June 21st, 2008 09:51 EST
Douglas O`Dell, Complete Key Public Infrastructure Projects
Washington, D.C. " This week, Major General Douglas O`Dell (USMC, ret.), President Bush`s federal coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, convened Louisiana state and local decision makers in New Orleans to drive completion of key public infrastructure projects including police, criminal justice and fire facilities. The working group of principal officials took several actions including:
- Identification of key pending projects to be completed
- Established process for quickly resolving differences and producing results
- Created a standing executive steering committee to ensure focus, oversight, rapid conflict resolution and strategic guidance
General O`Dell stated, as public servants, we are united in our urgency to provide the citizens of New Orleans with the restored or replaced police, fire, criminal justice and other public facilities the community desperately needs. The unanimous focus of these work sessions is on the immediate needs of the citizen. Our obligation is to work hard, make decisions that speed recovery and avoid eroding public trust. ?
As the recovery of the Gulf Coast region continues, a strong federal, state, and local partnership is in place to realize a safe and economically robust region. Public assistance and infrastructure restoration involves highly complex planning and funding processes across numerous levels of government including multiple layers of requirements such as environmental and other reviews.
"FEMA shares the sense of urgency to move recovery forward in these important public service sectors," said Jim Stark, Acting Associate Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We are committed to working with our federal and state partners to provide enabling recovery funds to the cities, parishes and state of Louisiana."
Leadership from FEMA, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the Governor`s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, city of New Orleans, the New Orleans police and fire departments as well as Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff`s Office participated in the inaugural working session.
O`Dell commented on fellow participants by stating, I appreciate the time my colleagues have invested in this effort, their optimism and their unwavering commitment to put citizens` interests first. ?
"We are undertaking a historic recovery, and as we do so, it is important that all levels of government work together to expedite the delivery of important projects," said Dr. Edward Blakely, Executive Director of Recovery and Development Administration for the City of New Orleans. "This meeting was an important effort in that direction and I look forward to our future successes."
The first executive steering committee meeting will take place next week and will discuss the New Orleans Criminal Justice Complex, a series of buildings including the sheriff`s department and the Orleans Parish Prison.
"As we have learned during the past few years, coordination between all levels of government is the only way we will rebuild our great state," said Paul Rainwater, Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "We are doing our part at the state level to streamline our processes and are eager to continue working with our partners to create a safer and stronger Louisiana."
Subsequent working sessions will occur in July and August, each aimed at driving key decisions and clearing perceived or actual roadblocks in the rebuilding effort. These sessions will focus on issues in other affected Louisiana parishes and a future date will be set for impacted areas in Mississippi.
The following senior officials participated in the inaugural working session:
- Jim Stark, Acting Associate Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Paul Rainwater, Executive Director, Louisiana Recovery Authority
- Dr. Ed Blakely, Executive Director, Office of Recovery and Development Administration, City of New Orleans
- Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, City of New Orleans
- Mark Riley, Assistant Deputy Director, Governor`s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
- Superintendent Warren Riley, New Orleans Police Department
- Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Office
- District Chief Timothy McConnell, New Orleans Fire Department