WWL>Topics>>4-8-14 2:10pm Angela: on flood protection

4-8-14 2:10pm Angela: on flood protection

Apr 8, 2014|

Angela talks flood protection with Sandy Rosenthal of Levees.org, author John Barry, and attorney Glad Jones.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well after the horrors of Katrina in 2006. The citizens of Louisiana voted overwhelmingly. For a constitutional amendment that would change how our Levy boards would be run in southeast Louisiana. It was a major change on many levels. The drive to make the change was led by citizens for one greater New Orleans and levees dot org and others. A grass roots force that knew our system of flood protection and who had authority over it had to be taken to a higher level. It was a victory for all of its. So how surprised were those who fought so hard just eight years ago for permanent change. To see a bill before this year's legislature. That would in essence dismantled the changes. As if they had not been voted on by the entire state. Over going to find out in the next hour as we talked to some of those in that grass roots effort. Sandy Rosenthal founder and president of levees dot org. Bled Jones attorney and founding member of Jones Swenson -- and garrison law firm. And John Barry formally with the southeast Louisiana flood protection authority. And author of rising tide the great Mississippi flood of 1927. And how it changed America. And Roger Williams and creation of the American soul I am so happy that all three of you are with us today thank you so much to thank you for having -- I guess the more I read this last night. Literally the more. Overwhelmed watts and a half. And I just wanted to know I guess what's going on. What is this. One -- first say for those who were unaware of senator. At least bill and I want to just to know that we have called him we've asked him to be against either here on the phone and would look forward for him to call him. That said what is he trying to do. Well. This is sandy Rosenthal with levees dot org and what senator at least trying to do is file legislation that will change the -- marketable historic. Changes to Levy -- That to the -- -- government after Katrina. His bill would restrict. The ability of the new flood authority to authorities to hire an attorney. Now for those views it's been eight years and some of your listeners may forget what they knew that let people -- reforms were about. They would do to -- things they would of the move the distractions of all the real estate holdings the -- bullet once had they went to replace. Hello appeal flood control parish by parish with regional flood control. And third perhaps most important of all is it required led to book commissioners to have expertise. Such as hydrology an engineer and these. Bills being filed now it's specifically SP 553. Will undo those reforms after Katrina. Yes as a thank you for having me day Newman -- Clarence Jones -- and have the honor of serving as counsel in this case brought slipped aboard. Senator Bradley it's essentially been carrying the torch. All gas industry. To destroy not only slope flow which words as you noted. Created in 2006. By an overwhelming vote the citizens. Of this area constitutional. Constitutional amendment. But he's also trying to unwise and be independent decisions. A board members. To hold -- -- responsible for the damage that they clause in Portland not what other people cause but the cameras for oil and gas companies cause. To our coastal wetlands. He Hughes tried very hard to do this he -- an effective senator. But some of the tactics that -- -- used. Are -- are are plainly not fair and they're distracting from the issues and yet the bills that he is proposed in those are. Do we allow. Do the senate and the house to unwind the reforms that were implemented in 2006. Do we allow the legislature to provide absolute immunity to it industry. Duped by its own admission has cause extensive damage to our coastal areas in flatly. Does this legislative process. Provide. A system. Where whereby -- an industry is provided immunity and we are unable in coastal Louisiana to fix the very dire problem that we have. -- -- You're brought up the much bigger picture. Which is very important because -- As a citizen and one who voted in again it was a statewide. Vote for constitutional amendment to make these changes to our levee system Levy board authorities. That as a citizen it was sort of dismissing my vote what he is suggesting if I'm reading that correctly. In his senate bill 629. Is that it would it would put the agency's. How within the executive branch of state government yes it. Yeah John -- -- yeah I'd agree whatever it boats and glad and you have said. So far. Disk is entirely about. The lawsuit. The issue which the board consider. And as you know the board made up what experts were not naive politically. Close to. You know we were supposed to non political. In the sense that we were not supposed to allow. Politics enter into our decision. That doesn't mean we were -- you didn't understand the implications. But we were supposed to making an independent non political decision. And unit pretty conservative board. And including one person is described themselves to -- right wing extremists. Unanimously. The board what the facts. And the facts -- that. The industry cause the damage. There own studies say they cause the damage. The law was explicit. That they were supposed to restore the damaged and they haven't done. And that damage increases. The danger to everybody. And the metropolitan or -- area whether there inside the -- system or outside the Lebanese. And that's why we. So. The second we acted as everyone knows. The political establishment. Got upset. The polls indicate that the public's support. -- -- -- -- And believes that I mean it's is that it's important thing in many times this is as simple what you hope every parent pieces are there. I'd like to either -- or at. This is this is sandy NN and I'd like to arm. Also remind missed about -- that 80% of those who voted for the new historic Atlanta bloodless as inflation. Would in favor this new model of governance so here we we have. We have these bills will undo this historic legislation for one reason and one reason only. To go after the debate. Then the big oil lawsuit but the end in a sense it's like punishment. Because again and I correct me if I'm wrong on any of this but one I'm reading -- but it would take -- two authorities are our southeastern. Louisiana flood protection authority west and east. Be placed within the coastal protection restoration authority as agencies within the executive branch and we be the only ones. I mean to me it just says volumes of you are doing something we don't like so we're gonna slap your hand doesn't pass the smell test and no it doesn't -- I again would welcome center at least a colon. Better explain it to us. I'm I'm talking really to our listeners about. We need to be upset about this idea we need to -- need to be little outrage speaking of smell test I'd like to point out one other thing. Four. Of senator at least bills -- -- written only to a fact the flood of -- east. If this legislation was so good. And such good governments why does that apply only to the flat authority east should be applying to all the authorities if it's such a great idea. Again it doesn't pass the smell test. Well it doesn't pass the smell that's what it's called what it is I -- senator Bradley has been affected in the senate. Of our legislature. In in pushing these bills. And one of the things that you've done was talk about lawyers and and use lawyers agree be pro bowlers -- As an example watch them this legislation should pass. I wanna be real clear. That this lawsuit was filed to -- a coastal Louisiana lives property in the coastal. Areas. Or gas have been hiding behind these pre trial lawyers and the issues and that's been senator at least. So long as he's been saying on today a day in and day out basis. We wanna put him into that because coastal Louisiana. Is simply too important. We do these lawyers that are representing. Slept well in order to preserve the sanctity of the independence that was intended in 2006. Have agreed to tear up the contract. With the -- on board when we say it again. Pair up that contract such that prosecuting this case will not cost the public citizens one cent. If the defendants all gas companies who have admitted their responsibility. Will agree within six months to enter into negotiations towards a compromise. And today. Those that have caused the damage agreed to pay mutually agreeable turning experience. In which you're real what that is will go to arbitration to decide the net effective essentially is let's take off. The board. The non issue and let's talk about the critical problem that this community in south Louisiana it's place with get rid of the discussion about attorneys trees. Nobody likes to pay attorneys' fees I don't like to -- currencies but let's put it right back on on the defendant's side. And let's say that oil and gas companies that come to the table if they'll agree to that process it won't cost the public one dollar. To prosecute this and let's put this on this issue that senator Bradley and some of the other legislators seem to be having a problem with and -- I know politics with the way our system is -- in terms of how people have to pay to you know legal representation. But this issue is so important that the law firms that are representing -- of that a prosecutor in this case are willing to make that change in those oil companies will under the table. That well a major major announcement. -- hate the we're gonna have to take a break the wanna come back I wanna hear what John's reaction is to that and I'd like to hear from you. 260187. Stay with us well this program certainly started out on one mission in just sort of morphed into many but that's a good thing. Because we're talking about things that are very very important to our area and things that are happening in Baton Rouge right now. You just heard from one of our guest glad Jones who was among the lawyers who was taking the oil and gas industry to court. Two to battle really. Two pay us back for all the damage it's that simple. And as -- so beautifully said the big argument has always been all these lawyers are gonna make a lot of money. And it's going to be the people were gonna have to pay it and he today announces right here. That they are taking their contingency -- off. And once again -- if you can just say again what you're saying is. We will not have any contingency fee. If the -- -- and she will just come to the table sit down. I wanna say it twice okay with it there. The contingency -- the calls for the public to pay for us to go prosecute this case against all companies will turn up. If those oil and gas companies who have admitted many times that they are responsible for part of the loss or coastal -- will column. Within six months of now come and sit down. And tell us that they are willing to enter into or or begin to negotiator comp from -- agree. They agreed to end of that process to pay us are reasonable attorneys' fees or we arbitrate. What reasonable list and that means. The bottom line is the public will be responsible for not one nickel a -- in this process any end. Not one nickel will be diverted away from coastal restoration. All the money paid by the defendants will go to coast right. Story what an amazing act of faith that no it is it truly is and its its historical this very moment and I wanna talk to John Berry because he has been. In some ways of the great leader in this and yet almost a sacrificial lamb in some cases so your thoughts on what just happened. Well I outside the capitol right now where it's quiet sort of thought I'd been telling legislators. -- weeks. That the attorneys are not going what they're fees. Interfere with -- about. That is actually the second time they've made. Some awkward. Are you probably don't remember in August the governor's office into us and applauds the losses. -- we could work things out. We agreed to do that we mean the sort out a lot at that you know I was bomb thought that an October. Well we agreed to the governor's office requests to troop -- Attorneys volunteer. Work fast they volunteered at that time. -- Those conversations went somewhere that they would have -- these resolved. Arbitration. Those conversations memory and started. Because. The governor's office block are not because a lot of or walk or even for that -- industry. And now they repeated it's actually the offered and paid back in August. The issue here. It is nice to say earlier it's as simple what you hope -- -- -- You keep -- -- Law take responsibility for your action. Be. Oil companies. -- be a war comments. Which I agree -- like contracts are negotiated. Their comments. Required them essentially to maintain and areas that they were operating and so that they minimized damage and restore those areas after they were. All the law is explosive. It's set wondered operating that are supposed to quote restore as year as practicable. To the original condition. Unquote there -- exports the oil companies didn't do that so they broke walks in terms of taking responsibility for a and they've been trying to it may not say -- actually go onto the legislature. To try to get the legislature. To retroactively. Hill. -- law that has already been by. You know even -- A study by mid continent oil and trade association for the majors. It didn't political stage it was one part of the state that particular study said. That that quote overwhelming. Majority. Of land on quote. Was caused by on operations in the area that they were starting spot troop level stay. You know so there aren't taking respond later. John a couple of things one who should have been enforcing. Those contracts. Love that product department of natural resources and the reason I say it's. They. -- and -- out there are huge stake in a different angle of attack. At the -- and one of those bills a B 862. House bill to be heard next week. And and civil law committee actually. Requires. DN art. It's a natural resources. The sign off on that can give permission. To go out and force. The law so the idea handing. The responsibility. For the same apartment which for 35 year. Has had the war. To take action and has gone absolutely not and that's it it's beyond irony yeah it's comedy. It's almost won a settlement it is insulting. It's insulting to voters it's insulting to thinking people in the state. I hate to have at stake in the Brinkley -- the newsroom but everyone stay with us and don't hesitate to call to get into this conversation 2601. -- -- now let's go to Chris Miller in the news. We have W that I think that again earlier today levees dot org. Founder sandy. Rosenthal we have attorney Glen Jones and John Barry. Talking about what's happening in the legislature. But also about the lawsuit. Concerning oil and gas industry and the building Upton and repairing the damage they did but saving saving first -- it's that simple saving our coastline. Let's go to our caller Pannemon punch to -- -- a question. -- -- I don't and you. Our am. We've got a -- it at its constitutional amendment. And let people -- How. It would actually come all out for it before but people beautiful well -- The constitutional amendment was not explicit in terms of the details of the board. It all varieties this setting up for the board but the actual legislation. That laid out details was passed. By the legislature so they could Alter that. They could Alter it to take it out of the hands of the the authority and bring it into the executive branch. Those things probably would be constitutional. But I'd leave that to glad the attorney. Confirmed. I think that that's unfortunately. Probably the case but at the end of the -- words constitutional or not it is against the will of the people. And act and that 80%. Of the people that said what we believe in greater New Orleans. In this area is professionals. That know how to run a Levy system so that the logs in the property in the culture of south Louisiana can be protected. In what they're going to do rupees bills because of this lawsuit. Is dismantle that products processed and throw out those 80% of the people's votes. One of the bills that -- center badly has introduced. Will allow the governor. Two refused to nominate. I -- refused to appoint a nominee without cause for so we have a nominating committee that was the one of the pot parts of the historic legislation. Thought passed after Katrina with we now have a nominating committee that recommends qualified people as up to the governor to appoint. With this new legislation the government can refuse to appoint someone just because they don't like him on -- would know would know cause. That's as to be 79. Which we -- which hasn't been introduced yet but we understand is in the pipeline. Again it's the bigger picture is it's trying to dismantle something in and Bledsoe that the best. That the spirit of it is is being tormented at this point and ripped apart and we have another kind of let -- grant for real quick -- I think you can into this jump -- from New Orleans. Hi we have. Andre is -- -- can't get our industry doesn't it occur to streak in true well. That's a great collapsed and first I wanna get back to -- glad does negate some new listeners and that he is willing to -- the contract. The returns are willing at the contract. And have -- yeah. For a paid side. And second. That they cannot bring with these -- and then I want Turkey should be ago. Robert Horry sent so this is taking the EU's completely off the table. As far as your question. The only all product is. And ironically. Right now. And the fiscal twenties sustained annual plan for the -- to protect their respiration or there's over sixty million dollars. That they're talking about taxpayers paying. Specifically. Applaud oil panels around the state. Which those comments that the oil companies agree. Today the oil companies should watch them. Within 98. East operations. Some of those canals have. Been waiting thirty years from those oil companies to -- some only a few years so now. Our tax saving dollar. One of -- that he covers throughout the country most agree against taxes exactly is actually ships being Bieber. From the industry which voluntarily agreed -- this responsibility. And again they want taxpayers that the -- It and -- little larger picture restoration and you're talking about tens of billions of dollars which at the industry does not pay its share. And remember we don't they're not responsible for every. The only thing. We asking them to do. Is paid for the part of the problem that they created themselves and which are legally own. -- six themselves. John -- in -- easier because did you happen to see Oliver -- -- column in today's paper. Why -- oil and gas losses such -- anyway he's he's in at war within and you need to read it because he is really one of the he's great law professor but he's also agreed environmentalist. Makes the comment that 13. Of the loss of land. Is for the canals that were built by oil and gas when you say the Google but oil and gas industries not being blamed for everything they just sank. Fix what you did. -- Right that's US Geological Survey study from 2002. Which. The industry scientists participated and and I read web. That roughly thirty cents per cent of all analog is the industry's responsibility. I'd like that turn it back to glad not to play operator. -- -- I'm I'm not jumping I've been in to vote go over arching biggest issues were where we started. Decent an independent professionals. Brought this lawsuit to save coastal police. Lives property in the culture that we enjoy. What this administration in what this legislatures not talking about. Is that by their own master plan they're projecting in the year 2100 if coastal loss. Continues unabated. The towns. Like golden about it looked beat. -- -- Shelby each and many many others. Will no longer exist. People do you people under design element and hootie got their businesses more access their Stanley property won't exist. -- churches won't exist their schools won't exist. The -- that comes with all of that will not exist now one time has leadership in our government and for that matter of the federal government as well. Senator Landrieu and senator senator. Nobody has gone to these panels and says if we don't fix this problem. -- will no longer be here. Now the oil and gas industry has taken billions and billions and billions 500 billion or more from this area. They have the moral obligation. To own up and do what -- that -- we all live by the time and -- by the time -- five years old clean up your maps. -- help this area. Com helps a gold -- looked beat -- grow. That is their obligation. And and to that extent that's why this lawsuit was file. And I do that because I participated in many many many seven months' worth of discussions with the board. Of these good professionals. And it seems almost incredible. It inside of our state leadership at the federal level to that people are not telling the people of south Louisiana the truth. That their homes -- churches -- it was a culture. Will no longer exist in when he -- the hundred years some of these communities have been here for two and 300 years. And it's over. Stay with us everyone we're not over we'll be right back going back to our subject with a sandy Rosenthal Glen Jones and John Barry talking about. But the lawsuit against the oil and gas companies about fixing as a sixth inning of the mess they made with our. Our coast and the issues that were facing because of it and equally importantly all the various bills up and van rouge that or just trying to poke holes in things that. We have fought for and I think that's the bottom once and you wanted to make a com. I I certainly did the I wanted to point out that if there a problem with the lawsuit. I'll fight the lawsuit on its merits and let it go to court and fight it on its on its merits but that's not what's going on here instead. The united seven oil gas and pipeline companies are petrified. And as the legislative that they support also petrified that this is actually a good lawsuit and it is -- and reasonable lawsuit and should take place. And this is -- but what actually is going on is good governance of their first governance of its kind in the entire nation. I passed after Katrina instead to go to dismantle. That good governance and that is outrageous that should have everybody's furious. I do want to point out that something just got handed to me. A statement that I made earlier that flow of a senator at least built affected only south -- southeast Louisiana protection society east and not the west. Apparently I was looking at. Earlier versions of the bills which only affected the east apparently later versions of those -- apparently somebody heard me complain about that and apparently later versions of those bills have been collected. Okay. I got a message from someone who wanted to know well multi. Oil against you would just say what you have. Offered glad by dropping all the contingency fees let's just get on with the discussion of compromise. Is just rhetoric. And so what kind of proof I guess are you gonna show to these lawyers are serious about this. Well all we can do is offer and our objective is that the public not pay a nickel. For these two attorneys' fees cost and expenses. Incurred in -- prosecute this case I can tell you this is is this is the result of a but the debate and a discussion among all the law firms in this and and all companies. The all companies will be if they wanna come and engage in this process were making that commitment. He would do to publicly. And in we're committed to it. We don't want to add one thing hair and make it clear that if this went to court it was always contract that if -- a lot of forty law. And the attorneys would get is zero. They would get an -- there expenses they wouldn't get any compensation. Estate go to court and lose that was always. And again I think going back to the very basics and all you're asking. We are not anti oil and gas companies in that's too much apart of who we are on many levels. The reality is that had a responsibility. To -- not to feel that responsibility. Equipment a lot of money here just do which you signed off doing. That's correct and and do it quickly. Because of the -- that the facts of this. And losing all of these communities say that to scare people that deaths in the master plan that starts up two wars put together. Golden meadows is go go growth is gone in in in 203050. Years. And that is a major major loss for the state Louisiana and people are not the leadership of of our state. He's not telling people the truth. And what they've done audiences they've talked a lot about agree trawlers will agree trawlers have come to the table said you know what we will take a big risk. -- -- won't be uncertain we will put it in the hands of a third party arbitrator to decide no contract nothing paired up. If the oil companies agree to come to the table fix the problem and agree to that process I don't know how we can be much more fair government. And as you said earlier in the commercial break. That this is what the tobacco settlement recruit lawyers yet so it's not like it hasn't you know. Reinventing and we were not reinventing the wheel very very the tobacco lawyers when they prosecute that case successfully. They agreed with the tobacco companies that their -- would not be paid by the public. That they would be arbitrator with the tobacco companies who have fought very hard over what those fees would be. The tobacco lawyers took tremendous risk to secure the state over four billion dollars and the public didn't pay a nickel. That is exactly what we're proposing. I just think it from a citizen's point of view there has to be. There has to be an accountability. By the oil and gas companies we've created this we're gonna fix it it just seems so very basic. And in this basic and as -- said. Most every parent teaches the child that by the time their five years old and it's the same concept. Stay with this will be right back. I wanna thank. And I think sandy Rosenthal with let me stop organ glad Jones the attorney for the lawsuit and John -- Thank you for this we're gonna have you back this isn't gonna end immediately but a big breakthrough today with what -- -- saying your -- your team is doing. And now we will look forward to talking to. Senator Bradley and others and I really appreciate you opening thank you so much for having a Q and we will be back stay with its.