Why I Heart Janice Rogers Brown
Two Years

Gubenatorial Fodder

New Haven's John DeStafano wants to be governor of the State of Connecticut. No one is exactly sure why. But governors need big ideas. So DeStefano is searching.

Here is his latest brainstorm: He is offering housing to 400 persons displaced -- do I dare say made refugees? -- by the recent hurricane in New Orleans. Some will be placed in housing projects; others will go wherever the mayor can find a place to house them. He's looking to private landlords.

It sounds good in theory, and it feeds the act hunger created by watching daily film reports of the devastation. But the City, which has among the highest infant mortality rates in the nation,  is already having trouble making ends meet. Where will the $8 million estimated as necessary come from? Some will come from federal coffers, the maypr hopes.

The weekend's news analysis revealed the fault lines in the debate to come in the wake of Katrina. As with just about everything else capable of sustaining our atrophied national attention span for more than a day, Katrina has become a political issue. Expect a book out within the next week or so entitled "Katrina and the Other America: Michael Harrington Revisited."

There is even a politically correct vocabulary now to describe the event and its aftermath. We cannot call those deprived of refuge by the storm refugees. That's too Third World; it demeans the storm, um, victims. Query: Does calling them victims demean those ravaged by crime?

Katrina clearly was an eye-opener. From looting cops to shooting citizens, all Hell broke loose in New Orleans. Those with cash fled town before things got out of control; those without means foundered in filth and fear. Federal, state and local government were caught flat-footed.

Calls for help and assistance have spanned the country. Cities, citizens, churches and people of goodwill everywhere are opening their arms and homes. I wonder how long the embrace will last and when we will start hearing stories about suggestions that the good people of New Orleans return home? Evertyhing comes at a cost, and, as we are seeing in Houston, the benefits of beneficence are quickly overcome by calculations of cost.

I don't know what the solution is to the horrible wake left by Katrina. But I am certain the storm's aftershocks will be massive. How willing will DeStefano be to help support New Haven's new safety net if he becomes Governor?   How willing the rest of us once the novelty of the storm wears off?