Thursday, November 17, 2005

Louisiana happily telling New Orleans off.

Nation: Decades of payback are in the works as the state moves to the right because of the lack of a New Orleans powerbase.

LATIMES: "BATON ROUGE, La. — In a committee room deep inside Louisiana's Capitol building this week, something unusual happened: A House panel rejected a funding proposal from the Department of Education, complaining that it was overly generous to New Orleans' public schools. Rep. Charlie DeWitt, a conservative Democrat from the rural community of Lecompte, was downright gleeful afterward. Sending that budget back, he said, was "so much fun." Things are looking up for DeWitt, a former House speaker, who before Hurricane Katrina felt so out of favor politically that he joined a group of legislators known as the "Outhouse Gang." An influx of evacuees has added to the population of his district, padding its tax base. And he and his allies in the Legislature are looking forward to the long-delayed pleasure of flexing their political muscles. "It's hard to sing the blues if you're doing well," DeWitt said. "We're doing well." ....Now, with the city's population dispersed — and no indication of whether, or when, most residents will return — some lawmakers hope they are witnessing a permanent reversal of fortunes, said Elliot Stonecipher, a political analyst based in Shreveport. "Even good people are quietly sitting back, not lending their support to the rebuilding of New Orleans," Stonecipher said. "What you're seeing is a lot of people snickering and winking and nodding…. This is something they thought they would never see."

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