U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert got a little taste of Louisiana, but not the taste of Cajun cuisine or hospitality that he might have preferred. Stacey Tallitsch, Democratic candidate for Congressional District number 1 of Louisiana, spoke at a press conference outside of Hastert’s district office. He was accompanied by John Laesch, a 31-year-old Navy veteran and Democrat from southwestern Kendall County who is planning a run against Hastert next fall.
Tallitsch had his home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and has been staying with family members in DeKalb while waiting to get his home rebuilt. While there, he has seen real compassion from the locals, but none from the likes of David “The Critter” Vitter, Bobby “USS GOP-cabin boy” Jindle and Dennis “The Bastert” Hastert.
Like the rest of Louisiana, he sees the real deal with people like Hastert, who stated “it makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that’s seven feet under sea level” and “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed” and “We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild too. Stubbornness.”
Here are some quips from the story they told:
A displaced survivor of Hurricane Katrina who has since announced his intentions to run for Congress lashed out at U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republicans Tuesday, calling the GOP-sponsored plan to rebuild the Gulf Coast “morally contemptible.”
Stacey Tallitsch, a Democrat who says he wants to run in Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District, made his remarks outside Hastert’s district office during a noon-hour appearance alongside John Laesch, a 31-year-old Navy veteran and Democrat from southwestern Kendall County who is planning a run against Hastert next fall.
Tallitsch, who has been living with family members in DeKalb since early September, accused Hastert and other Republicans of using the hurricane to line the pockets of “disaster profiteers,” including Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc.
It then goes on, to say this:
Tallitsch himself was laid off from his job at a local college shortly after the hurricane in addition to losing his home and possessions and has relied on friends, family members and even strangers to support his family.
“These acts of charity are a far cry from what our so-called leaders in Washington have done,” he said. “All of the money being spent is going into the pockets of Republican party donors.”
Of course, Hastert had one of his flunkies respond with the usual GOP talking points:
Brad Hahn, a spokesman for Hastert, defended Hastert’s response to the hurricane, noting that Congress has appropriated more than $62 billion for disaster relief.
“They clearly don’t let the facts get in the way of their press conferences,” Hahn said of Laesch and Tallitsch. “The truth is that we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to getting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region back on its feet.”
My name is Stacey Tallitsch and I’m here today as a resident of the Greater New Orleans area. The struggle my family and I have endured over the past two months has been monumental. While it hasn’t been as dramatic as what some have experienced, it is true that I am homeless, all my possessions are gone, and I’ve lost my job at a local College. All I have is my family, my health and my campaign for Congress in the First District of Louisiana, which started long before Katrina was a blip on the radar screen.
The roof of my home was ripped off during Katrina, flooding and collapsing my ceiling. Then the toxic flood waters from Lake Pontchartrain came, four feet high, leaving sludge and toxic mold in the 90 degree heat and destroying everything I own.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve experienced some powerful moments demonstrating what it means to be an American. People have offered to me personally, real acts of charity. They have asked for no recognition, refused my gratitude and have done or given out of the kindness of their heart. I have met a waitress, who paid for a meal for my family. I’ve met a hair stylist who generously gave a free hair-cut to my son and I’ve met an auto mechanic who fixed an oil leak, without wanting anything in return.
Co-workers of local relatives have gone to Old Navy and bought boxes of clothes off the rack for my 11year old daughter and my 9 year old son. And, someone anonymously donated a bicycle to my son who had lost his in Katrina.
Without knowing anything about me, or my family, except that I was from New Orleans, people have done whatever they could, and sometimes more than they should have, to bring stability back to our lives.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling, but when you wake up one morning to find out everything you have is now gone, it’s hard to appreciate the level of gratitude I feel by the simplest of acts.
Compassion and real acts of charity such as these are such a far cry from what our so-called leadership has done. In these cynical times of governmental cronyism and corruption, it’s easy to forget what makes this country great. In truth, it is the American people, not corporations. It is our compassion and our hope for the future that makes us the greatest nation in the world, not corporate greed.
You wouldn’t know that by looking at the Republican leadership in Washington.
Just this month, Republicans strong-armed an energy bill through the House of Representatives that hurts the very people who have helped me. I cannot in good conscience stand by and let the Republican leadership hurt these Americans any longer.
We can do better.
What makes the actions of the GOP even more egregious, is that they know that what they are doing is wrong. However, Republican sycophants will do whatever it takes to repay oil-barons and war profiteers by pillaging the public trust and using Katrina victims, like myself, to satiate the byzantine lust of a few.
Now that New Orleans is re-opening for some, the same people who were the most effected by Katrina are being left behind again.
When those in power close the public schools, close public housing, fire people from their jobs, refuse to provide access to affordable public healthcare and close off all avenues for justice, it is not necessary to erect a sign outside of New Orleans saying “Poor people not allowed to return.” People cannot come back in these circumstances, and that is exactly what is happening.
There are 28,000 people still living in shelters in Louisiana. There are 38,000 public housing apartments in New Orleans, many in good physical condition. None have reopened.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that 112,000 low-income homes in New Orleans were damaged by the hurricane. Yet local, state and federal authorities are not committed to re-opening public housing and as many as 50,000 homes will have to be razed to the ground.
Republican Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker said after the hurricane, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”
Republicans should be fired for actions unbecoming a human being.
New Orleans public schools enrolled about 60,000 children before the hurricane. The school board president now estimates that no schools on the city’s east bank, where the overwhelming majority of people live, will reopen this academic school year.
Every one of the 13 public schools on the mostly dry west bank of New Orleans was changed into a charter schools in an afternoon meeting. A member of the Louisiana state Board of Education estimated that at most 10,000 students will attend public schools in New Orleans this academic year.
The City of New Orleans laid off 3,000 workers. The public school system laid off virtually all of its 7,000 workers. The Archdiocese of New Orleans laid off 800 workers from its central staff and countless hundreds of others from its parish schools. The Housing Authority has laid off almost all its workers.
Before Hurricane Katrina washed away its tax base, the St. Bernard School District employed 1,200 people.
Now, with no money to make its payroll, the district has fewer than 12 employees, and this last weekend, the parish government laid off half its firefighters and emergency workers.
We are seeing the worst municipal finance crisis in the nation’s history. Let me repeat that again… (repeat)
Hurricane Katrina cost local municipalities in southern Louisiana at least $3.3 billion in lost taxes and fees. That does not include the $1.5 billion in losses on the state level. This month, Congress approved legislation to set aside a pathetic $1 billion for the entire Gulf Cost, so distressed governments could borrow cash to help meet operating expenses.
Borrow $1 billion?
After the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the government provided grants to cover 100% of losses and reconstruction. Even in Iraq, the United States government is providing 100% grants for reconstruction.
Yet Dennis Hastert thinks 75% is good enough for Louisiana? And only $1 billion dollars, which has to be repaid, when the oil laden Iraqi government gets $200 billion of our tax dollars for free?
Not only is Hastert’s behavior repulsive, but it’s morally contemptible.
I say, if it’s good enough for Iraq, it’s good enough for Americans too.
I put the blame just as much on Bobby Jindal, who represents some of the worst effected regions, just as much as Dennis Hastert who believes New Orleans should be bulldozed.
For all his hype of having the ear of President Bush and Speaker Hastert, Jindal has made no effort to come to the aid of Louisiana or its governments.
If my own congressman is that out of touch in a time of crisis, then why should anyone else care? (Repeat)
People are making serious money in this hurricane but not the working and poor people who built and maintained New Orleans. President Bush lifted the requirement that jobs rebuilding the Gulf Coast pay a living wage.
The Small Business Administration has received 1.6 million disaster loan applications and has approved nine in Louisiana. A U.S. senator reported that maintenance workers at the Superdome are being replaced by out of town workers who will work for less money and no benefits.
To date, 75 Louisiana electricians at the Naval Air Station have been replaced by workers from Kellogg, Brown and Root – a subsidiary of Halliburton. Not because it’s cheaper, but because it’s Halliburton.
We can do better.
Since George Bush has risen to emperor-like status, the price at the pump has doubled, oil-barons have reaped record profits, and more than 2 billion dollars a week has gone missing from Americans pockets. Osama Bin Laden and Ken Lay still walk around as free men, and we are being looted while Rome burns.
We can do better.
Dennis Hastert’s contempt for what is right and good in the country is proven by his sordid behavior in concentrating on his highway project while allowing GOP thuggery to do its magic on the Gulf Coast. It would appear that the so-called ethics of Tom DeLay hold a special place in the Speaker’s heart.
At the “Back to Business Workshop” held at the Sheraton, New Orleans, more than 1500 people representing 1000+ businesses were eager to express their desire to help restore New Orleans. Local entrepreneurs in the crowd insisted that local companies receive some of the money awarded to the major contractors, Bechtel and Halliburton.
The Republican leadership considers this desire for New Orleans to rebuild New Orleans heretical. It may sound unbelievable, but when the GOP argues that their insatiable thirst for power is biblically sound, they are not lying.
It is biblically sound to the one written by Anton LaVey, just not Peter, Paul, Luke and Mark.
Though the chest deep toxic waters have receded from the streets of New Orleans, economically, the city is desperately trying to keep its head above water.
Dennis Hastert’s solution is no solution. He has said that the city should be bulldozed; now he’s trying to bulldoze over the people of New Orleans with the same cabal responsible for Iraq’s so-called reconstruction. The very same companies that still can’t account for 9 billion tax dollars that suddenly went missing have yet to be held accountable. Yet, Dennis Hastert believes the people of New Orleans can’t be trusted to rebuild our own homes, that big government and slave-labor profiteers can do it better.
This is a lie.
It is quite clear that profiteers like Tom DeLay’s best buddy, Jack Abramoff have put New Orleans in the cross hairs. They want to make New Orleans into another Sin City, where Casinos and prostitution run unbridled.
What makes this behavior particularly sick and disgusting is that they are using the victims of Katrina to push this agenda forward. Dennis Hastert and the rest of Tom DeLay’s cabal want you to believe that they are New Orleanians’ savior, when, in truth, they are predators stalking their latest victim.
We can do better.
The Democratic Leadership, John Laesch and I support a proposal for a 21st century works program that will put the people of the Gulf Coast back to work and begin the rebuilding of this cultural epicenter. The Democratic Party represents the stalwart of the American spirit, which is “people make a country,” not corporations.
The time has come to support the people of the Gulf Coast, not give in to the pirates of profiteering.
America is strong because of its citizens; it’s time to support the citizens who need America’s strength the most.