The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Houston: City of Brotherly Antipathy

In a classic example of attacking the symptom instead of the problem, Houston has decided that the best way to handle the completely bungled Katrina rebuilding effort is more prisons.

The preliminary results of Klineberg's annual survey, which is expected to be finalized later this month, suggest that a sizable fraction of area residents have tired of their guests from New Orleans.

"These results reflect what I'm hearing from my constituents," said U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. "I think the percentage of people unhappy with the deadbeats from New Orleans would be larger but for the big hearts of Houstonians who want these folks to get back on their feet, as I do."

Houston Mayor Bill White, who along with Harris County Judge Robert Eckels led efforts to welcome and shelter evacuees, acknowledged the increased strains on city services, notably crime and traffic management.

"People are of two minds on this issue," White said. "They are proud of the competence that Houston showed in responding to Americans in need. But they are also aware that it's not a disaster for nothing. There's a big job that the evacuees and the host community have in getting people on their feet, employed and looking to the future."

Culberson said the sentiment is much stronger, at least in his district (which includes west Houston, the Texas Medical Center and much of western and northwestern Harris County). He said his constituents are concerned about rising crime and no longer want to house New Orleanians who choose to rely on social services.

"If they can work, but won't work, ship 'em back," he said. "If they cause problems in the schools, if they commit crime, there ought to be a one-strike rule — ship 'em back."

Although Culberson said he has been trying to attach such a provision to pending legislation, it's unclear how such an idea could be implemented.

You've gotta love a group of city officials who don't see the problem as our government still finding dead bodies in the streets of New Orleans six months after the hurricane, contractors who refused to hire New Orleans residents to work on the cleanup (remember the attempt to suspend a minimum wage rule for workers there? the reports that they were hiring illegal immigrants?), and the fact that there's been only a minimal rebuilding effort. No, the problem is that the 'deadbeats' lost everything they had in the world haven't made American success stories of themselves yet.