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Letters to the Editor 

Good Planning Takes Time
Thanks to Gambit Weekly for its coverage of the rebuilding process in New Orleans. As always, the City Planning Commission truly appreciates media coverage that brings greater understanding of planning and land-use matters. In the interest of furthering that understanding, we are compelled to respond to the commentary "Nobody Gets A Pass" (March 14). The City Planning Commission eagerly anticipates meaningful involvement in the Bring New Orleans Back (BNOB) planning process and is dedicated to producing a long-term recovery plan that is guided by an open forum for public input. When the Planning Commission has officially received the BNOB plan from the mayor, we will review the plan, conduct our own requisite public hearings, integrate any additional input with our recommendations, and forward the plan to the New Orleans City Council for its review and approval. The time frame suggested in your commentary -- having the BNOB plan ready for City Council consideration by the end of May -- is probably unrealistic since none of the planned neighborhood meetings (six to eight proposed by BNOB) has yet been scheduled. In any case, the Commission will work with the BNOB plan in whatever stage it is in when we receive it.

In sum, the City Planning Commission looks forward to its timely review of the BNOB plan and facilitating the planning process. We are most anxious to be a part of the successful rebuilding of our great city and to help reestablish New Orleans as the leading city of our region.

Tim Jackson
New Orleans City Planning Commission

Look to Local Experts
Everywhere else, a shotgun is a weapon. Here, it's a home. Knowing what makes our communities unique is why it's important to use local experts in rebuilding the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

It is unconscionable that this is not what's happening. How can our local and state government officials who are overseeing projects like the rebuilding of our schools, hospitals, bridges and other public structures not realize how critically important it is to use local professionals as partners in this effort?

We are the engineers, architects, contractors, building material suppliers and other construction experts who make sure that construction industry's best practices and specifications are strictly followed. Without those specifications, building is not as safe. There must be no sacrifice in assuring safe, quality and cost-effective construction of public projects.

Not only do we have national credentials, as local construction professionals we know the unique blueprint of our own community. Yet our businesses are suffering while professionals from every other state are being tapped for these projects when right here at home, we have people who are not only more qualified but also know our community's needs and desires better.

It is vital that our local and state officials mandate the use of local experts and professionals as partners when rebuilding our community's public buildings and infrastructure. Tell them it matters -- on every level -- to Rebuild Right.

Eric C. White, CSI, CDT
President, New Orleans Chapter
Construction Specifications Institute

By the Law
I enjoyed your "An Epic Tale" feature (March 21). But your report for "1998" exaggerates the facts. You mistakenly say that our Supreme Court issued "a rule barring law students from litigating at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic." Instead, the Court's rule only bars student attorneys from litigating in state forums on behalf of people whose income exceeds specific limits. The Court finalized those limits in 1999 at 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, allowing upwards of 25 percent of the state's population to qualify for student representation. In full compliance with that rule, the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic's student attorneys continue to represent clients struggling to protect their communities from environmental degradation.

Adam Babich
Tulane Environmental Law Clinic

Editor's Note:
Prof. Babich is correct. There was, however, quite an uproar in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court's initial ruling in 1998, because it did have the effect of severely limiting (some said eliminating) law students' ability to represent poor clients in environmental matters. Moreover, the 1998 rule change came in response to complaints from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which represents many polluters, and then-Gov. Mike Foster, who was not considered a friend of the environment. The Supreme Court in 1999 relaxed the guidelines to allow law students to represent the larger pool of indigent clients referenced in Prof. Babich's letter. We apologize for the mistake, and we appreciate the chance to clarify the facts.


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