Recently, we learned that the new regional director of the Flood Protection Authority East fell victim to an online scam in 2017 and wired more than $50,000 to a fictitious company.
Board member Clay Cosse voiced concerns that this incident involving Kelli Chandler had not ever been reported to the board. We agree.
In addition, the authority’s vice president Roy Arrigo has stated that “the board should have been informed” before Chandler was named regional director.
The board president Herb Miller defended his decision saying the bylaws give him that authority. But a conflicting bylaw says the board may hire a regional director who shall serve at the pleasure of the board.
We are not surprised to learn of these conflicting bylaws.
The regional levee authorities in greater New Orleans are the only two such organizations in the nation.
Just seven weeks after the levees broke in 2005, a bill was submitted to the Louisiana Legislature that would change the way members of the local levee boards were selected.
The legislation was drafted in haste in an environment of hysteria and chaos. It’s no surprise that the bylaws have conflicting provisions.
We also note that the two articles by David Hammer reference “corruption and secrecy at the politically charged” pre-Katrina levee boards.
There is no evidence that the pre-Katrina levee boards were at fault in the levee breach event.
Only one study pointed fingers at the levee boards, and the study's co-authors retracted that wrong conclusion in 2015.
History should eventually show that the levee board reform was largely a distraction from the true culprit in the levee breach event, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
But the legislation was passed, the flood authorities are here to stay, and they have a job to do. It’s fitting that the populace pays attention.
H.J. BOSWORTH, JR.
lead researcher, Levees.org