In her blog, Squandered Heritage, Karen Gadbois, has taken on the City of New Orleans and won.  It’s everyday heroes like Gadbois who demonstrate that one person can make a difference.

Every vote we cast in an election is important.  Every action we take makes a difference.  It’s our children, not the President or Congress or Governors or Mayors, who will decide by their actions what kind of a country America will become in the future. 

 
A link to her blog – http://www.squanderedheritage.com/ .  Be careful of your blood pressure when you read it.
 
A home the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Agency (NOAH) paid $390,000 for.
 
Another home “remediated” by NOAH.
 
 
From an article in the New York Times by Adam Nossiter about Karen Gadbois’s crusade:
 
“NEW ORLEANS — The citizens of this scarred city have grown accustomed to promises of grand official projects that will infallibly transform life here but somehow never do. Their attention is diminishing.

But not in the case of Karen Gadbois. She jumps in her car and checks up on the promises, driving for hours across the city, then blogs about the results on her kitchen table while her dogs yap around her. A few months ago, she discovered a city renovation program that was not actually fixing up houses.

That activism might normally go down as well-meaning naïveté. Here though, it can be incendiary, in a place where big public funds slosh around, citizen needs are still great at Hurricane Katrina’s three-year anniversary and City Hall’s grasp of its own initiatives is shaky.

In fact, it has set off a bomb that has exploded in slow motion here in the past three weeks, largely thanks to Ms. Gadbois: the federally financed program to gut and repair the storm-damaged homes of the poor and elderly, on which the city spent $1.8 million, has been exposed as — at least partly — a sham.

The F.B.I. on Monday raided the agency running the program, the local United States attorney announced last week he was investigating, and Mayor C. Ray Nagin, hauled grudgingly before the City Council, complained about what he called “amateur investigations,” a reluctant nod to Ms. Gadbois and her followers in the news media.

The classic New Orleans blend of possible corruption and certain mismanagement has dominated headlines for days, forcing Mr. Nagin to do an abrupt about-face. First, he called a news conference to criticize a New Orleans television reporter, Lee Zurik, whom he called “reckless,” for following up on Ms. Gadbois’s discoveries in a report on WWL-TV.

Mr. Nagin made it clear he was not pleased with the report, especially because it was broadcast when a high-level Congressional delegation was in town. With the cameras rolling, he said it was “completely untrue” that federal money had been misspent on work never done.

“It’s got to stop,” the mayor ordered the reporter at a news conference, referring to what he called “the gotcha mode,” and accusing the reporter of hurting the city’s recovery. The charge is akin in New Orleans to being accused of a lack of patriotism.

On Thursday, though, in front of the City Council, the mayor acknowledged through gritted teeth that there were “documentation issues” and “discrepancies” in the remediation program, which is run by the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corporation, known as NOAH. ”

“Taking their cues from Ms. Gadbois, WWL and The Times-Picayune have documented business connections between the program’s former director, Stacey Jackson, and some of its contractors, one of whom was the mayor’s brother-in-law. The reports showed houses that were supposedly fixed up at the taxpayers’ expense but in fact were untouched, contractors who billed the city for gutting work that was actually done by church volunteers, “remediated” houses that were then demolished and poor and elderly residents mystified at turning up on the city’s list of those supposedly helped. Some of the houses did not belong to the poor and the elderly at all, but were actually owned by businessmen or landlords.”

“Lists of homes to which things are going to be done — there are many in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, where nearly 60 percent of the dwellings were damaged in the storm — are red meat for Ms. Gadbois. But this time she did not even need to leave her own house, a rambling, cheerfully messy raised green cottage in the Carrollton section (it took on four feet of water in the hurricane) to know something was terribly wrong with the list of houses NOAH claimed to work on.

“It wasn’t even that the house didn’t exist; the whole block didn’t exist,” Ms. Gadbois recalled. “Something’s not right here. We saw properties that had supposedly been remediated by NOAH coming up to be declared imminent health threats, and then demolished.”

It galled her, she said, that public money was being used to rehab a house, and later to demolish it, often by agencies sharing the same office space.

But it was actually worse once Ms. Gadbois got in the car with her colleague, Sarah Lewis, and started to look at the houses NOAH was supposed to be working on.

“The first day we went out, there were 10 properties, and they were just not done,” she said — nothing had been done to them, even though they were listed by the city as remediated. Photographs of some posted on her Web site look ready for the wrecking ball rather than an all-clear inspection certificate. In the end, she inspected several hundred houses: only a few had actually been remediated. “

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