La. Gov.: Bush Forgetting Katrina

By CAIN BURDEAU
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 8:01 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco angrily criticized President Bush on Wednesday for not mentioning 2005's destructive hurricanes in his State of the Union speech, and said Louisiana is being shortchanged in federal recovery funding for political reasons.

"I guess the pains of the hurricane are yesterday's news in Washington," Blanco said.

"But for us it's still very real, very real, and it's something that we live every single day," the governor said. "But we will continue to fight, and we will continue to come on, and we will effect a recovery."

Mayor Ray Nagin echoed Blanco's disappointment at Bush's omission of New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina, but he cautioned against reopening political rifts that developed after the storm.

"We're 18 months into this thing. I'm tired of complaining and bellyaching," the mayor said. "We're going to take whatever nickels we have, whatever pennies we have, whatever dollars we have, and we're going to stretch it, and we're going to make this recovery work."

White House spokesman Blair C. Jones said Wednesday that Bush wants the Gulf Coast region rebuilt as quickly as possible and that he was committed to helping New Orleans' recovery.

"This year's State of the Union was not a list of every ongoing and important issue before the President," Jones said.

Blanco accused the White House of repeatedly delivering less money than Louisiana has needed to repair the damage to housing, schools and hospitals. She said Mississippi has received much more help.

"I just want an end to the disparities, once and for all," the governor said.

She said Louisiana's unfair treatment set the state's recovery back by six months.

Blanco sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday requesting an investigation to probe the role of "White House political operatives throughout the Katrina tragedy and its aftermath." It was unclear Wednesday night whether Pelosi's office had received the request.

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Associated Press reporters Becky Bohrer in New Orleans and Ben Evans in Washington contributed to this report.


© 2007 The Associated Press