Levees Not War

The following letter has been faxed and mailed to LSU Chancellor Mike Martin, with copies to engineering dean David Constant, vice chancellors Chuck Wilson, Brooks Keel, and Robert Twilley (“the O’Keefe gang”); Governor Bobby Jindal, senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter; Garret Graves, Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities; and R. King Milling, Chairman, America’s Wetland Foundation.

•  Keep Ivor van Heerden
•  Bring back Mark Levitan
•  Restore LSU Hurricane Center

April 27, 2009

Chancellor Mike Martin
Office of the Chancellor
156 Thomas Boyd Hall
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

Dear Chancellor Martin:

As an alumnus of LSU and as the founder of LeveesNotWar.org, I am writing to protest the “slow-motion firing” of Ivor van Heerden and the gutting of the LSU Hurricane Center and its Public Health Center. Please, Chancellor Martin, reverse these reckless acts of political retribution. (I understand you were not aware of the firing until afterward, but as chancellor you have the authority to step in and right the wrong.) Please bring back Marc Levitan, renew Dr. van Heerden’s contract, restore his teaching and other former responsibilities, and give Levitan and van Heerden the leeway to revive the Hurricane Center—including the irreplaceable Public Health Center—without further delay. Hurricanes aren’t going away.

As an activist group that promotes robust rebuilding of Louisiana’s flood protection systems, Levees Not War has benefited greatly from Dr. van Heerden’s guidance in conversations and interviews. He has been generous with his time—a teacher in the true sense of the word. We have come to rely on his honesty and care for his beloved state of Louisiana and its people, a devotion we share. We have also benefited from reading and rereading his book The Storm. Through his knowledge of geology and engineering and coastal restoration and his decades of dedication to Louisiana by serving on countless committees such as Team Louisiana he is an essential state resource, a treasury of knowledge and courage whom the state should be empowering, not punishing. In his science-based critiques of faulty Army Corps of Engineers designs (the Corps is not his only target) he is doing his duty for public safety. And how is he rewarded?

Keep reading at Levees Not War . . .

Learn more about Ivor van Heerden in:

*  Times-Picayune’s Bob Marshall: LSU Ousts Most Honest Appraiser of City’s Levee Failures

* Coastal Specialist Len Bahr’s View of van Heerden Firing | Ivor ‘high on list’ of post-Katrina heroes

* The Man Who Knew | PBS–NOVA’s profile of Ivor van Heerden

*  (vintage report) Ivor van Heerden’s ‘Storm’ Draws Fire at LSU | By John Schwartz NYT 5/30/06

The Storm in paperback


1 Comment

Filed under Movement, News

One response to “Levees Not War

  1. And from levees.org today:

    Levees.org has discovered, on a government watchdog website, that the New Orleans District of the Corps of Engineers pays a PR company $1,000,000 annually to help its image and fight bad press.

    That’s your hard-earned tax payer dollars at work!

    The PR company (OPP) assited the Corps during the “paper in the floodwalls” crisis and the 17th Street canal seepage.

    OPP provides support for media including the Times-Picayune, WWL-TV CBS New Orleans, Associated Press, USA Today, The Weather Channel and the The Today Show.

    On your dollar, OPP is being paid to foster “strategic relationships with media outlets that result in more accurate and balanced stories.”

    USACE Negative Media

    Levees.org also learned, from a request under the Freedom of Information Act, that fancy PR flash ads on nola.com are costing taxpayers $2,995 every month. These ads say “building strong by reducing risk.”

    This is especially galling in light of how the Corps of Engineers in New Orleans continues to push ahead with a less effective, potentially dangerous plan for three New Orleans outfall canals because it’s the cheaper approach.

    Shouldn’t the Corps focus on repairing levees instead of their reputation?

    And this is yet another reason to refuse to accept the Corps of Engineers’ self-study of the levee failures and demand the 8/29 Investigation Act.

    Click here and demand a truly independent analysis of the flood protection failures in metro New Orleans.


    Link directly to Corps’ PR company is below.

    Thank you,
    Sandy Rosenthal
    Founder, Levees.org

    Click here for more details on the Corps’ expensive PR company (OPP).

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