience up to date on
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