Monday, April 30, 2007

Would you buy a used Trailer from these guys?

FEMA issued a press release Thursday April 26.

In it FEMA set a deadline for vacating trailers of April 1, 2009 (it was August 29 2007 or two years after Katrina) or residents must pay rent, beginning at $50/month and rising each month.

The most important announcement however, was that you can now purchase your trailer from FEMA, at a fair and equitable price (whatever that means).

Of course FEMA has previously told people who asked about purchasing their trailers that they could buy a trailer, but not their trailer. Their trailer would have to be returned to a trailer depot and refurbished then put up for auction, where anyone could purchase it. A typically bureaucratic response, adding stupidity to the process to prevent someone for taking advantage of the government. Rather that selling someone a trailer they were familiar with in a location convenient to them, FEMA wanted to pay a contractor to disconnect the trailer, haul it to a refurbishment center, pay for inspection and refurbishment finally advertise an auction and sell it to the lowest bidder, probably for less than to cost to haul it all over the country and probably get less than it former resident would have happily paid.

I've grown kind of fond of mine. It might make a sort of guest house but, I certainly don't want to leave it in my back yard, it doesn't match the decor.

One thought was to make it a weekend camp somewhere. In fact the idea of a cooperative Blogger Katrinaville in the country has some appeal. It could be a sort of permanent memorial refugee camp. Ready to receive its residents whenever New Orleans is threatened. Of course we'd have to restrict residents to the "right kind of people".

But then again it might become a sort of eco-community, I have long wanted to experiment with a truly off the grid installation. Trailers are remarkably frugal with energy usage. A single 30 amp 120v circuit powers the trailer and it is only really needed if you run the Air Conditioning. A 4KW wind turbine could easily power a single trailer. A 10KW could probably power three or maybe even four, if there were enough diversity. A 50 KW could probably power 20 at a time.

Anyone want to sign up?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Excursion: St. Simons

Labor Day, the traditional end of summer. We planned to be in Atlanta and take in some traditional end of summer activities. At the last minute we decided to try go to The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island Georgia.

I'd wanted to visit there for a long time. I am a sucker for old hotels. There is something about the passage of time which makes those places better and better, provided they are maintained. I'd never even heard of the King and Prince until I googled it up on the Internet a few years ago. I became entranced.

In any event we decided to spend two nights Saturday and Sunday. Since Saint Simons is a considerable distance from Atlanta we were going to spend a good part of the trip on the road. Yahoo says its 318 miles, a 4:58 minute drive. That's ok, since we have enjoy road trips and it gives up time to just talk and see the country side.

The drive down was pleasant and uneventful. We arrived in mid afternoon, plenty of time to explore the hotel and get some beach time in before dinner. Since we were staying in a condo we decided to cook in.

The unit had a balcony looking out over the pool to the beach. It was a very nice view, we decided to eat dinner on the balcony and later sat and sipped Champagne while we talked watched the stars to the sound of the sea.

Sunday we split our time between the beach, which was just a few steps from the hote and the village. Immediately after breakfast we rented an umbrella beach chairs for the day.

During the day we made a couple of wlaking excursions around the island to see what was there. The King and Prince is located in the heart of Saint Simons older area. Called the "village" it is a sleepy town of summer bungalows many of which are quite old. It is a comfortable, old shoe kind of place which seems to have a sense of permanence. It is casual and southern.

Unfortunately there are signs it is being redeveloped. Old bungalows are being demolished and condominiums being constructed. Fortunately there seem to be some limits. The King and Prince had been part of an earlier wave of redevelopment and a lot of what were once grounds was covered with "villas". That where we stayed, th efirst night.

The Lighthouse is the iconic image of St Simons. There are lots oak canopied lanes and golf courses.

We actually didn't get that much chance to look around.

Friday, April 27, 2007

They seem to have lost us.

The Road Home seems to have lost us. We had our interview on January 19. Two friends also had their interviews about that same time. Both of them have already received their gold letters. Although we was told it would only take six to eight weeks to get a letter, I was prepared for a longer wait. It has turned into more than twelve weeks. I understand that part of the delay was ICF's shift to licensed appraisers and the whole HUD thing. Still I don't see why we are behind our friends.

Based on my friends reports to me The Road Home still has significant problems valuing existing property. One friend, another Lake Terrace resident, had his home valued at about $85 per square foot. That's only a little more than I paid for my house 8 years ago. My house certainly appreciated in those eight years. I think our house is nicer than his but not that much. Mine is a little different so many people might not agree with me. In his case the discrepancy won't matter since he maxed out his award anyway. Others might not be so "lucky".

The Road Home has also changed their Latest Statistics page. I've updated the link on the right of my home page. The new layout is cleaner and much easier to read. Like the last version it has a link to a .doc file with much more detailed information. There is still no way I can find to go back to previous weeks and chart the progress, or even get previous versions of the .doc files.

As always when I write about Road Home, I ask my readers to share any information about their Road Home experience that are comfortable with, either as a comment or an email. My email address is in my profile.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Economic Development 1

In order to survive New Orleans needs Economic Development.

Historically two paths have allowed economically disadvantaged groups to move into the middle class, government employment and skilled labor.

Government employment in New Orleans has largely been captured by the families and friends of long time politically connected residents.

Movement into skilled labor has been obstructed by history, culture and institutional barriers. When I started in my career many years ago the building trades were effectively divided by race. African Americans were largely limited to laborers and to plasterers. The remaining trades seemed restricted to whites. This was largely the result of union legacies.

Our political elites seem to have become intoxicated by idea the minorities should have "equity" in government contracts. How this benefits the goals of racial equality beyond a few enclaves of the well connected, I've never figured out. I'd think a requirement for employment large numbers of local residents or a requirement for skills training or some other mechanism would seem better targeted towards the economic development of New Orleans than the payment of tribute to the usual suspects.

For a long time I've wondered why the traditional black universities in New Orleans and elsewhere have not embraced the construction industry.

It seems to me these institutions could train the next generation of project managers and the generation of business owners beyond that. In the process these new manages and leaders with one foot in the community and one foot in commerce could provide a path for many into the middle class.

The reconstruction of New Orleans will take a long time yet, and there is still time to train these leaders.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Deutsches Haus Is now Open !

Volksfest 2007

Friday, May 11th
Saturday, May 12th

Deutsches Haus
Is now Open !
We have new hours!

Wednesdays 4pm to 11pm
Thursdays 4pm to midnight
Fridays 3pm to 1am
Saturdays 6pm to 1am

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Blue Light Special

The political news of the last few days is just astonishing;

"Blue Light Special" Cynthia, got caught going over 100 mph with an illegal blue light and the State Police let her go. I think I's still be in jail. I don't care which Cynthia she is she should resign. Breaking the law is worse than being boorish.

Ed "What continent am I on" Blakeley, seems confused about exactly how many people were living in New Orleans before he got here. That must complicate planning getting them back. He was so depressed by his gaff he sent the clueless Nagin dome out to apologize for him.

On the DC front HUD has reNagined on their approval of the Road Home program, delaying the payout again . They seem to have been very slow to discover but quick to declare their mistake and typically slow to respond to proposals to fix the problem they created.

I guess its still business as clueless.