Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Name Names

One thing I've never understood about 9/11 and 8/29: in both cases, clearly, people in government and private industry failed to do the jobs they were paid to do, and in both cases thousands of people were killed as a result.

Media coverage of these events and their causes has focused on governmental or industry failure--failure to collect good intelligence, failure to use good intelligence that had already been collected, failure to provide adequate security checks of passengers, failure to use good design for levees, failure to execute well the parts of the levee design that were adequate, failure to respond to the flooding and people rendered homeless, and so on.

Here's the thing. The government agencies and private companies that failed in these disasters (one caused by fanatical malevolence, one caused by negligence) are nothing without the people, the persons, who run them. Government institutions and private companies didn't fail airline passengers, New Yorkers, DC'ers, and New Orleanians; individual persons did.

It's not that I want unnecessarily to ridicule or belittle people here. My point is that I see little cause for an improved future until individual people take responsibility or are held accountable for the screwups that led to or exacerbated these human-made disasters. The same guys who failed to coordinate intelligence or inspect levees just might be the same guys who can fix the problem. Those guys have names. Why can't the media or governmental watchdogs name them, ask them hard questions, and push hard to get the problems fixed?

I see Lee Zurik do it all the time on Fox 8. He gets in people's faces.

So here we go. Our local paper today has an article about how the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West Bank has discovered that once again, the Army Corps and its contractor Phylway Construction have built a levee filled with chunks of debris; the embedded debris makes the levee unsound, according to an independent geologist.

It's a good article--except that it's good only because it's covering the GREAT work being done by the SLFPA-WB. (One board member's comment--comparing the levee to a jelly doughnut--reminds me of Ashley's rant about the Corps stupidly building levees on jello.)

Here's the other thing: the article doesn't name names! Okay, thanks to the article, we know that Phylway Construction allegedly has been building a levee that clearly violates Corps standards. Well, Phylway Construction has an owner/manager. Her name is Phyllis Adams.

Phyllis Adams should take responsibility for this problem. Her company is being paid very well to protect the people of the Westbank. It is alleged that Phyllis Adams's company is not taking this responsibility seriously and has put a water heater and a shopping cart into a levee that should be made up of dirt and clay.

There. I did it. I named a name--the name of a person who can make a difference by correcting her company's error and possibly saving thousands of lives in the future.

It wasn't hard for me, and I didn't do anything wrong.

Why can't the Times-Picayune do that?

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