[StBernard] Sen. David Vitter speaks at St. Bernard Parish town hall

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Jul 4 18:57:47 EDT 2012

Sen. David Vitter speaks at St. Bernard Parish town hall

Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 2:03 PM Updated: Monday, July 02,
2012, 2:31 PM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

Generally criticizing President Barack Obama and the Democrat Party
establishment and often using the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the
health care overhaul as fodder, U.S. Sen. David Vitter this morning fielded
questions from St. Bernard Parish residents. Parish President Dave Peralta
and newly sworn-in Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann flanked him during the Chalmette
town hall meeting's opening prayer and pledge of allegiance.

"Louisiana will get more than any other state, more of that money," Vitter
said about the Clean Water Act dollars. "We have been developing a very good
solid master plan to deal with the coast for more than a decade. Now the
trick is funding that plan, executing that plan."

When St. Bernard Parish Director of Community Development Candace Watkins
asked him how long it would take to start receiving that money, Vitter said,
"The full process will take several more years, maybe five more years, but I
would be hopeful that we would get an installment in a year or so."

He also highlighted his work on the highway bill, saying that because of his
help that the state is expected to receive more than $680 million a year in
federal highway dollars. He said while Louisiana previously received 90
cents for every dollar the state paid in the federal gas tax, now the state
will receive $1.02.

In part fielding residents' questions, Vitter spoke more about the U.S.
Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act than any other
issue on Monday. He said the health care plan is "one of the biggest
disagreements we will have during the presidential race ... and I want to
repeal this outright."

One audience member likened the Supreme Court's upholding of the health care
law to Commissioner Roger Goodell's sanctioning of the Saints, saying that
the high court decision will rally the conservative base similar to how he
believes the Saints will bounce back more ferocious this season due to the
Goodell sanctions.

On local issues, Parish Council President Guy McInnis asked Vitter to help
with the give-and-take between the state, the federal government and the
parish over Louisiana Land Trust properties and how the funds in place to
manage the properities are handled.

"All we are asking is for someone to jump into the middle of that," McInnis

Vitter said he would try to help clarify the process and get the parish
"maximum flexibility."

St. Bernard Recovery Manager Donny Bourgeois later asked about federal
forgiveness of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Community Disaster Loans.

Vitter said "it's very unlikely there will be a blanket forgiveness," but he
said he would look into the parish's specific situation and try to work out
some leeway.

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