May 27, 2010 4:57 PM by Letitia Walker
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who
did not seek re-election after Hurricane Katrina, said Thursday
that all levels of government - federal, state and local - have
missed the mark in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
"It was so predictable," Blanco said. "Where was the oil
going to go? It had no place to go but land. There definitely was a
lack of response by all levels of government. That was the deja vu
"It would be nice to see all three levels of government dealing
openly and honestly to solve the problem," Blanco, 67, said.
"Part of the problem is when the problem is this big, the
temptation is to point out blame."
Blanco, a Democrat, was in her first term as governor when
Katrina hit Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005. After levees caved in, 80
percent of New Orleans was left flooded. In the chaos that
followed, squabbles escalated between federal, state and local
officials about the slow response.
Blanco and then-Mayor Ray Nagin were familiar sights on
television, pleading for help from the administration of former
Gov. George W. Bush.
After widespread public criticism, Blanco opted not to seek a
second term in 2007 and was replaced by Republican Bobby Jindal.
Jindal, and Plaquemine Parish President Billy Nungesser, find
themselves in a Katrina-like situation, pleading with federal
officials to help protect the Louisiana coast - or allow the state
to do so - as masses of brown goo from the Deepwater Horizon spill
wash into marshes and beaches, depriving fishermen of their
livelihood and endangering the last protective barriers between
urban areas and the Gulf.
Blanco said capping the spilling well is a "private-sector
responsibility" and should be left in the hands of BP PLC, the oil
industry and the complex technology that is involved. But the
"real dysfunction" - as Blanco called it - has occurred in
preparing for the oil to reach shore.
"All I hear is why isn't BP sending more booms, why isn't the
federal government sending more booms. I say why isn't the state
getting more booms," Blanco said. "In a crisis, I think you need
to act and figure out the details later. It looks like they're
arguing over who's going to pay for it and it's paralyzed people at
the state and local levels."
Blanco said Jindal "cannot do it himself," but could have
taken additional steps, such as authorizing deficit spending to
obtain any equipment needed. "Act and send them the bill and fight
over it later," she said.
The former governor also said an opportunity was lost by not
using - at least on an experimental basis on parts of the spill - a
swarm of new technologies that have been offered to BP to deal with
"They should have all been deployed," Blanco said. "Anything
that looked like it had half of chance should have been deployed."
As far as the federal government goes, Blanco said the focus was
on BP's responsibility, although it was obvious that the oil would
The missed lesson of Katrina? Blanco went back to the storm
disaster, pointing out that lives were saved as the result of state
and local action.
"There was no federal relief until after a week of trauma and
stress," the former governor said. "That's the case in any
disaster, the people on the scene are the ones who can physically
do the most. Whether they like it or not, they have the
On Thursday, five weeks into the spill, President Barack Obama
sounded a defensive note, asserting his administration was in
charge of the response to end the crisis.
14 hours ago